Golf Digest pick of the the best golf courses in Thailand
These are the courses you should you have at the top of your list when heading to Thailand to play golf
Thailand has enjoyed fantastic golf development in recent years and is home to over 250 golf courses. However, when planning a golf holiday to this lovely Asian country, you want to ensure you make the most of your time and play the best Thailand golf courses. Perhaps the best way to do this, is by looking at the best Thailand golf courses as per the Golf Digest rankings.
Golf Digest is a monthly golf magazine produced by Conde Nast and having been established in 1950, the magazine holds a special place in many golfer’s hearts. Golf Digest covers every aspect of golf, from professional and recreational, to equipment and golf holidays, it’s all in there. Perhaps the most famous feature of the magazine is its greatest golf course rankings and golf fans around the world wait with baited breath each year, to see if their favourite golf course has made the list.
Golf Digest also produce rankings for golf courses in the major golfing countries around the world, one of which is Thailand. So, per Golf Digest, what are the best Thailand golf courses and which ones should you have at the top of your list when heading to the country to play golf?
Black Mountain, Hua Hin
Black Mountain offer a challenge for professional golfers but it is also enjoyable for beginners
Starting in Hua Hin, which is on the west side of the Gulf of Thailand, one golf course you cannot afford to miss when playing golf in Thailand, is Black Mountain Golf Club. Designed by Phil Ryan and established in 2007, Black Mountain Golf Club has regularly been voted as the best Thailand golf course by Golf Digest magazine. Nestling in a valley, surrounded by large granite rock, Black Mountain Golf Club is on the site of a former pineapple plantation and was created from lush jungle, into the splendid golf course we see today.
In both 2009 and 2010, Asian PGA Tour events were held at Black Mountain and the Royal Trophy, which was a match play event between Asia and Europe was played at Black Mountain in 2011. The first European Tour event, the Thailand Classic, was also staged at Black Mountain in 2015 and 2016 and the golf club has been building a great reputation for itself, following its appearance in the 2012 Golf Digest Top 100 Courses Outside the USA list.
The golf course has a very natural feel, with the creeks, rocks and trees coming together to create very pleasant surroundings. The great thing about Black Mountain, is while it maintains a challenge for professional golfers, it is also accessible for beginners too and everyone can enjoy themselves on this course, whatever their ability or experience. Generous looking fairways soon become narrow for long hitters off the tee and there are several risk/reward options around the course, so good decision making is a key factor for making a low score. Greens are large and well protected by white sand bunkers, so you cannot afford to be wayward in your approach play at Black Mountain Golf Club or you will struggle to get up and down. The par 4, 7th hole is a great example of the risk/reward holes you will play at Black Mountain, with a drive of 230 yards plus over water or two shots, to work the ball around the water, making par a difficult goal to achieve. This is a golf course which will have you thinking throughout the 18 holes but once inside the tremendous clubhouse, you can relax with a drink and something to eat from the restaurant, while discussing your round with friends.
The other great aspect to playing golf at Black Mountain is the resort, meaning you stay onsite and play more than one round, while taking advantage of the great facilities, such as the spa and water park. Black Mountain resort is ranked as one of the best Thailand golf courses per Golf Digest rankings and it’s easy to see why.
Thai Country Club, Bangkok
The outstanding features of this golf course are the excellent conditioning and the great variety throughout the 18 holes
From one prestigious Thailand golf course to another and Thai Country Club, located just 50 minutes away from the centre of Bangkok, has played host to some of the world’s top golfers. The course is designed by Denis Griffiths and opened for play in 1996. Just one year later, Thai Country Club hosted the Asian Honda Classic, won by Tiger Woods and the following year, staged the Johnnie Walker Super Tour, which was won by Vijay Singh. The Volvo Masters was also played at Thai Country Club, making it a great golf course for those who would like to follow in the footsteps of some of the legends of professional golf.
Perhaps the outstanding features of this golf course are the excellent conditioning and the great variety throughout the 18 holes. There are several water hazards spread across the golf course, in addition to sand bunkers and Thai Country Club presents a fantastic parkland style layout. Both the fairway and greens enjoy changes in elevation and are well protected with bunkers and semi-rough, which despite making the golf ball easy to find, can present great difficulty when playing a shot.
Making a note of pin placement is key and if you land on the green but fail to be within 5 yards of the flag, you are left with a very testing putt, often with a break to read. One of the most testing holes at Thai Country Club is the 6th hole and from the back tees, its 218 yards to the flag, with water guarding the right side of the green and sand in-front and behind the green. Even the professional golfers struggle when playing this hole and if you manage a par, you will be delighted.
The Thai Country Club clubhouse has won the best in Asia award and the caddies are very well trained, meaning you will enjoy your experience from the moment you arrive, to the moment you leave. In our opinion, Thai Country Club is one of the best Thailand golf courses and Golf Digest agree.
Siam Country Club Old Course, Pattaya
The final four holes of this course are the finest in the Pattaya region of Thailand and one of the reasons the course is listed
The first privately owned golf club in Thailand was Siam Country Club Old Course and it has matured since its early days of opening in 1971 to become one of the most famous in Thailand. It has been recognised by Golf Digest as one of the best Thailand golf courses.
Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley are responsible for the current layout of the course, having completely renovated the site in 2007. Much of the original routing of the course was kept the same but the quality was improved and brought the Siam Country Club Old Course up to the international standard we see today. The course is home to the annual Honda LPGA Classic and when played during the spring season, the trees are in bloom and it makes for a very special sight. A series of lakes is the basis for this golf course and the holes work their way from the clubhouse, around the water and back again. There are large bunker complexes on several of the holes and long, accurate driving is a must to avoid this hazard, in addition to the large trees which line many of the fairways. The greens are large and fast, with many undulations, some of which can be quite severe so you must be on your game when it comes to putting, otherwise a low score will be difficult to achieve. Do not be afraid to use the experience of your caddie when it comes to reading the greens if you are playing Siam Country Club Old Course for the first time, as this will save you a few shots during your round.
The final four holes of this course are the finest in the Pattaya region of Thailand and one of the reasons the course is listed by Golfers Digest as being one of the best Pattaya golf courses. These holes have been known to make or break a round and the par-5 18th is a beauty, with many golfers tempted to try and reach the green in two, only to walk away with a bogey or worse. Choose your shot and select your club wisely and you could be heading into the clubhouse celebrating a great final hole.
The Siam Country Club Old Course is one of the best in Thailand and with the Plantation and Waterside Course making up the whole package at Siam, you could easily stay for a few days and play each of them.
Red Mountain Golf Club, Phuket
Red Mountain has a reputation for being the most spectacular golf course in the whole of Thailand
Heading to Phuket Island and another course highly recommended in Thailand by Golf Digest is Red Mountain Golf Club. This course is just 15 minutes away from Patong beach and was designed by Jonathan Marrow. Opened for play in 2007, Red Mountain quickly forged a reputation for itself as being the most spectacular golf course in the whole of Thailand. The overall landscape of the course is very undulating and there are dramatic changes in elevation throughout.
Situated on an abandoned tin mine, flooded canyons, cliffs and trees frame many of the holes and the views, from what is Phuket’s highest golf course are truly memorable. There is good variety across the 18 holes, with large and small greens, some quite flat and others with large breaks to test golfers of all abilities. The final six holes are regarded as being the toughest at Red Mountain Golf Club and the par-3, 17th hole features a downhill tee shot, to a green which is small and surrounded by trees, making for a very dramatic penultimate hole. There are many risk/reward options throughout the 18 holes and to avoid a score to forget, always consult your caddie for advice and club selection. You will regret it if you don’t.
Red Mountain Golf Club is one of the most exciting in Thailand it can be easy to get caught up in the fascinating surroundings and history of the course. However, if you want to keep your scorecard looking respectable, you must focus on every shot and if you do, you will have a very enjoyable round of golf. Golf Digest has Red Mountain listed as one of the best Thailand golf courses and with tremendous scenery and testing holes, you will not be disappointed.
Alpine Golf and Sports Club, Bangkok
The course is regarded as being comfortably the best layout and toughest golf course in Bangkok
Considered by many to be one of top golf courses in Asia, its little wonder to see Alpine Golf and Sports Club in Golf Digest’s list of best Thailand golf courses. Created by one of America’s most respected golf course architects, Ronald M. Garl, this course is located an hour outside Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. Having opened for play in 1996, Alpine golf and Sports Club was host to the 2000 and 2004 Johnnie Walker Classic PGA tournament, the first of which was won by Tiger Woods. The course is regarded as being comfortably the best layout and toughest golf course in Bangkok.
Large trees, bushes and shrubs frame most of the holes, which feature undulating fairways and quick, sloping greens. Beach-style bunkers and water make up the hazards on this course and with significant elevation changes throughout the 18 holes, you must be prepared to plan shots carefully, or face difficult approach shots to the well-protected greens. For example, the 7th and 11th holes feature greens which are very well protected by water, so much so, they are basically island greens. Anything but accuracy in shots to these greens, will result in a wet golf ball. The testing nature of Alpine Golf and Sports Club, does not take away from the natural beauty of the course and you will enjoy your round thoroughly, taking in the views and testing your golf ability.
The clubhouse offers a choice of two restaurants and the service is first class, so you will have a great time, both on and off the course. Alpine Golf and Sports Club is ranked as one of the best Thailand golf courses by Golf Digest and you won’t get any argument about that from us.
Other Thailand golf courses considered to be of a very high standard by Golf Digest include Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin and Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort, Chiang Mai. The former won the award as Best New Course in Asia in 2009 and provides tremendous mountain and ocean views from a course surrounded by native pineapple groves and other local fruit trees. Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort is set on a high elevation, boasting fresh air, great views and a cool climate. In 2007, the course was awarded third place in the Best New Course in Asia award and with an additional nine holes opening for play in 2015, continues to expand and offers one of the best golf resorts in Thailand. Other golf courses also listed as being some of the best in Thailand by Golf Digest include Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai, designed by Ron Garl and host of the 2013/14 Chiang Mai Classic and the Siam Country Club Plantation Course, which was host of the 2015 Thailand Open and provides stunning sea views, stretching some 10 kilometres away across the Gulf of Thailand.
Golf Digest, having been in publication for over 60 years, is one of the most well respected golf magazines and websites in the world. To have a golf course listed as being the best in Thailand is a huge privilege and something all the golf courses highlighted above have worked hard to achieve. If you are planning a golf holiday to Thailand, you must ensure you are including the best Thailand Golf courses in your itinerary and those listed by Golf Digest, are a great place to start.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to playing golf in Thailand, the only problem you will have is making the perfect shortlist of golf courses to play. Perhaps using those listed as being the best Thailand golf courses by Golf Digest, is the ideal way to begin?