Happy City Golf Resort now provides Northern Thailand golfers 3 international standard Chiang Rai golf courses; the other two being Santiburi Chiang Rai and Waterford Valley. Happy City boasts a total of 29 holes, with 2 of those closed as ‘maintenance holes’ on any given day. Five sets of tees offer challenges for every level of golfer. I recommend picking your tees carefully and maybe moving up a set from where you normally play as the course is quite long.
The master project includes 5 large condominium buildings that are nearing completion, and long range plans call for adding a 5 star hotel, retirement community and water park. Actually the course itself is a bit of a water park, with H2O in play on almost every hole.
One thing that separates Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai is that Chiang Rai gets a lot more air movement due to its’ geography. That makes it feel cooler even in the hottest months, though it also means golfers need to factor the wind into their shots at Happy City more so than most Thailand golf courses.
The first 10 holes are the Lakeside Course, and come at you hard and fast with a challenging abundance of water and sand bunkers. The key here is to keep the ball in-play. The bunkers can take some getting used to, as the sand is a heavy ‘pebble beach’ variety unique to Thai courses. The worst trouble on the Lakeside Course is mostly on the left side.
Holes 11-20 are the Mountain Breeze Course. It has the worst of its trouble to the right, and is a bit more open with wider fairways that invite more aggressive play. However, it too is far from a pushover.
The final 9 holes River Course, is the most challenging of all. It’s more target golf and with island and peninsula greens. High handicapper’s best avoid the River Course, and others might want to play with ‘expendable’ balls. This is intended as the ‘extra nine’ for those who want to take it on.
Unique touches at Happy City include a pineapple grove between two holes (not fun to hit out of) and the par -3 13th ‘Texas’ hole. As befits the name, its big; 232 yards from the back tees and 194 even from the whites, with a large U shaped bunker in front, a lake behind, a native area right and a small fairway on the left front. Oh and one more thing, the U bunker has several cactus growing in it!
The on-course refreshment stands are also unique, with one modeled after a Windmill, one with a Disneyland theme, and one that looks like Fred and Wilma’s house from The Flintstones.
As one would expect from a new course, the trees are small and staked, the turf is still growing in, and the caddies are inexperienced and very much still learning. However, their attitude, smiles and enthusiasm go a long way toward making up for what they lack in knowledge and English speaking ability. Give Happy City a go the next time you golf in Chiang Rai.
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