Matter of course
Wondering where to go for that perfect golf outing? Scarlet Ma compiles a list of tempting holiday packages
Five in one
Head out to France and enjoy an eight-day Paris golf package offered by Greenice Golf Tour (3426 2266). The deal covers: Paris International Golf Club (pictured), France's only Jack Nicklaus-designed course (18, route du Golf - 95560 Baillet en France, 33 1 34699613); Tom Simpson's Fontainebleau Golf Club (Route d'Orleans, 77399 Fontainebleau, 22 1 64222295) and Chantilly Golf Club (Allee de la Menagerie, 60500 Chantilly, 33 3 44570443), both voted among Europe's top 10 courses; Le Golf National-Albatros (Avenue du Golf, 78280 Guyancourt, 33 1 30433600, Paris), which once held the French Open and is regarded as Europe's most challenging course because of the strong winds, and Golf de Saint-Germain (Route de Poissy, F-78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 33 1 3910 3030), arguably the most beautiful course in France. The HK$19,990 package includes a round-trip on Air France or Cathay Pacific, five nights' accommodation and any form of transportation to the courses.
Scotland in China
Tiger Beach Golf Links
Feng Cheng Tourist & Vacation Zone, Haiyang, Yantai, Shandong, China, 86 535 331 1808
With goats roaming around, pot bunkers, gnarly rough, humps and hollows, hard running fairways and generally small, potentially treacherous greens, you may well imagine you are in Scotland, not China, at the Tiger Beach Golf Links. Beta Soong, designer and owner of the course, played many classic Scottish and Irish Links courses for inspiration in preparing the course. The club has signed a sister agreement with Carnoustie Golf Links, in Scotland, which will host the 2007 Open Championship. Tiantai Hot Spring Golf Club, in Qingdao, is another impressive course, and in perfect condition. A four-day package from Hong Kong Airlines (21274677) costs from HK$3,850.
Scrub of the green
Leo Palace Resort Guam
221 Lake View Drive, Yona, Guam 96915, 671 471 0001
Leo Palace Resort presents one of the most challenging of golf courses: the spectacular hilltop setting, in the rugged terrain of the Manneggon Hills, is totally exposed to the elements, including high winds. Many of the holes have sheer drop-offs, which come into play, while several of the tee shots require players to sometimes carry more than 200 yards of scrub if they are to reach the greens or fairways. Eighteen of the 27-hole track holes were designed by Arnold Palmer and the other nine by Jack Nicklaus. The four-day package by Travelex (2270 7600) to Leo Palace costs from HK$3,890, including round-trip air tickets on Continental Airlines and two nights' stay at Leo Palace Resort.
Phokeethra Country Club
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 855 6396 4600
In the vicinity of Unesco World Heritage site Angkor Wat, the Phokeethra Country Club is Cambodia's first PGA-standard international golf course, designed by golf legend Nick Faldo. Between the 9th and 10th green is the restored 11th-century Roluh Bridge, which used to be part of the road linking Thailand and Cambodia. The iconic Khmer image has been adopted as the course's logo. The 18 holes conclude with a double water carry on a tricky island green. Golf Holidays (25417090) offers a package of three nights at the Sofitel Royal Angkor Golf & Spa Resort. The HK$5,880 deal includes a half-day of sightseeing at Angkor Wat with a guide. You can exchange one of the two golf rounds for a two-hour foot massage.
The Empire Hotel & Country Club
Jerudong BG3122, Brunei, 673 241 8888
The Brunei Indulgence package from Royal Brunei Airlines (3180 3232) and The Empire Hotel & Country Club is exactly that: for just HK$4,190, you get a return air ticket, accommodation, 200 balls at the Empire Driving Range, high tea, F&B credit worth more than HK$500, and a complimentary mini facial treatment. The 18-hole course is awe-inspiring. The front nine overlook the ocean from high ground, while the back nine reach to the sea. The signature 15th hole has to be played directly along the beach from the tee all the way to the green. The Empire was rated the second best golf resort in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly last year. One round of the 18 holes costs B$135-B$190 (HK$700-HK$988).
Bintan Lagoon Resort
Jalan Indera Segara, Bintan Utara, Lagoi, Riau, Indonesia, 62 770 691 388
Bintan has become one of Asia's most popular golf destinations. The two 18-hole championship courses at Bintan Lagoon Resort were designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Ian Baker-Finch. The Jack Nicklaus sea-view course makes the most of the natural landscape. The 13th hole which has a stream running through it, is the trickiest. The Ian Baker-Finch woodlands course covers dramatically undulating terrain. The 13th hole here is affectionately known as 'beauty and the beast'. Try it and you will know why. The Ocean Course and the Forest Course at Ria Bintan Golf Club (Jalan Perigi Lagoi, North Bintan, Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia, 62 770 692 868) were designed by Gary Player. The club was ranked among the Top 100 golf courses by Golf Digest. Last year, Asian Golf Monthly rated it Indonesia's best golf course and Asia's second best. You can cover both top-graded clubs in one trip with packages from Atrium Travel (3106 3020). The packages, starting at HK$3,880, include air tickets on Singapore Airlines, ferry tickets between Singapore and Bintan, and two or three nights' accommodation at the Bintan Lagoon Resort.
Stuff of legend
The Blue Canyon Country Club
165, Moo 1, Thepkasattri Road, Thalang, Phuket 83110, Thailand, 66 76 328 088
Tiger Woods said it was one of the best he had ever worked on. The Blue Canyon Country Club is a legend. From now till the end of August, Golf Holidays offers a super Class Golf Courses Special so you can try the club's two award-winning courses, The Canyon Course and The Lakes Course. Most Asian golf courses are radical reconstructions of the original environment; at Blue Canyon, course designer Yoshikazu Kato has gently sculpted the existing landscape and woodlands, making sure the courses blended with the natural surroundings, while offering natural hazards to challenge golfers of all levels. Golf Holidays (2541 7090) offers a package that includes round-trip air tickets on Thai Airways and two-nights' accommodation at the club. You will receive a TaylorMade-adidas gift package, and discounts on all TaylorMade golf products. The package costs HK$4,980.
Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club
1 Sutera Harbour Boulevard, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 60 88 318 888
Cathay Pacific Holidays (2747 4388) offers a package with two whole-day unlimited rounds of golf at the 27-hole Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club. Set in the heart of Kota Kinabalu and designed by US Senior Open Champion Graham Marsh, the course has breathtaking views of the deep blue sea - tempting golfers into the trap of playing directly into the water. Two nights' accommodation in a deluxe sea-view room at The Pacific Sutera is included. The buffet dinner at Cafe Boleh is noted for its contemporary Malaysian cuisine. Price ranges from HK$4,999 to HK$5,299 per player.