Exclusive club gets in swing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 March, 2000, 12:00am

Not content with letting rival developers get the better of them, New World Development has entered the golf business with the opening of its Palm Island Resort.

The Hui Yang City-based club, which is an hour's journey by road from the Lok Ma Chau border crossing, is being marketed as an exclusive resort and is accepting just 800 members - by invitation and referrals only.

At present it has 100 members and club officials expect to complete the total membership count by 2002.

The 27-hole lay-out, which was completed last month, was designed by the Nicklaus Group, namely Jack Nicklaus Jnr. According to industry professionals, it would have cost double to have had the 'Golden Bear' himself design the course. However, the younger Nicklaus has done his old man proud with his first mainland layout.

At 10,318 yards (from the white tees) over the Lychee, River and Lake nine-hole layouts, the course is player-friendly but still provides a good test of golf. What can make it difficult is the Nicklaus trademark bunkering.

Sand traps are in abundance at Palm Island, coming into play at mid-fairway for most tee shots and providing fortification for the numerous undulating greens.

What makes the course enjoyable is the variety of holes which will provide experienced players with interesting challenges from the blue and black tees while also remaining playable for those learning the game.

Memorable holes include the 129-yard par three 8th hole on the Lake layout which requires an accurate shot over water to the semi-island green. The 487-yard par five 9th provides a fantastic finish to the River layout as water crossing the fairway about 240 yards before the green, forces a tough choice of laying-up or going for it. Unlike many mainland courses which are surrounded by urban development, the city of Hui Yang is far enough away to provide Palm Island with a relatively tranquil setting.

Although the golf course has been completed and is surprisingly mature for such a young layout, construction is continuing in what will eventually be a full-scale resort.

The club has completed its spectacular Thai-style clubhouse which is to be complemented next year by a 500,000 square foot central garden featuring three pools, five restaurants, tennis courts, music hall and fitness centre. The first phase of 20 guest rooms is to be opened this summer. Eventually construction will begin for private homes and a hotel with a Philip Ko-designed interior.

Individual transferable membership costs $300,000 and also entitles a spouse to use the golf course and clubhouse amenities.

Corporate memberships are $300,000 and $550,000 for one and two nominees respectively.

The price includes reciprocal privileges at more than 80 Nicklaus-designed courses worldwide, most notably the Muirfield Village Golf Club in the US, Nicklaus North in Whistler, Canada, and the Spring City Resort in Kunming.