Built a couple of years earlier than the Lake Course at Spring City, the Mountain Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus’s company and set higher into the hillside above the resort clubhouse. While it lacks the direct interaction with the lake, in many ways the Mountain site was more suitable for golf as the playing areas are more level and the elevation change between holes less severe.
The golfing corridors here are generously proportion and, though you play through a residential subdivision early in the round, the home sites are set back nicely from the golf and unobtrusive. A feature of the design is the floral, resort style bunkering that was typical of the Nicklaus team from the 1990s, and a key part of the course strategically and aesthetically. Better holes on the tighter front nine include the par three 3rd and the long, left-bending 4th, which is well bunkered from the turning point of the fairway right through to the tiered putting surface. The rising then falling par five 9th is also memorable.
On the back nine a number of attractive bunker complexes standout, most notably those through the fairway on the par four 11th and par five 12th and the greenside traps guarding the strategically effective mid-length 14th. The short 13th is also good, its tee shot played partly across a pond toward an angled green pressed against a sprawling sand trap. Unquestionably the highlight, however, comes at the close. The 18th hole here is capable of instilling genuine fear and intimidation in even the most accomplished players, as it measures a little over 460 yards and features a nasty approach played across a ravine toward a small, elevated green site. Par fours here are richly satisfying.
For the vast majority of golfers in China, Spring City provides a perfect golfing retreat, with its easy-on-the-eyes scenery, first-class amenities, friendly design and well-maintained playing surfaces. Unless a real design connoisseur neither Lake nor Mountain Course will disappoint.
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