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6 km SW of Luang Prabang
The golf course at Luang Prabang Golf Club is situated in northern Laos, on the south bank of the mighty Mekong River, just outside Luang Prabang, where this ancient city – which is best known for its many Buddhist temples – was regarded as the nation’s royal capital up until 1975.
The course was hewn from a thickly forested landscape and it’s played in two distinct anti-clockwise loops that each return to the clubhouse, with no parallel fairways in operation. Playing corridors are relatively tight, sometimes only 35-40 yards wide, so keeping the ball in play is an absolute essential.
A few ponds feature on the front half at holes 3, 5 and 7 but golfers really need to be rather wayward for any of them to impede their progress. On the back nine, the routing touches the riverside at the par three 17th before swooping uphill towards the clubhouse and the home green.
By definition, as the only course in the Region, this should be 5 golf ball rating, however it isn’t that good. Whilst this review will focus on the golf course, which I played this morning, it is worth noting that the golf club clearly has seen better days. The driveway into the car park is broken up and uneven, the magnificent clubhouse is now dilapidated and disused, with port a cabin type buildings now surrounding the car park which act as Pro shop, restaurant and offices. I suspect the original owners have now withdrawn having not made any money and it’s been taken on by new ownership who are no doubt doing an admirable job keeping the golf club running on what must be limited income - I was the only morning tee time booked in today. Granted it’s low season but I worry about the long term future for this beautiful golf course. Don’t get me wrong there were many people working on the course which given the 1st impressions of the club house was in surprising good condition.
The routing is delightful - 2 loops of nine played through the forest in anti clockwise directions. The type of grass meant the ball did not run much when landed and the greens were slow at 9 on the stint meter, but once you had got used to the slow pace they were a delight to play on with so much more turn in them than meets the eye. This is where the compulsory caddie comes in especially useful.
The 1st is a gentle open sweeping away from an elevated tee and room to open up your shoulders and get a good drive away. This is followed by a downhill par 3 where you need to carry all the way - given the lack of forward bounce on the soft fringe.
I found all the par 3’s delightful - the best being the spectacular 17th which measured 200 yards to the pin and runs along the Mekong River. You tee over a gully/inlet so again carry is required all the way to the green.
The 7th is also a lovely par 3 with a pond to the left, although this should not give you trouble unless you drag your tee shot left.
I also loved the 13th - a beautiful looking par 3 from the tee with green above you and strategic bunkering.
The par 4’s are also enjoyable with rising and falling land on most holes - loved the 11th and short 15th in particular - the latter through narrow tree opening and then uphill to a severely sloping back to front green.
The par 5’s were also enjoyable - none too short. Shortest was 500 yards off the white tees. The 12th is a very good par 5 with a strategic 2nd shot needing to fin the corner to leave an open 3rd to the green. I was a little short of the corner so with my caddies help, took a more risky route over the trees and played a draw back towards the green. It cam off...just.
The 16th par 5 has delightful views from the green of the Mekong
Then you get the delightful 17th
Shame the 18th is underwhelming - a straightforward tee shot with a short 2nd uphill to a sloping back to front green. Worse should be a par, but after a few great holes in 15-17, it’s a shame that the 18th is so plain. Then it’s back to the dilapidated clubhouse and a $1 coke from the outdoor restaurant.
Service was fantastic and the caddy was great. So were the ladies on the 9th when I nearly hit them with my drive, but they sold me a dozen Pro V1’s for $5 so it all worked out well.
I just hope more people play this course when in Luang Prabang - without it I can see it closing and that would be a shame. It could be 5 golf balls all day long, and if I was scoring on scenery it would be 6 as this is to die for.
I played the highland resort course at Luang Prabang Golf Club yesterday. The course is located 700 meters (2,300 feet) above sea level, so it is cooler than the capital, Vientiane. The course is laid out across relatively flat land in the mountain region. Players can enjoy an abundance of lush vegetation and panoramic mountain views.
The fairways are generous on most holes and the layout is not that difficult. Holes 14 to 17 run parallel the riverbank of the magnificent Mekong River and there are superb river views of the 16th green and the 17th hole.
Water is evident on nine of the eighteen holes but really only comes into play on holes 3, 5, 7, and 14. There are many interesting holes on the back 9. The Korean course designer, Tea Hwa, died several years ago and used to work in a shipping company. As an amateur designer he did a great job choosing the course routing, shaping the land, placing the well-positioned bunkers and water hazards, and making nice green complexes.
The Par 3 202-yard 17th is the signature hole playing right along Mekong River’s edge. The tee shot is slightly downhill over a tributary of the river onto the gently sloped two-tiered green that is protected by a bunker and the river on the right. You will enjoy not only the powerful Mekong River but also a steep mountain slope beyond the green on this charming hole.
Luang Prabang is a World Heritage town. The quiet Luan Pabang streets form the spiritual capital of Laos – scintillating architecture and fine dining are found in abundance. Luang Prabang Golf Club is a 15 to 20-minute drive from the town to the golf course.