A stunning victory by an unheralded Korean golfer in a Ladies
Professional Golf Association (LPGA) event on Korean soil this
autumn has focused the world’s attention on a fantastic course
worthy of the most golf-crazy client’s attention. Nineteen-year-old
Jee Young Lee, ranked sixth on the Korean LPGA money list, beat a
field of the world’s best, including Anika Sorenstam, when she won
the CJ Nine Bridges Classic in October. Besides the glory her
victory showered on Korea, Lee’s triumph brought new converts to a
facility that is now ranked in the top 100 private courses in the
With bent grass fairways, a magical natural setting halfway up
Jeju Island’s 6,000-foot Mt. Halla and a clubhouse that features
delicacies like garlic-fried pheasant and luxuries like massages
and facials, The Club at Nine Bridges is the real deal.
Jeju is an island of verdant valleys and cedar forests with
popular beaches and archeological sites. It is located to the south
of the main Korean peninsula.
The course, which opened in 2001, takes its name from the
bridges, which cross numerous creeks running through it. With
national park land at its borders, there are no housing
developments to mar a golfer’s round. Instead, the sound of native
barking deer and tumbling water are all that can be heard.
The 18 holes are divided into the Creek Nine and the Highland
Nine. The Creek Nine features several challenging ravines and the
Highland Nine has nasty water challenges and an island green on the
18th hole. This is a tough course the kind real golfers love.
As is the Asian custom, caddies are female. There are no yardage
markers on the course because the caddies know every corner and
every elevation, and can provide players with exact information
from any spot. Because of strong landscaping, carts are allowed on
the fairways, a first for Korea.
There are a scattering of 5,600-square-foot, four-bedroom
fairway villas or 2,000-square-foot mountain cottages laid out in a
traditional village setting around the clubhouse. Each features a
living room, large-screen TV, kitchen and Internet facilities. The
rooms can be booked through Los Angeles-based Golf Projects
International, which does not pay commissions to travel agents, but
other nearby accommodations which offer commissions are available
David Smith, president of Golf Projects International says that
because the club is private, Americans who wish to play there
should be members of private clubs in the US. Then, using the
principle of reciprocity, Nine Bridges will extend invitations to
“Players should be from a prestigious club,” Smith said. “Nine
Bridges has reciprocity with some of the finest clubs in the world.
If a travel agent has the right group from the right club, they can
call me and we’ll work it out that way.”
Greens fees are about $300, and cottages are $600 nightly.
The spa is located in the clubhouse and offers hydro-therapy tub
treatments, Vichy shower regimens and massages. Also in the
clubhouse is a poolroom, and there is a karaoke machine in the
Country Club Bar. The clubhouse needs to be especially hospitable
because the weather can be a bit unpredictable with 125 inches of
rain in the summer and fog and snow in the winter.
To keep the pace of play on the course leisurely, golf parties
are spaced eight-10 minutes apart. The club has a concierge desk
which coordinates tee times, rental cars and limousines.
Jeju Island is about the size of Maui. Clients can fly to
Seoul’s Incheon Inter-national Airport, and then make a 35-minute
ground transfer via limousine bus ($4.50) or taxi ($40) to the
domestic airport, Gim-po, for hourly flights to Jeju. The island
has 15 golf courses and 20 more under construction, showing how
golf-hungry Korea has become.
Jee Young Lee’s victory is symbolic of the nation’s prowess on
the links. Granted a special exemption to play in the 2005 event,
she is one of only 14 non-members of the LPGA tour ever to win an
While Nine Bridges is a private course, Golf Projects
International can arrange outside play for your clients. One writer
described Nine Bridges as “Disneyland for golfers.”