Phuket Golf :Southern courses, fit for a tee in Phuket, Thailand
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Phuket spas: Golf Courses

 Southern Courses, Fit for a Tee

During the heydays of tin mining in Phuket, miners excavated freely, cutting canyons into the virgin countryside in the search for the precious ore. Slowly, as tin prices decreased, mining died out. Little did the miners know that the labours of their industry would fuel another, the gentleman's game…golf

The fabricated terrain of sections of Phuket Island proved to be perfect locations for a number of golf courses however, in many places the ground was left so acidic that it could not sustain any plant life. The job required ingenious designers to devise means to rejuvenate barren land and exploit the ungainly angles of the miners' strokes, to develop some of the most challenging and scenic holes in the world.

The Phuket Country Club built the first golf course in Phuket in 1989, over a reclaimed tin mine site. Asian Golf Magazine rated PCC among the top five in the category of "Best Courses in Thailand 2001' and "Best Holes Par Five 2001' for its 10th hole. The club has been host to the Kosaido Thailand Open1992 and the Prince Bernard Cup tournaments.

PCC also features a challenging 3575-yard, 9-hole Country Club Course particularly suitable for the low handicap golfer. Water features interfere up to 90% of the time, ensuring wayward shots do not go unpenalized.

The Phuket Country Club house contains all the facilities for a relaxing post-course experience, with a swimming pool, spa, sauna and a 5-star restaurant serving International and Thai cuisine.

In 1991 two more course were opened, at the Blue Canyon Country Club and the Banyan Tree Golf Club.

The Blue Canyon Country Club is in a class of its own, featuring two 18-hole championship courses. It has played host to two Johnnie Walker Classic tournaments. While competing in the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic, Tiger Woods commented that the course was "one of the best I have ever played on." What better compliment could the designer hope for? These sentiments are shared by Hertz International and Fortune Magazine who rated the Canyon Course as one of the most distinguished and prestigious golf courses in Asia. BCCC has received numerous accolades such as "Best Asian Pacific Golf Resort of the Year 2000.'

The two courses, the Canyon Course and the Lakes Course, were designed by Yoshikazu Kato. This talented designer has incorporated the original freshwater lakes, ponds and pre-existing tin mine canyons, rubber trees and pineapple plantations into a course filled with natural golfing hazards and an abundance of beauty. Natural hazards include tall, tropical trees, rolling fairways, narrow landing areas and Bermuda Tiffdwarf greens.

The renowned Canyon Course has a relatively gentle opening until one reaches the green. Hole 17 is considered one of the top 500 holes in the world. Fred Couples described it as "One of the best Par 3's anywhere in the world." The hole is deceptively downhill and the green slopes from front to back.

All the caddies at Blue Canyon are female and are well trained. In addition to a 49 room hotel with full facilities, there is a 250-yard driving range, undercover practice bays and a golf academy.

Phuket's prestigious resort conglomerate, Laguna Phuket is complemented by the Banyan Tree Golf Club. Opened on 7 December 1991, the 6850-yard par-71 course was designed by Max Wexler and David Abel to make full use of the contours of the abandoned tin mine.

The first half of the course winds through gentle hills and fairways lined with coconut palms and casuarina trees. The back nine is flatter, but deceptively difficult and the final four holes are noted as a good challenge for any golfer. The 17th hole is called "The Monster'; a 612-yard, par-5 that requires golfers to steer around or over water at least twice.

Banyan Tree Golf Club hosts golfers of all levels of experience, holding regular tournaments for the serious swingers and professional tuition for amateurs. A driving range, putting greens, practice bunkers and chipping areas have been incorporated into the design and with all the luxury immersing Laguna Phuket, Banyan Tree provides a truly lavish golfing experience.

The best tin mine sites on Phuket Island were beautified and these courses host thousands of players every year, but variety improves a golfer's game and the golf trail headed north and out of Phuket province.

The next addition to the portfolio was Thai Muang Beach Golf and Marina, built in 1993 in Phang-Nga province. Although this course did not spring from an old tin mine, considerable strategy was involved in designing the course from the relatively flat beachfront area. This area is within convenient proximity to the services of Phuket, yet is far enough away to have remained untouched by crass tourism. This challenging 7019-yard par 72 course, sculpted by American designer Peter Dye, is noted not only for its 17th hole, dubbed "The Lady", but for the encapsulating scenery. The deep hue of the Andaman, trimmed by rolling white surf to the left and Phang-Nga's famed mountains to the right, form a wonderful distraction from the game. The 18th hole is particularly spectacular, running 463 yards along the beach. Practice facilities such as a driving range, pitching and putting greens are available as well as all the facilities at the Thai Muang Beach Chalet resort.

1998 saw another course open in Phuket, bringing the island's total to five courses, including two at Blue Canyon. Loch Palm Golf Club is spread over 160 acres of hilly inland terrain. The 6,392-yard par 72 course was blended into the natural landscape, surrounding Crystal Lake, the largest lake of any course in Phuket. With more than 1400 towering palms lining the fairways, golfers are treated to a serene atmosphere along with many challenging hazards and greens.

The most recently built golf course is located in Surat Thani province, overlooking spectacular Rajjaphrabha Dam. This mountainous region features limestone karsts that now loom up out of the dam, forming pinnacled islands and dramatic scenery. Rajjaphrabha Golf Course opened in 2001 and its 6503-yard par-72 course relies on naturally jungle-covered valleys and water features to engage golfers. This new course is modest in service but big on nature and will provide, at least, a fair test for all classes of player, coupled with excellent scenery.

A fair test for all classes of player is what the golf courses of Southern Thailand can guarantee in addition to internationally renowned beaches, resorts, restaurants and services. The Southern courses are beautiful, bold and suitably fit for a tee.

See also our Phuket Golf Website

- October Issue, 2002

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