A great deal of work is going into making Phuket even better, with telephone wires being moved underground and new, top class hotels arriving on the island to complement the traditional shop-houses, temples and barbers.
With several world class golf courses to choose from in Phuket, its little wonder this is an island which attracts golfers from all over the world.
Despite being an island, there is plenty to keep the golfer happy when staying on Phuket and you are spoilt for choice in such a small area of land. With over 10 golf courses to choose from, you could easily spend two weeks on the island and not see anything else.
However, with tremendous beaches, limestone karsts rising out of the sea, mountains, jungle, national parks and an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, a Phuket golf holiday is something which should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Geography and Travel
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and sits on the Indian Ocean coastline in the bight blue waters of the Andaman Sea. It’s just over 850 kilometres away from the Thai capital of Bangkok and has enjoyed a rich history, with tin and rubber bringing much of the early wealth to the island.
Phuket was on the major trading routes between India and China and is therefore mentioned regularly in the log books of trading ships which passed through.
Tourism now provides the main income on the island and with a lovely coastline, mountains and jungles, Phuket has produced some superb golf courses.
Unlike some of the other golf destinations in Thailand, Phuket has its own international airport and the Phuket International Airport is the second busiest in Thailand, after Bangkok. Therefore, direct flights are possible between Europe and Phuket and form other destinations including Australia, Japan, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Once at the airport, you can use one of the many airport buses which are available and these will take you to Phuket Town and Patong Beach directly. You can also take a taxi if you are staying somewhere which is not served by public transportation.
If you are travelling to Phuket from Bangkok, you are advised to get a domestic flight due to the long distance between the two places.
Phuket is a large island and you will need transportation to get around, especially to the golf courses. Much of the transport on the island connects Phuket Town to the beaches, so you are advised to book a taxi through your hotel to reach the golf courses and arrange a price with the company before setting off on your journey.
Where to Stay
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation on Phuket and there are hotels, villas and guest houses to suit every taste.
If you are planning on staying in one of the top-rated hotels, it’s advisable to book well in advance as these fill up quickly, especially between November and February. The top beach-side resorts include Six Senses Yao Noi, Trisara, Amanpuri and Kata Rocks.
If you would like something a little more traditional, you can choose from boutique guest houses in the Old Town and Casa Blanca Boutique Hotel is a great example of a restored Sino-Portuguese mansion.
You are not restricted to staying in Phuket Town or beach based accommodation and have the option to enjoy tree-house style accommodation or stay at one of the several golf courses which provide some fantastic villas and hotels. Laguna Golf Phuket and Katathong Golf Resort and Spa are two examples of golf courses which come complete with accommodation.
Weather and Best Time to Travel
Phuket has a tropical monsoon climate and this means it remains hot throughout they year. However, the weather on the island can be split into three distinct seasons and the best time to travel for golf is between November and February.
This is known as the ‘cool season’ and the weather is much like Florida in the summer, with minimal rainfall, especially in January and February yet very pleasant temperatures in the high 20’s.
March to early May is the ‘hot season’ and this is when the heat is at its most intense on Phuket. Temperatures can reach the mid 30’s and sometimes even higher. While the heat can make playing golf difficult at times, it is not always going to be incredibly hot and with plenty of water and sun protection, you can enjoy playing golf on Phuket.
The rainy season falls between May and October and while you may see some rain most days, it tends to fall in the evenings and often in short, sharp bursts. In the mornings and afternoons, the weather is often clear and sunny and this can be a great time to enjoy a round of golf on Phuket, without the crowds of the cool season.
Things to Do Away from the Golf Course
While you may find it difficult to prise yourself away from the pristine fairways of Phuket, there is so much to do and enjoy on the island, you should take a little time away from the golf course to enjoy some of the other attractions.
One of the most popular day trips on Phuket is a boat tour around the several small islands, including Phi-Phi Island and Khai Island. The tours will allow you to stop off at all the best islands and enjoy the beaches, snorkelling, diving and some lunch.
However, you do not have to travel on a boat to enjoy the sea and if you are staying in coastal hotel, you can walk onto the beach or take the shuttle bus to the closest beach. Between November and February, the sea is at its best, very clear and calm and this makes it a great time for swimming, snorkelling, diving and kayaking.
If you enjoy water based activities, you can also book river rafting tours and these are a great way to see the island from a different perspective as you glide down the river.
