A short drive from the Spring City Resort and located on the same northern side of the pristine Yangzong Lake, the OCT Kunming Yangzong Lake Resort is set on a hillside overlooking the water and features two courses by Nicklaus Design. One was said to be designed by Jack Nicklaus himself, and the other by his young cub Jack Nicklaus Junior. Both enjoy views across the lake and toward the surrounding mountains, the senior Nicklaus getting closer to the water but the younger Nicklaus enjoying the more dramatic terrain.
The second course at Kunming OCT Wind Valley is a more rugged affair than the Jack Senior design and best recommended not only for its attractive bunkering and distant lake views but the scenic back nine outlooks along a dramatic sunken valley. This part of the course is most unexpected, and sure to cause debate among those who visit and study golf course architecture seriously. The holes through this section are quite spectacular, but also a little controversial.
Undoubtedly the main talking point at OCT Wind Valley will be the 13th, a rather outrageous short par four that gets no points at all for strategic merit but which is so spectacular that some will excuse the designer for its inclusion. The hole plays directly across a massive canyon, and to a fairway that dangles on a ledge above the precipice. The problem with the hole is the fairway is so slender that it demands players hit a strong shot across the cliff edge but then hit the screaming brakes to prevent it bounding through the fairway. The green is then a skinny target that sits on the very edge of the landform, surrounded by death but with brilliant views up and down the adjoining valley.
The other holes through this section are more conventional and Jack junior did a nice job making them comfortable and fun to play. Among the standouts is the uphill, crested 12th, whose fairway was only created after a hillside had been blasted away. Less work was needed on the short ridgeline par three 14th and the bold left sweeping par five 15th, a nicely bunkered risk-reward hole that sweeps around a deep ravine.
The OCT site was very difficult for both courses from the outset, and the project experienced delays, construction overruns and budget blowouts over several years. Given the rock, the severe elevation changes and difficulty of working in places like China, the Nicklaus team and various construction managers did well to bring sensible golf to this part of Yunnan Province.
Differs from the principal OCT course in that the bunker style is more rugged, and the principal attraction of the back nine that we saw was not the distant lake views, but outlooks along a spectacular sunken valley.