In the short time that Black Mountain has been opened it has been the host location for both European and Asian Tour events. In addition, to the staging of professionals golf event the 500+ acres is all encompassing resort with a wide range of different activities meant to attract families.
How good is the golf?
The course has its moments but the architecture is not compelling when viewed from a global basis. Clearly, in Thailand the facility is seen as one of the best and much of that has to do with the totality of the experience when there. Customer service is certainly present with all the related trimmings.
The course plays up and down a hillside for the bulk of the round. There's ample space off the tee but the fairways are basically cut in a straightforward manner. The bunkering is quite ornamental -- often more cosmetic than strategic. The putting surfaces are also extremely large in many instances but the wherewithal to provide internal contours that can add a good deal more to the shotmaking side is the exception rather than the rule.
Black Mountain is also overly shaped -- in many ways the design is superimposed on the terrain -- standing apart and not blending in easily.
The turf quality is clearly above average although I personally am not a fan of seaside paspalum given its inability to provide much bounce for the golf ball. Nonetheless, the turf gives splendid coverage and emerald green color.
A few of the holes do standout. The uphill 5th is a demanding long par-4 hole not just because of the elevation climb but also because off the way the green is angled and protected. The par-4 7th is an interesting hole -- dog-legging right and the golfer seeking a bold play can attempt to cut the corner and if successful have a short approach into the green. The downhill par-4 9th concludes the outward half of holes and is an able end to the side.
The outward half is bolstered by the long par-3 11th -- where water is clearly an issue to avoid. The par-4 15th adds a strong contribution -- playing uphill through a narrowing fairway and elevated putting surface.
Black Mountain clearly is in the upper echelon for Thailand golf. However, for those coming from vast distances where the depth of course architecture is quite deep -- Black Mountain is simply sufficient for what it provides. If Black Mountain were placed in any competitive golf arena such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia -- it would simply be a face in the crowd given the rich diversity of architecture that exists in those respective jurisdictions.
Vintage golf architecture is about getting all the small details in place - striking a clear chord of emotion when the round is done. At Black Mountain my emotional connection to the course was nothing more than the completion of one activity in search of another. Given the site and all the fanfare leading up to my time there -- I was hoping for far much more.
by M. James Ward
Date: March 03, 2017