Night golf, park-like golf and jungle golf – Thailand has it all.
Thailand has won the hearts of many golfers as a dream golf destination. Great services, well-maintained golf courses, friendly people, tropical climate and diverse beautiful landscape combined with amazing cuisine have shaped the country as a golf paradise.
Juha-Matti Vuorinen, a Finnish golf instructor, has lived and worked in Thailand for eight years and knows golf in the country in and out. He knows what the Nordic golfers want at the same time he knows which courses to play if you really want to enjoy the absolute best golf experience in Thailand and where to find the hidden gems of golf paradise among approximately 250 courses around the country.
Here are Juha-Matti’s personal tips and handpicked courses from north to south Thailand.
Best Course: Blue Canyon Country Club – Award winning golf course
(Yoshikazu Kato, 1991, 1998)
At Blue Canyon, there are two high-class 18-hole courses, Canyon course and Lake Course. Canyon Course has been the venue for some memorable international tournaments, including the Honda Invitational in 1996 and the Johnie Walker Classics Tournaments in 1994, 1998 & 2007. The most memorable was in 1998 which witnessed Tiger Woods staging one of the most astounding comebacks of the game to see Ernie Els defeated in a playoff for the final hole. The award winning has since been the ultimate experience for many players.
For non-golfing family members, Phuket offers plenty of other activities such as water sports, paradise beaches and if you are interested in rum you can visit Chalong Bay Rum Distillery and learn how to make white rum. The 40 meter high landmark Big Buddha is another popular excursion at the top of Nakkerd Hills.
Best course: Santiburi Golf – Ocean view
(Edward Thiele & Pirapon Namatra, 2003)
Santiburi is the only 18-hole golf course on Koh samui. It has taken advantage of the level differences and the natural contour through the jungle and hillsides above the beautiful beaches. The golf course has a scenic panoramic view of the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Phangan. Most holes have ocean and beach views. Waterfalls and screens run through the land adding a natural beauty with the hills providing a picturesque backdrop. It’s a very tough course. Each hole has its unique character and challenges, from steep uphill and downhill slopes to winding fairways that are cut into the forest and meander arund cliffs and streams. The course is one of the ultimate golfing experience in Thailand.
For anyone who does not want to play golf, Koh Samui is full of beautiful beaches and wonderful scenery such as Namuang Waterfall or Angthong National Marine Park.
Phang Nga / Khao Lak
Best Course: Katathong Golf Resort & Spa – Spectacular course
(Wiwatchai Prangpitak, 2015)
At the relatively new Katathong Golf Resort, you will be struck by beautiful scenery – perhaps the most spectacular course in Thailand, according to Juha-Matti. It offers mountain views from every part of the course. Most holes follow the natural contours of the land and feature undulating hills through natural waterfalls and streams. Fairways are not long, but very narrow. There are lots of unconventional but interesting holes. It takes just over an hour from Phuket Airport to get here and Katathong is located just north of Phang Nga in incredibly beautiful scenery. There are also a variety of accommodation types overlooking the golf course at the resort.
Best Course: Summit Windmill Golf Club – Park-like course
(Nick Faldo, 1993)
Conveniently located near Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabumi Airport), this golf course attracts lots of golfers thanks to its location, just about 30 minutes from Bangkok. It is a park-like golf course. Nick Faldo’s innovative design has succeeded well with the course and water comes into play on many of the holes. There are a lot of risk-and-reward holes over water. Here you can also play after dark due to the course being equipped with electric lights since 2004 and it is a dramatic feeling to walk around in a tropical golf environment in semi-darkness. The luxurious clubhouse is modern and built like a medieval European castle.
Best course: Black Mountain (Phil Ryan, 2007)
Black Mountain, with its three nine-hole courses, is well known among Swedish golfers as it is the Swede Stig Notlöv who created the facility. The golf course has hosted both European Tour and Asian Tour competitions which have been much appreciated by the players since it opened. The course winds its way up the mountain slopes and is always in excellent condition.
Best course: Banyan Golf Club (Pirapon Namatra, 2008)
Banyan Golf Club has been voted by Asian Golf Monthly as one of the country’s three best courses for three years in a row, because it has a wonderful clubhouse overlooking the course.
Besides enjoying the golf games, a visit to Hua HIn Hills Vineyard is recommended. The vineyard is home to the award-winning Monsoon Valley label and a range of labels marketed as ‘new latitude wines’ and serves amazing food and wine. For families with kids, there are 2 amazing water parks or a day in a national park in hua Hin would make a perfect holiday for all family members.
Best course: Siam Country Club
Siam Country Club has 4 courses to choose from in the Pattaya area, Old Course, Plantation, Waterside and the latest addition Rolling Hills. It hosts the LPGA Thailand tournament for many years and major international golf championships. At Honda LPGA Thailand 2021 held at Siam Country Club, Old Course, the local Thai professional golfer Ariya Jutanugarn won this championship, the first Thai winner.
Siam Country Rolling Hills is the newest with stunning views, abundance of centerline hazards, creating strategic and visual excitement. The Talk of the Town will be No. 15 hole, the “Wall of Death”, a par 5, uphill, and double zig-zag fairway with the green guarded by a 19-foot pit bunker.
Best course – Alpine Golf
Nestled in a valley between the mountain ranges in Chiang Mai, north of Thailand, Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai is a 27-hole golf course. No matter where you are on the course, you are sure to enjoy nature at her best with beautiful lush green forests from the golden teak wood, mahogany and many more. One of many challenges is the island fairway on the par four ninth hole of the A course. Playing over water twice and directly into the prevailing wind makes this hole a challenge. The eleventh hole, a 524-yard par 4, is without a doubt the most difficult on the golf course.
For non-golfers, Chiang Mai offers a laid-back experience despite being the second largest city in Thailand. It has an abundance of modern and traditional restaurants, chic accommodation and a fun nightlife. Chiang Mai has turned into a hip city to visit.
Contact information for booking Thailand golf holiday
Juha-Matti “Jimmie” Vuorinen is a golf teacher and progolfer. He lives half of the year in Thailand and the second half in Finland. He provides golf services and tours in Thailand.