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Will Jessica Korda defend her title?
Hainan Island, China
Hainan Island, China
Par 4 Mountainview: The Blue Bay golf experience begins with a seemingly simple tee shot towards a spacious fairway, however one must try to place the drive along the right side of the fairway in order to shorten the second shot. The approach is to an elevated green where if the player lands short, the ball will fall off into a deep low in front, or into one of the deep bunkers guarding the front portion of the green…a good opening hole and with two smooth shots, an easy par.
Par 4 Gambler's Corner: Once again, off the tee, this dogleg left Par 4 again presents a seemingly spacious landing area, but the player must take a tight line just right of the fairway cross bunkers along the left to find the ideal portion of the fairway to approach this green. The big hitter may try to carry the left side bunkers to further shorten the approach. This green is mounded in the center, so the approach must be played to the front half or center portions with plenty of spin in order to hold the putting surface.
Par 5 Silk Road: The tee shot on this straight-away Par 5 must be played “smooth as Silk” to the center of the narrow landing area, as accuracy more than length will help you here, avoiding the pot bunkers left and right. The ideal second shot is a lay-up short of the cluster of bunkers crossing from the right. This is a tiny bowl-shaped green, so if the player finds it, a birdie or certain par is in order.
Par 3 Biarritz: This long, one-shot hole seems simple from the tee, just avoid the sandy waste area along the right to the elevated green. However, the putting surface is quite long and narrow, with a deep depression located along the left center that will surely gather-up many tee shots which are not directly on line, and stuck with the correct weight. The significance of this green style is obvious to those who travel and play some of the great historic courses of old, and as it should be, par will always be a good score here.
Par 4 Morning Solitude: This difficult hole requires the player to make a decision off the tee…play to the right and avoid the left side bunkers and the menacing, tall coconut palm tree in the center of the fairway, or take on the bunkers and try to find a line along the right side which seriously shortens the second shot. The green is once again elevated with bunkers guarding the approach along the right. Selecting the correct club for this approach shot will not be easy, as the green is situated more to the right than one is able to see, and is elevated well above the fairway. Wind will always be a factor on this hole.
Par 4 Lake Crossing: The tee shot on this Par 4 must avoid the deep, right side bunkers as well as the tall line of palms to the left side. Distance off the tee on this challenging hole is also very important because the second shot must cross the lake to reach the green. Club selection will be difficult as the player must content with the wind swirling along the beautiful large lake which frames this green complex.
Par 3 Eden: The second Par 3 hole at Blue Bay is a very scenic hole again played across the large lake to an elevated and terraced green. Club selection from the tee will once again be difficult as the swirling wind and pin location will alter the shot significantly. The beautiful and colorful landscaping surrounding this hole will also tend to distract the player from the job at hand.
Par 5 Long: This hole is named “Long” because it is the longest hole at Blue Bay, but also because the tee shot is up hill and the player is forced to hit two, lengthy and well-placed shots to have any chance to find the very small, two-tiered putting surface. The is hole is filled with subtle difficulty as the bunkers, the lake on the right near the green, and the terraced putting surface all can wreck a good round. Par is a very good score here.
Par 4 The Pit: This hole is named “Long” because it is the longest hole at Blue Bay, but also because the tee shot is up hill and the player is forced to hit two, lengthy and well-placed shots to have any chance to find the very small, two-tiered putting surface. The is hole is filled with subtle difficulty as the bunkers, the lake on the right near the green, and the terraced putting surface all can wreck a good round. Par is a very good score here.
Par 4 Royal Palm: This difficult and long Par 4 hole takes its name from the tall palms found framing the landing area, and clustered behind the green. The player must take a line off the tee along the left side just avoiding the two tall palm trees and bunker, setting up an approach to this green located directly along the lake to the left side. There is plenty of bail-out room to the right for the second shot, and this might be a good idea, as the poorly struck approach will surely get wet. Par here will always be a triumph, and birdies will always be as rare as royalty on this hole.
