Nikanti Golf Club opened in 2014 and has already been ranked the third best ‘Best Golf Club Experience in Asia Pacific’ at the 2018 and 2019 Asian Golf Awards. Architect Khun Pirapon (Ope) Namatra of GolfEast conceived a 6-6-6 concept based on Nikanti’s brand philosophy - the six senses in Buddhism (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and mind).
This is the first golf course in Asia that has been designed with two par 3’s, two par 4’s and two par 5’s in three loops that all return to the clubhouse. In my mind, this is the way of the future.
The layout may not be long (6789 yards from the black tees) but the fairways are narrow with plenty of bunkers making it a shot-makers course that justifies its course rating of 72.2 and a slope of 140. Even though the local topography is relative flat, since it was built on former rice paddies, they have moved a lot of earth to make the elevation changes that incorporates seven ponds.
The opening hole is a difficult double dogleg par-5 that will get your attention right out of the gate. If you are playing from the black or blue tees, your drive needs to cover the pond on the right. Your second shot should stay right of the next pond that runs the remainder of this hole to a narrow green. Par is a great start if you can avoid all the danger.
The 3rd hole is a long dogleg par-4 where you need a big drive to be able to see the green or else you will be blocked out by the trees on the left. From there it is up hill to a huge kidney-shaped green with water on the right and three bunkers protecting the front left of this narrow but elongated green.
#4 is a driveable par-4 but the green is well protected and raised severely making it a tough reach. The prudent move is to hit a long iron or utility club to the left and take your chances with a short wedge.
The 6th maybe their signature hole. Your intimidating drive is through a shoot of toddy palms on this dogleg left par-5 and the shallow green is protected by six bunkers.
Most of the par-5’s are reachable in two but are usually well-protected by bunkers or water. The prudent play is to layup and avoid most of the danger.
Overall, I found the course to be in excellent shape with deep soft sand. When I played, they were in the midst of removing some of the bunkers to increase pace of play. The fast greens are severe and well guarded. #15 is the toughest green on the course with huge mounts and swales. The rough is short but your ball sits down and a little sticky.
Nikanti is located about and hour drive west of Bangkok and 1 ½ hours from Wah Hen. There are no nearby accommodations, but they have partnered with ‘Limousine Express” to pick you up and drop off from either city.
The golf package 4500 to 5500 Bhat for package (about US$145-175 or EURO 121-148) and included is your golf, power cart with GPS technology, food, caddy and two meals. There are also kiosks at every three holes, serving free snacks. Caddies have been trained for at least two months before they can work so they are very capable. 500 Bhat (US$16) is the suggested tip but not required. 1000 Bhat for older rentals or 2000 for new Titleist clubs.
Dave Finn is a golf travel writer and photographer from Canada. To follow his adventures visit www.golftravelandleisure.com
Date: September 16, 2020