Most Taiwan residents don’t go on long holidays. But as there are a great number of national holidays and special celebrations during the year, they do like the idea of a long weekend off. They get on planes, trains, ferries and cars to make the best of the prolonged weekend, either in Taiwan, in Hong Kong or even in Thailand. I often join the race to weekend fun, preferably in Mission Hills in Shenzhen on mainland China. Mission Hills is a destination in itself.
Whenever there is some sort of national holiday or celebration on a Friday or a Monday ahead, the average Taiwanese starts planning. Where to go this time? While many get out of town to visit a fishing village, the hills of central Taiwan or city in the south, other people look further. Hong Kong is a very popular destination among middle class Taiwanese, for shopping, sightseeing or simply to make selfies with the family most of the time.
Largest facility in the world
I consider myself lucky that my spouse and I own an apartment in Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, in Southern China’s most beautiful countryside. With its 216 holes, Mission Hills Golf Course was for a number of years accredited as the world's largest golf facility by the Guinness World Records, surpassing the Pinehurst Resort in the United States.
Mission Hills is many things at the same time. It is an incredible 26 square kilometre golf complex, with two centres of five golf courses and one of two courses. On extended weekends, families from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and other cities travel here for a short holiday in one of the hotels or resorts or in an apartment they own or rent.
51 tennis courts
Like these families, I enjoy the scenery, the golf as well as the great number of relaxing options available. Besides golf courses, Mission Hills features the Mission Hills Resort and the Country Club featuring the largest tennis centre in Asia with 51 courts, including a 3,000 seat stadium court, Mission Hills In Residence, recreation facilities and three golf academies. Mission Hills offers three clubhouses, with its Dongguan Clubhouse being the largest in the world at 63,000 m². On top of all that, Mission Hills features four spa locations and a five-star hotel. In short: a piece of paradise.
As a golf lover, I come here to relax and enjoy the game. I will not be easily bored here, because each of the 12 courses of Mission Hills offers many challenges. Every course was designed by a different golf personality. There is the ‘World Cup Course’, designed by Jack Nicklaus and there is the ‘Norman Course’ by Greg Norman, as well as courses designed by Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, José María Olazábal, Nick Faldo, David Leadbetter and a number of other celebrities.
Each course has different qualities and I like to play all of them occasionally, or watch others play. Last weekend I watched the Annika Challenge, played on the course that was designed by famous female pro golfer Annika Sörenstam. It was a top golf tournament for the best teenage golfers – 10 to 18 years old – in Asia. I watched their play in awe – I witnessed the future Chinese golf stars, their talents still very much developing.
Travelling to Mission Hills is a breeze. Flying from Taipei, it takes me only four hours to get from home to the apartment on the course. I fly to Shenzhen, drive one hour by car, to arrive in a different world. Our apartment is right on the golf course and often I cannot wait to get the golf bag out to tee off. A weekend over here always feels like a week. When I return to Taipei completely relaxed, I go to work on Monday morning with a big smile on my face!