Walk With Tiger at Mission Hills Haikou

ory McIlroy at Mission Hills (Image: Mission Hills)

Rory McIlroy edged Tiger Woods by a stroke in the Match at Mission Hills. (Image: Mission Hills)

Follow in the footsteps of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at China’s Mission Hills Resort Haikou, the site of their 2013 showdown and one of the world’s most exciting — and fastest-growing — golf destinations.


Start with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, add a local wunderkind, then let them loose at one of the world’s most spectacular golf properties. That’s the formula that focused international attention on the October 2013 showdown between Woods and McIlroy at China’s Mission Hills Resort Haikou.

The Match at Mission Hills, which saw McIlroy edge Woods by a stroke, included a pre-match skills competition featuring the event’s two headliners and Guan Tianlang, the Chinese amateur who stunned the golf world by making the cut at that year’s Masters as a 14-year-old.

The Match at Mission Hills (Image: Mission Hills)

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Guan Tianlang entertain the crowd during a pre-match skills competition at Mission Hills Resort Haikou. (Image: Mission Hills)

“I’m playing well at the moment and am confident I can beat them in this challenge,” a cocky Tianlang said. And beat them he did, besting his heroes 50 points to 30.

The Match at Mission Hills was contested on the Blackstone Course, one of 10 layouts at Mission Hills Resort Haikou on the South China Sea island of Hainan. Located 48 kilometres across the Qiongzhou Strait from the mainland’s southern rim, Hainan Island is rapidly becoming one of Asia’s top tourism destinations, with more than 20 golf courses. In the port city of Sanya, located on Yalong Bay at the southern end of Hainan, luxury hotel brands such as Sheraton, Hilton, Marriot and Ritz-Carlton crowd a beachfront that 30 years ago was deserted except for the shacks of fishermen.

Mission Hills Resort Haikou is the creation of the Chu family, led by Canadian-educated businessman Ken Chu. The Chu family owns another 12 courses at Mission Hills Resort Shenzhen, the world’s largest golf facility, located just across the Hong Kong-Chinese border in the city of Shenzhen.

Much of Hainan Island sits atop the Qiongbei volcanic cluster, which 10,000 years ago spewed lava across the area now occupied by Mission Hills. “Building on lava rock is not easy,” says Brian Curley, Blackstone’s architect. “But the site is far from flat and offers a nice variety of elevation change.”

Despite a volcanic rock bed some 20 metres deep, 15,385 acres of lava rock and more than 20,000 trees were preserved during construction of the property’s 10 courses. Approximately 50,000 additional trees were planted.

The Blackstone Course itself winds through centuries-old houses, walls, shrines and gravesites, including the remnants of an ancient village called Yong Wan.