Wu Yi layout promises tough test for amateurs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2000, 12:00am

Considering tennis is his game, Stanley Ho owns a lot of golf courses.

With the opening of his Wu Yi Fountain Palm Golf Club's nine-hole layout in Jiangmen, the Macau casino magnate now owns four golf courses around the region. When fully completed, the new addition will be among the best the mainland has to offer.

The club's executive director, Angela Leong, said Wu Yi Fountain Palm Golf Club recently sponsored the National Junior Golf Open. More than 80 amateur golfers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan participated in the tournament.

Expense does not seem to have been an issue in the construction of the $3 billion project, about an hour's drive from Macau and two hours' journey from Hong Kong. Everything about the resort is first class.

Jack Nicklaus Jr, whose reputation for designing challenging courses has helped him emerge from the shadow of his famous father, was commissioned to design the 27-hole layout, which is scheduled for completion in December.

The first nine holes were opened in April and a second nine will be ready by September.

More than $80 million has been spent on eliminating wet areas and improving the drainage.

Unlike his father's layouts, which are heavily bunkered and well-balanced, Nicklaus Jr's designs make greater use of large sandy waste areas, a prominent feature at Wu Yi. He has also tried to blend the challenging holes with a few easier holes to give golfers a bit of a break, reflecting the ups and downs of golfing emotions.

What visitors to Wu Yi will find is a members-style course with semi-mountainousterrain and which has no dramatic drop-offs.

Like his excellent course at Palm Island, the Wu Yi course will challenge golfers of all abilities, depending on which tee box they choose to play from.

Alwyn Tai, the club's general manager and a veteran of the China golf scene, said the project had been delayed for two-and-a-half years because of problems between the owners and the local partners. Drainage problems and overhead wires were other obstacles.

However, all problems had been solved, he said, and the club was looking forward to becoming fully operational. So far, 400 memberships have been sold. In addition, 18 houses (HK$1.2 million, including a membership) on the course had sold out, and 60 per cent of a yet-to-be built 100-unit apartment complex had also been sold.

'Our strategy is to cater to the local people. Our major goal is to improve their quality of life,' Mr Tai said.

'Wu Yi is the home of many overseas Chinese, and I see this as a residence market where Hong Kong people can enjoy getting together with their local relatives.'

Club membership starts at $280,000 for individuals. For more information, visit the Fountain Palm Web site at www.wuyigolf.com.hk


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