Blue Canyon - Lakes Course
Less famous but no less exciting than its sister course; dramatic scenery and exciting holes make for a hugely satisfying experience.
The younger sibling to the more famous Canyon course on the opposite side of the clubhouse, the Lakes Course at Blue Canyon Country Club has emerged from big brother's shadow to become an excellent course in its own right thanks to rebuilt greens and additional bunkers.
Sweeping through dramatic scenery and peppered with lakes and canyons, it is a demanding course with enough leeway that an off day isn't too heavily punished. Having said that, good scoring requires finding the fairway as approach shots can prove tough even from position A thanks to the creeks and bunkers that intrude upon many of the fairways. After a fairly straightforward opening shot, things toughen up immediately with a tough to judge approach to a green set behind water, a carry over more water on the par-3 2nd, and a tee shot on the 3rd that must avoid the massive canyon that makes it a dog-leg. It's a great introduction to a course where the challenges keep coming at you and errant shot-making creates a small cottage industry for those prepared to retrieve the endless balls that find water.
The standout hole is probably the last one, up there with the best in Thailand. From the tee, a large tree some 180 yards away in the centre of your view signals the start of a huge canyon that splits the fairway in two. The conventional line is to go right, leaving a long approach to an elevated green that must cross the canyon, but you can go for the narrower, more direct option to the left, where the perfect tee shot leaves you on an elevated part of the fairway from which your second shot is no less challenging though hopefully somewhat shorter. Whichever you choose, if you can make the green in two you deserve some sort of medal. Like the sound of this course?
Secure a tee time and take advantage of the discounted green fees on offer by adding Blue Canyon Lake Course to your Phuket golf holiday package.
Blue Canyon Country Club - Canyon Course (walking only)
Blue Canyon Country Club’s Canyon Course was the original 18 hole layout and leaped to fame when it was selected as the venue for the 1994 Johnnie Walker Classic. Since then the same tournament has returned 2 times with Tiger Woods winning in 1998. Blue Canyon is recognized as a world championship golf course and constantly ranks as one of Thailand's best golf courses.
The course is set in an abandoned tin mine and may of the old strip mines characteristics are evident throughout the course. Streams filled with rust-colored water, canyons with sheer cliffs exposing red and white tin ore laden rock, and tailings from old mining operations are a few of the many throw backs to days of time gone by.
The front nice plays up and through palm-oil tree lined fairways. The back nine gets even better with holes 11-15 and probably the best five stretch in Thailand, if not all Asia. These five memorable golf holes will surely be the center of after round discussions.
The Par 5 11th is a difficult 600 yard par 5 with water crossing the fairway on the first shot and water guarding the green left and right on the third shot. A penalty-free bogey is a good score here. The famous Par 4 13th over a huge canyon tempts the daredevil in every golfer, and the following Par 3 14th from an elevated tee to an island green is one of the most beautiful, while also challenging par 3's for all players who tee it up and go for it. There is no bail out area and unless you’ve played the course on several occasions, trusting you’ve got the right club and gauging the wind effects is difficult. Watery, not happy, endings are more typical for most visiting Phuket golfers.
The 17th is also one of the most intimidating Par 3’s you’ll find anywhere, and even from the white tees, for most players it’s a long iron or fairway wood to a partially hidden green that is tucked behind the canyon on the right.
Blue Canyon has a large club house, with 3 restaurants, well-stocked pro shop, lockers and shower facilities, massage and spa.
Red Mountain Golf Club
The most spectacular golf course in Phuket; it's really something special.
The most recently opened Red Mountain Golf Club is quite simply one of the most spectacular courses in the world, let alone Thailand. Set in the dramatically undulating landscape of an old tin mine amidst thick jungle and the red mountainside from which it took its name, all complimented by some amazing views from its high points, this is an essential stop on your Thailand golf holiday. The range of challenges you will face runs the whole gamut: if you can negotiate the wind, water, sand and slopes you will find greens that range from small and flat to large and contoured. The only consistency is found in the uniform quickness of the putting surface and the pristine condition of the fairways. Whether this latter facet is down to the fact that the course isn't that busy or that most people fail to land their ball on them is open to debate, but the landing areas are indeed generally narrow so if you want to enjoy the fairways you better be hitting some accurate tee shots. With more than its fair share of elevation changes and rocky outcrops, there are plenty of opportunities to take risks in search of rewards, but with a liberal array of water hazards this approach can be harshly punished. You are best advised to trust the suggestions of the excellent caddies regarding club selection, and to hit straight.
The final six holes are the best, not only some of the most spectacular in Thailand but also some of the toughest. Attempting to hit the postage stamp green of the par-3 17th when you are teeing off from way above is great fun, and the standout 18th requires some strategic shot making to make par, despite playing much shorter than its 500 yard length would suggest. As you drive up to the well stocked clubhouse in your compulsory golf cart (you really wouldn't want to walk this course), you will have a smile on your face regardless of the state of your scorecard.
Even though the green fees, the caddie's tip and the post-round beer mean you won't get change from US$200, you will feel it was worth every penny as this is an experience that will live long in the memory.
Loch Palm Golf Club
Loch Palm Golf Club is a long time Phuket favourite where a dry ball ensures a good score.
Spectacularly set in a basin surrounded mountainous jungle, Loch Palm Golf Club has been a firm favourite on the Phuket golf tour since its inception in 1993. More straightforward than some of its more illustrious competitors but still with enough challenges to test golfers of all abilities thanks largely to the loch itself, this is a hugely enjoyable course. Keeping your ball out of water should be your main objective, and if you can achieve this first time around then you are ahead of the curve.
