PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 April, 2011, 12:00am


You don't have to like golf to visit Mission Hills -which sprawls north of Shenzhen just over the border from Hong Kong- but it helps.

Recognised by Guinness World Records, it is the world's largest golf course, with 216 holes -which works out at 12, 18-hole courses.

They have been put together by the Who's Who of modern golf designers -Jack Nicklaus, David Duval, Nick Faldo, David Leadbetter, Pete Dye, Masashi Ozaki, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Greg Norman, Annika Sorenstam and China's home-grown champion Zhang Lianwei.

If you have the money to spare, and this is the case for quite a few mainlanders, you don't have to bother with staying at the Mission Hills hotel. Stately residences -complete with gargantuan reception rooms, swathes of bed and bathrooms, private swimming pools, gardens and, of course, servants' quarters- are dotted about the courses. The going price is reportedly upwards of 20 million yuan (HK$23.7 million), and it's been known that buyers hand over the purchase price in cash -and in a suitcase.

Golf might be the new craze in the People's Republic, but food remains one of its strongest cultural anchors. The latest addition to the Mission Hills' empire is the grandiose Dongguan Clubhouse, featuring -among a bevy of other facilities- a food court that embraces Chinese, Italian and Asian cuisines.