Chiang Mai is the capital city of northern Thailand and is a completely different place, to that of the south. It’s a very calm, laid back region of the country but that’s not to say it does not receive its fair share of visitors, it is very popular and with good reason. The mountainous, green countryside, forested foothills, monasteries and cooler temperatures, make Chiang Mai not only a great place to stay but the perfect place for a golf holiday and there are plenty of excellent courses to choose from.
One of the top golf courses in Chiang Mai, is the Alpine Golf Resort Chiang Mai. This 18-hole, par 72 golf course, is one of the most natural and scenic in the county. Designed by Ron M Garl, you are never far from nature on this golf course, with the majestic hills and lush green forests surrounding the course, with trees such as Golden Teakwood and Dipterocarpus Alatus. Host of the 2013/14 Chiang Mai Golf Classic, the course plays to 7,541 yards and can be a real challenge from the back tees but makes for a very pleasant round of golf, from the white or blue tee boxes. Water plays a part on a number of holes, including an island fairway on the 9th hole and there is also an island green on the 15th hole. A 4-star resort, restaurant and spa, complete this excellent golf course.
The Chiang Mai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort opened in 2005 and is often considered to be home to the top golf courses in Chiang Mai. The drive up to the golf club is magnificent and gives you some idea of what lies in wait. The high elevation of the golf club, provides stunning views of the region, a cool climate, pure air, fresh water and an ideal landscape for a golf course. Chiang Mai Highlands has won a number of awards and it’s easy to see why, with excellent fairways and consistent, fast rolling greens. Bunkers are deep and punishing and with over 130 throughout the course, provide the main hazard. Having played through the natural beauty of 17 holes, prepare yourself for a big finish on the 18th hole, which is exciting and memorable.
Another top golf course in Chiang Mai, is Gassan Legacy Golf Club, situated 45 minutes south of Chiang Mai city. This course opened in 2014, after a complete renovation, including new drainage, turf and greenside hazards. There are numerous water hazards throughout this course and players are forced to carry plenty of shots over them, to fairways and greens. The rolling fairways offer both challenging routes, to those who want to attack the golf course and layup areas, for those who prefer to take less risks with their shots. Therefore, expect to be faced with plenty of risk-reward shots, where decision making is key to producing a low score. Due to the renovation, the course at Gassan Legacy Golf Club is one of the best in Chiang Mai in terms of condition and you will never be disappointed, whatever time of year you decide to visit.
Built in 1996, Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club and Resort, is home to one of the original ‘modern’ golf courses in Chiang Mai. There are a number of mature trees and plenty of greenery surrounding this course, which is set amongst rolling hills and countryside. Located on the site of a former fruit orchard, there is a great variety of native flowering plants and trees along every hole and other natural features of the course include waterfalls and streams. Having been designed by Peter Thompson, the course has a number of links-style features to it, including rolling fairways, pot bunkers and closely mown areas near the greens. Elevated greens make club selection very important and all of the par-3 holes can easily be classed as signature holes, on what is one of Chiang Mai’s top golf courses.
Finally, the award for being one of the best kept golf courses in Chiang Mai, has to go to Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club. Designed by Denis Griffiths, this course is situated in the lowlands of Chiang Mai and has hundreds of palm trees dotted around the perimeter. There are great views of the local mountains to enjoy but with well-placed bunkers and plenty of water hazards to contend with, which come into play on almost every hole, this a golf course which can be difficult to par. From the tee, fairways can seem wide but with the strategic bunkering, water and palm trees, this is deceptive and anything but an accurate tee shot, will usually end up with a tough second shot. The greens are large and receptive however, so good iron shots to the green should hold their position well and present good putting opportunities.
With so many, top quality golf courses to choose from in Chiang Mai, visitors to this region of Thailand, are spoilt for choice.