On the front nine the loch and its associated tributaries are frequently in play, often cutting into the fairway ensuring that even the straightest of drives can end up being punished. Off line you can also find yourself amongst the numerous palm trees which helped give the course its name, but they are never so densely packed together that recovery is impossible. The most memorable holes come towards the end. The 14th is a short par-3 with an elevated tee shot to an island green; it is tricky to pick the right club, and it takes some time to find out if you made the right choice as your ball seems to hang in the air for eternity before (hopefully) finding the safety of the green. The 16th is another par-3 where anything right will be swallowed up by water and a sloping two-tier green means that not all balls that land on the green stay there. Your round ends with par-5 featuring a severe dog-leg lined with thick trees; if you fail to hit a good drive, you really struggle but it is possible to cut corners by going over the trees if you are feeling adventurous.
While the overall condition of the course is excellent, particularly given the amount of traffic it sees, one small complaint is the inconsistency of the greens. A few of them have been relaid and play much faster, which means it can be easy to get caught out. Thankfully the caddies are excellent, so we suggest you pay attention to what they suggest! Avoid Thursdays where the benefit of the discount on offer is negated by frustratingly long rounds thanks to the crowds; in any case the green fees at Loch Palm Golf Course are reasonable at other times.
Laguna Phuket Golf Club (walking only)
A relatively undemanding resort course conveniently located right next to numerous hotels. Some memorable holes and 5-star service make this a great choice.
Formerly known as Banyan Tree but now taking its name from the resort complex of hotels in which it is located, Laguna Phuket Golf Club is a relatively undemanding course graced with the refreshing breezes of the Andaman sea and the tropical beauty for which the area is known.
Set on a valley floor and consequently fairly flat, the course features a gentle opening set of holes with wide fairways and generous greens that usefully build your confidence for the trickier challenges that follow the island green on the 9th. Indeed, the course ends with two particularly tough holes, the 17th being the standout. This epic 612 yard par-5, which requires you to carry water at least twice, and often three times for the shorter hitters, will stick long in the memory.
Laguna Phuket Golf Club's facilities and service are second to none. Driving range, practice greens and bunkers, a well stocked pro-shop staffed by friendly and experienced staff and the most luxurious towels we've ever experienced all combining to ensure a five star experience. The 4-hour spa and massage treatment available on-site mean that for once 'golf widows' won't have cause to complain about the amount of time you spend playing golf, and once you've finished you can both enjoy a drink and a fine meal in the top notch restaurant.
Phuket Country Club (walking only)
A popular resort course with at least one hole you won't forget in a hurry.
The first course built on Phuket back in 1989 and conveniently located in the centre of the island, the original 18-hole championship course at Phuket Country Club has aged well and remains a firm favourite despite the increasing competition. It's a typically straightforward resort course where even high handicappers can give a good account of themselves but with plenty to test the more accomplished golfer thanks to the endlessly undulating fairways that greet you at the start of your round and make for some awkward stances and interesting shots. While the back nine opens out somewhat, it starts of memorably with the par-5 10th which plays right around a massive lake, almost turning 180 degrees. The conventional route involves three shots that must flirt with water, although if you have time, take an extra ball and go straight across the loch by hitting at right angles from the front tees, from where it is just possible with a mighty swipe to reach the front edge of the green in one (and on a par-5 that is quite some achievement). Water is in evidence again at the par-4 16th and surrounding the island green at one of the best par-3s in Phuket, the 17th.
While there's nothing particularly special about the clubhouse, this is currently undergoing a redesign due to be completed for the start of the 2012 season. It will in future stretch down the 18th fairway offering some great views of players finishing their rounds.The training facilities are extensive and the friendliness of the staff unrivaled. Reasonable prices at the restaurant mean that a well earned meal after what will no doubt be an enjoyable round won't break the bank. Note: a new nine hole course has been added but we haven't had a chance to try it out as yet. It's mainly for members only but if you have played the main course before and fancy a change it is used as the back nine to the main course every other Wednesday.
Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort
Spectacular views and the only place in Phuket to play holes that run alongside the ocean.
Given Phuket is an island it's surprising that there is only one course with holes right next to the sea, but at Mission Hills Phuket Golf Resort you get a number of the picture-perfect holes of the sort that Graham McDowell successfully negotiated en route to the 2010 USPGA title. This Jack Nicklaus designed course delights in the vivid contrasts of deep blue sea, white beach bunkers and lush greens, views that you can take comfort in while you attempt to master the wind and keep your ball out of the water that features heavily on seven of the holes.
We hope you like islands - the green at the par-5 2nd is surrounded by water, that of the par-3 4th by sand, and at the 5th you must play from an island tee to an island green whilst avoiding a massive waste bunker and negotiating an awkwardly sloping fairway. The signature 12th is one long hitters will relish, a 481 yard par-4 requiring a 250 yard carry from the black tees followed by a long, accurate approach to a green guarded by a lake on one side and a deep grassy hollow to the other. Most of us are quite happy to settle for a hard earned bogey whilst taking in the breathtaking scenery.
During our visit the greens were not up to the standard we expected, and we played preferred lies off the fairways. We've been back since they re-seeded the fairways in 2011 but as yet we've not seen much improvement, but hopefully this should change. On the plus side, the unusually good marshaling prevents the annoying backlogs and slow rounds experienced elsewhere and the on site facilities are excellent, with a well kept hotel and probably the best spa on the island. The quality of food in the restaurant justifies its expense, although you might slightly resent the prices of drinks on the course.