Golf Courses in Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai
Course-by-Course Introduction to Golf in-&-around
the northern cities of Chiangmai & Chiangrai
Chiang Mai has five top class golf courses in Chiangmai Highlands GC, The Green Valley GC, Ghassun Khuntum GC, Royal Chiang Mai GC and Chiangmai-Lumphun GC. In mid-2007 a new 9-hole course (Read story below) was added to the long list of prominent venues. And there are more if these are not enough. All the golf clubs have excellent club house facilities.
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and is about 900 km. north of Bangkok. It is an extremely appealing destination with sights and charms peculiar to the northern region of Thailand. This region is renowned for its beautiful mountain scenery and hilltribes, and certainly not to be left out, the beauty of its women. Other attractions include trekking, golfing, shopping and its clean mountain air. The quality and variety of accommodation, shopping and food are second to none.
Chiang Rai has two international golf courses set in beautiful valleys, surrounded by teak-forested mountains. Santiburi GC is by far the more famous because of the international tournaments held there.
It is some 150km north of Chiangmai. It is renowned for its natural mountain scenery, the Mekong river, interesting hilltribe villages, the Golden Triangle, temples, ancient sites and ruins. It is a good crossing point into Myanmar for a glimpse of the mysterious country and perhaps even a round of golf in the country governed by a strong socialist regime.
Top class golf courses surround the city of Chiang Mai and are easily accessible with the furthest being less than a 2-hour drive away. Just as a guide, one could be in a new course each time one takes to the tee for the first time in the day, for as long as the duration of a usual length of stay. In addition, one could always choose to extend one’s stay in Northern Thailand by opting for more rounds of 18-holes in nearby Chiangrai (or Chiang Rai – 3 hours’ travelling time) where international tournaments have consistently been staged.
CHIANG MAI Area
Alpine Golf Resort (formerly Chiangmai-Lamphun Golf Club) – Put your course management skills to test! This course nestles in a valley surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and shaded by mature native trees. Together with well designed traditional-style buildings, they give the golf course its unique and distinctive Northern Thai character. Its contoured terrain, with creeks and water hazards, offers a real challenge to golfers of all levels.
Just half-an-hour’s drive east of Chiangmai, this 18-hole 7,022-yard Par-72 beauty was designed by Dr. Sukhun Sukapanpotharam and opened in 1990. It hosted the golf event for the 18th. SEA (South East Asian) Games in 1995. Here, accurate placement for strategic play is the key to a good score. The most memorable hole, the Par-4 Hole#9, demands a careful tee-shot to land between two water holes to position for a long carry-over another lake for the treacherous sloping green.
Green Valley Golf Club – Test your driving prowess on this long and open championship course! The course slopes towards the Mae Ping River. It is a long and testing course with water hazards coming into play on almost every hole. Most holes are heavily bunkered making play even more demanding. Play ideally early in the morning or late in the afternoon; this tournament course has one of Chiangmai’s most superbly conditioned and maintained fairways and greens.
Just 25-minute drive on the way to eco-tourism suburb of Mae Rim, this 18-hole 7,200-yard Par-72 course was designed by Dennis Griffiths, the same designer for the Championship course of Thai Country Club in Bangkok. Water hazards in the form of lakes and ponds are the main feature of the course. Fairways are acceptably wide and lined with palm trees. Sand traps are quite plentiful near the greens. The Signature Hole has to be the Par-4 416-yard Hole#9 where the tee-off shot carried over water is threatened by fairway bunkers on both sides. This is to be followed by a second landing shot, also over water, to an elevated island green surrounded by tall palm trees. Strong wind in uncertain directions often decides the winner on this memorable hole.
Gassan Khuntan Golf Club – Less than a mere hour’s drive from downtown Chiang Mai, Gassan Khuntan is generally rated one of the best in the region. Located in the Khuntan National Park area and at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level, it enjoys as a backdrop the spectacular Mount Khuntan and its cool surrounding with scenic views of endless lush green. A railway bridge and a tunnel connecting it only lifen up what appears a scenic landscape painting on the wall.
