Ahead of the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group, europeantour.com goes inside host venue Lake Malaren Golf Club and its celebrated Masters Course with the help of defending champion Peter Hanson…
By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Lake Malaren
Opened in October 2011, the Masters Course – designed by 18-time Major Champion Jack Nicklaus – comes in at over 7,500 yards and is in every way a world class championship layout.
|As the name suggests, water features prominently at Lake Malaren, as do large bunker formations, and while beautiful and hugely aesthetically pleasing to the eye, danger lurks in the form of vastly undulating putting surfaces.
Exposed and fairly flat, the wind can often play a factor in the course’s test but good play generally goes well-rewarded.
The course, which this week hosts the first of four events comprising The European Tour’s inaugural ‘Final Series’, was voted China’s greatest in 2011 and it is certainly one that found favour with Sweden’s Hanson, who claimed his sixth and most recent European Tour victory here last year in the maiden edition of the BMW Masters.
“It’s a great course, a fantastic layout,” said Hanson, who saw off a surging Rory McIlroy to win in 2012. “It’s very spectacular with a lot of big bunkering and the greens are the main toughness of the course.
|“I think it’s going to be playing longer than it did last year but the greens – if you play well – see you end up in these little bowls which on one hand give you a good birdie chance but if you miss them then you are often chipping up and over a crest and that makes it hard.”
“The greens are quite big but they have these portions that are favourable. They are very undulating, but I like that; that is going to be one of the main challenges of the course and it does well in that it separates good play from bad play. If you hit the ball well then you are going to get a lot of chances but if your game is slightly off and you miss the portions then you will leave yourself challenging long putts or up and downs.”
The ninth – 470-yard par four
“The ninth immediately springs to my mind. It’s a tough hole, a dogleg right; you have to cut the ball, cut the corner and carry the ball over water and that is always a challenging, daunting prospect.
|"With the water off the right and a strong wind in the offing you are going to have to hit into that green with a right to left wind and you have to start the ball over the lake and bring it back in. And 18 is a challenging, stunning closing hole with plenty of danger and possibilities.”
“I think you can attack the course in certain conditions. Today we had quite a strong northerly wind and if that’s the case then the scoring won’t be as low. We were a little bit lucky last year in having a southerly wind the first two days and that saw some really low scoring – some 62s and 63s – but we are expecting northerly this week and that is going to make the course a lot tougher.”
How it played last year
As Hanson attests, the finish on the Masters Course at Lake Malaren is undoubtedly a precarious prospect. The short 17th hole ranked the hardest in 2012 at an average of 3.28 with only 22 birdies coming there all week in the inaugural edition of the BMW Masters.
Conversely, it was the par five 15th which reaped the most reward over the four days in Shanghai last year, yielding seven eagles and 136 birdies at an average of 4.57.Hanson’s winning total came at 21 under par in 2012 but with slightly narrower fairways and a course playing its full 7,607 yards you would do well to expect some higher totals this year.