Where to golf in Macau: Choices are few, but attractive

Where to golf in Macau: Choices are few, but attractive

Casinos, heritage sites, top restaurants and ... golf? Believe it. Macau's 36 holes are becoming an attraction of their own
Colin Montgomerie is familiar with the challenges at the Macau Golf & Country Club.

Which provides the more intense pleasure/pain stimulus: gambling or golf?

In Macau, many are beginning to put that question to the test.

Visitors are increasingly traveling to the city not just for its shiny casinos, history and great food, but for world-class golf courses that lure the likes of Colin Montgomerie for the annual Macau Open Golf Tournament.

Taking note of the trend, we asked Macau's resident golf pros for suggestions on when and where to play in Macau.

The selection is limited, but the courses are impressive.

More on CNNGo: Insider Guide: Best of Macau

Caesars Golf Macau, Cotai

Located on 175 hectares of reclaimed land off the Cotai Strip (20 minutes' drive from downtown), Caesars Golf Macau's 6,889-yard, par-71 course is known for water. Lots of it.

Fourteen of the course’s 18 holes play near water, including the signature 16th, with its deceivingly tricky-to-hit green. 

Like water? Or just avoiding it? You can indulge either habit at Caesars Golf Course.“It’s a tough course, the water comes into play a lot,” explains club pro and Butch Harmon-certified instructor Chris Connell.

“If you can keep it out of the water, you won’t be far away, but there are a lot of bunkers and a lot of water.”

Connell says October through December are the best months to play not only at Caesars, but in Macau in general.

With its convenient location and friendly booking practices, Caesars is Macau’s most accessible course.

Tee times are offered at a reasonable MOP 1,800 on weekdays, and MOP 2,300 on weekends and holidays (includes cart rental and caddy service).

Caesars Golf Macau is also home to the Butch Harmon School of Golf, the only place apart from Las Vegas where golfers can learn the same tips that have helped the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson win major championships.

More on CNNGo: On the hunt for Macau's lesser-known restaurants

While Connell considers the third hole to be the course’s most difficult, it was the par-3 16th and par-4 18th that were given professional makeovers for the 2011 Shui On Land China Golf Challenge.

Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Liang Wen-Chong swung by the club for a couple exhibition holes during the event.

Caesars Golf Macau, Estrada de Seac Pai Van SN, R/C, Cotai, +853 2888 0123, www.caesars.com

Macau Golf & Country Club, Coloane

The Macau Golf & Country Club (MGCC) bills itself as Macau’s premiere course.

Located on Coloane, half-an-hour's drive from the glitz of Cotai, the MGCC is a private, 6,698-yard, par-71 course known for a narrow mountainside front nine and picturesque oceanside back nine.

It's one of only three tournament courses in greater China, so visitors can play the same holes as the pros.

Even club pro Larry Petryk loses the occasional ball to ocean winds at the Macau Golf & Country Club.“It’s a dynamic course,” says club pro Larry Petryk, a former competitor on the Canadian Tour.

“The front nine is quite short and you can really attack it as a player, but if you take on the risk and don’t hit the ball straight you can really run up some big numbers quickly.”

A founding member of the Macau Professional Golf Association, Petryk believes Macau's warm and humid climate can help ailing golfers recuperate from the stresses of swing dynamics.

He recommends a conservative approach on the back nine at MGCC, to account for intense ocean winds.

Particularly challenging are the 585-yard 12th hole and the 13th hole, which lies on the southernmost tip of Macau.

“You need to manage [the course] well,” says Petryk. “Get the ball in play off the tee and that’s the most important part; a lot of times that means leaving the driver in the bag.” 

The MGCC hosts the annual Macau Open on the Asian Tour and has been visited by PGA greats such as Colin Montgomerie, Fred Couples, John Daly, Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh and Darren Clarke.

Special weekday tee times are available to non-members (given availability and advance booking). MGCC welcomes larger groups with corporate rates.

Macau Golf & Country Club, 1918, Estrada de Hac Sa, IIha de Coloane, +853 2887 1188, www.mgccmacau.com

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