If you are interested in the history and culture of the island you should visit Wat Chalong Temple, which is one of Phuket's most important temples and take a stroll through Old Phuket Town.
For wildlife lovers a visit to the elephant sanctuary is a must and for those all-important gifts, head to the night market where you will find everything from local street food and snacks to handmade crafts and clothes.
Top Golf Courses
Many people who visit Phuket to play golf will tell you there are two golf courses which you must add to the top of your list and cannot leave without playing.
Blue Canyon Country Club
The first of these is Blue Canyon and this came to the attention of the golfing world when the 1994 Johnnie Walker Classic was played on the Canyon Course. The tournament was such a success it returned on two other occasions, with Tiger Woods winning in 1995.
The course is set in an abandoned tin mine and the rust coloured water which filters through the streams and the tin ore rock of the sheer cliffs provides a throwback to its mining days. However, this is a golf course which features arguably the best back nine holes in Thailand, with shots over canyons to island greens.
The large clubhouse and restaurants are good and while not up to the same standard as the golf course, provide a nice place for refreshment and discussion on what is a tremendous round of golf in Phuket.
In addition to the Canyon Course, Blue Canyon Golf Club is home to the Lakes Course and this is located near the international airport, making it a great choice for those just arriving or about to leave Phuket.
Red Mountain Golf Club
The second golf club which is considered a must when building a Phuket golf package if Red Mountain Golf Club.
This golf course is just 15 minutes from Patong and Karon Beaches and is arguably the most exciting golf course in Phuket. Soft red rock and dense jungle are the two key ingredients of this golf course and while you would imagine this environment is not suited to golf, it has been transformed into a tremendous golfing experience.
Red Mountain Golf Club is a tough test and features water, undulating fairways and greens, wind and changes in elevation throughout the 18 holes. You are treated to some fantastic views at the top of what is the highest golf course in Phuket.
The greens are far from consistent in terms of their size and nature, with some small and some large, with flat putting surfaces and others with significant breaks. However, while you may not always get a good read on the greens, you are guaranteed a fantastic playing surface, with both the fairways and greens in excellent condition.
The best advice for achieving a low score at Red Mountain is to listen to the advice of your caddie but mainly just enjoy yourself in the environment. Coupled with a modern clubhouse and top-quality practice facilities, you can easily spend all day at Red Mountain Golf Club.
Phuket Country Club
No golfing holiday to Phuket would be complete without a trip back in time at Phuket Country Club. This was the islands first championship golf course, having been created in 1989 and is just 20 minutes away from the most popular beaches.
Situated in the centre of the island, Phuket Country Club is a great golf course for those who are making their first golf holiday to Asia or Thailand. The front nine holes are the most challenging on this course and accurate driving is a must to score low. However, the back nine holes are flatter and open and even with water present on some of the holes, the margin for error is larger than the front nine.
You will find the most famous hole on the island at Phuket Country Club. The 10th hole starts from an elevated tee box and features a 180-degree fairway around a large lake. You have a choice to make on this hole, whether to try and reach the green in one shot across the water or play a more conserved shot and aim for the fairway.
Phuket Country Club is a great introduction to playing golf in Phuket and is perfect for beginner golfers while giving the more experienced player a chance to hit a good score.
Mission Hills Phuket Golf Club and Resort
If you are looking for a golfing experience which will have you reaching for your camera as often as your clubs, you should add Mission Hills Phuket Golf Club and Resort to your itinerary. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this Phuket golf course is situated on the north-east coast of the island among mangrove forests and provides many dramatic views of the ocean.
In fact, several of the 18 holes at Mission Hills Phuket Golf Club and Resort boast shots over the Andaman Sea and with large white sand bunkers providing a stark contrast to the ocean, this golf course is a feast for the senses.
One of the standout features of playing a round on this course, is you can order food and have it delivered to you while playing. However, with the spa and clubhouse restaurant waiting for you after your round, you may want to wait and extend your stay at Mission Hills Phuket Golf Club and Resort.
The great thing about playing golf on Phuket, is despite being on an island, you have many options when booking a tee time. In addition to the golf courses highlighted above, you should also consider playing a round at Katathong Golf Resort and Spa, Laguna Golf Phuket, Loch Palm Golf Club and Tublamu Navy Golf Club.
Whichever golf course you decided to add to your Phuket golf package, you are guaranteed a great time, not only playing golf but participating in the many other activities available on the island.