Dragon Hills Golf and Country Club is, in a nutshell, a true hidden gem. The golf club is located in a remote part of Ratchaburi, Thailand, at the periphery of the Bangkok – Kanchanaburi – Hua Hin triangle, 1 ½ hours from Bangkok. The approach to the course is via secondary roads winding through remote, yet lush farmland and pineapple plantations.
The golf course has been designed to make the most of the fabulous setting as the undulating fairways wind through and around 2,400 acres of sun-filled valleys and blue lakes, against a backdrop of low, green hills.
The 18-hole, par 72 golf course is 6,800 yards and quite a challenge to reach the long par 4’s and 5’s in regulation. The greens are quick, sloped, and guarded by well-positioned bunkers. Many locals and Thai golfers consider Dragon Hills as the best layout in the country and certainly the signature holes (10, 11, and 12) are beautiful and challenging.
The unique feature of Dragon Hills is that you only see the fairway and green that you are playing. The views are dramatic, especially in the late afternoon when the Sunday is setting and shadows of the nearby hills descend on the golf course. There always seems to be a cooling breeze, irrespective of time of day. There is an ancient Thai legend that tells of "The cool mystical breeze of the Blue Andaman Sea gently blowing through the majestic Dragon Mountain Range”. Après golf, the smallish, homely clubhouse offers friendly service and good local food.
It was originally intended that the Dragon Lakes course, designed by Jim Engh, would be one of three courses, the other two designs, Dragon Pearl and Dragon Green, by Jack Nicklaus and Isao Aoki, respectively. The golf courses were meant to be the centrepiece of a complex including various styles of homes, sports and adventure centres, members’ clubhouse, restaurants, pubs and bars, convention centre, resort hotel, international school and water reservoir. However, the Asian economic crisis and collapse of the Thai economy in 1997 put paid to development and only the landscaping for the two other courses and a small hotel with 75 lodge rooms have been completed.
The golf course’s current owner is a member of the Chearavanont family, who are behind the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, the largest business conglomerate in Thailand. Aside from agribusiness, the family-owned holding company’s interests range from retailing, as the franchisee of Thailand’s ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores to telecommunications, as the owner of True Corporation, Thailand’s leading mobile telephone, internet service provider and cable TV company. So, I would not write off some incarnation of the original concept of Dragon Hills being realised some time in the future.
In the meantime, I recommend any golfer travelling to/from Hua Hin, Bangkok, and/or Kanchanaburi should fit in a visit to Dragon Hills. Either as part of a golfing weekend outing or a complete Thailand golf holiday – it will be well worth your time.