Top 40 Golf Courses of Thailand 2015
Thailand does its best to maintain its reputation as the powerhouse of southeast Asian golf
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s assertion that the country is “increasingly becoming a top destination for travellers looking for great courses, great prices, and great service” is one that’s hard to disagree with. Indeed, as the global economy slowly emerges from a lengthy period of recession and the number of golfers booking golf holidays in The Kingdom of Thailand appears to be on the increase, the TAT statement is one that deserves our wholehearted endorsement.
Over 200 golf courses are dotted around the country and more than a quarter of the layouts are located in and around the main centre of population in Bangkok, as might be expected. To the mountainous north of the country, in the Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai regions, you’ll find over a dozen top class courses, including Santiburi and Chiangmai Highlands, with most of the remaining Thai golf facilities arranged in three clusters to the south of the capital in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket.
We’ve presented the best courses in Thailand since 2009, expanding the coverage to thirty 18-hole layouts in 2012. Utilising local knowledge gleaned from regional correspondents, the number of ranked courses in Thailand has just been increased to forty and in the latest edition of the Thai chart, eleven courses move up, eleven drop down, four remain in the same position and another four fall from the ratings completely, allowing fourteen new entries to come in.
For a nation that’s normally so accessible, many will find it ironic that our top three tracks in Thailand are all private facilities, where only members and invited guests can play. We make no distinction between private and public courses. If a course is amongst the best in its district/region/state/nation then it’s ranked, regardless of who can or can’t play it, it’s as simple as that. We don’t endorse elitism, we merely exhibit the best courses that exist around the world.
Kimi, our Southern Asian correspondent, played the Thai No. 1 course at Ayodhya Links recently and was suitably impressed by what he found, saying, “this Thomson & Perrett design is a masterpiece for them. It is perfect in every aspect. Many holes are memorable and impressive. The owner is using a non-chemical method of golf course maintenance so it is an organic golf course. In order to maintain this great course, the owner keeps paying the multi-million dollar deficits every year as he loves his course and likes it very private”. Expect a full review from Kimi in the near future.
Another two courses in the greater Bangkok area hog the limelight in our new listings. The Schmidt & Curley-designed Amata Spring course, former host venue of the Royal Trophy between 2006 and 2010, features a rather ingenious floating island green at its par three 17th hole and it retains the runner up spot in our new Thai table. This new millennium design has also managed to hold off the “botanical garden” layout at Alpine Golf Club, which climbs a couple of places to number three.
The modern beach resort of Pattaya lies on the Gulf of Thailand, to the southeast of the capital, and it’s home to the number four course in Thailand, the Old at Siam Country Club, which was redesigned in 2007. Other highly rated golf facilities in this area include the 27-hole Jack Nicklaus complex at Laem Chabang International, along with the rather unconventional Des Muirhead layout at St Andrews 2000, an 18-hole course that plays to a par of 74, including par sixes at holes 4 and 13.
Thailand’s original beach resort at Hua Hin, on the other side of the Gulf of Thailand from Pattaya, is situated a two and a half-hour drive from Bangkok and it somehow manages to retain much of its old fashioned charm, despite the many modern day tourist pressures exerted on it. Amongst the many good quality golf courses located in this region, the modern courses at Banyan (up five places to number five) and Black Mountain (down three spots to number seven) are undoubtedly the finest in the locality.
The island of Phuket, lying just off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, is internationally recognised as one of the most exotic travel destinations in southeast Asia. Fortunately for golfers, it has eight golf courses available for public play, the best of which are the fabulous Canyon and Lakes courses at Blue Canyon (number eight and twelve, respectively, in our national chart) and the remarkable Red Mountain course, which the Morrow Tikkanen design company introduced in 2004 (up six places to number six in our new listings).
Major golf developments in Thailand last year included the construction of new 18-hole courses at Nikanti Golf Club in Bangkok and at Katathong Golf Club in Phang Nha. There was also the addition of another nine at Chiang Mai Highlands, creating an expanded 27-hole complex. And with substantial renovation work carried out at Laguna Phuket and Gassan Legacy, there’s no way anybody could say that Thailand was not trying to keep pace with a fast-changing golf world.
To view our new Thailand Top 40 click the link. As ever, we welcome feedback so please let us know if you have any strong feelings about our new Thai listings. We never boast of publishing “definitive” lists but we do think that we produce the “most informed” rankings in the golf industry. If you’ve been fortunate enough to tee it up at any of the courses below, why not post a review and share your views with us?
Dragon Hills, Evergreen Hills, Panorama and Royal Ratchaburi are the four courses that have dropped out of our latest Thai chart to make way for fourteen new entries.
12 March 2015 Respond to this article