Golf Courses in Phuket, Thailand
Course-by-Course Introduction to Golf in-&-around
Phuket Island, Thailand
Of late, golf has taken a prominent place in this island aptly dubbed ‘Pearl of the South’ by the tourism industry. Banyon Tree GC and Blue Canyon GC are the premier and championship courses. Other than those, there are other good courses around the island that one needs to fret no more of running out of courses to play in.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest, most populous and most visited island. A whirl of colour and cosmopolitanism, Thailand’s only island province revolves around and thrives on tourism, but still retains a spark of the real Thailand. There are a hundred and one ways to pass the day in Phuket. There are also more tourists here than on any other Thai island. It certainly knows how to cater to tourists’ needs. Most flock to the beaches on the southwestern side, which are complete with amenities and entertainment outlets.
Red Mountain Golf Club – Touted as ‘one of Asia’s most exciting new courses’, Red Mountain, opened in 2007, was built on a former tin mine site (A sister course of this nature would surely be Mines Golf & Country Club of Kuala Lumpur if not the course built on scarred terrain of The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Golf Club of Hong Kong). This Par-72 6,781-yard Jonathan Morrow-designed course is actually an extension of the Loch Palm Golf Club(above). What is different is that while the older Loch Palm is more gradual in the terrain and shorter in course yardage, the Red Mountain course winds on what’s left of the former mine and in between ferrous red hillocks (and therefore the name) and at points sweeps up the steep terrain providing some dramatic changes in elevation thus giving it a special character quite unlike many others.
The Par-3 176-yard Hole#5 tees off down through the tips of tall trees to a large green some 45 meters down below and surrounded by these tall trees. The wind at the high tee-box would generally not affect the flight much, appropriate under-clubbing is however very necessary.
The relatively short Par-4 365-yard Hole#3 has a deep gorge almost all the way to the green. A strong iron or straight fairway wood is preferred to lay up at the turn to the elevated green. The Par-5 492-yard Hole#8 has wide fairway that picking the correct line tends to be more difficult than usual. The left side is ideal for a good drive to lay up for the second approach shot but water danger lurks nearby. The Par-4 458-yard Hole#16 has a superb panoramic view of the island if having to decide on the best line of approach down the wide but danger-fraud fairway takes the back seat.
Laguna Phuket Golf Club – Formerly known as Banyan Tree Golf Club, the Laguna is a recently renovated 18-hole Par-71 6,650-yard resort golf course. Scenic lagoons, coconut plantations and undulating fairways all make up to provide a good golfing experience. The new conditions and improvements over the old course make it much more interesting and requiring more imagination to play on. The dog-leg left Par-4 373-yard Hole#9 tempts a carry-over tee-shot past the dog-leg to lay up for a second landing on the relatively small island green which, not surprisingly, slopes towards the water. And, as if it is still not well-protected enough by the waters, there are sand traps on the front-right and at the back as well.
Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort & Spa – Located just 10km from the island’s international airport and nestling at the relatively peaceful north-eastern corner of the island, Mission Hills is ideal for a relaxing round of golf in scenic ocean surrounding. Measuring 6,800 yards long, this Jack Niclaus-designed jewel of the island has paspalum grass for both the fairways and greens. The Par-4 481-yard Hole#12 is a long hole requiring a carry-over tee-shot to the left of the fairway which is not unexpectedly filled with bunkers in the vicinity, but this will lay up for the shortest route to the green.
Loch Palm Golf Club – The Loch Palm is one of the most refreshing and scenic golf courses in Phuket. Nestling below a panoramic range of mountain peaks, this challenging 18-hole Par-72 golf course is built around the largest fresh water lake in Phuket, the Crystal. Wind, water, undulation as well as elevational changes make up most of the natural hazards. The greens with subtle breaks are turfed with Bermuda Hybrid; the type that makes fast surface even in wet conditions.
The favourite hole, the Par-3 168-yard Hole#14, is another one of the favourites of the designers for golf courses in Phuket: an elevated tee-off area overlooking the fairway below leading to a water hazard and sand trap-protected green. [Also, find out about Loch Palm’s new extension course of Red Mountain Golf Club (below)]
Blue Canyon Country Club – Some say, the Canyon Course is one of the most prestigious golf courses in Asia. Designed by Yoshikazu Kato, it has so far hosted three Johnnie Walker Classic, a PGA European Tour event. ” …it’s one of the best I have ever played on..” said a certain Mr. Woods who happenned to be the winner of one of the three events in 1998.
The holes are built along gradual ridges with undulating and narrow fairways, and the greens are fast and sloping. The recommended hole on this Par-72 7,179-yard championship course is the Par-3 194-yard Hole#14 where a lofted tee-box overlooking the fairway down below leading to a tight green well-guarded by waters intimidates even the very experienced. The scenic view of the canyon though often serves a consolation to most starters on this hole.
As for the Lake Course, just as the name suggests, all but one of the 18 holes are well protected by water hazards created not only to provide a degree of difficulty but also to please the eyes. This Par-72 7,129-yard complimentary course to the Canyon is also designed by Yoshikazu Kato. Described as ‘the most challenging and exciting finishing hole in golf’, the Par-4 471-yard Hole#18 appears a must-play. A large tree sits on the fairway at about the range of a driver-shot making laying up on the right side of the tree for a second landing so much more difficult as the small elevated green is very well defended by water at the front.
Phuket Country Club – That the Thailand Ladies’ Masters of 2005 and Phuket Asian Senior Masters of 2006 were hosted on this course stand testament not only to the fact that Phuket CC is the oldest on the island but also one of the finest. This 18-hole Par-72 6,483-yard championship course was built over an old tin mine site (Refer: Mines Golf & Country Club of Kuala Lumpur) giving it a uniqueness few in the country could find similarity. Not unexpectedly, lakes and ponds from the old mine site make good water hazards. In fact, the most interesting hole of the course, the Par-5 557-yard Hole#10, is one such hole that tests your confidence level to the fullest. With the fairway winding right along the shore of the lake, setting up the tee-shot by making a good right turn at the tee-box could well see the ball going straight through to the green in one, yes, in one! Well, fortune always favours the brave, didn’t they say?