Last week I visited Khao Yai golf courses and get a general update on the golf scene in Thailand’s largest National Park and gateway to Issan.
First up on my visit was Sir James Country Club. While the course is one of the closer ones to Bangkok I had difficulty finding the golf course as the highway sign still reads the old name, Forest Hills. Now it seems that the golf resort has gone down hill and retains hardly any of the good service that was prevalent when it was Forest Hills. This is too bad since I enjoyed golfing at Sir James in the past.
Next I toured Voyage Panorama. I was a bit concerned about this course as I had heard a rumor that it was for sale, which can mean lax upkeep. To my pleasant surprise the golf course was in good condition and remains my favorite areas course. Set in a valley overlooking Korat, the course reminds me of playing in green forests in the southern part of the USA rather than in Thailand’s jungle.
The third stop on my trip was the 27 hole Moon City Golf Resort. Never heard of this golf course? Well that is because it is still under construction. Being built by the same owner as Lakewood in Bangkok the course looked quite good with well defined fairways, elevated greens, and nicely contoured bunkers. In fact, to save some costs the grass is being transplanted from Lakewood which should make it that much more hardy and well suited for Khao Yai’s temperate climate. I can’t wait until Moon City opens at the end of this year.
The rest of my day was spent touring the 3 premier courses in Khao Yai. Kirimaya Country Club, which is the resort course attached to the 5-star Kirimaya resort was in fantastic playing condition. The greens were close mowed and fairways double cut. In spite of the high green fees and mandatory electric golf carts this Nicklaus designed golf courses will appeal to the widest variety of Khao Yai golfers as the conditions and scenery are nothing short of spectaular.
Formerly Mission Hills Khao Yai, the rebranded Life Privilege Country Club is undergoing significant renovations. While the golf course is still open the facilities are quite bare and I only saw one group on the golf course. I suggest waiting a few months or until next season to see the fate of the golf course. Chances are however that once complete the course will attract as many golfers as in the past.
The last golf venue was also the newest course to open in Khai Yai. Toscana Valley Country Club is a private members course designed by American Robert McFarland and what a obstacle course it is! By far the most difficult layout the Khao Yai Park, the golf course features razor sharp fairway drop-offs, severely undulated greens, and long water carries on many of the holes. The course is comparable to Emerald Golf Club in Pattaya, but with much better manicuring and landscaping, not to mention the million dollar European styled homes which surround the course. If you are in the area, give Toscana Valley a try before it closed to non-member play!
Overall it is clear that Khao Yai is fast becoming a new Thailand golf destination. Soon I will visit the interior of Issan and will let you know of the golf progress in that area of Thailand as well. In the meantime, let me know if you have any favorites or want to mention any of the other Khai Yai golf courses. Anyone want to take a guess at how many golf courses there are in Khao Yai?