Being set in a terrain of a ‘theatre’ valley, this Pravit ‘The Owner’ Raeng Po-designed 18-hole 7,100-yard Par-72 course features many sharp-turning doglegs complemented by water hazards along the Bermuda-grassed fairways and island greens. The most memorable hole appears to be the Par-3 163-yard Hole#5 which requires a good carry-over the water to a Tidwarf grass-covered island green well guarded by sand traps. Anything short of a good landing in the middle of the green usually spells disaster. Good club selection could be vital here depending on the position of the pin.
Chiangmai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort – Feng Shui golf, anyone? For those who are into geomantic energy flow and power of the site on which buildings are erected, Chiangmai Highlands is one such prime example being built on the hermitage ground of the revered monk, Kuba Sivichai who founded the famous temple of Doi Suthep. And here’s the description of a golf and Feng Shui expert on being enlightened on first sight of the course:
This very special site is breathtaking in every direction and literally tingles with an energetic aliveness. Its profound tranquility, high elevation, cool climate, fresh air, pure water and fertile soil form the perfect place to sculpt a living golf treasure.
Talking about a devout seeking to lower your handicap, can you ask for more playing here?
Additional to the blessed environment, this course is the latest (in 2006/7) to add to the string of golf courses surrounding Chiangmai. Reputedly blends well into the natural landscape of the area and is suitable for all levels of play, this Schmidt Curley-designed course is a symbol if you like of the very promising development in this burgeoning city if the coming up of the latest of world class hotels downtown is not convincing enough.
Starting from the down-hill Hole#1, a sense of golfing adventure begins with the course flowing effortlessly along the contour of the natural terrain and the magnificent view of the mountain skyline as a backdrop in a distance. Located in Sankampheng, the bamboo umbrella handicraft capital of Thailand, the paspallum-grassed fairways will lead you to no less than 90 sand traps and water hazards though. The greens are generally wide for safe landing but are not necessarily easy to play as they are mostly undulating and well guarded by bunkers and water holes. Good course management and strategic play are key to a good score. As new as it is most would not probably have played on this course. So why not be one of the first to check it out!
Gassan Marina Golf Club – Golf somewhere different? Here it is. Gassan Marina is yet another of the golf courses by the Gassan Group and not unexpectedly, it is also designed by owner/architect, Mr. Pravit Reang-Po. Located just a mere 20-minute drive south of Chiangmai city, it features an Arabian theme for its clubhouse architecture, if you think memory will fade on courses that you have played, not this one! But, there are more to it.
This Par-72 7,761-yard course is built around a 10,000-square meter lake, the largest in the region, and fringed by the majestic high mountain range that sets the topography of the north apart from the rest of Thailand. The main obstacles on the course are quite naturally the water play and numerous bunkers guarding the holes and as well along the fairways just so reaching the green can be made more testing. Interestingly, there are no Par-5s on this course. Easy hits? Not really. If you had taken note of the large lake area around which the holes hug along, you’d probably have guessed it. For the absence of the long holes, there are four longer ones awaiting the unsuspecting. There are four Par-6s all measuring nearly 670 yards long.
Gassan Lake City Resort & Golf Club – This is the second in the chain of Gassan golf courses. Also designed by the owner, Pravit Reang-Po himself, this 18-hole 6,400-yard Par-72 course features heavily on ponds and lakes with water hazards present on almost every hole. But the ‘cheese behind the brain’ in the design of this course lies in the long holes appearing deceptively benign and so luring unsuspecting drivers off the tee while water dangers lurk. Accurate placement shots and good pitching appear the key to a good score here but otherwise it is a good ground for high reward for risk-takers.
Hardly half-an-hour south of the city, playing here will save much time for shopping and other entertainment activities that Chiang Mai is famous for.