Red Mountain, near Phuket’s main tourist location of Patong, is one of the most dramatic courses in Thailand. Opened in 2008, the 6900-yard sister property to nearby Loch Palm Golf Club winds its way through a stunning former tin mine in the heart of Phuket's central highlands.
It’s not difficult to see why this golf course was named Red Mountain. It is harder, however, to imagine how such a dramatically undulating landscape, where soft red rock and dense jungle were the principal ingredients, could be transformed into a challenging, yet playable layout.
The course cleverly takes advantage of a huge variety of landforms and dizzying elevation changes. Scars left from the tin mine era have been imaginatively incorporated into the overall scheme, creating a unique character, while establishing an indelible link with an important era in the Island's past.
The same can be said for golf, and even the likes of Tiger Woods and Greg Norman have played here at the islands only true Championship course the famous Blue Canyon.
For such a small island, it is unusual to find such a wide variety of golf challenges, from seaside to mountain layouts, and all within a maximum of 45 minutes from your hotel.
The Phuket golf courses are: Phuket Country Club (27 holes); Blue Canyon (36 holes); Lock Palm (18 holes); Red Mountain (18 holes); Laguna Phuket Golf Club (18 holes); Mission Hills Phuket (18 holes); Phukana (nine holes, floodlit.).
The majority of these courses are in good condition and certainly they offer some great memorable holes, especially the 14th at Blue Canyon and the 17th at Red Mountain.
The problem is that most of the green fees are extremely high compared with similar standard courses in other parts of the country.
Here you could be looking at little change from Baht6, 000 once you have tipped your caddie at the end of the round.
Chanwut Hongyok the GM at the island’s busiest course Phuket Country Club has recently said in a local magazine that Phuket needs to start to look at its golf courses and to begin to be more competitive. He explained that it is now unlikely that there will be any new courses built ever again, as the land prices are just too expensive. Therefore he said the existing courses have to rethink how to fill more tee times.
I agree with him that things need to change otherwise the existing clubs will start to loose business.
That said, the Island is still home to one of my all time great golf experiences, Red Mountain, which is expensive, but delivers on all fronts. A great layout, well trained caddies, wonderful modern club house, top class clubs for hire and a certain magic.
Definitely worth booking through a golf travel operator here, and save on both green fees and hotels, then you can enjoy this part of the World’s golf paradise!
We all like to boast that we have found a real gem of a course to play!
Well if you decide to add a Phuket golf vacation to this year’s agenda, then I suggest you check out Red Mountain Golf Club. You will not be disappointed.
Launched without too much fanfare in late 2008, Red Mountain has become the new kid on the block. Once the core of Phuket‘s tin mining industry, this course nestles in the lush Kathu Valley and is a 20 minute drive from Patong Beach.
Red Mountain is owned by the same company that owns the nearby Loch Palm Golf Club and Riverdale Golf Club in Bangkok. The course designer Jon Morrow has been given a free hand to design a world class golf course that tests all golfers’ course management skills and shot shaping capabilities. Every hole has its own great theme, and there are mouth watering obstacles around each corner.
The 1st hole lets you tee off downhill through red rocks either side of the green. This hole gently gets you into the mood of what is ahead. The 2nd is a real test , a par-5 with an uphill drive over water, then a long iron second shot dog leg right to get into view of the green. Hole 8 is a par-4 off an elevated tee, with a lake to avoid on the right. Great if you can make it to the landing area, otherwise very wet.
For the majority of sports, age definitely does become a handicap.
For example it is highly unlikely that a 58 year old can easily have a fair chance of beating a 20 year old at tennis. The youngster will most likely run circles around the older guy.
Although an older player maybe able to score a great goal in soccer, he is most likely to run out of steam and will ask the manager to take him off after half an hour for a breather.
Whereas Golf is one of the sports that is truly a game for all ages.
Certainly with the handicap system in place, Granddad can really enjoy a fair competitive game with his 16 year old grandson.
Even on the professional circuit, the old guys are still up there winning trophies.
Look at Spain's Miguel Ángel Jiménez, the oldest player on the European Tour. At the age of 47years he is still a regular with the Ryder Cup squad, and won three tournaments last year.
Also 40 year old Dane Thomas Bjorn beat the World's number one and two Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, to win last week's Qatar Masters.
Tom Watson's round at the British Open is proof that the oldies are not out of it by any means.
In fact someone asked me last week if their 65 year old uncle was too old to take up the sport, now he was retired and living in Bangkok?
Bottom line is it is never too late to pick up a club, you just need to hook up with a friendly club professional who can quickly give you the basics.
Recently two 50 year old mates of ours decided they were fed up with hearing another golf story, of how we had all birdied the 17th at Red Mountain (down an old disused mine shaft!) or how we had broken our best record at Thai Country Club's treacherous 18 holes.
So they both said they wanted to see what all the fuss was about and give golf a go too.
Being impatient they wanted to start straight away. However first we took them to the driving range for an hour's worth of practice at Bangkok's La Luk Ka Golf Club. Driving, irons, chipping and a bit of putting followed.
They then said they were up for a game, so they just both jumped into a buggie and drove over to the 10th hole on the club's East Course.
We had already explained to the caddies that they really were very green, and starting on the 10th green on a Tuesday afternoon, meant the course was fairly quiet and we would not be pressurised by other golfers following us.
Amazing both teed off and there balls went around 100 yards in the right direction and they were off on their new adventure.
We told them to use their tees on the fairways to help their driving, and they moved their balls away from any obstacles when needed. Also the caddies were very patient, and entered into the spirit, by sneakily moving their balls nearer to the pin on several greens.
Overall both new recruits did remarkably well and afterwards we had to sit there in the club's bar, listening to how they nearly shot a birdie at the 3rd hole. The boot was on the other shoe now, and so we had to put up with their boring golf stories now!
If you feel you want to get out and get some fresh air, then a walk around an 18 hole golf course is definitely great exercise, but it's also a lot more fun than running about in the gym.
Most clubs will have a friendly and patient club professional who will take you through all the shots.
Golfasian the leading golf vacation specialists, now have several European pros who like to escape the chilly winters by flying over with their students for a week's worth of lessons. The only difference is that they can teach you by taking you to play on some of Thailand's wonderful courses, and you are playing in the sun.
Golf in Thailand is for locals, expats and tourists alike, so you don't have to be a member at most clubs.
If you want to just sneak out on your own to hit some balls on the back nine, then that's no problem. Maybe the caddie will give you a tip or two as well.
By playing golf you also get to see a bit of the wonderful countryside around Thailand, from seaside to mountain courses, it's got the lot. And let's not forget golf is also a great way to meet new friends.
So maybe now you are ready to take on your son, grandson and even your granddaughter too!
Mike Bridge Editor Thai Golf News Golf blog No 5 Feb 2011