The fairways are emerald green, the sky porcelain blue, and the golf balls fly in the crisp mountain air as far as anywhere in Asia. Welcome to Spring City Golf & Lake Resort in the sculptured hillsides around Lake Yangzhonghai, 48 kilometres east of Kunming. Newly launched Spring City boasts what is certain to be the mainland's finest golf facility - an 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed championship course stacked on top of a second championship 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones. Only the Nicklaus holes are in play, but a walk across the manicured fairways leaves no doubt the international consortium behind the project understands golf is serious business. 'Golf is the fastest growing religion in the world,' Spring City's general manager, G. Balachandran, said. The foreign financial muscle creating the sport's latest showcase is led by Keppel Land of Singapore with a 40 per cent stake. Others involved include Singapore's government-backed investment arm Temasek, Indonesia's Salim Group and Hong Kong's Worldwide Shipping. Yiliang county government provided the project's 500 hectare site to earn a 20 per cent stake. Spring City's first phase investment, which includes the two golf courses and a 48-room luxury clubhouse facility, amounts to US$55 million, already making it Yunnan's largest overseas investment project. Keppel Land's Arthur Yeo Hui-kong said the stakes were much greater. If all goes according to plan, ground-breaking ceremonies will be held this year for the project's US$75 million second phase. That will include 50 residential villas, the mainland's first Club Med facility, and a 200-room mountain and lake resort directly below the twin golf couses. Further investments in a third hotel, more than 1,000 residential units, and convention and cultural centres are on the drawing board. The total investment in Spring City could exceed $600 million by the end of the next decade. 'The project has the potential to jump-start Yunnan's tourism trade by bringing in a different class of tourist,' Mr Yeo said. 'To make this development a success, it must be different from other resorts. So, we are trying to build the best golf courses with all the best facilities we can provide.' Attention to detail has led the developers to commission laboratory-designed grass blends from the United States for use on golf course fairways and roughs. Low-cut bank grass has been planted on greens to provide maximum speed and accuracy. Kunming provides its own natural advantages. 'In terms of weather, there's no place on earth like it,' said Mr Balachandran, who remained hopeful Asian golf enthusiasts would shrug off their present economic worries and venture out to enjoy the resort's temperate mountain climate. 'As you know, golfers are very influential, and if they have money, they will still come,' Mr Yeo said.