Clearwater Bay, Hong Kong
My final competitive tournament as a full-time touring professional came at Clearwater Bay in November 2017. I had travelled to Hong Kong in the past, some 7 years earlier, to play the UBS Hong Kong Open at Royal Hong Kong Golf Club, another of my favorite courses.
Describing Clearwater Bay and the golf course is one thing; however, words cannot do justice to the property in which it is located. You would be hard pressed to find another course with a better opening three holes. The course begins with a long, demanding par 3, over 200 yards, down the hill with the green running at a slight diagonal from front right to back left with a cliff five paces off the back edge of the green. If you are contemplating between clubs, I suggest choosing the one which is coming up short because long is not an option! Holes 2 and 3 are pictured in the background. The second is a mid to long, left to right sweeping par 5 hugging the South China Sea. It can be reached in two shots if the wind direction allows. Hole 3 is an absolute spectacle. The tournament tee sits on the rocky outcrop off to the right side of the second green. The tee shot is played across a cove with options from the tee. The golfer can opt to play left of the bunkers with a fairway wood or long iron for safety but face the lengthier shot into the peninsula green. I always chose the aggressive option two from the tee, taking the driver toward the bunker through the fairway and working the ball with the hole from left to right. The green sits solemnly at the bottom of the property, perched slightly higher than your approach, making it seem as though any shot past the flag will fall directly into the South China Sea behind. The intimidating visual makes it difficult to stay aggressive and requires a lot of trust in the yardage you have gathered. The rest of the course provides a unique mix of steeply uphill, steeply downhill, forced cliff carries and flat scenic holes. There is often a bailout area to one side, however missing to the opposing side often means out of bounds with many playing immediately alongside the cliff edge. The club has a very unique driving range with artificial turf greens as targets which can also be converted into a six-hole par 3 course. The views from the clubhouse out across the South China Sea are breathtaking, and membership is not easy to come by. Clearwater Bay is a place I would very much love to visit again and enjoy a social golf experience with friends!