By Brandon Tucker,
Many golfers in North America have probably never heard of golf course architect Ronald Fream and his two principal architects at Golfplan, David Dale and Kevin Ramsey.
Worldly players, however, are surely familiar with Fream and Golfplan's designs, spanning into 21 countries, courses like Disneyland Paris and Krakow Valley C.C. in Poland's burgeoning golf market to designs in Singapore and Malaysia, where the globetrotting Fream lives today.
One of their latest golf courses to open this fall is in China, their seventh in the golf and business-crazed country. It's sure to generate plenty more transcontinental buzz.
Located in the northeastern Shandong province, Weihai Point Golf & Resort features two dozen oceanfront holes along the Yellow Sea on a spectacular, multi-pronged spit of land that juts into the sea with nary a flat spot to be found.
"For the golf junkie, the appeal of Weihai Point is completely straightforward," said Dale. "It hits you square in the forehead when you see the pictures, or the instant you walk onto the first tee where you confront a panoramic view of the property."
That "dream site," as Dale called it, comes complete with a 270-degree view of the water and peninsula and green fairways spanning the remainder of the horizon. The second hole features a cliff-hugging tee box overlooking the crashing waves on the coast, the first of six holes that play along the peninsula sitting between 30 and 100 feet above the water.
It sounds like a perfect setting for a golf course, though Weihai Point is actually built upon the site of a former course that was completely redone. A dozen tee boxes were repositioned closer to the cliffs and all of the greens and bunkers were rebuilt.
But despite all the improvements, the course's championship yardage remains modest. It plays a pre-Tiger Woods, titanium driver, juiced-golf-ball distance of just 6,235 yards.
"We've built plenty of tournament-ready courses," said Dale. Those courses include Saujana Golf Club near Malaysia, host to the Malaysian Open, and The Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club, host to the 2009 Singapore Open.
"But the owners at Weihai agreed with us that only a layout of 6,200 yards would fit comfortably on this extraordinary property. So that's what we built," he added. "And if there's a golfer out there who cannot find a way to enjoy 18 holes at Weihai Point, he should quit the game."
The short yardage doesn't mean the course is a cakewalk. The 500-yard, par-5 16th hole requires a 220-yard carry over the sea to a fairway that hugs the cliffs beyond. The green also sits cliffside, guarded by six pot bunkers.
The short par-3 17th, with an elevated tee box and the ocean crashing in behind the green, draws shades of Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. The wind can also blow fiercely from this spot on the property, requiring a different shot every time you play.
Opened this fall, the resort features top amenities to go with the course, from a modernist-designed clubhouse to a hotel and suite of luxury villas.
December 23, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.