Designed by Rodney Wright, the 18-hole layout at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa is located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka, close to Hambantota Port, the second biggest maritime facility in the country.
Opened in 2016, the course occupies part of an old sapphire mine, with a number of holes transitioning through a coconut tree plantation and a section of coastal dunes before returning to the home green in front of the clubhouse.
Highlight holes include short par fours at the 3rd (“Leopard’s Lair”) and the 9th (“Monkey Business”), with a lone tamarind tree in the fairway blocking progress on the former and a solitary coconut tree hindering the approach to the latter.
The back nine touches the coast at the 16th (“Ocean Corner”) and 17th (“The Tempest”) then the final hole is played next to the hotel, where the water-laden par three 18th (“The Money Hole”) brings the round to a dramatic conclusion.
Despite Hambantota being crowned the “Best Course on the Sub-Continent” in the 2019 Asian Golf Awards, Tom Doak wasn’t overly impressed with the course when he visited in 2018, rating the layout the worst in Sri Lanka. Doak commented as follows in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses:
“The facilities for families are outstanding at this new Shangri-La resort, with all sorts of poolside activities and even a flying trapeze learning centre. But the golfer in the family will be disappointed. Even with two holes along a wide lagoon and two more looking south over the ocean – next stop Antarctica! – the course fails to inspire, because coconut palms on the edge of the lagoon and pines as a windbreak along the coast keep one away from the water’s edge, or even a good look at it. The greens do have some interest, and the turf was green and tight, but this course could be anywhere.”