Eagle soars for Kunming golf tourism
First, South Africa had the extreme hole at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort in Limpopo province – a 400-metre almost vertical downhill vertigo-inducing par-3 accessible only by helicopter.
Now, China has the eagle hole at Sky Oasis Golf Resort near Kunming – a 150-metre visually stunning experience that is about to help put Yunnan province on the international golf map.
The eagle hole opened in October for members of Sky Oasis, a 36-hole complex, 100 kilometres north of Kunming.
Like South Africa’s extreme par-3, China’s eagle hole is not part of the main course. Designed by US golf architect Cynthia Dye, a niece of design legend Pete Dye, the eagle hole was conceived during a site survey for a possible fourth course at the resort.
The group came across a cliff overlooking an alpine meadow that, on the contour map, resembled an eagle. As Cynthia Dye inspected the location at sunset, a gust of wind from the plain below provided an uplifting feeling, as if soaring above the landscape like an eagle.
And so the eagle hole was born.
As a result, Sky Oasis, which opened in 2009 and was originally known as Skyait Golf Club, now seems set to soar into the consciousness of local Chinese golfers and international golf tourists.
Sky Oasis members can hit two balls on the hole for a cost of RMB200 (approx. $US30) with the chance to win a jackpot starting at RMB200,000 (approx. $US30,000). As more players try their luck – and presumably fail – the jackpot will increase.
Sky Oasis owner and general manager, Catherine Keung Lee, says visitors also will be able to play the hole – eventually – although a date hasn’t been set.
“The hole reminds us of the extreme hole at the Legend course in South Africa,” she says. “Now we have created another legend. Let each player who comes here feel the eagle swooping.”
The clever design is not only visually intriguing, it creates a sense of uncertainty when playing the hole from the elevated tee. With a lake in front of the green, the tendency is to hit too long, even though the vertical drop is only about 40 metres. With a brown rock as the eagle’s eye, who knows what the eagle will think when the first person scores an eagle on the eagle hole?
Sky Oasis is a member of the new Kunming Golf Group, featuring three of Kunming’s leading courses: Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, Stoneforest International Country Club and Sky Oasis Golf Resort, as well as Brilliant Resort & Spa a zen-like retreat on Lake Yangzonghai.
There are numerous daily flights to Kunming from China’s major cities as well as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Seoul.