China: In land of superlatives, world's largest golf resort gets even bigger

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    Mission Hills has opened a 17-acre facility.
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A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

SHENZHEN, CHINA – Shenzhen is home to a lot of things: hundreds of factories, one of China’s two mainland stock exchanges, a theme park called Window on the World that features more than 100 miniature versions of monuments like the Taj Mahal, a Soviet aircraft carrier, and, of course, the world’s largest golf resort: Mission Hills.

But even in this land of superlatives, the Mission Hills team was not content with just one world record. Last month they opened the world’s largest practice putting green, a beautiful 17-acre spread of 18 rolling greens and tiny sand bunkers.

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Officials say they are just keeping up with demand from an upwardly mobile population discovering the game for the first time. Already the resort boasts 12 world-class golf courses designed by some of the most famous names in the game – Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, and Nick Faldo – and hosts major world tournaments.

Mission Hills is a curious mix of extreme luxury and developing world. It has three spas, 3,000 caddies (all of them women – to seem less intimidating to novice golfers – and all wearing red jumpsuits and plastic helmets). Some 2,000 rounds of golf are played here each day. The resort abuts the city’s industrial outskirts, and to drive from one end of the resort to the other requires passing a vacuum sealing plant, an electronics factory, and acre upon acre of actively tilled peasant farmland.

Even the staff works to keep up. Though he’ll soon be touting the new $3 million villas that line the green, a marketing associate gasped when he drove a reporter to the site and saw the expanse for the first time. “It’s so big,” he said.

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