At event larger than the Olympics, golfers will take on reborn course
It draws more participants than the Olympics, with athletes pouring in from 45 countries and territories, and showcases a slew of sports that don’t appear in the Summer Games.
Ever watched dragon-boat racing, sepaktakraw (aka “kick volleyball”) or wushu, a Chinese martial art? Now’s your chance.
And if you’d rather stick to golf, not to worry. Golf will be a part of the proceedings here as well.
“Here” is Hangzhou, a bustling city in eastern China, and the proceedings are the 2023 Asian Games, a quadrennial multi-sport gathering featuring athletes from across the continent.
The Asian Games’ golf competition, which gets underway Thursday, features men’s and women’s team and individual competitions on a championship course that is both old and new.
A Jack Nicklaus Signature Design situated 30 minutes from downtown Hangzhou, Westlake Golf and Country Club first opened for play in 1993, making it the oldest course in surrounding Zhejiang Province. Conceived as a resort course that could double as a big-time championship venue, Westlake gained a reputation as a marquee destination for avid golfers across the continent. In 2017, it was selected as a host site for 2022 Asian Games, which wound up being delayed a year by Covid.
By then, though, the course was starting to show signs of age.
In 2021, the Nicklaus team was called back in.
Nearly a quarter-century after the original ribbon cutting, Westlake still had sound bones, but its frame had become overgrown. One of the first orders of business was to clear vegetation to reopen vistas, revive lost design features and restore the parkland property’s grand sense of scale.
Other signs of wear and tear also had to be addressed. Tee boxes, which had shrunk and settled, were rebuilt; greens were scrapped and reconstructed to USGA specifications; bunkers were freshened and repositioned; and fairways were sharpened, their problem-drainage areas repaired and their contours refined, with an emphasis on landing areas and run-ups to the greens.
Updating the course also meant defending it against the modern game. In its reincarnation, West Lake has been lengthened by nearly 300 yards, with new back tee locations on eight holes. That’s for the big hitters. For member play, several tees have been combined and expanded, allowing for more options while also making them easier to maintain.
There’s more to West Lake than its championship course. The property is also home to a lighted range, three short-game areas, a simulator and a gym, a banquet hall…you get the picture.
This week, though, the focus is squarely on the golf.