Top 100 Golf Courses of Asia 2020

Top 100 Golf Courses of Asia 2020

This is the first revision of the Top 100 rankings for Asia, a chart that we introduced two years ago. We’ve spent the last few months updating individual national listings in that part of the world, producing three regional reports – for East, South and Southeast Asia – during that process. Now that we’ve collated all the data, it’s time to reveal what we believe to be the best hundred golfing layouts within the largest and most populous continent on the planet.

In terms of statistics, there are sixteen countries represented in these standings, with courses in Japan (25), South Korea (16) and China (13) comprising more than half the chart. Another third of the entries originate in Vietnam (10), Thailand (7), Indonesia (7), Philippines (5) and Malaysia (4). In quite a turbulent new table, there are twenty new courses and only eight non-movers, with thirty-three courses moving up and thirty-nine dropping down.

Once again, we have to thank our panel of journalists who are spread out over a vast area for their valuable input. In particular, we’re grateful to our Asia correspondent Kimi Hoshiyama for his unstinting efforts. He’s now played 91 of the courses featured in these listings so it shouldn’t be too long until he becomes the first person to play the Top 100 in Asia.

The top three positions remain exactly as they were when we last carried out this biennial exercise which means the course at Hirono Golf Club is still the No. 1 course in Asia. Designed by C. H. Alison back in the early 1930s, the course recently underwent an extensive restoration by Martin Ebert, using Alison’s plans, club photographs and old aerial photographs from the 1940s and 1960s to recreate the original design intent of Harry Colt’s partner.

Hirono Golf Club

Hirono Golf Club

Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary has seen the outcome of this upgrade and posted recently about the widespread tree clearance, the introduction of sizeable waste areas on a number of holes, the resurfacing of the greens and the refurbishment of all the bunkers. “The renovations are sublime,” he said, before adding: “It’s absolutely the top dog in Japan and Asia”. The course is also currently #33 in the world, having risen three places when our global rankings were refreshed six months ago.

Yangtze Dunes at Lanhai International Country Club in China is the first of our twenty new entries, crashing into the continental Top 100 at #5. The course was first set out by Jack Nicklaus almost a decade ago but a subsequent change in ownership brought about dramatic changes with a radical renovation by Australian firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead leading to the rebuilding of greens, the introduction of sandy waste areas and blow-out bunkers.

Yangtze Dunes at Lanhai International Country Club

Yangtze Dunes at Lanhai International Country Club

Our man Fergal was also here last year and he felt Yangtze Dunes was one of the best courses he played in 2019: “it’s completely different to anything you’ll find in Asia, especially given how firm the course is kept… the course has a magnificent sandy base that provided the catalyst for the designers to take the linksy route with their plans, and the results are sensational… this course has a more impressive mix of holes and topography than many of the courses that sadly linger on ranking lists.”

Just a little further behind this front running debutant we have a couple of Vietnamese newcomers, Hoiana Shores (at #12) and KN Golf Links Cam Ranh (at #16), both of which reside on the South Central Coast in that country. The former course is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that was just unveiled last year and the latter is Greg Norman’s third project to open in Vietnam. Occupying substantial sandy sites overlooking the South China Sea, each of these new tracks plays firm and fast, exhibiting many of the playing characteristics found on links layouts in Great Britain & Ireland, with a tropical twist.

Hoiana Shores Golf Club

Hoiana Shores Golf Club

Quite a few courses make significant double-digit moves up the new Asian standings, most notably a trio of 18-hole layouts from South Korea, led by Anyang Country Club (up thirty-two to #23) which Robert Trent Jones Jr. redesigned in the late 1990s. Also making a massive climb up the table, we have the Griffin and Wyvern nines at Wellington Country Club in Incheon (up twenty-three to #47) and Haesley Nine Bridges (up twenty to #69), where David Dale and Kevin Ramsey of Golfplan set out the course a decade ago now.