Par 3 Lakeside: A relatively short Par 3 hole playing across and sandy waste area to a beautiful large green set alongside the huge freshwater lake. As long as the player chooses the correct club and avoids the water on the right side, the green is very receptive and this is a good birdie chance on the back side. Take a seat along the stone wall and enjoy the view, as this is a very peaceful and scenic golf hole.
Par 4 Bottleneck: Blue Bay begins to shows its teeth with this straight-away, long and seemingly narrow, Par 4 hole that is filled with trouble. Depending on the season, this hole either plays in a valley directly into the wind or down wind. There is more room off the tee than appears but the real challenge here is the approach shot. Played with a long iron or fairway metal, this green is guarded by pot bunker to the right and a big mound front left. The player must study this hole completely as the green is quite large but falls away to the rear. Perhaps you might try and land the ball short and allow it to run up the slot to the green surface. Another way to steal a par here is to lay up short and pitch the ball onto the green for a one-putt par.
Par 4 The Plateau: This medium length Par 4 must contend with the wind as it is situated along the top of a sand dune line and exposed to the elements. Providing the tee shot finds the center of the fairway, the player is presented with 3 / 3 a good view of a very large and horizontal green, which is also elevated like a plateau. Club selection must be carefully thought out for the approach, and you may elect to work this ball into this green from left to right and use the steep mounding and contours of the putting surface. Don’t go long however, as the backside of the green complex drops away significantly and is a certain bogey or worse.
Par 5 Sahara: The finishing sequence of holes at Blue Bay are so visually stunning a group of extremely challenging golf holes that you may rarely find anywhere in the world. It all begins with this reachable par 5. Take aim at the pot bunker in the center of the fairway and avoid the deep bunkers along the left and you will be presented with a chance to reach this small elevated green. There are plenty of choices to lay up short or to the left side, however you must avoid the clusters of deep fairway bunkers in order to set up a short approach which must be very accurate and struck with enough spin to hold the green.
Par 4 If You Dare: Every great golf course has a drivable Par 4 and Blue Bay is no exception. This short Par 4 appears must easier than it will play however. If the player wants to give the green a try off the tee, the shot must be perfect as the target is well guarded by water in front. For the player laying up to the left, the tee shot must play well down the left side of the fairway and avoid the water which swings in from the right. Another option is to lay well back in the fairway, along the right, but this presents a longer approach to a small, terraced green. This green is contoured with a number of small terraces, so study it carefully before hitting the approach. If you find the correct portion of the green a birdie is possible, but bogeys or worse will also be possible.
Par 4 Ocean: The long, two-shot hole plays from elevated tees across a sand dune towards a magnificent view of the South China Sea in the distance. The view to the green complex, the Sea and Monkey Island in the distance is visually stunning and while the landing area is wide, you must stay clear of the bunkers, in order to have a chance to reach the green. As the wind will be a big factor, a par on this hole will always be a great accomplishment.
Par 3 Beachside: This interesting Par 3 reminds one of the 11th at St Andrews, as to the shaping and the seaside view. It is certainly destined to become one of the most interesting oceanfront holes in all of China golf, of this I am certain. The green is actually two large putting surfaces connected and forming a huge U-shaped green surrounded on three sides by the beach. A salt water estuary in front must be carried by the tee shot and two deep pot bunkers bisect the two green areas challenging the player to find the correct line and deal with the always present wind. The lay-up area to the right side does not guarantee a par especially if the pin is on the left side of the green. This hole is a definite scorecard wrecker but well worth the experience.
Par 5 Cape: The finishing hole at Blue Bay is called “Cape” because like the original Cape holes of the past, the player is asked to bite off as much of the dogleg in carrying the lake, as possible from the tee. A long tee shot tight along the left side avoiding the pot bunkers, may present the big hitter with a chance to reach the green in two, but for most players the second shot defines the approach. The green is a three-tiered complex stepping down to the lake from right to left. If the approach is well-played using the green contours and finds the correct terrace, a birdie or par might be awarded and finish off the round…as well as encourage a cheer from the players watching from the Clubhouse lounge directly behind and above.