The Phoenix Resort in Pyeongchang is more renowned for its Ski World and Water World than for its golf offering. Also known as Phoenix Park Ski Resort, the golf course first opened for play in April 1998 and it’s South Korea’s first Jack Nicklaus Signature layout that’s set dramatically at 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level.
Take your skis if you’re visiting in the winter but make sure you have your clubs in tow during the summer months as Phoenix Country Club is not only challenging (6,932 yards) but it’s also routed across exciting topography.
Each and every hole is different in character, which doesn’t always bode well as a cohesive layout, but Jack has created a thrilling golfing ride where all his risk and reward features are on display.
Configured in two 9-hole loops with the outward nine named Mountain and the inward half called Lake, Phoenix Pyeongchang is definitely not a walk in the park; it’s a genuine challenge. The standout hole on the Mountain nine is the par five 2nd which doglegs left where water hugs the left side of the fairway. Find the short grass and you’re then faced with a second shot that must carry the interconnected water hazard which then turns into a large lake on the right-hand side. It’s a daunting hole to negotiate so early in the round.
The signature hole appears at the 11th on the Lake course, which is a short par four with risk and reward stamped all over it. A fairway to the right is the safe option, which many golfers will choose, but if you’re feeling brave, pull out the driver and take on the daunting water carry to the island fairway and green beyond which is completely surrounded by water. Regardless of which fairway you choose, you’ll be forced to carry the water hazard with either your drive or your approach shot to a heavily bunkered island green.
Phoenix Pyeongchang is highly rated by many South Korean golf publications and it’s also a regular and respected KLPGA tournament venue. The 756-roomed resort is jammed full of activities, including a theme park, a dozen ski slopes with cable cars rides and an outrageous water park. The facility is incredibly popular, as it’s located only two hours by car to the east of the capital, Seoul.