Anyang Country Club

Anyang Country Club

Three Indonesian layouts also make outstanding chart progress. The first two are mid-1990s Jack Nicklaus designs at Taman Dayu Golf Club & Resort (up fifteen to #30), billed as “a heavenly escape in the lush green foothills of Mount Welirang,” and the Bumi Serpong Dama – known as “the spirit of the hills” – at the 36-hole Damai Indah Golf complex outside Jakarta (up fourteen to #42). The third track from Indonesia to make a big impact is Royale Jakarta (West & South), a JMP Design production from Bob Moore that rises thirteen places to No. 52.

Taman Daya Golf Club & Resort

Taman Daya Golf Club & Resort

The #1 course in the Philippines, The Country Club in Canlubang, advances eleven rungs up the ladder to No. 46. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the layout has recently been lengthened, enabling it to host major national events like the Philippine Open which has been held here since 2017. It’s a tough track, described by one reviewer as “by far the hardest course I have ever played from the tips” so that’s fair warning for anybody fortunate enough to get a rare invite here to choose their tees very carefully.

The Country Club

The Country Club

In the bottom half of the new listings, the largest leap upwards is made by the course at Amata Spring Country Club, soaring twenty-five spots to No.63. Located midway between Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand, this Schmidt & Curley design was the venue for four editions of the now defunct Royal Trophy, played between 8-man professional teams from Europe and Asia – and who can ever forget television images of this event and the ferryboat carrying golfers to and from the floating green at the par three 17th?

Amata Spring Country Club

Amata Spring Country Club

Another couple of new entries are worth comment.

Himalayan in Nepal (new at #55) is one of the most remarkable courses in the world, framed by the towering Annapurna Massif and with fairways laid out inside the walls of a deep canyon formed over many thousands of years by the snowmelt waters of the Bijayapur River. Architect Ron Fream first brought this place to the attention of the golfing world many years ago but it’s only now, with Tom Doak picking up on it, that it’s getting the wider recognition it deserves. Tom reckons “you have to see this course sometime in your life” which is high praise indeed for a course built entirely by hand with local manual labour.

Himalayan Golf Course

Himalayan Golf Course

Myotha National in Myanmar (new at #86) is a Schmidt-Curley design that’s laid out within a large industrial and residential development an hour’s drive southwest of Mandalay. The course is boldly bunkered, in keeping with the scale of the property, and the greens are also large, featuring strong slopes and backstops. Importantly, it’s conditioned to play firm and fast, which is a playing characteristic that now appears to be finding favour with quite a few of the new courses that have opened for business in Asia over the last year or so.

