Authentic links experience in China?


Authentic links experience in China?
Sean Dudley

Architect Mark Hollinger reckons the new Links course at the Dongzhuang Beach club in Shanghai is the most authentic links experience available in China.

The recently opened course is the second at the club, located against the mouth of the Yangtze River, close to Shanghai’s international airport.

The California-based Hollinger, a partner in the JMP design firm, says Dongzhuang Beach is a very different playing experience for Chinese golfers.

“This course is quite challenging to all levels of playing skills and to go around it well requires keeping the ball in play and out of the tall grass as well as low, under the wind, which is the key to playing links golf in Scotland and Ireland,” he said.

“It is difficult for most players the first time around, and a true putting stroke is required to save par. There are many elevated tees and massive greens, with the fairways playing low among the man-made dunes, peppered with shrubs similar to the gorse and heather found on most links layouts in the UK. The overall experience is very authentic as the wind, long grasses, pushed-up greens and sometimes cool temperatures are quite similar to other famous linksland courses. Bring along your best game and your whiskey flask!”

Dongzhuang Beach has an unusual mix of bentgrass putting surfaces, seashore paspalum fairways and an Irish links seed blend in the short and tall roughs. Wind is a major factor in how each golf hole play from month to month, according to Hollinger, and the course features wood timber sleepers, pot bunkers, and fast and firm turf conditions with elevated putting surfaces designed to allow for bump and run style chipping to save par. “Many golf hole approaches may be played from a variety of fairway angles which must be carefully judged in order to get near the hole,” said the architect.