6 varied courses make Phuket a great golf destination

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Is Phuket famous as a golfing destination?  Around Asia it certainly is, with golfers regularly flying in from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and sometimes even Australia, to take advantage of the great mix of six very different courses.  They also appreciate Phuket's competitive prices on 18 holes (especially compared to Japan, but perhaps not against Australian prices).  Then, not surprisingly, the excellent beach resorts and hotels plus lots of after-hours entertainment further enhance Phuket's reputation as a golfer's favourite.  After all, no-one spends all day and night on the greens.  Many golfers also bring their families, for in Phuket there is beach for the kids, shopping and spa for the wife while the husband does his 18s.

Bangkok, of course, supplies the island with a continuous flow of weekend golfers.  Golf has boomed in Thailand over the past two generations and many Thais have become mad-keen about their swing and time on the greens.  A great deal of business is transacted on the country's 200 plus golf courses, built in all corners of the country.  Political horse trading, too.

The six courses are spread all around Phuket island, making access to one or more easy no matter which beach one is accommodated at.  The six courses currently in operation are these below. 

Blue Canyon: the most famous on Phuket

This is perhaps Phuket most famous course, twice the host of the Johnny Walker Classic, the first of which Tiger Woods won in his last days as an amateur.  Now that's some years ago.  Blue Canyon has two beautiful 18-hole courses among hills and old tin lakes on the North end of the island right by the Phuket Airport.  

These courses are the hilliest of Phuket golf clubs, and the first 18 is often considered the most competitive course on the island.  It has also helped attract other prestigious golfing events to the island, and brings a regular stream of Asian golfers in from East Asian countries.

The closest beaches with beachfront accommodation are Nai Yang and Nai Thon .

Phuket Country Club: where Thai businessmen play

As one of the first courses here, Phuket Country Club got a choice of prime land set into a hillside with great vistas over the Kathu valley in the centre of the island.  At the bottom of the slopes are several large lagoons left over by tin mining.  These once toxic pools now make attractive obstacles, and here swans can be seen gliding by.

Set on the road linking Phuket Town and Patong Beach , this course has a convenient location for residents of both places, and is the favourite of local residents in these two large urban areas.  Thus, the Country Club's first 18 holes sees more golfers on the greens on week days and during low season than any other course here.  Visitors are also welcome.

There is an additional, lower 9 hole course directly across the main road from the main club, though these flat and less challenging holes perhaps serve mainly as landscaping for the housing estate that surrounds them.  Some golfers use them for a change of pace and scenery.

Laguna Golf Club: part of the famous resort complex

Part of the Laguna Integrated resort complex, Laguna Golf Club is situated directly behind the hotels such that guests can find their way to the club in just a minute or two.  One can walk from some hotels here.  The course has been designed to meander through both the rehabilitated tin lagoons and the new estates of private houses that Laguna has developed within their overall resort living concept.

This whole area is rather flat, so lots of effort has been put into the landscaping.  This course might not provide the real challenges of some of the hilly courses, but is still quite popular among the many local expats who reside in the suburbs and villa estates in the central part of the island behind Bang Tao Beach .  

Loch Palms Golf Club: 36 holes in centre of Phuket

The heart of this double course is a pretty valley that cuts into Phuket's main mountain range.  The 36 holes here also run up hillsides and over undulations at the foot of the range, with the almost inevitable tin lagoons filling the lower reaches.  It is another pretty course, and like most here, has built housing estates around the perimeter to help defray the initial costs and create an additional income stream.

The second course has been given a new name, Red Mountain, and is sometimes promoted as an entirely different golf club, so be warned.  This is part of Loch Palm. 

This central part Phuket is easily accessed from most points in the south of the island, including Patong and Cape Panwa .

Mission Hills Golf Club at Phuket's northeast

This relatively new course in the Northeast of the island is convenient for those staying on beaches north of Kamala, including Bang Tao, Nai Yang and Mai Khao , but is quite far for visitors staying on the famous beaches in the southwest of the island. The nearest beach with beachfront accommodation is Ao Por .

The course is in an undeveloped portion of Phuket surrounded by rubber plantations and small fishing communities that cling to the northern channel separating Phuket from the mainland.  The course is rather flat, but interesting where it runs along the coast, giving great views all the way to the rock stack mountains of Phang Nga Bay

There is also a resort hotel attached to the clubhouse.

Phukana Golf Club in Chalong

This is the sixth and latest addition to Phuket's varied array of courses, and the southern-most of them.  It currently has only 9 holes plus a driving range.  This course is located in a valley on the East side of the island's main maintain range, directly over from Karon.  It is accessed from Chao Fah Road West, a short distance North of Rawai & Chalong Bay areas .

Like many other courses on Phuket, Phukana has claimed land that was devastated by tin mining.  By rehabilitating the toxic lagoons left by the mining they gain attractive water hazards.

Phukana is convenient for residents living in the suburban areas towards the bottom of the island particularly Rawai, the Chalong Bay area plus the expat's favourite, Nai Harn Beach , and is not too far for visitors staying at Kata, Karon or Patong beaches.  A rough track crosses the mountain from the valley housing this course to Karon, one that the government has long promised to develop into a real road. 

by John Everingham

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