Over last two decades, the seaside resort town of Hua Hin has established itself as one of the top golfing destinations in Asia – and for good reason as some of the best golfing experiences in the Kingdom of Thailand can be found here.
The picturesque city lies on the east coast of Thailand about a three-hour’s drive south of Bangkok and is the location of the King’s summer palace, known as Klai Kang Won – which means ‘far from worries.’ Indeed, Hua Hin takes visitors far away from all worries with its pristine beaches, rich heritage, superb cuisine … and excellent golf.
Accommodation options are plentiful and varied, ranging from luxury beachfront resorts to rustic city guesthouses, while the service and hospitality standards are top-class as you would expect in a Thai resort town.
Hua Hin’s golf heritage dates back to 1924 when Thailand’s first golf course, Royal Hua Hin Golf Club, opened for play. Once the playground for royalty and the gentile of Thai society along with British expatriates working on the southern railroad, the lush par-72 layout was crafted by Scottish engineer A.O. Robin and is located next to the railway station just five minutes’ drive from the city centre.
Despite its age, the 6678-yard layout is in excellent condition following a renovation exercise in the 1980s. The tight and tree-lined course challenges golfers with numerous doglegs and small, elevated greens. On some holes, golfers enjoy superb views of the Gulf of Thailand.
One of the must-play courses in Hua Hin is Banyan Golf Club, voted as Best New Golf Course in the 2009 Asian Golf Awards. Crafted by renowned Thai architect Pirapon Namatra, the par-72, 7361-yard resort-style course is stunningly laid out amidst rolling terrain – much of which was formerly a pineapple plantation, with clusters of the thorny fruit retained for aesthetic and penal purposes.
The Banyan course is a great example of a design that caters for golfers of all levels, offering six teebox options. From the front tees, the course is extremely playable and enjoyable, while off the tips it is a quite a hefty challenge. Sculptured bunkering, large waste areas and water hazards keep you on your toes, especially on the approach shots to the slick Tifeagle greens. Generally, the landing areas on the pristine Zoysia fairways are wide and receptive.
The excellent landscaping and scenic views from the higher spots make this one of the most visually stimulating golfing experiences in Thailand. A great example is the signature par-three 15th, where the view opens up all the way to the Gulf of Thailand.
Following a round, enjoying a cold beer or two at the al fresco area of the golfer’s terrace while soaking in the views is highly-recommended before heading back to town, which is only 15 minutes away.
Golfers who prefer a tougher test will find Black Mountain Golf Club to be just their cup of tea. Consistently rated one of the best courses not only in Asia but in the world as well, the Black Mountain course has played host to numerous top-class professional events including the joint Asian Tour and European Tour-sanctioned True Thailand Classic in 2015 and 2016.
The course gets its name from the surrounding granite mountains that provide an awe-inspiring backdrop as golfers make their way through one of the most challenging layouts in the Kingdom. Designed by Phil Ryan, the original 18 opened for play in 2007 and provides a classic example of risk-for-reward golf. Mature trees, rocky outcrops, well-placed bunkers and meandering waterways influence play on many holes of the 7343-yard tract, requiring golfers to strategize their way through.
The increasing popularity of the course saw a new nine added in 2016, measuring 3,621 yards from the back markers. The dark green Paspalum grass on the fairways, teeboxes and rough contrasts nicely with the lighter Tifeagle greens, which are fast and tricky and afford numerous pin positions. One of the standout holes is the spectacular par-five sixth, which plays to a peninsula green reachable in two by long hitters.
If time permits, other courses worth playing in Hua Hin include Jack Nicklaus’ famed Springfield Royal Country Club, the 36-hole Lake View Resort & Golf Club which is a pleasant parkland layout, the challenging Majestic Creek Country Club, the mature Palm Hills Golf Club which opened for play in 1992 and the linksy Sea Pines Golf Course.
A good time to plan a golfing trip to Hua Hin is from August to September during the Hua Hin Golf Festival, when all the golf courses offer special rates. Whichever combination of courses chosen, you can be assured of a top-class golfing experience.
Chances are, you’ll keep coming back for more!
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