Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the ancient city of Bagan, former capital of the Pagan Kingdom, boasted more than ten thousand Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries. Around two thousand of these religious buildings still stand nowadays and they attract an ever-growing number of visitors to gaze upon their splendor.
To accommodate the influx of tourists, many hotels have sprung up in and around the city and one of these, the Amazing Bagan Resort, is conveniently situated close to the Bagan Nyaung Oo airport. Even more amazing than the hotel’s location is that there’s an 18-hole golf course attached to it for the use of residents and other guests.
The landscape is rather flat at this golfing oasis, the fairways are lightly bunkered and there are no water hazards to speak of so Bagan’s more of a resort course than a championship-standard layout. As a consequence, golfers who keep the ball out of the scrub that lines every hole should be able to card a decent score.
Played the course on January 2, 2020. You will not be making the trip to Bagan to play golf, and quite rightly so. In itself, the course is uninteresting and poorly maintained. I am surprised that it ranks above a course such as Shwe Mann Taung, in Mandalay, (which probably deserves to appear in top 100 rankings for the country). I had the opportunity to walk this latter for a few holes, and it seems in much better shape from both a design and maintenance point of view.
However, I had a great experience at Bagan golf course and I do recommend it. My advice if you plan to visit Bagan is this : stay on site at the Amazing Bagan Resort (a good idea in itself for reasons outside golf : one of the premium resorts of Bagan, and the one Aung San Suu Kyi chose on her last visit in 2017, which is proof enough), and play 9 holes between 6h and 8h, before the heat, before your day of temple visits starts and especially when the balloons will be flying above the course.
Play the last 9 holes, as those are the one where you will see a few of the Bagan temples along the fairways. Marvellous views and a nice experience guaranteed.
I think that the first thing everyone must acknowledge if coming to play this course: it's a rural course in an area where virtually none of the local population plays golf. Certainly the airport staff, taxi driver and hotel staff weren't really sure what my golf clubs were as I carried them around. But, it's worth the trouble of getting to and playing here because it is certainly unique.
The course is set right beside or even inside the World Heritage temples area of Bagan. On some holes you can pick your driving and approach lines based on spires of the adjacent structures. On the 12th there are actually pagodas on the left and right edges of the fairway.
Don't go expecting much in terms of design or conditioning, just enjoy the unique aesthetics of the place and you'll be happier. The clubhouse is a fairly run down 'shed' and the course design is mostly one dimensional. In the dry season the fairways are more sparse and dusty, but even in the wet I'm not sure they'd be much better as they just appear to be on sand with no organic matter. Compulsory caddie was pleasant but as I couldn't speak her language, we couldn't communicate.