The new Mission Hills Resort at Haikou on China's Hainan Island, is an impressive 5-star golf facility built on black volcanic rock and boasting Asia's biggest Spa, a superb collection of restaurants and hotel suites, fantastic recreational amenities (including an extraordinary range of kid's activities) and 10 diverse golf courses designed by Brian Curley from the American firm of Schmidt & Curley. As with the first Mission Hills Resort in Shenzhen, delivering ten courses that offered golfers something unique and distinctive would be a stretch for any architect, but in Brian Curley the developer found a designer with an appetite for invention and creativity. Some features, holes and courses work better than others - but across the board at Mission Hills Haikou the shaping, construction and general golf terrain is a class above that found at the older resort.
Leading the way is the aptly named Lava Fields course. Lava Fields is cut from the same cloth as the tournament-preferred Blackstone course, with its rugged bunkers and dramatic holes draped across a property full of exposed black volcanic rubble and featuring plenty of exciting golf undulation, strategic design features, some stunning approach shots and sharply angled green complexes. Hole for hole this is a strong test of your golf game, and full of genuine design quality. The holes are a touch more forgiving than Blackstone, but no less enthralling as the layout includes a number of stunning double doglegs, some stern carries across rock or canyons, and a fine set of diverse par threes. It also houses the best short par four at either Mission Hills property, the 6th a brilliant downhill tempter that rewards those able to aim their drive directly at the green and flirt with the rock along the right side of the fairway.
Other standout holes on Lava Fields include beautifully bunkered right-bending par fours at the 3rd and 5th, gorgeous par threes at the 10th and 15th, the double dogleg par five 12th, wildly contoured 13th and the uphill approach into the 16th green, played across a series of spectacular bunkers. Aside from the 1st and 14th fairways being perhaps a touch over-bunkered, there aren't any blackspots at all on this course and more than enough exciting approach shots to keep even the most discerning golfer satisfied.
While the topography, design and sheer excitement of Lava Fields make it an exceptional find for China, it’s the details here that elevate the course into what might be deemed a world-class level. We love this golf course, and only wish that others at the resort and across the country could have been finished to the same high standard and been given the same care and attention from their designers and course shapers.