Designed by Mark Hollinger from the JMP Golf Design Group, Jian Lake Blue Bay is situated adjacent to Lingshui Bay on Hainan Island, about an hour northeast of Sanya. Despite its youth the course has already established an international reputation, thanks to the hosting of high profile LPGA events shortly after its 2012 opening.
Despite a sandy site and proximity to the beach at Lingshui, this was a tough site for Hollinger because the golfing corridors are quite cramped and there was so much real estate thrown into the overall master plan that it became difficult to build great golf. Hollinger’s design certainly grabs the attention, his holes created to make big aesthetic statements even when lacking some of the deft strategy on display at superior courses elsewhere. The most prominent features are the shaping of surrounding dunes and the bold, though at times overdone, bunkering, an unusual mix of grass and sleeper faced hazards that appear randomly throughout the layout.
While Blue Bay takes a nice photograph, for accomplished or engaged golfers it can be quite frustrating. There was obviously a decent budget here, and plenty of time and effort spent shaping faux-dunes across both nines. Unfortunately most of the shaping is peripheral to the actual golf hole, with flat fairways often cut through heavy manufactured ridges. The shapes that were incorporated into the actual hole tend to work less effectively than they might have.
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