Situated halfway between the Thai capital and the beach resort of Pattaya, the prestigious course at Amata Spring Country Club is imbued with all the attributes you would expect of a top notch modern course in this part of the world: long, undulating fairways, exceptional greenside bunkering, wonderfully fast putting surfaces and plenty of water-threatened holes.
Fairways have been routed around two sizeable lakes and it’s on one of these grand water hazards that golfers encounter the layout’s signature hole at the 145-yard, par three 17th. In fact, that yardage is rather superfluous because the island green at this hole actually floats, so the carry to the 40 yards by 40 yards putting surface – accessed by a small boat from the lake side – can be altered at the flick of a switch.
A number of high profile competitions have been held at Amata Spring since the course first opened for play in 2005: The inaugural Honda LPGA Thailand tournament in 2006, the first five Royal Trophy events from 2006 to 2010 and the first Thailand Golf Championship (when Lee Westwood claimed his 37th career victory) in 2011.
Architect Lee Schmidt kindly provided us with the following comments:
“When the industrial complex Amata Nakorm was initially designed, a large lake was excavated as the water source for the proposed factories. With the expansion of the property and other facilities over time, other water sources were designed and the initial lake was no longer needed.
When we first saw the site in 2003 and were reviewing concept routing options, we wondered how deep the lake was. An engineer showed us a plan where there were really two lakes but the current water level was above the divider between the two.
The discussion progressed and we eventually found out we could make the final water level water at any level we desired. The final routing has hole eighteen near the location where the two lakes were divided. Fill material from other areas of cut on the course were added to expand the divider, thus making eighteen fairways shaped as they are today.
Hole seventeen, which is the floating green, was the concept of the golf course’s major shareholder, Andrew Yau. He first spoke of a floating green and we then said you mean an “island green”. He corrected us, saying a floating green not island green. Schmidt Curley Design had never designed or engineered one before but, with the assistance of a local Thai engineer, we started the design process.
There were a few failures during the construction process, but the final product was exactly what Andrew wanted. The green is anchored in four locations and has a submerged irrigation line running from the boat docking location to the green. The ferryboat carrying golfers to the green is captained by a well trained uniformed Thai staff member.
A number of other holes are worthy of mention: The 4th is a testing long par four that has a creek guarding the front of the green and it’s framed by a beautiful gold outlined historic Thai Temple.
Hole 7 is a medium length downhill par five with cross-bunkers between the first and second landing areas. The front third of the green is higher than the backs section, giving the illusion from the fairway that the green is sitting on the lake edge.
Hole 8 is a long par three over water with the green angled right to left. The front is slightly raised then the middle section drops down before rising over a metre to the back tier. Depending on the pin position there will many interesting putts made and missed on this exciting green.The 18th is a demanding finishing hole playing over 470 yards. The tee shot needs to be both long and accurate, avoiding the bunkers on the right side of the fairway and water that extends the entire left side of the hole from tee to green.”
I have played Amata Dprings a couple of times both times as a guest of Charles Wrightman of the Duchess Hotel in Bangkok. This is luxury Thai golf. Mostly I do not enjoy these very upmarket courses but Amata is fine. The clubhouse is welcoming and you get everything you could possibly need. The course is always in great shape with a good variety of holes. I have never felt the pressure to get round etc that you often get on the top courses in Thailand and even the world.You can get drinks every few holes and a bowl of noodle soup after 9 holes. There is good range of par 3's which are not too long for once. The floating green is fun though my shank last time didn't even get into the water. The price is quite high but worth paying now and again. David Laird
Amata Spring Country Club is developed on almost flat terrain with a lot of water hazards and strategically placed bunkers. While power play is required on the longer front 9 holes, accuracy is a must on the shorter and hazard-filled back 9 holes. The course plays to a length of over 7,400 yards, ensuring that even advanced players will be severely tested. Although, the club has a short history, the course has already hosted one of world’s major tournaments, the first Royal Trophy in 2006 and later again in 2010.The tournament was known for its Ryder Cup-style shootout held between Asia and Europe. The Thailand Golf Championship, which is the flagship event for the Asian Tour was held annually from 2011 to 2014 at this course as well.
The par 5 617-yard 7th is a dogleg to the right and it’s a demanding long hole. Players should avoid three bunkers in a row guarding the right off the tee. Fairway bunkers located in the landing area of the second shot will test your club selection and how to play the shot. Since the green is sloping slightly from back to front and moreover the rear left side of the green faces a lake, the rear left pin position will be more difficult.
The par 3 145-yard 17th is an island green hole. The green slopes slightly toward the back. This charming par 3 is not long, so it is not that difficult except on a strong windy day. It is a completely floating green and one that can be lengthened and shortened using underwater pulleys. You must use a boat to get there, which is unique.
The par 4 477-yard 18th is a long and almost straight hole. Water is visible down the entire left side, so you must hit an accurate tee and second shot to achieve a good score. This is a hole where you are content with a par. The green is triple-tiered with waterfalls on the left.
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