Built in 2004, the Sheshan International Golf Club is one of the best-known and most prestigious clubs in all of China. Famous globally as the host of the HSBC Championship, the course itself was designed by the firm of Nelson Haworth Golf Designers who did a good job creating a stern championship test that, from appropriate tees, is still enjoyable for the average member. Generally speaking, the layout is maintained in impeccable condition and with its countless water bodies, flashy sand bunkers and quick, contoured greens, this is one layout that most find fun and challenging.
As with many modern championship layouts, at Sheshan a number of par threes and all the par fives are dominated by large water hazards. Each of the par five greens is protected by water, while the short holes are a little more varied but include the cross-pond 6th and the cross-ravine 17th as well as the gorgeous 4th, which runs alongside a river. This mid-iron hole is beautifully framed by a giant 1,000 year-old Ginko tree.
Best of the par fives is the left bending 2nd, which runs alongside a stream and encourages aggressive play from the tee. As does the 8th and 18th, but only for those strong enough to contemplate hitting long second shots across hazards into the greens. For the average player each is typically played as a three-shot hole.
Elsewhere, the par fours are a reasonably eclectic mix with some shorter holes mixed with beasts that run alongside hazards and demand two long, accurate shots to avoid disaster. Standouts include the infamous drivable 16th, which drops from a raised tee and heads along a quarry, and the outrageously difficult 9th hole, which bends left around a deep bunker complex toward a large green guarded by water down its right side. The clubhouse backdrop here is superb, but only those able to drive long and across a fairway crest are left with a manageable approach into this daunting target.
Generally speaking, the shaping, bunker work and green contouring at Sheshan International is quite good, and the ambiance, aesthetic and overall feel of the place is fairly impressive. This isn’t a world beater by any stretch, but it is one of the better golf courses in China and its prestige and prominence has helped ensure its course architects have been kept busy in recent years.
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