Day on mainland fairways starts with ferry to Zhuhai
Day trippers looking for a quick golf excursion should consider Guangdong province's Zhuhai and neighbouring Chung Shan which offer three great courses easily accessible from Hong Kong.
Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club, which opened in 1984, has the distinction of being modern China's first golf club, while the Lakewood Golf Club recently expanded to 27 holes with the opening of the first nine holes of its Lakes Course.
The Zhuhai Golf Club is a resort facility renowned for its super-flat fairways.
All three courses are open for public play and are within a 30-minute drive from the Zhuhai ferry terminal.
Prominent Hong Kong businessmen Henry Fok and Cheng Yu-tung hit on the idea for the Chung Shan Golf Club in the early 1980s.
They recruited the legendary Arnold Palmer to carry out their vision. The result was a 5,906-metre, par 71 layout that challenges even the lowest handicappers.
Club pro Peter Williams said the Palmer course was the only one in the area with bent grass greens.
'The maturity of our course is one of our advantages. People really love the Palmer course. The bent grass provides a soft putting surface which means the ball will stop quickly when it lands,' he said.
Chung Shan expanded to 36 holes in 1994 with the opening of a 6,396- metre par-72 Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
The layout has all the Nicklaus trademarks - desert-like terrain, lots of water and challenging sand traps to guard the undulating greens.
Grace Wong, general manager of Chung Shan, said the club had about 800 members. It had about 100 non- transferable memberships available for $350,000 and corporate memberships for $1,350,000.
Other facilities include a hotel and the Chung Shan Hot Spring Resort with rooms starting at $500. Green fees at the Nicklaus course cost $400 on week days and $960 on weekends. The Palmer course is open to the public on week days only for $500.
The Lakewood Golf Club is part of an ambitious project which combines a 36-hole championship course with a standard motor racing track amid a country club setting. Last month, the Formula One-standard 4.32-kilometre track hosted the Marlboro Global Endurance GT race.
The country club has yet to be built but Lakewood has two challenging layouts in the 6,702-yard Mountain Course and the new 6,997-yard Lakes Course where water comes into play on three-quarters of the holes.
The second nine holes is scheduled to open this month.
Visitors can play either course on week days for $600.
'What we are trying to sell at the Lakewood is a lifestyle which combines family-oriented living centred around the sports of golf and racing,' said Linda Liao, membership director of Lakewood Golf Club.
Zhuhai Golf Club is built around a 7,000-yard par-72 championship course. Visitors can play on week days for $500 and $1,200 at weekends.