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​Top 30 Golf Courses of South Korea 2017

07 February, 2017

Top 30 Golf Courses of South Korea 2017

South Cape Owners Club remains at the top of our newly expanded South Korean chart

Observant browsers might notice it’s been only twelve months since we last extended and re-ranked our South Korean listings, when normally we conduct a chart revision every two years. Well, such is the eagerness of our Korean correspondent Hwa Young Nam to showcase the very best courses in his country, we’re steaming a year ahead of schedule with the addition of another ten tracks, giving us a new Top 30.

Young, who’s a panellist for one of the leading golf magazines, the Chief Editor at Herald Sports and a member of the International Golf and Travel Writers Association, has played more than a hundred courses in his native land so he’s well equipped to both ratify and validate the new courses that we’re publicising. With Hwa Young's thoughtful feedback and considered input from Masa Nishijima (our International Consultant), we feel we’re now presenting the most up to date picture of golf facilities on the Korean peninsula.

With no need for further introduction, let’s take a look at some of the chart highlights, where South Cape Owners Club remains at number 1. This Kyle Phillips design on Namhae Island – a new entry in the November 2015 edition of our World Top 100 – was visited by our International Correspondent David Davis last summer, and he was very impressed with a public facility that’s been called “Pebble Beach on steroids” by one commentator.

David’s review declared “a course that is constantly full of ‘wow’ moments,” mentioning it was “one of those rare properties and courses where water is in view from every single hole.” He thought the greens were “very interesting and as diverse as the routing full of contours” and the bunkering was “very playable and aesthetically engaging yet challenging” – all of which contributed to his “I’d highly recommend a visit to South Cape Owner’s Club” endorsement.

The most significant climber in our standings is Woo Jeong Hills (up three to number 4), a Perry Dye layout that has hosted the Korea Open several times since it was first held here in 2003. Laid out as a big, brash tournament track, this course is notable for its now rather clichéd Dye design trait – an island green, which appears at the long par three 13th hole.

Rising one spot to number 5, the West and East nines at Jade Palace Golf Club were designed by Harley Kruse from Greg Norman Design, first opening for play in 2004. Set out in the hills to the north east of Seoul, the fairways are nicely routed around a rolling landscape with spectacular flash-faced bunkers and cleverly constructed greensites the main golfing points of interest on a very modern golf facility.

Nudging up one place to number 7, the Temple and Cocoon nines at the 27-hole Whistling Rock Country Club complex is an audacious Ted Robinson Jnr design where the construction crew literally blasted the fairways from the hills that overlook the Chuncheon Lake basin, 100 kilometres northeast of the capital. Eric Iverson from Renaissance Golf Design has since renovated the layout.

Also creeping up one position to number 16, the East and West nines at Pinx Golf Club on Jeju island is another Ted Robinson Jnr project, only this time he shares the design credit with his late father, Ted Snr, who was known as the “king of the waterscapes”. This layout has the distinction of hosting Korea’s first European Tour event, the Ballantines’s Championship, which the club hosted for three years, starting in 2008.

The only remaining upward mover in our new chart is Wellington Country Club (up two to number 17) where the Griffin and Phoenix nines were laid out by Song Ho Golf Design in 2013. A third 9-hole circuit (named Wyvern) is now under construction at this exclusive facility which is currently managed by the highly talented (and multi-lingual) Jenny Lee, the former LPGA Tour player.

The accolade of “highest new entry” belongs to the Yeosu Gyundo Golf & Resort on Gyundo Island, in Jeollanam-do province, where the Geumo and Dolsan nines leap into our chart at number 9. Originally intended as a David McLay Kidd design, it appears there was a disagreement of some description between the client (JNDC) and the design company, with the developers completing this offshore project themselves.

There are a few facilities that we’re keeping tabs on as they could possibly feature in the next edition of our South Korean rankings. The most significant is the ultra-private project at Trinity Country Club, financed by Lee Myung-hee, daughter of the Samsung founder. The Trinity architect, Tom Fazio II, describes this layout as “one of the hardest, maybe the hardest in South Korea.” Perhaps we’ll have something more to say about it next time around.


To view further details of our newly revised South Korea Top 30 rankingsclick the link.

If you’d like to comment on our South Korean listings then please do so via the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page. We appreciate receiving feedback whenever we re-rank a national chart so if you have a strong opinion about anything you’re read in this article then feel free to let us know what you’re thinking.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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