Golf traces its roots back to Scotland, but some of the world’s finest courses can be found in the Far East. While traveling through Japan, Singapore or even Bali, you’ll want to make certain to have your clubs at the ready because championship-level greens are all around the continent. Read on to find out which 10 courses made the cut as Asia’s most elite.
Blue Canyon Country Club, Phuket
Built along canyon edges, Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket, Thailand has two courses with distinct greens and fairways. Both are surrounded by freshwater lakes and feature natural hazards and slick Bermuda Tiffdwarf greens. The Canyon Course has undulating fairways, deadly roughs, lengthy carries and narrow landings, while the Lakes Course has distracting winds but sizeable greens. The most exciting hole on the Canyon Course is undoubtedly the 17th, described by Fred Couples as “one of the best par threes in the world.” Play here and see why Tiger Woods considers it one of the most memorable courses he’s ever played.
Nirwana Bali Golf Club, Bali
Tucked along Bali’s stunning southwest coast, the Nirwana Bali Golf Club is a visual masterpiece with dramatic ocean views and verdant landscapes. The 18-hole course was designed by Greg Norman with an eye to the island’s natural, tropical beauty. It’s said to be one of the most photographed and challenging in the world—what other courses have rice paddies as hazards? Even the caddies at Nirwana undergo extensive training (at least three months) to offer top level service and assistance on these challenging links.
Montgomerie Links, Danang City
Vietnam’s Montgomerie Links is a world-class, semi-private club, and perhaps the ritziest course you’ll find around Danang City. Located a stone’s throw from the country’s Central Coast and a few minutes from Da Nang International Airport, Montgomerie Links is situated alongside the East Sea and striking Marble Mountains. The 18-hole, Colin Montgomerie-designed course features outstanding sandy soil, wind-blown dunes and stylish onsite estates, making it one of Asia’s most desirable golf and country club retreats.
Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore
Singapore’s most exclusive venue for golf, the Sentosa Golf Club, is home to two of the most scenic and toughest rounds of golf in the region. Both the Serapong and the Tanjong courses are 18-hole masterpieces carved out of lush tropical flora and mangrove swamps that have been beautifully transformed into rolling hills and challenging greens looking out onto the Singapore Harbor or South China Sea, depending on the hole. Golf greats such as Angel Cabrera, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have all experienced the demanding holes and spectacular vistas of these championship courses.
The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula, Hainan, China
Located in the rapidly developing resort region of Hainan, The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula is considered one of China’s best new courses. PGA legend and renowned course architect Tom Weiskopf designed three courses—the West Course, East Course and Composite Course—with extra attention to preserving the peninsula’s untouched coastline. Carefully carved dunes and local indigenous species combine with unparalleled breathtaking views here, allowing golfers to enjoy the magnificent natural settings of each 18-hole course. They all play fast and long, and have large greens that offer relief from the rough and rugged dunes that wreak havoc, along with the constantly changing ocean breezes.
Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, Hong Kong
Some golf experts think that Hong Kong’s prestigious Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club feels a bit like California’s Pebble Beach with its coastline views and dramatic setting. The 18-hole design is made up of two nine-hole courses—the Ocean and the Highland—both with stunning views of Clearwater Bay. The par 5 15th hole is probably the most demanding, but offers you a real chance at a birdie. The club is private, but visitors are welcome to book tee times on weekdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. with proof of handicap.
The Phoenix Seagaia Resort, Miyazaki City, Japan
The Phoenix Seagaia Resort on the Hitotsuba Pacific Coast is considered one of Japan’s most famous. The resort features 45 holes of golf on two separate courses, with 27 holes at the Phoenix Country Club and another 18 holes at the Tom Watson course. The Phoenix Country Club includes three 9-hole courses—Sumiyoshi Course, Takachiho Course and Nichinan Course. A challenging 9th hole on the Sumiyoshi Course has created dramatic moments at the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament, while the back nine on the Nichinan Course demands disciplined shots and accurate, strategic play. The Tom Watson course features lush fairways lined by pine groves with a range of difficulty, varying from wide flat holes to tight bottleneck strips.
The Sunrise Golf and Country Club, Taiwan
The Sunrise Golf and Country Club in the higher hills of Northern Taiwan is an exciting course characterized by natural elevation changes and persistent breezes. Designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. has added a number of interesting hazards, as well as a monumental clubhouse-hotel. Arching fairways and hundreds of varieties of trees and flowers create panoramic views from every angle of this 18-hole championship course.
Thai Country Club, Bangkok
Guests of The Peninsula Bangkok are among a select few with access to one of Thailand’s most magnificent and exclusive golf courses, Thai Country Club. Located a 45-minute drive from central Bangkok, this course is a magnet for the city’s golfing elite and attracts tourists from around the world. The course was designed by renowned course architect Denis Griffiths and features a par 72, 18-hole layout with spectacular fairways with water hazards surrounding much of the course. Neo-classic design and variety from hole to hole means that the course will constantly challenge your game.
Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, Kungming, China
Spring City Golf & Lake Resort in Kunming has long been touted as China’s best golf resort. The championship Lake and Mountain courses at Spring City have received numerous prestigious accolades from golf publications such as Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. The Mountain Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and utilizes the natural rolling terrain to challenge your golf game, while the Lake Course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is situated along Yang Zonghai Lake, creating difficult water hazards along much of the fairways and greens.
Photos Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotels, Blue Canyon Country Club and The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club Hong Kong