The “Dream Arena” at Royal Gems Golf City lies an hour’s drive from Bangkok city centre and this 18-hole layout is the first of several courses planned for a supremely ambitious golf development which will, in the words of its chairman, help Thailand become “the world’s golf capital”.
Phase 1 of this challenging 63-hole project on a 560-acre site was entrusted to architect Ron Garl, and he decided to create Asia’s first replica course with front nine holes containing imitations of iconic features like the Church Pews bunker on the 3rd hole at Oakmont, the island green on the par three 17th at TPC Sawgrass and the Postage Stamp green from the short 8th hole at Royal Troon.
Ron Garl has done this sort of thing before – more than half the holes on his Wooden Sticks course outside Toronto are inspired from those on top American and Scottish tracks – but he’s gone a step further this time by laying out holes 10 to 18 in the same style as the entire back nine at Augusta National.
Royal Gems Golf City offers players nine internationally well-known holes on the front 9 while the back 9 is a replica of Augusta National. The first nine replica holes are so well connected and combined that it almost feels as if it is a new and perfectly designed golf course. Some major differences between this replica course and Augusta National are the tree sizes, the green shapes and surfaces, and green speeds. Still, players can simulate the experience as if they were at August National.
The opening hole is a tough par four 423-yard with a relatively straight fairway. It is the replica of Oakmont Hole 3. There is a huge bunker that is placed on the left side of the fairway. The grasses are planted on top of several narrowly raised soil mounds in the bunker, which look like church pew benches from the teeing ground. The contrast of the white bunker sand and the green grass makes the fairway look narrower, giving players more pressure off the tee box. The tee shot is downhill while the second shot is uphill. The last hole is a tough 459-yard uphill par four with a dogleg that bends to the right. The tee shot will require the ball to fly through the narrow corridor of the tee boxes flanked by the trees, even though the trees are currently young and rather small. Players are encouraged to aim at the fairway bunker that is placed 290 yards off the tee. A left to right ball flight is also good. The second is an uphill blind shot towards the green. There is also a deep bunker that is placed near the front left side of green. The biggest difference players realize when they play this hole after they watch the Masters on television is the actual steepness of the course. On TV, the 18th of August National looks relatively flat or slightly uphill, but the hole in fact, is sharp, not less than 70 feet, uphill from the tee to the green.
Although the course is a replica of various famous international holes, the layout is quite interesting. You should try to play this fun course once while you are in Bangkok. To read more about Royal Gems Golf City, click here to visit my website.