A not uncommon question I am asked is where a person/couple/family should head to – Phuket or Hua Hin – for their golfing holiday. There are a number of issues to look at before the best answer is uncovered.
Firstly when do you plan to go? Hua Hin is the driest place in Thailand of all the golfing destinations and is often a better destination to give yourself every chance to play under bright blue skies. Most of Thailand gets a good drenching at some point or another during the year and you always want to Google a good rainfall chart before you book a trip anywhere.
The next point to consider is what (if any) activities you plan to do on your non golfing days (probably blasphemy on Golf blog to suggest such a thing). If you are a diver then Phuket is probably a better option during the dry season as it has truly world class diving destinations nearby. Phuket also has excellent surfing waves during the summer months.
For nightlife and eating both cities have their share of very (very) good restaurants, active clubs and bars and all the ‘extras’ that are associated with Thai night life. Patong is Patong and you either want to go there and see it or you don’t but Hua Hin doesn’t really have anything like that.
For purely golf – it is just about a dead heat. The best two courses in each area are world class. Banyan Estate and Black Mountain golf course in Hua Hin are true delights to play on, the respective club houses and restaurants are 4* for both service and culinary delights. I could go to Hua Hin for a week and only play these two courses and be VERY happy with my golf trip (so long as I scored well!). Similarly in Phuket the new Red Mountain and the famous Blue Canyon (sometimes it seems you NEED to have a colour in the name of a golf course in Thailand) Canyon Course where Tiger won the Johnnie Walker Classic in 1998. Both are fabulous courses, the Canyon Course, probably the toughest course in Thailand with its tricky greens and difficult layout whilst Red Mountain has huge altitude changes and uneven fairways, some very tight holes but you are rewarded with the best putting surfaces on the island of Phuket – once you get there!
From there each destination has its next level of courses. Hua Hin has Majestic, Palm Hills and Springfield, all these courses where involved in the professional Asian Tour’s qualifying school process in 2010, great courses, very playable and kept in good condition. Phuket has the Blue Canyon Lakes course, my favourite course on the island, very playable, a good honest test of your golf game, you are rewarded for good shots and penalised (heavily) for the bad ones. There is also Loch Palm with its short but very tight course with lots of water. Laguna is quite long and rated one of the best resort courses in Asia. Needless to say on courses that have Lakes, Loch and Laguna in the name there are plenty of water hazards.
Perhaps for many the final deciding factor is money and here Hua Hin definitely has its nose in front. For the overall package I would say Hua Hin is about 35 percent cheaper for hotels, food and golf.
Of course the best answer just might be to have a two city stay whilst in Thailand. Spend the first 4 days in Phuket play, Red Mountain and Blue Canyon – both courses – then fly to Bangkok transfer down to Hua Hin and play Banyan Estate and Black Mountain. That way you really cover the best 4 courses in Southern Thailand.
See you on the tee box