The Great Resort of China

By Adam BarrOctober 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
Stunning views in every direction. Fascination in every corner. A wonder of the Asian landscape.
 
You might think Im talking about the Great Wall of China. Actually, I mean Mission Hills, the megagolf resort an hour into the Republic of China from Hong Kong. Evidently, ten courses werent enough. Echoing the current Chinese economic war cry for robust growth, Mission Hills has made it an even dozen.
 
Mission Hills Golf Club - China
Mission Hill Golf Club in China has 12 different courses - 216 holes in all!
The resort has also signed a 12-year deal to host the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, the famous international good will competition of two-man teams from countries around the world. This years version starts November 22 on the Jose Maria Olazabal course.
 
I first visited Mission Hills four years ago, about the time its tenth course came online. I have been to St. Andrews, Bandon Dunes, Pinehurst and all the rest. They are magnificent places. But there is nothing quite like Mission Hills. This place was designed to be the biggest in the world (the two latest courses, opened in 2005, surpassed Pinehursts 180 holes to take the global lead) and to host international tournaments.
 
The Olympics are coming to Beijing, Chinas capital, in 2008, and that creates most of the sports buzz in this massive nation. But in the south of China, an ancient saying goes, Heaven is high, and the Emperor is far away. That has always been the subtext of the more commercially minded southeastern Chinese culture, and it is the spirit in which golf grows there.
 
Its not that theres golf as far as the eye can see. Well, there almost is. From the enormous Dongguan clubhouse (one of three), you can see construction cranes in the distance, way past the edge of the property, evidence of Chinas relentless economic powerlifting. But there is so much more to look at within the property that you forget the outside world quickly and enter golfs prodigious Middle Kingdom.
 
What gets you more deeply is the sheer scale of the place. The idea that there could be more than half a dozen courses in any one spot is hard to get the mind around. But an entire dozen? I can choose from twelve courses, each designed by a famous architect or player consultant?
 
Hmm. Lets see. Do I feel Olazabal, Ozaki or Sorenstam today? (The other player-designers or design consultants are Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, David Duval, and David Leadbetter, Zhang Lian Wei and Pete Dye. Also, noted architects Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt of Scottsdale, Ariz. have consulted on nine of the twelve.)
 
Even before you get to the 216 holes (stop and think about that a moment), there is a lot to take in. I recall vividly entering the Dongguan clubhouse (at 680,000 square feet, the largest) and checking out the golf shop. The three-floor golf shop. Im told its bigger than most Nordstroms. Golf balls to go with that cashmere sweater, sir? Just up the escalator.
 
And for a post-round massage, you may want to visit one of our spasor wait for the fourth one to be built; its coming any day now. A new hotel tower is planned as well, the third building for housing outside guests.
 
Mission Hills Golf Club - China
The is a look at the Pete Dye course on the resorts property.
Then its time to hit the ball. One of 3,000 (yes, three thousand) expertly trained women caddies will see to your golf needs for the next four hours or so -- not more than that, because the pace of play, and everything else at the resort, somehow operates like unerring clockwork. That includes bag storage and amenities for 10,000 members, plus resort guests.
 
The courses themselves are surprisingly varied, with some dramatic elevation changes. Mostly, though, there is a pleasing roll to the property, and a sane amount of trees. In the morning mist, the place can look ethereal. Only then do you lose sight of the fact that the golf estate you are enjoying is larger than five Central Parks. Yes, the huge one in New York City. Times five.
 
Factors of five, ten, a thousand are the currency of economic life in China these days. The pace of development in what was once one of the worlds primary anti-capitalist bulwarks is sufficiently dizzying to stupefy visiting Wall Street veterans.
 
And that sometimes gives rise to criticism of golf in China as a sport for the rich-man minority ' although the ranks of those elite are growing rapidly. Mission Hills is undeterred, though, especially in light of the history of golf in the United States, where the sport took hold in the late 19th century among the economic upper crust, becoming more populist over the last 60 years. By bringing the Omega World Cup to China, Dr. David Chu, founder and chairman of the resort, figures he is broadening the foothold of golf in the worlds most populous country.
 
We are making history in the fine chronicle of golf, Chu said recently. China has a population of 1.4 billion with 400 million youths. The country is having not only the fastest growth in global golf development, but also the largest consumer market in the world.
 
'I believe hosting the World Cup of golf in China together with partners like OMEGA, the International Golf Association, the International Federation of PGA Tours under The European Tour's guidance and the China Golf Association, will go beyond just influencing sports and commercial development, it will create an impact so big it will truly turn golf into a global sport!'
 
The punctuation is Chus, and his enthusiasm is as clear as his talent for consensus-building. Whether golf trickles down in China in this generation remains to be seen. But if the energy that could accomplish something on the scale of Mission Hills can be applied to plebeian participation ' well, lets just say markets could open by the dozens.
 
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    Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

    Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

    Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

    “The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.

     

     

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    Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

    She wondered if there would be resentment.

    She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

    “I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

    PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

    Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

    She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

    Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

    “It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

    Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

    He waved Lincicome over.

    “He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

    Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

    “The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

    Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

    Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

    “I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

    Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

    Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

    Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

    What are Lincicome’s expectations?

    She would love to make the cut, but . . .

    “Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

    Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

    “I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

    Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

    Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

    As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

    “The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

    Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

    The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

    “She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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    Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

    By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

    There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

    Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

    She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

    It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

    Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

    "It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

    Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”