Golf clubs in Southeast Asia
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Shanghai Silport Golf Club (pictured)
The wonderful thing about golf clubs in China is they are so new most clubs allow a walk-in element. This is near impossible at most elite European or American clubs. Shanghai Silport has hosted the Volvo China Open for the past five years and will host it again in November. Each Wednesday and Thursday, the 27-hole club offers a 520 yuan (HK$490) package that includes transport, caddie, a round of golf and even lunch for women players. Tel: 512 5748 1111; www.silportgolf.com.
Santiburi Country Club
Santi Bhirombhakdi, owner of the Singha Beer empire, recruited designer Robert Trent Jones II to realise his dream golf course in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Santiburi Country Club has become one of Asia's best-conditioned courses. Its northern location provides relatively cool conditions, making it ideal for golf, while the dramatic fairways follow the natural landscape, with huge trees and even bigger water hazards. Tour operator www.golfthink.com is offering a 7,940 baht (HK$1,500) package that includes two nights in the five-star Dusit Island Resort, breakfast and two rounds of golf. Regular green fees are 1,000 baht on weekdays. Tel: 053 662821 28.
Macau Golf and Country Club
This is an ideal venue for a quick golfing escape. The course, adjoining the Westin Resort Macau, boasts a layout carved from Coloane Island with huge elevation changes, small, tight greens and sweeping vistas. The club annually hosts the game's top players at the Macau Open and its 225-yard 17th hole is one of the best par threes in Asia - the tee is about 50 metres higher than the green. The Westin Resort is offering a good-value stay-and-play package for HK$1,370 on weekdays and $2,270 at weekends. The price includes a sea-view room and a round of golf. Tel: 853 871 111; www.westin-macau.com.
Mission Hills Golf Club
With 10 courses in all, Mission Hills boasts everything a serious player could want outside a true links layout. The Shenzhen club has constructed five new courses in the past couple of years and the Annika Course is particularly interesting: women's world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam has created a layout featuring six par threes, six par fours and six par fives - definitely a course to feel good about your game. The original World Cup course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is hard to beat. Mission Hills
is strictly private but the golf courses are accessible to guests staying at its five-star hotel. Tel: 2826 0288; www.missionhills.com.hk.
Nirwana Bali Golf Club
For sheer adventure in a golf course, the Greg Norman-designed Nirwana Bali Golf Club is top notch. The centrepiece of the Nirwana Bali Resort features an 18-hole layout with terraced rice paddies and three exciting holes running along clifftops. The par-three seventh requires an accurate shot over the ocean to the green. The green fees are a hefty US$130 but better deals are available through the on-site Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort Bali, which is offering a Golf Break package that includes accommodation for three nights, breakfast and two rounds of golf for US$270 based on two people sharing. Tel: 800 96 38 33 toll free; www.lemeridien.com/indonesia/bali.
St Andrews 2000
Tired of the best? Then how about a bit of the bizarre? St Andrews 2000, located near Rayong, a sleepy resort town on Thailand's east coast that never quite took off, features one of the most unusual courses anywhere. The late designer Desmond Muirhead created a layout recalling the wind-swept links courses of his native Scotland. Deep bunkers and mounds abound but the palm-tree-lined fairways make it a far cry from his homeland. Highlights are the two par-six holes, one an 818-yard beast requiring a minimum of two shots over large water hazards. Not recommended for handicaps above 18. A round costs 2,000 baht (HK$375) on weekdays. Tel: 038 893 838 46.