The Champions

The Par 36 Championship course combines the challenge of water, bunkers, and fairway movement with a series of equally challenging undulating greens. With dramatic water features, spectacular views of the lake, and vast white sand bunkers, the Champions Nine always provides a fun day on the course.


Shangri-La Scorecard

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Many golf courses start out with an easy hole, one that provides a smooth transition from the driving range to the first tee. And if you make good decisions, this holds true on the Champions Nine at Shangri-La. But, be careful, one errant shot can cost you several strokes on your scorecard. Although #1 is not unusually long, it plays into the prevailing wind. The large fairway bunker in the driver landing area protects the go-zone on the right side of this reachable par 5. With large trees lining the left side of the approach shot, hitting your tee shot down that direction will force you to lay up every time. Don’t be tempted to carry the pond protecting the left side of the green unless your confidence is high. Coming up short and left of the green will funnel your shot back into the pond. A properly executed layup shot will leave a final approach from 50 to 100 yards. Just be sure to make your ball come to rest on the correct side of the hole or a three putt may be imminent.

At first glance, this par three looks pretty straightforward. The beautiful view of Grand Lake can be a major distraction as you stand on the tee. But, stay focused and judge the wind properly or you may end up short-siding yourself left of the green. The lake on the right doesn’t look to be in play from the tee, but in playing away from the large bunker left of the green, take care not to hang your shot too far to the right, or you may end up wet.

The landscape, or lakescape, from tee on #3 provides one of the most beautiful views at Shangri-La. This short par four is guarded down the right side by a sea of bunkers. A strong drive could find the green, but with a forced carry over the lake and out of bounds left, achieving a safe landing off the tee may encourage hitting a hybrid or fairway metal. The three-tiered green that spans only 17 paces across demands an accurate approach. Distance control is at a premium if you expect to hit it close and have a run at a birdie.

The tee shot on #4 is probably the most demanding on the entire nine. The large bunker on the left, combined with a narrow fairway cut, will force many balls to find the trees on the right. Uphill all the way, this par four requires two strong shots to arrive on the putting surface. Study your putt well or the subtle breaks in the large greens complex will result in a missed opportunity and leave you shaking your head on the way back to your cart.

Many options are presented and available off the tee on this dogleg right par 4. With two ponds protecting the landing area and a green that looks ripe for the taking, selecting the correct club and angle to approach the green is critical. Choosing to play left off the tee is the safest play, but will leave the longest approach shot traveling over the fattest part of the pond. Playing over the middle fairway bunker is an option, but if you hit your drive too far, you will end up rolling down the embankment and your ball will get wet. However, if you can get the ball to stop quickly, it will result in a much shorter and less dangerous approach. Your final option off the tee is to grip it and rip it right at the green. But, you must carry the pond and make sure to start the ball right of the fairway, or it will end up kicking left and into the greenside pond. Landing safely will afford you the option of a flip wedge with nothing but short grass in front of you. The long and narrow green is protected by a front and back bunker and presents subtle breaks. Be aware of the wind direction, you may not feel it standing on the tee, but if you neglect to factor it into play, it may cost you valuable strokes on your scorecard.

Club-selection is the key on this short par 3. With three distinct tiers on the putting surface, coming up just five yards short or long can result in a short birdie putt or the dreaded three-putt. Direction is equally important in order to avoid the right side of the green at all costs. A miss to the right will leave a bunker to manage and severe slopes to traverse. Even though it is a short hole, think long and hard about where to position your tee shot, it could be the difference between walking off the green smiling or crying.

The tee shot on #7 requires a strong drive in order to put your ball in prime position. Carrying the pond isn’t the only goal. Leaving your ball short of the fairway cut in the thick rough will make this severely uphill hole play even longer than it looks. But, playing down the prevailing wind for the entire hole should help your cause. The well-bunkered fairway demands precise positioning to approach the green with a chance for a low score. If you choose to go for the green on your second shot, make sure to protect against leaving your ball left of the green. The large greenside bunkers can gobble up your ball and your score. Make sure to calculate the elevation change and wind conditions upon approaching the deep and subtle green.

The toughest hole on the Champions Nine plays into the prevailing wind and requires a precise drive in direction and distance control. The fairway bunker on the left will force you to play down the right side and the fairway which slopes toward the pond 130 yards from the green compelling you to lay back off the tee. But, if you mishit your tee shot, you will be left with a long and daunting uphill carry over a pond to a two tiered green. The greens complex encourages an accurate approach in order to land on the correct side of the hole. The green slopes from back to front and will punish those who must navigate tier to tier.

The final hole on the Champions Nine features both scenic beauty and challenging shots. Although the drive seems pretty straight forward, it requires a decision of how close you wish to land your ball to the pond on the left side of the fairway. Some may choose to lay back with a hybrid or fairway metal in order to avoid the water all together. Shangri-La’s magnificent clubhouse provides the backdrop to the approach shot into the rolling greens complex. Be sure to check the hole location and choose your club wisely, leaving your ball in one of the two greenside bunkers will provide quite a challenge in getting up and down. The calming sounds of the nearby waterfall and stream may settle you down just enough to navigate the greens complex, with its many swales resembling Grand Lake on a windy day.