Esquire Golf Guide: Thailand
Phuket is something of a golfer’s haven, with numerous beautiful courses peppered across the whole island. Visitors can experience mountainside golf in the central part of Phuket in the morning and settle down at LUXE layouts on the island’s famed Andaman Sea coastline by the afternoon. Teeing off early will allow your group to mix together unforgettable golf experiences with a healthy dose of afternoon adventuring that readies you each night to explore one of the many sensational eateries.
So, in the eventuality you find yourself in this popular corner of Thailand any time soon, your weekend golf should start at Mission Hills Golf Club – the only course in Phuket that is situated on a beach (pictured above). The links design boasts unrivaled east coast views of Phang Nga Bay, and James Bond aficionados may recognize the setting from numerous scenes in the 1974 installment, The Man with the Golden Gun.
For you overly confident golfers out there, it’s worth noting that the seaside layout, does make the course more exposed to the elements, so a windy day demands particularly precise shot-making. The course located within close proximity to the airport in the northeast section of the island allowing for convenient access if you’re heading to the course as soon as you land or just before departing.
Alternatively (or additionally, depending on your time frame) head south towards Cherng Talay to the newly renovated Laguna Phuket Golf Club. This is one of the older resort courses on the island, recently modernised with a complete facelift that has garnered rave reviews among locals and tourists alike.
The front and back nine have been switched around in the process with plenty of cosmetic nip-and-tucks having been made to both the fairways and putting surfaces. The bunkers were brought back into the equation on many holes to reward shotmaking and accentuate the original contours that have always made it a must play.
Traveling further south to the central area of the island, you’ll come across the dynamic Loch Palm and Red Mountain duo. These two 18-hole sisters complement each other excellently, and are set side-by-side in Kathu. Loch Palm has been around for 20 years but is another of Phukets newly upgrades efforts – with extensive work done on the course, clubhouse, hotel and wellness facilities. Designed around the largest lake in the whole island, the majority of the holes have water on the right side of each fairway – so perennial slicers off the tee may want to replenish their ball supplies before setting out.
The new kid on the block is Red Mountain, debuted here in 2008. A mountainous backdrop takes you right up to the highest hole on the island, with sweeping views for as far as the eye can see. This is well-known for its meticulous attention to detail, and has already claimed multiple accolades for its pristine course condition year round. The design requires accurate tee shots to keep a decent score going, together with numerous risk reward shot options to negotiate with as you meander across the mountainside.
| Eat and Drink
If you’re in need of something to celebrate or commiserate your round, you’ll find a more than suitable ‘19th hole’ in the Brasserie restaurant in Phuket town – a local favourite offering traditional European dishes with the best Belgian beer selection on the island. Those hankering for a taste of the local cuisine should look no further than Raya, set within an old Sino and Portuguese house and a veritable landmark for decades. The pork stew ‘Moo Hong’ and crab curry proving particular highlights of a uniformly fantastic menu.
Ideal for those who have a penchant for being pampered whilst on their hols, then Sripanwa luxury resort showcases amazing panoramic views of the ocean from a host of pool villas perched up high on the Panwa Cape. Who knows, you may even run into Sergio Garcia who is known to frequent the resort during off weeks on the PGA TOUR. Just don’t badger him for a game.
Words by Michael Galasso of Golfscape