I’ve posted before about the joys of Hong Kong’s Kau Sai Chau (KSC) golf course – it really is one of my favourites. It’s Hong Kong’s only public course and boasts three 18-hole golf courses, which each have their own unique challenges. The North and South Courses were designed by one of golf’s greats – Gary Player – while the East course is packed full of surprises, in the most stunning of settings.
It is beautifully wild at KSC – being able to play with the backdrop of the Sai Kung hills behind you and the South China Sea stretching away into the distance is an unforgettable experience. And the challenging East Course is a real favourite of mine – I’ve managed to get down there a few times already this year, despite the chilly weather. Hong Kong never gets too cold – it was down to around ten degrees at most when I was last at KSC, but spending time on this great course on a gorgeous, bright winter’s day was a real treat, and an experience I’d recommend to anyone who gets the chance to visit.
A well-loved course
Winter is actually a great time to play at KSC, thanks to the cooler weather, and if you can avoid the weekends you’ll find things a little quieter. All three of KSC’s courses are popular with the locals and with visitors alike, so they do get crowded, but on my last Saturday visit to the East Course there with my wife we were lucky not to have to wait too long. We only had short waits on the par 3s and a couple of the par 4s – all in all it was a five-hour round, which is only about 30 to 40 minutes longer than we usually take, so we were pleasantly surprised.
That recent day on the East Course was a great chance for me to see the steady improvement in my wife’s game too. She’s been playing better and better over the last year or so and is getting more comfortable – both with blasting the ball out of sand traps when she needs to, and with her play around the green. She even had a birdie on a par 4 – a first for her.
Something else that struck me the last time we played the East was the sheer quality of the greens. They really were in the best shape I’ve seen them – and they were a pleasure to play on. It’s huge credit to the skills of the teams there. I only wish that I was better able to putt on them – I must have had four or five three-putts on the day.
Leaps of faith
Taking on the East Course is a fascinating golfing experience, not least because of the variety of challenges you’ll encounter in the course of a round. One of the biggest – for me at least – is the sheer number of both blind and partially blind shots you have to make. It takes quite a bit of nerve (and judgement) to take them on – the tee shots on 1, 2, 6, 7 and the approach shots to 16 and 18 all require leaps of faith to a certain extent.
Speaking of which, another of the more remarkable features of KSC East is the number of shots you’ll take that require significant carry over ravines. I’ve posted before about the 18th, which asks for a tee shot out over a deep valley onto the fairway on the other side – but you’ll also find similar shots off the tee on the 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Add to that some tricky approaches on 9 and 10, and all in all it’s a varied, interesting challenge from start to finish. I should also mention that thanks to the hilly terrain it’s also quite a trek between some of the holes – there are at least five long drives so carts are a must.
One huge factor that you will need to take into account during the winter is the wind. The flip side to all of the spectacular scenery on this beautiful coastline is that it can get very blowy. Of course, the conditions are different for every round you’ll play at Kau Sai Chau, but on that day with my wife we faced at least a two club wind on every hole.
Fortunately it wasn’t gusting, so at least was a little more predictable – there was some comfort in being able to stand over the ball knowing that you weren’t about to hit two more clubs than needed and then lose the ball 30 yards over the green if the wind died mid-shot.
Believe me, it can happen at KSC.