Nick Faldo’s Thailand Golf Courses

Summit_windmill_golf_club.jpgPerhaps surprisingly, Nick Faldo’s contribution to golfing in Thailand is relatively sparse and, maybe like his career, somewhat controversial. So far he has been associated with only three golf courses in Thailand.

Century Rayong , Banchang to the locals,  was designed by Faldo on a piece of property which makes every hole spectacular from the tee. Although not long on the score card, 6,048 off the white tees, the elevation changes add to the difficulty in club selection. You never seem to have a flat lie. The four par three holes will make you think and challenge you on both short and long shots. Century Golf Club was one of the premier golf courses in the Pattaya area when it came on line in 1992 and it still remains a favorite among locals. While green fees are among the least expensive in the area (probably why locals like it so much), poor management have led to steadily declining conditions at Century Rayong. With so many modern Pattaya golf courses in top form, the Century Rayong golf course is hardly worth playing anymore.

Situated on Dok Krai reservoir’s banks, also near Pattaya is the Great Lake Golf & Country Club. Although the club could have easily relied on Dok Krai’s water for its natural hazards, Faldo has also incorporated an astonishing 120 bunkers into its design — eleven of which can be found along the par-four 18th, the course’s most famous hole. Lakes, ponds and streams still  feature throughout and plenty of shade to be found among the natural foliage.

Suffering a similar fate as it’s sister course in Rayong, the originally splendid course does not belong to the top range of Pattaya golf courses anymore. The fairways and rough areas are quite dry and the greens are not in best condition, The club house, which used to be a top draw is also in a state of disrepair.

The Summit Windmill Golf Club is easily the best Faldo Design in Thailand . The golf course one of the most challenging layouts in Bangkok, yet, despite its difficulty, it continues to remain an attraction for all types of golfers. The 1st and 18th Par 5’s are two signature holes where the course challenge is well exemplified. The 1st hole is a long 624 yards, even by today’s standards, and the 18th is an exciting finishing hole that can provide some dramatic endings to any round. The layout is split into six different parts by lakes and there are sixteen water holes on the course.

Make sure you play from the set of tees most suited to your level of play or you’ll be in for a rough day. The black championship tees in particular are set on their own island teeing areas and are placed at very different and more difficult angles than the other tees. Although Summit Windmill was designed by Faldo, apparently, he demanded that his name be removed from all references to the course. As I understand it, this was after the owners made substantial changes to the course after it opened – including planting trees and bushes in the long waste areas which Faldo had designed as they were not pleasing to Thai golfers’ eyes! If any body knows anything different from this, please let me know.

Now for today’s secret, which was impressively guessed in advance by Bangkok Jack? Interestingly enough, none of the Thailand golf courses described above feature on the official Faldo Design website and it is rumored that Faldo himself took his name off the courses after getting into specific disagreements with the owners of each project. TIT!

7 comments

  1. Bangkok Jock

    Mark
    There is a long four part article on the building of Century Banchang written by designer , Desmond Muirhead .
    I cant believe you got this so wrong !!!
    Mr Muirhead was forced to work with Mr Faldo and afterwards he swore that he would never work with a name designer again .
    [I can pass along the article if you have never seen it ].
    You know , I do agree the condition of Century can be hit or miss a lot of the time , and I do detest how the local societies keep going on that its improving , when its clearly not .
    BUT , it was in good enough condition last year to hold Asian Tour Qualifying !!!!
    To nit pick your Great Lake review , you got your holes mixed up . Its the 17th that has all the bunkers [I never stopped to count how many] . Its a pity about the state of Great Lake as I found it a lovely flowing course to walk with a nice mix of holes .
    Faldo admits that he only made two visits to G.L. and one was the opening day [which I was there for] , so he can hardly take credit for it , which I am led to believe should go to Jim Engh[Dragon Hills] who was working for IMG at the time .
    Best Regards
    Jock

  2. Hi Jock,
    Thanks for all of your great comments. Please do send me the article that you mention. It would be very interesting to read.
    I agree there is some bad blood between Nick Faldo and Denis Muirhead and there is some truth to what both of them say about Century Rayong Golf Club and one anotther.
    Both golf course designers try to discredit the another over how this project came off.
    It would be really great if you could speak to either Faldo or Muirhead and get them both to comment here on what really transpiried.
    By the way, do you know the conditions of Emerald golf Club nowadays? if so would you be willing to write up a short golf course review on Emerald Golf Club?

  3. Bangkok Jock

    Mark
    It would be difficult to get a comment from Mr. Muirhead. I did write him not long after Century 2000 [original name] opened . I told him I thought it was one most naturally routed courses I had played in Thailand , and how much I enjoyed playing it . “Best set of par 3’s on any course in Thailand ” IMHO.
    He wrote back , thanking me for my kind words , along with astonishment that the course was open !!! Of course , Mr Muirhead had never been paid for his work , and as far as he knew the course had never opened .
    I don’t really agree that there was bad blood between Mr. Muirhead and Mr. Faldo . Mr. Muirhead had his way of working , and just didn’t agree with the new trend of ‘name’ designers being added to sell the courses .
    Personally I have never seen Faldo ever comment on this course before . Mr. Muirhead wrote many articles on golf course design and his travels , which were all up on his website. I did save many of the articles , and will pass along any Thai related ones , as soon as I can find where they are .
    He was involved in designing Green Valley Ayutthaya , which as far as I know never materialised ?
    Best Regards
    Jock

  4. Jock,
    Thanks for the great comments. You are right Green valley in Yutthaya was never built.
    I would like to get your comments on Great Lakes and other lesser known Thailand golf courses as you seem to know quite allot. if you send me any short reviews, I will be glad to post them for you.
    Mage we can also get out for around together. Are you in Pattaya? For how long? Which course(es) do you play most often?
    Best Regards,
    Mark
    PS When can you send me those articles?

  5. Bangkok Jock

    Mark
    I have a far too critical eye on golf courses to be able to write a review that you would find suitable for your website .
    That you alter my replies is bad enough .
    But hey , its your website , and you want it to reflect your thoughts .
    Fair enough .
    Jock

  6. Jock,
    Give it a try, you never know, a Thailand golf course review would be great. Just stick on the good points about one of the courses you like to play and think is good.
    By the way, which are your favorite Thailand golf courses?
    Mark

  7. John Ashington

    Just returned from holiday in Khao Lak. Played Thai Muang Golf Course which is about 30 mins drive from both Khao Lak and Phuket.
    I was amazed at the state of the course. The green fee was 2,500 Baht which was a complete rip off. I didn’t see another single golfer on the course all the way round. To say that the course is the only one with views of the Andaman Sea is being rather economical with the truth. You can only see the sea from the 17th green and 18th fairway.
    The course has some good holes but has sadly been very badly neglected for some time. The fairways are almost indistinguishable from the teeing areas making it difficult to choose where to aim your tee shot!
    The clubhouse has holes in the roof and the changing room had a huge leak all over the carpet. It is a real shame as the course with proper management and some huge investment could be excellent.
    My advice would be not to bother playing this course. You will be very disappointed. As a final comment I played the Blue Canyon Course the following day in Phuket and that was absolutely superb.
    John

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