The sweet spot – golfing at Kau Sai Chau
One of things that I love most about writing this blog is that it gives me the chance to share with you some of my favourite places on earth to play golf. And I really do think that ‘the sweet spot’ is the perfect way to describe the experience of playing a round at Kau Sai Chau, which is located south of the Sai Kung Peninsula. It’s a remote, challenging collection of golf courses in a spectacular setting – and I love the experience every time I get a chance to go out there. Here’s why.
- It’s a great day out. Even getting to Kau Sai Chau is a bit of an adventure in itself – you can’t actually drive directly to the club, although they do provide ferry rides from Saikung Public Pier to the island every 20 minutes, then you are able to jump on a bus that will be waiting to take you on a 5-minute journey to the clubhouse. Once you’re there, just soak up the atmosphere – the views over the sea and mountains are simply breath-taking.
- It’s the only public golf course in Hong Kong. Golf is hugely popular in Hong Kong, and so the Jockey Club helped to create the course with a generous donation when it opened back in 1995. It’s actually a community project run jointly by the Jockey Club and the Hong Kong government, with the mission of promoting golf among the people of Hong Kong. It certainly seems to be doing its job, as all three 18-hole courses are almost always busy.
- Because it’s public, you don’t need to be a member. It is hugely popular though, so make sure that you give them a call to book a tee time. I’ll admit the booking process can seem overly complex to the uninitiated – you’ll need to fill in a form to register, fax or email it back to the course and then call an automated number, as well as present evidence of your handicap when arrive at reception – but I’d say it is well worth the effort. Just give yourself a few days to get it organised. The good news is that once you’ve registered you don’t need to go through the whole process again!
- It’s also great place to learn to play. They have courses and tuition for all levels and you can sign up for golf instruction sessions, as well as also hone your game in a floodlit two-storey driving range. You can pick up everything you need from the onsite pro shop, this homes one of the most comprehensive and impressive selection of golfing equipment of any club in Hong Kong.
- It’s breathtakingly beautiful. The course is set on the dramatic coastline of the Sai Kung Peninsula with views of Sai Kung and the South China Sea, and it is just a stunning place to spend a day playing golf. As well as the scenery, you’re also surrounded by some spectacular wildlife, from eagles, egrets and pond herons through to deer. The team behind the course really pride themselves on the environment they’ve created here, and the site has been recognised as a ‘Certified Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary for Wildlife’.
- Talking of wildlife, there is always the outside chance that you might come face to face with a wild boar. I’ve (happily) never met one, but they are blamed for badly damaging the course from time to time especially on the South course – what other course could say that?
- There’s a course to challenge every ability. Take your pick from any of the three 18-hole golf courses, which all have their own unique characteristics. The North and South Courses were designed by Gary Player, while Nelson & Haworth designed the equally spectacular East Course. I would recommend starting on the South course if you are a beginner, as this is the easiest at the club. The East course is definitely the most challenging, especially the blind tee shots.
- You’ll get the chance to tee off over a canyon. The I8th on the East Course requires you to perform a tee shot that will carry over a deep valley onto the fairway on the other side. It’s a unique, if slightly unnerving experience.
- Some of the holes – again particularly on the East Course – are a real test. They’re hilly and rolling, but the spectacular views more than make up for any frustration you might feel if you’re struggling.
- You can play as a Hong Kong resident’s guest at weekends. If you’re not a Hong Kong resident you’ll only be able to play on week days – however if you know someone who is a local resident and who has a Hong Kong Identity Card you can play at the weekends or on public holidays too as their guest.