Sheshan Golf Club Chinas secluded little world of golf

By November 2, 2010, 5:20 pm


Sheshan International Golf Club
The beautiful Sheshan International Golf Club sits only 45 minutes from downtown Shanghai.

With the WGC-HSBC Champions returning to Shanghai's Sheshan International Golf Club, the golf world takes a look at this far east classic.

SHANGHAI, China – Five years ago, when Sheshan Golf Club opened for business, General Manger Roger Foo asked himself, 'Should I leave the course be, or transform it into a challenging destination for the world's best golfers?'

Foo decided to go big. But early modifications didn't keep David Howell, winner of Sheshan's inaugural HSBC Champions tournament, from finishing at 20 under. Too easy, Foo said. Could his groundskeepers push back three tee boxes, grow out the rough and tweak the greens? They did, and in 2007 tournament champion Phil Mickelson finished at 10 under. Around the same time, club members began to complain that the course was too hard.

On a muggy morning in June, Foo sipped espresso in Sheshan's wood-veneered cigar bar, where a waitress carried cocktails to a trio of exhausted member-golfers. Sunlight flashed across a plush blue carpet, upon the old-world-style furniture, against a rack of wine glasses. As the golfers discussed their morning round, Foo, a slender fellow wearing designer glasses, explained that Sheshan has earned a reputation for having some of the best greens in the world.

Indeed, he says, 'We're quite proud of the transformation that's taken place over the last five years.'

Sheshan Golf Club: 'Not a bad hole on the course'
You might not guess that Sheshan sits 45 minutes from downtown Shanghai. The private club overlooks a vast, alluvial plain, and its roughly 360-acre property includes villas, townhouses and mansions built in French, Spanish, Tuscan and 'Palazzo' architectural styles. (A club spokesperson wouldn't say which mansion is reserved for Tiger Woods during the HSBC tournament.)

The course has 60,000 trees with names like 'cuckoo,' 'yulan' and 'sweet-scented osmanthus.' Hole four features a 1000-year-old ginkgo. Holes 16 and 17 span a 50-meter-deep rock quarry and overlook the historic Basillica of our Lady of Sheshan.

'There isn't really a bad hole on the golf course,' Director of Golf James Brown told me before smacking a tee shot on 16. 'It's a secluded little world: You feel like you're not in China.'

Don't get too distracted by Sheshan Golf Club's elegance, because the course requires your concentration. Brown said the course's fairways are narrow for amateurs. And its greens, which Roger Foo said reach speeds of 11 or 12 during HSBC play, make you wish you had lingered on the practice green. When I played Sheshan Golf Club in June, several well-placed approach shots veered into greenside bunkers, as if at the whim of a cruel and invisible wizard. Fortunately the rough grass was really short. (Fairways and tee boxes were in transition from Rye to Paspalum grass.)

Sheshan Golf Club pulls out the aesthetic stops on its final holes. The 12th green borders a moat, which encircles 20 European-looking mansions. After wending along for a few holes, the moat gives way to a view of Sheshan's famous basilica. The impressive rock quarry that confronts golfers on 16 almost takes your breath away. When you turn to face it again on 17, you're also admiring a pretty clock tower. The 18th green – where Sergio Garcia ousted Oliver Wilson in a show-stopping 2008 playoff – offers a lovely view of Sheshan's Tuscan-style clubhouse.

It's clear that architects and groundskeepers are working hard. During our round, droves of workers were laying wood chips to make the course more playable. A few weeks later, they would install two industrial fans on every green to keep Sheshan's bentgrass from withering in 40-degree (Celsius) heat.

As Brown said: 'The course is always beautifully maintained, even in high summer.'

Sheshan's roughly 1,000 golfing members appear to like their club: In 2008, a membership here sold for more than $200,000. When I strolled the grounds after my round, even frustrated novices were smiling as they returned to Sheshan Golf Club's posh, sweet-smelling clubhouse.

That's the idea, Foo said. Pro tournaments notwithstanding, he explained, Sheshan is a 'high-end' club for businessmen, and his main objective is keeping them comfortable. Accordingly, they enjoy access to a golf lodge (rooms start at about $100 per night), ping-pong tables, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an Italian restaurant, a pro shop, a swanky health club with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a spa, and a conference center with leather chairs, polished tables and two-way mirrors.

'Most members bring clients for entertainment,' Foo said. In other words: Golf takes a backseat to networking.

Gazing out the window, the slim GM said he would consider making Sheshan harder for future HSBC tournaments. (There is room to push other tee boxes back.) But Foo doesn't want to make Sheshan Golf Club too tricky – and alienate his clients in the process.

At this, James Brown, drinking tea across the table, looked up and smiled. 'After all,' he said, 'it's just a game.'

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.