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Top 100 Golf Courses of Asia 2020

11 May, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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