Nikanti’s 6×3 layout is enticing to look at and enthralling to play
By Jonathan Ponniah
I first played Nikanti during a media preview in 2014 and was already suitably impressed then, despite the course being a mite raw and the clubhouse a work in progress.
Fast forward a year and a half and here I was again – and this time I was much more impressed by the course, located in Nakhon Pathom about an hour from Bangkok. Pirapon Namatra’s creation has matured well and has been deservingly endowed must-play status – simply by word-of-mouth and not just because of the innovative routing which takes golfers on three six-hole loops instead of the standard nines.
Working closely with the owners – in particular managing director Nick Sasomsub who is an avid and accomplished golfer – Pirapon has created three superb sixes that are, quite simply, fun to play. Taking the sixes concept even further, each loop is made up of two par-threes, two par-fours and two par-fives which means that the 6,789-yard par-72 course has six of each – another design masterstroke in my book as it adds more variety to a round.
Another advantage of the 6×3 configuration is that you can opt to play 12 holes if time does not permit 18 (and nine holes does not seem worth the effort) – for instance if you’ve got an early afternoon flight to catch. On the flip side, if there’s one six you feel like taking on again, then do 24 holes.
Well-designed courses strike a good balance between playability and challenge, allowing golfers to test all parts of their game without driving them nuts – and Nikanti passes that test with flying colours. Each six opens with a par-five and is followed by a par-three and a par-four, which allows golfers to get through almost their entire bags within the first few holes regardless of where they opt to start from.
Generally, there is ample space for tee shots but wild hits will be punished by water, deep bunkers and the pretty yet penal shrubbery that lines many holes. It’s on the subsequent shots that golfers get really tested as most of the trouble is located around the greens.
And what amazing greens they are – like the rest of the course, Nikanti’s Tifeagle putting surfaces serve up a variety of challenges. There are some humongous greens while others make really miniscule targets, a clutchful with heavy contouring and the rest with more subtle breaks and borrows. The greens were probably Stimping around 10 when we played and were pretty tricky, but you get the feeling they can easily be rolled to be substantially faster for competitions.
The Tifway 419 fairways are close to immaculate, lush yet firm enough to allow buggies on course and an absolute pleasure to hit off. Oddly Paspalum is used for the tees but that actually adds a pleasant multi-hue look to the course.
It’s hard to pick standout holes but if we had to name a couple, they would be the par-five 6th where the tee shot has to be threaded between two clusters of sugar palms, and the risk-for-reward par-five 13th which curves right around a lake with a nest of bunkers protecting the front of the green.
Other memorable tracts include the short par-four 4th which is driveable for long-hitters, the pretty par-three 8th which plays between a corridor of trees, the brutishly-long par-four 9th rated as the toughest hole on the course, and the postcard-pretty par-three 14th playing over water to a tiny and well-trapped green.
And the clubhouse has to be one of the best in Thailand, if not Asia. The spacious and well-ventilated complex has a minimalist feel but there’s nothing minimal about the facilities for golf, F&B and conferencing. The changing rooms are the best I’ve seen so far – and trust me I’ve seen many – with huge, wardrobe-like lockers complete with touch locks.
Even by Thailand’s lofty standards, the food at Nikanti is right up there with the best. Lovingly created by Chef Pop, the in-house cuisine merges local fare with Western elements to create an amazing dining experience. It’s clear that everyone at Nikanti, from the registration staff and locker room attendants to the caddies and marshals, has one and only one aim – to create the best possible experience for golfers. And there are no members, so everyone is a VIP.
Golfing charges at Nikanti are packaged as a one-off fee with one cart and one caddy per golfer, along with meals and non-alcoholic beverages (and even the caddy tip, although most give something extra). Pay at the registration desk and that’s the last time you’ll need to pull out your wallet, except for alcohol and any lost wagers.
Khun Nick explained how the concept for Nikanti came about: “The name Nikanti comes from a Balinese Sanskrit word which actually means ‘delight’ or ‘attached to’, and in Buddhism refers to the last step before enlightenment. That’s what we’re trying to create here, something that golfers will become attached to.
“My family loves golf so much and so we decided to create something that golfers would love. We asked ourselves what golfers would want and the answer was worry-free golf where you just enjoy the day, and the all-inclusive fee is married to that very well – this is one of the unique things about Nikanti which I have not seen anywhere else,” he added.
The idea of creating a course that plays out in six-hole loops instead of the traditional nine is not entirely new. It’s been done in the US but Nikanti is – as far as we know – the first in Asia to be built with a 6×3 routing. Coincidentally, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley recently revealed plans to introduce six-hole professional events with loud music, shot clocks and fewer clubs.
“You have to change, people’s time is so precious – I think every golf course being built needs to be six holes, six holes, six holes so that people can go at the beginning before they go to work,” said Pelley.
The folks at Nikanti are way ahead of you, Mr Pelley. Now wouldn’t it be cool to stage a Thailand versus The Rest of Southeast Asia six-hole matchplay event here?
6 Reasons To Play Nikanti
- Layout – Pirapon Namatra’s creation is one of the most interesting courses to play in the Kingdom of Smiles.
- Condition – Turf is near immaculate from tee to green, well into the high percentiles even by Thai standards.
- Service – Five-star treatment from the moment you arrive till you’re ready to leave.
- Value – Nikanti’s all-in-one fee works out to be a great deal for the quality of the golf course and overall experience.
- Flexibility – Play 6, 12, 18 or 24 holes depending on your schedule.
- Accessibility – An hour’s drive from Bangkok along a well-maintained
Address: 333 Moo 2 T.Dhammasala, Amphoe Muang, Nakhon Pathom 73000, GPS Coordinates: Latitude 13.792192 / Longitude 100.109458
Tel: +66 34 965666 / Fax: +66 34 240649
Designer: Pirapon Namatra, Year Opened: 2014, Course Closure: Mondays
Weekdays – 4,500 baht / Weekends – 5,500 baht inclusive of green fees, cart, caddy (with tip), meals
Contact the club for current rates and on-going promotions.