Myotha National Golf Club

Myotha National Golf Club


Rank/ Course Country Move
1 Hirono Japan No change
2 Kawana (Fuji) Japan No change
3 South Cape Owners Club South Korea. No change
4 Naruo Japan Up 2
5 Lanhai International (Yangtze Dunes) China New entry
6 Nine Bridges South Korea Up 3
7 Tokyo Japan Up 1
8 Yokohama (West) Japan Down 3
9 Shanqin Bay China Down 5
10 Bluffs Ho Tram Strip Vietnam Down 3
11 Ayodhya Links Thailand No change
12 Hoiana Shores Vietnam New entry
13 Ono Japan Up 2
14 Kasumigaseki (East) Japan Down 1
15 Sentosa (Serapong) Singapore Down 1
16 KN Golf Links - Cam Ranh (Links) Vietnam New entry
17 Abiko Japan Down 1
18 Mission Hills (Blackstone) China Up 1
19 TPC Kuala Lumpur (West) Malaysia Down 2
20 Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula (East) China Up 1
21 Spring City (Lake) China Down 3
22 Oarai Japan Up 1
23 Anyang South Korea Up 32
24 Koga Japan Down 2
25 Sheshan China No change
26 Spring City (Mountain) China Up 1
27 Jack Nicklaus South Korea Up 6
28 Nikko Japan No change
29 BRG Da Nang (Dunes) Vietnam Up 3
30 Taman Dayu Indonesia Up 15
31 Woo Jeong Hills South Korea Down 5
32 Laguna Lang Co Vietnam Down 2
33 Ba Na Hills Vietnam Down 9
34 Ryugasaki Japan Up 1
35 Sky Lake (Lake) Vietnam Down 1
36 Hokkaido Classic Japan Up 8
37 FLC Quy Nhon (Mountain) Vietnam Down 25
38 Fujizakura Japan New entry
39 Sentosa (New Tanjong) Singapore Up 4
40 Ria Bintan (Ocean) Indonesia Up 6
41 Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau (North) Hong Kong No change
42 Damai Indah (Bumi Serpong Damai) Indonesia Up 14
43 FLC Quy Nhon (Ocean) Vietnam Down 23
44 Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula (West) China Up 17
45 Shimonoseki Japan Up 18
46 Country Club - Philippines Phillipines Up 11
47 Wellington (Griffin & Wyvern) South Korea Up 23
48 Jian Lake Blue Bay China Up 2
49 Whistling Rock (Temple & Cocoon) South Korea Down 39
50 Tokyo Classic Japan Down 19
51 Shanghai Links China Down 14
52 Royale Jakarta (West & South) Indonesia Up 13
53 Takanodai Japan No change
54 Sta. Elena (Makiling & Banahaw) Phillipines Down 5
55 Himalayan Nepal New entry
56 Jade Palace (West & East) South Korea Down 27
57 BRG Kings Island (Kings) Vietnam New entry
58 Kasumigaseki (West) Japan Down 16
59 Pondok Indah Indonesia New entry
60 Saujana (Palm) Malaysia Up 4
61 Gokarna Forest Nepal Up 5
62 Anvaya Cove Phillipines New entry
63 Amata Spring Thailand Up 25
64 Weihai Point China New entry
65 Alpine GC Thailand Down 7
66 Rancamaya Indonesia New entry
67 Katsura Japan New entry
68 The Mines Malaysia Down 17
69 Haesley Nine Bridges South Korea Up 20
70 Dongzhuang Beach (Linksland) China New entry
71 Karuizawa Japan Down 35
72 Pine Beach (Pine & Beach) South Korea Down 33
73 Nasu Japan Down 35
74 Trinity Club South Korea Down 12
75 Ta Shee (Kingfisher & Egret) Taiwan Up 1
76 Empire Brunei Down 3
77 DLF (Gary Player) India Up 13
78 Hakone Japan Down 19
79 La Vie est Belle (Old) South Korea Down 1
80 Siam (Old) Thailand Down 9
81 Reignwood Pine Valley (Golden Bear) China New entry
82 Clearwater Bay Hong Kong Down 2
83 Delhi (Lodhi) India Up 10
84 Phoenix (Takachiho & Sumiyoshi) Japan Down 36
85 Kota Permai Malaysia New entry
86 Myotha National Myanmar New entry
87 Manila Southwoods (Masters) Phillipines New entry
88 Pinx (East & West) South Korea Up 3
89 Victoria Sri Lanka Down 2
90 Taiwan G&CC Taiwan Up 2
91 Banyan Thailand New entry
92 Blackstone Icheon (North & West) South Korea Up 2
93 Taiheiyo (Gotemba) Japan New entry
94 Sherwood Hills Phillipines Down 19
95 Sagewood Yeosu Gyungdo (Geumo & Dolsan). South Korea Down 10
96 Blue Canyon (Canyon) Thailand New entry
97 Jagorawi (Old) Indonesia New entry
98 Blackstone Jeju (East & South) South Korea Down 1
99 Ibaraki (West) Japan Down 47
100 Thai CC Thailand Down 4


To view the complete detailed list of the Top 100 Golf Courses of Asia click the link.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses