Monday, July 27, 2009

"Welcome to the Blog"

Welcome everyone and thank you for taking time to visit my blog! Over the past three weeks I have been gathering information and preparing this website to share with you all. My plan is to make a new entry at least once a week with the main goal of this project to stay better connected with friends and family back home and all over the world.

I have already published three posts for you to read. The three posts cover my two most recent trips in China along with a special round of golf I played two weeks ago. For now most of the content will be golf related, but as I continue to make more posts I will start mixing in some other content to do my best to give you all a good overview of the life I live here in China.

Please enjoy the following posts and I'll write again soon!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shot of a Lifetime

This past week I experienced one of the most exciting shots of my golfing career. I took one of my students out to play a course in Shanghai called “Yin Tao”. The 13th Hole at Yin Tao is a 520-yard dogleg right Par 5. After hitting a nice drive down the fairway, I was left with 220 yards to the hole. Yin Tao’s 13th hole features an island green, surrounded by water on all sides. I hit my second shot toward the middle of the green, but because of my angle from the fairway and a few trees in front of me, I lost track of the ball and did not see it land.

As we began approaching the green, my caddie and I disagreed on where my ball landed. She felt I hit it short and began looking for it near the water hazard. I knew I hit the shot well and proceeded to the back of the green to begin my search for the ball. We both looked for a couple minutes before I casually strode by the hole, taking a slight glance inside. I was absolutely astonished to find my Taylormade golf ball sitting inside the hole!

I holed out my second shot from 220 yards to score a “2” on the par 5! In golf this is called an “Albatross” or “Double Eagle” and is the rarest shot in golf. Not knowing how to say this in Chinese I asked my caddie what the Chinese name is and she replied that in her six years of working at the club, she had never seen one before and also did not know what it was called. (I have since learned that albatross in Chinese is “Xin Tian Weng”).

I still have not recorded a “Hole-in-One”, but an albatross is much harder to achieve. After “googling” them both I learned that every year over 40,000 hole-in-ones are recorded every year in the US, while only a couple hundred “albatrosses” are reported each year. I’m so happy I put my camera in the bag that day, as I was able to capture a classic picture to go along with this post. My greatest shot in golf…. so far! Enjoy the picture and more to come soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nine Dragon Mountain

This past week I had the pleasure of traveling with a few students to play a new golf course located about 1.5 hours south of Shanghai. The course was built inside a National Park bordering the Bay of Hangzhou, an inlet of the East China Sea. The National Park and golf course share the same name of “九龙山” which directly translated means “Nine Dragon Mountain”. Most of Shanghai’s golf courses are very flat and have very few elevation changes. This was not the case for Nine Dragons. Literally carved from the side of a mountain, the course features a variety of slopes and hills, and was a very fun, challenging test of golf.

The front nine begins with a series of holes directly next to the ocean. Wind is a major factor on these holes, as a stiff ocean breeze comes into play. The 3rd hole is a beautiful, Par 3 with the Bay of Hangzhou serving as a beautiful backdrop. You continue to play around the lighthouse before returning to the mountains for the back nine.

The back nine features many elevation changes and several picturesque holes. I have included some pictures of some of the views one can see while playing the course. Nine Dragons is a private club and a very unique concept in China. In addition to its 18-hole championship golf course, Nine Dragons also has a regulation size polo field, complete with a state of the art horse stable facility. Given its ideal location on the ocean, the club also has a harbor and yacht club. The club’s biggest drawback is its distance from the city, but its makes a perfect day trip or weekend getaway from Shanghai. Definitely one of the more interesting courses I have played in China, this course was a treat, looking forward to teeing it up there again soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Golf Holiday in Kunming

This past month I had the opportunity to take a golf holiday and travel to the city of Kunming. Often referred to as the “City of Eternal Spring”, Kunming features some beautiful scenery and is well known for its year-around “Spring-like” weather. I had a former colleague and good friend join me for the trip as we managed to play five rounds of golf during our three-day journey.

Day One began with a visit to the Spring City Golf Resort. Known as one of the top golf resorts in Asia, the resort was built in the early 90’s by a Singaporean businessman and features two championship golf courses. The two courses are the "Lake Course" and "Mountain Course" and are consistently ranked by Golf Digest as the top 2 courses in all of China. Here's a breakdown of the first four pictures starting with the top left.

1. Overview of the "Lake Course" as seen from the 1st hole green, just beautiful.
2. Playing a round with my good friend and the legendary "Ladies Man" Sean Kennedy
3. The "Lake Course" signature hole, built directly on the red clay shore of the lake
4. The signature hole of the Jack Nicklaus designed "Mountain Course" a beautiful Par 3 over water

Day Two started with a visit to "Sunshine Golf Club". Located on the outside of the city, Sunshine was another well-conditioned golf course that provided some beautiful views of downtown Kunming. We had the opportunity to play with one of the club's members who took us for a nice local dinner our first night in Kunming.

After our morning round there, we traveled across the city to play another course called “Lakeview Golf Club”. Designed by the famous English player Nick Faldo, Lakeview was a very flat and simple course that reminded me of the golf courses back in Central Florida. Probably the most unique feature was the presence of large floodlights on every hole, allowing us to play the course well after sunset.

Our final day in Kunming landed us at the city’s first golf club. Built in 1992, Kunming Country Club was an older club that had a old time country club feeling. We were the only ones eating breakfast in the clubhouse, and pretty much played the entire 18 holes without seeing to many other golfers. It seems most of Kunming's golfers opt to play the newer courses in the city, but this course was still a pleasure to play and fitting way to cap off our golf trip to Kunming.

Overall the trip was brief but very action packed. Five courses in three days with two nights of taking in the local nightlife caught up with me, as I was pretty exhausted arriving back into Shanghai. Here's the breakdown on the last 4 photos:

1. Overview of Kunming's Sunshine Golf Club as seen from the 8th tee box.
2. Beautiful Tee Shot on the #14 hole with the city in the backdrop.
3. Playing "night golf"at Kunming's Lakeview Golf Club.
4. The signature hole of the Kunming Country Club, so peaceful in the countryside.