FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Lijiang, China, Banyan Tree Lijiang, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course,

Dec 1, 2009
2009 / December 2009

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf CourseTo reach the world’s longest golf course, one must travel a long way. For me, this meant a flight southwest across China from Shanghai to Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province. And from Kunming it was still another hop, a short one, to the village of Lijiang, a place of myth and fable now preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site. My long journey ended at the Banyan Tree Lijiang. This top-notch villa resort shimmers like a mirage on the high, remote, nearly empty Yunnan plateau. There the Banyan Tree staff had already booked a tee time and taxi for Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course the next morning.

The Jade Dragon course measures 8,548 yards from the back tees, complete with a par-5 hole exceeding 700 yards. Jade Dragon’s exaggerated distances are reined in by its altitude. At 10,170 feet (nearly two miles high), this is the world’s second-highest golf course. The elevation confers upon a given golf ball 20 percent more distance. For those who dream of hitting their first 300-yard drive, this is Shangri-La.

In fact, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course is literally located in Shangri-La, the region of China thought to have inspired Lost Horizons, James Hilton’s fable about a hidden mountain paradise where the residents hardly age — and where golf balls, it seems, barely come back to Earth. The course is located on the eastern side of a jagged 13-peak massif known as Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain), which tops 18,000 feet. The Snow Mountains are almost always in view on this course, opened in 2001. Its designers, Singapore-based Nelson and Haworth, have had a hand in nearly 10 percent of China’s courses. At Jade Mountain, they created a course that meshes perfectly with its uncanny surroundings.

The facilities are of international caliber. The clubhouse with its traditional raised rooflines embraces a modern locker room, heated pool, pro shop and restaurant. Golf carts and caddies are required — and what caddies they turn out to be: uniformed young women who drive the cart, keep the score, gauge the distances, handle the clubs and read the greens. They even fish all errant drives from lakes, roughs and ravines. So what if they pronounce “pitching wedge” about as well as I use one? As far as golf goes, this is a true slice of Shangri-La.


Hole 1, ‘Snow Mountain’ (681 yards, par 5)

The opening hole sets the tone for the front nine with its generous fairway and snow-capped backdrop. No climber has ever reached Fan Peak, the tallest in the Snow Mountain range, and few visiting golfers are likely to birdie this monstrous opening hole. My attempt at a 300-yard drive came up short, and the bunkers at the green proved ravenous. A bit dizzy from the altitude, not warmed up and still adjusting to the rental clubs, I had three excuses — more than enough to cover my double-bogey.

Hole 2, ‘Lake’ (517 yards, par 4)

On this dogleg right, a lake intrudes at the bend. I decided to shave off a few yards by driving over the water. Once my resourceful caddy fished the ball out of the deep, I was able to hit, pitch and two-putt the “Lake” hole having drowned all hopes for an early par.

Hole 5, ‘A Long Way’ (711 yards, par 5)

A long way, yes. This is Jade Dragon’s longest hole, a downhill demon with a tumbling fairway that rewards straight shooters. Provided you carry the fairway sand and then the bunkers guarding the green, you have a chance here. I managed to roll in a 10-footer for a 6, which felt very much like a par.

Hole 8, ‘Difficult’ (267 yards, par 3)

Eight is the luckiest of numbers in the Chinese lexicon, and luck is what I needed. The chief difficulty here is a pond. My trusty caddy recommended a 5-iron to carry this hazard. There’s a picturesque little bridge crossing the pond, a perfect place to reflect on Lost Horizons and lost golf balls. Water and rough aside, this is an “easy” par 3.

Hole 10, ‘Jade’ (503 yards, par 4)

Jade Dragon’s back nine demands more finesse than distance. The narrowing fairways are tuned to the natural contours of the hillside. The fairway rises then falls, demanding two nice pokes to the green. My drive was true, but to reach the fairway we had to pass over a snake that had slithered onto the cart path. My caddy froze and refused to budge until the little dragon three-putted itself out of the way. I did likewise on the green.

Hole 15, ‘Up Above’ (497 yards, par 4)

This dramatic, downward-sloping signature hole brought me face-to-face again with the jagged, snow-draped peaks, where the elevated tee provided my best chance for that elusive 300-yard drive. Against my caddy’s advice to play short, I went all out — with the usual result, topping the ball with authority. Even so, my drive rolled well past the 300-yard mark. It is immaterial how many shots I squandered from there to reach the flag, since with my drive I had already reached Nirvana.

Hole 17, ‘Beautiful’ (263 yards, par 3)

This wild and gorgeous hole is well named. All that stands between tee and green are the jaws of a deep ravine. I wound up and let fly. My caddy spent five minutes scouring the belly of the gorge.

Hole 18, ‘Far’ (695 yards, par 5)

This very long, slightly uphill finishing hole requires several equally long shots and the avoidance of sandpits in the fairway. I kept out of trouble and got my bogey. Pars seem few and far between on this otherworldly layout, where time and distance are stretched to the limit. It took me barely two hours to complete the world’s longest course, paradoxically the quickest round I’ve ever played.

 

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course

Ganhaizi, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Lijiang, China
tel 86 888 516 3666

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Nov 29, 2022

Hide Away in the Scottish Highlands with 57 Nord

Situated deep within the Scottish Highlands, just steps from many lakes and mountains, lies 57 Nord. This collection of two design-led boutique hideaways blends the region’s Norse-Gael heritage by incorporating Scottish craftsmanship, modern Scandinavian design and panoramic views into both structures.

Discover Egypt in Total Luxury with World’s Most Eminent Archaeologists

THE MOST EXCLUSIVE TOURS OF EGYPT EVER OFFERED with the world’s most eminent archaeologists

Daily
Nov 29, 2022

Luxury Art Deco Lodging Sommerro Opens in Oslo

Oslo’s Art Deco connections just grew stronger with the opening of Sommerro, housed within a historic building in the city’s West End neighborhood of Frogner. The structure itself was once the location of the city’s original electrical company, Oslo Lysverker. The conversion to urban, luxury lodging features 231 guestrooms, 56 residences, seven restaurant and bar options, and meeting and event spaces for up to 150 people. There’s also a 100-seat gilded theater and expansive wellness space, including a full-service gym and Oslo’s first, year-round rooftop pool, sauna and terrace.

Daily
Nov 29, 2022

Key West Airport Breaks Ground on $100 Million Expansion

Key West International Airport recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of its $100 million expansion. Roman Gastesi, administrator, Monroe County; Richard Strickland, director of airports; and others attended the ceremony and outlined details of the Concourse A terminal expansion project.

Discover a Journey Filled with Wonder in 2022

ISN’T IT TIME? It's time to treat yourself to the vacation you deserve, and Celebrity Cruises® offers the perfect escapes. With an award-winning fleet of ships that sail to more than 300 destinations around the world, Celebrity will take you almost anywhere you want to go in style. Enjoy stunning staterooms and suites, culinary experiences imagined by Michelin-starred chefs and intuitive service. Celebrity makes sure your vacation is effortless from the start, which is why drinks, WiFi and tips are Always IncludedSM on every sailing.

Daily
Nov 28, 2022

World’s Most Underrated Travel Experiences

Adventure tour operator Explore Worldwide recently conducted a study to find the most underrated travel experiences around the world. The operator analyzed more than 350 lesser-known destinations and experiences across more than 130 countries, ranking them based on how high its Trip Advisor score fared against how many people actually reviewed the activity and how many Google searches the experience received.

Daily
Nov 24, 2022

Angama To Open Deluxe Lodge Near Kilimanjaro

Lodging and hospitality company Angama announced the November 2023 opening of Angama Amboseli, an intimate, 10-suite lodge set in Kenya’s private, 5,700-acre Kimana Sanctuary, against the iconic backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, located just across the border in Tanzania.

TAP Air Portugal: 77 Years Young

TAP Air Portugal, or rather Transportes Aéreos Portugueses, was founded 77 years ago, March 14, 1945, and flew its first commercial flight September 19, 1946, inaugurating service from Lisbon to Madrid, Spain, aboard a Douglas DC-3.

Daily
Nov 24, 2022

Emerald Cruises Announces Significant Savings in Black Friday Sale

There is nothing better than the gift of travel. Instead of giving your loved ones material items, give them an experience they will never forget. This year, Emerald Cruises offers excellent Black Friday deals on Europe and Southeast Asia river cruises, as well as on the latest collection of luxury ocean yacht sailings on Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara.