Robert Trent Jones Jr has built golf courses around the world including the Rocky Mountains, French forests, Palm Springs desert, Russian parkland, Japanese hills, Australian coastlines, and former rice paddies and coconut plantations in Thailand.
The four Thailand Trent Jones golf courses in Thailand are Navatanee Golf Course in Bangkok, Eastern Star Golf & Country Club in Pattaya, Green Valley Country Club in Bangkok, and Santiburi Golf Club in Chiang Rai. Here is some background and updated playing information on each one.
Navatanee Golf Club was commissioned by the Thailand government to host the 1975 World Golf Championship. The course is kept in excellent condition and has the best Bermuda grass greens I have ever played on. The fast and receptive putting surfaces, I guess, are the result of proper care and ageing, which is by far the longest of all the top Thailand golf courses. Playing Navatanee last month I found again some great holes including the Par 5 9th which makes a 180 degree loop around and twice crosses over water. The club house has a true rustic feeling reminding me more of a town restaurant in a small western USA city than a club house in Bangkok, Thailand. With a C&W band on hand, I felt as if I was in Colorado or Wyoming!
The links-style course at Eastern Star Golf Club near Pattaya is set among a former coconut palm plantation. It is a "thinking man’s course", featuring 69 bunkers, lateral water hazards and numerous dog legs that require strategy and well-positioned shots to score well. However, despite significant attention to maintenance the current course conditions are only average, a best. Let’s hope the ongoing projects have a beneficial result for this year’s golf season.
The Bangkok Green Valley Golf Club is located along the Bangna-Trad golfers alley and is very popular with local Thais and Asian expatriates. The course features rolling fairways and tricky, undulating greens plus well-placed lakes and bunkers. The three long opening holes are especially challenging with several blind water hazards crossing the fairways. . I have found the greens to be very firm and almost impossible to hold incoming balls. This requires playing the course links style and using more bump and run approach shots as opposed to normal pitches into the greens. Once this was learned I was able to score well and fully enjoy this classic Trent Jones design.
The Chiang Rai Santiburi Country Club maybe one of the best conceived and conditioned golf courses in Thailand, if not all Asia. The course was proposed by the owner of Thailand’s Boonrawd Brewery (Singha Beer) and is an excellent and beautiful layout. Despite its difficulty from the back tees, the course is playable and enjoyable for golfers on every skill level. I played off the white tees earlier in the year and found it to be just right for me. Set in a deep valley on the outskirts of Chiang Rai, it is a great course with stunning views the mountains of Chiang Rai all around. Grass bunkers, lakes and trees are strategically placed throughout the golf course. Santiburi Chiang Rai is by far the best golf course in Chiang Rai, there is only one other by the way, and is a great excuse to set out on a combined a sightseeing, culture, and golf trip to the Golden Triangle region of Thailand. After all where else can you visit three countries and play golf all in one day!