Located on the picturesque Hainan Island in the south of China, the Sun Valley Sanya golf course was created by American firm JMP Design and is one of the most disappointing layouts we have seen in the region.
Poorly built and maintained, the layout is full of awful shaping and anti-strategic design and has problems, conceptually, from the opening hole through to the silly par six 18th. The bunkering across the course is unnatural and ugly, as are the large mounds around the tee boxes. The incorporated water hazards tend to struggle for any strategic meaning, while the routing also fails the common-sense test as there are a number of long drives between holes and little effort seemed to go into adding subtle ground contours into the design.
The back tees on each of the par threes stretches beyond 200 yards, suggesting these designers feel that length is the only defense an architect has at his disposal. On this course it may be so, but good players are unlikely to be concerned or excited by anything presented here. Of the longer holes one of the worst is the 15th, a poor split-fairway hole across a mass of sand and then into a green that slopes so sharply back-to-front toward a gully that it really doesn’t matter where the drive lands. Other black spots include the 6th, 14th and 18th. The 16th is the only semi-decent hole at Sun Valley Sanya, but it’s only a success in relative terms.
We enjoyed Hainan Island, but there is little to recommend about this course.