SOUTH KOREA - It's easy for a foreigner to get confused into thinking they are playing a World-Top-100 golf course at Haesley Nine Bridges outside of Seoul.
The original Nine Bridges, the one that has earned those top-100 distinctions, is located far away on Jeju Island. They are both owned by the CJ Corporation, the title sponsor of a new PGA Tour event, THE CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, scheduled for Oct. 16-22, 2017 on Jeju Island.
Haesley, a 7,256-yard design by David Dale and Kevin Ramsey, is a premier attraction that doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by anybody. It's ranked among the top five courses in golf-mad South Korea, just a shade behind its famous older sister that will host the tournament. It has similar characteristics -- man-made waterfalls, a sub-air system under all 18 greens, pristine conditions, wonderful food and service.
A 16,000-square-foot clubhouse, built in 2009 as three separate buildings, delivers the most awe-inspiring first impression. Golfers walk into the upper level of an atrium peering out at the golf course through glass windows three stories high. Timber pillars stretch from floor to ceiling before meshing into hexagonal patterns.
The layout is equally excellent and interesting. Bunkers are aplenty but not overwhelming, looking very much like a Tom Fazio-designed golf course.
The waterfalls and man-made rock features at holes such as no. 4, no. 10 and no. 16 would look wonderful on TV. Haesley Nine Bridges's signature hole is the brutishly long, par-4 ninth, where only a heroic carry over water reaches dry land on the other side.