With the addition of more and more golf courses and
international tournaments, teeing off in Hong Kong is easier than
clients might imagine. In all, the city probably boasts more golf
courses per square mile than New York, a city with a similar
There are four courses open to visitors in the city proper (five
if you count the nine-hole Deepwater Bay course, a little gem) and
several just across the border in Shenzhen. All the courses are
accessible by car, train, boat or some combination.
Most major hotels will arrange for visitors to play on one of
the city’s private courses, but playing times are restricted. Also,
some courses require a USGA handicap or a letter from a client’s
As if to emphasize the growing popularity of golf in Hong Kong
(and Asia in general), there are now more than a dozen driving
ranges scattered throughout Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
The boom in Asian golf has given rise to dozens of international
tournaments, including the Hong Kong Open in December. Recreational
players are spending more money on golf, and as elsewhere in the
world, golf has become integral to doing business.
“Golf is getting far more important,” said Iain Valentine, chief
executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association.
It’s not unusual to see passengers on the city’s famous Star
Ferry with golf clubs slung over their shoulders. This may be the
most adventurous way to get to a course, but the preferred way is
by taxi or private car which can be arranged through your client’s
Golf was not always this popular in Hong Kong. Not long ago,
there was only one course, and it could hardly be called a “course”
at all. Golfers played on the infield of the Happy Valley
racecourse. The infield grass was also used for football, hockey
and polo, so golfers were not allowed to dig holes or build
bunkers. Instead, they used wire mesh and pieces of granite as
The region’s oldest golf course is the Royal Hong Kong Golf
course, now renamed simply the Hong Kong Golf course (the word
“Royal” was dropped after the 1997 handover).
During the course’s early days, there was a real danger of being
attacked by tigers on the fairway; today, the only thrill is making
Hong Kong’s four major courses Hong Kong Golf Club, Kau Sai Chau
Golf Club, Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club and Discovery Bay
Golf and Country Club are best played from October through
December, when it’s cooler and likely less to have air
Clearwater Bay, overlooking the South China Sea, is known as the
Pebble Beach of China, while Discovery Bay is perched on the
hilltops of Lantau Island just miles from the Chek Lap Kok airport.
Accessible only via water taxi, Kau Sai Chau is the area’s only
public course, and recently the course announced its one-millionth
Across the border in China (Hong Kong is considered a “Special
Administrative Region,” or SAR, and a visa is required to go to the
mainland), there are new courses being built all the time often by
such big names as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Gary Player, just
to name a few.
Courses such as Mission Hills, Shenzhen Golf Club and Xili are
synonymous with big international tournaments. Xili has a special
arrangement with the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong which allows
guests preferred access to the course.
Even with all the professional clout, Hong Kong finds room for
kitsch. The Sand River Golf Club in Shenzhen was built right next
to a theme park. When clients approach the 14th green, they will
find themselves staring at a replica of the Eiffel Tower.