Asia is home to some of the best new golf courses on the planet. While Thailand has long established its place as a leading golf destination, neighbouring Vietnam is quickly catching up and is home to some of the most breath-taking and luxurious golf resorts on the planet. Meanwhile, the offering in China, Japan and South Korea is likely to surprise and inspire in equal measure.
We introduce our favourite golf resorts in Asia:
You can never go too far wrong when choosing a Kyle Phillips course. At South Cape Owners Club, in South Korea golfers will find yet another world-class Phillips design. In fact, the course is good then some suggest it may even surpass Kingsbarns Golf Links as his greatest masterpiece to date. The luxury development in Namhae on the Southern Tip of the Korean peninsula opened in 2013. Less than five years later and the spectacular clifftop layout has already earned the title of the best golf course in the country. Set amid beautiful scenery, which Phillips described as one of the ‘most beautiful coastlines in golf’, no expense was spared in this artistic and modern facility.
South Cape is also home to one of the most striking clubhouses anywhere on the planet. Sited on the highest point on the property, the ultra-high-end art deco structure affords views across the peninsula and like the rest of the property, is of 6-star standards.
Ba Na Hills is one of Asia’s best new courses. Located in the foothills of the eponymous iconic French resort, the layout is Luke Donald’s first design. He’s certainly set the bar high. Located 25 minutes from downtown Da Nang, the layout has already earned a reputation as a world-class venue.
It’s hard to exaggerate the beauty of the course. Set on a jungle-clad mountainside the course carves its way through indigenous vegetation offering a refreshing change from the area other seaside courses. Ba Na Hills is also a great place to play night golf when the fairways become lit by floodlights.
Located on the Izu Peninsula, two hours from Tokyo, the Fuji course at Kawana is universally considered to be one of the best courses in Asia. With the Pacific Ocean forming a glistening backcloth and Mount Fuji standing imposingly over the course, the Fuji is one of the most visually appealing courses on the planet. It isn’t just the setting that makes Fuji a must-visit for all golf fans. Designed by Charles Alison in 1935, golfers will encounter every classic architectural feature imaginable. From Colt-style bunkering to subtle elevation changes and clever plateau greens, the course is a work of art. The traditional hotel is also of the highest standard, and like the course, enjoys elevated views over the ocean. Be sure to indulge in the Japanese tradition of taking a dip in the hot springs after your round.
If blue skies and tropical beaches sound like your idea of a dream golf course, then its time you visited the Els Club Datai. Situated on Langkawi, a remote island in the Andaman Sea, the Datai is blessed with a beautiful location amid dense jungle and glorious sandy beaches. There are no bunkers on the course, although be prepared to encounter plenty of long-tailed macaque monkeys who are frequently spotted on the fairways. A winner of the World Golf Awards’ Best New Golf Course, the course forms part of the Datai Langkawi, an eco-friendly five-star hotel.
Mission Hills is the largest golf complex on earth with an incredible 12 golf courses to choose from. The resort is home to the world’s largest pro shop, China’s biggest day spa, and the first five-star resort attached to a golf course in China. Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman are among the big names to have attached their names to the resort’s dozen courses. Located in Hainan, the 216 holes are set amid rainforest-covered mountain ridges and the layouts are likely to surprise golfers with their sheer quality.
Lava Fields is the crown jewel in the resort, although the Norman layout is considered Mission’s Hills hardest and most popular layout.
Indonesia might not strike you as the first place to find a world-class golf course. That’s exactly what you will find at Ria Bintan however, a fabulous Gary Player design that is located just a short ferry ride from Singapore. The award-winning 18-hole Ocean Course unfolds next to the South China Sea and while much of the course carves its way through the native jungle, the holes that jut out into the ocean are truly spectacular.
Expect to encounter plenty of monkeys which easily outnumber people on the island.
Built upon an old Pineapple plantation, Black Mountain is one of Thailand’s most popular golf courses. An annual host to the PGA Tour, the course was the first in the Kingdom to host a European Tour event and has regularly been ranked by Golf Digest as the top course in the country. Situated in Hua Hin, an area teeming with fantastic courses, golfers can stay in two or three bedroom villas overlooking the resort’s 27-holes.
Vietnam is Asia’s most up-and-coming golf destination and in the space of a few years, several luxurious golf resorts have appeared. Among the most popular is Laguna Lang Co, an ocean-facing resort located an hour from Danang, the country’s golf capital. Six-time major winner Nick Faldo was behind the innovative design, which weaves its way between beachside holes and the forested mountainside.
A Banyan Tree property, it’s little surprise the accommodation is of the highest standard. Centred around luxury suites set high on the rocky headland, the hotel is also perfectly situated to explore the regions three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Located on Sri Lanka’s pristine southern coastline, Shangri-La’s Hambantota offers the best of both worlds, with a championship course, award-winning spa and ocean-facing accommodation. The first and only resort course in the country, the layout meanders its way over vast coconut palm plantation, with a sapphire quarry, lakes and sand dunes all featuring throughout the round. An outdoor water park, pools and health spa are all on offer at the resort, while a unique Artisan Village gives you an opportunity to explore and interact with local artists and craftsmen.
A winner at the World Luxury Golf Awards Banyan has featured in the Top 1000 in the World by Rolex. Situated in Hua Han, a popular holiday spot of the Thai royal family, Banyan Golf Club is a picturesque course with views across to the Thai island of Singtoh and plenty of water throughout. Banyan Resort is known for its award-winning spa and luxurious accommodation offering and is a big hit with golfers and non-golfers alike.