The Sampran Golf Club in Bangkok, Thailand, formerly known as the Rose Garden Golf Club has undergone some much-needed renovation. As one of the oldest courses in Thailand the Sampran Golf Course has been taken to a new level of quality, with the new owners undertaking remedial works to bring the course back up to standard and to compete as it once did with the other courses in the area. The quality of the layout and design has never been in question and that is clear in the fact that it played host to the 1992 Thailand Open and was once ranked in the top 24 courses in the world. How times can change.
The new owners want to revitalise the course and bring it back to its former glory.
Designed by Visuth Junnanont, the 7085-yard course meanders its way through the towering mature trees and thick jungle like vegetation. A particular delight, for those visiting during the months of January to April, when the local flora is in full bloom, providing a wonderful backdrop of vivid colours.
A great course for those looking to walk, as the course stretches out over the generally flat terrain, the designer in using well positioned water hazards, spectacular bunkering and the back drop of the dense vegetation has created a tranquil environment which lends itself to good golf.
The fairways are narrow and tree lined requiring accuracy from the tee to leave the best lines into the green.
Unusually, each hole consists of two greens. This may seem strange but a golf course that sees so much traffic benefits tremendously from having the option to change not only the hole location but the actual green. This “gimmick” is actually quite charming and gives a real sense of uniqueness to the golf course, which otherwise is lacking in a true wow factor. I am not saying that the course is not worth a visit, it is just that the holes are all so good in their own quiet and unassuming way you can forget just how pleasant and enjoyable around here at Sampran Golf Club can be.
At Sampran it is the par 5s that take pride of place as the standout holes. The hardest on the course is the 5th, at over 550 yards it requires both length and accuracy to ensure a good score. The tee shot must carry the stream that cuts the fairway in two, whilst avoiding the large trees that frame the hole. The second is much easier, but you must ensure that you carefully place your lay up to leave a good angle into the green of the day.
The 11th is another good par 5, Water flanks the hole to the left of this gentle right to left dogleg hole. Longer hitters may want to try and take on the corner and the fairway bunker on the elbow which would leave a great chance of getting home in two.
As you would expect from a highly rated design the final hole is also challenging. A long par five that requires a long drive if you want to stand any chance of a grandstand finish. But only the longest of golfers will be able to take the green of the day on in two. From the tee you must clear the large pond in front of the tee and then take the decision of laying up short of the stream that slices the hole in two or to try and carry it and leave a short pitch into the green of the day, both of which are protected by a solitary bunker.
Facilities are good, and have improved dramatically since the renovations and you can enjoy a good meal or cold drink after your round in pleasant and comfortable surroundings.
It may not be the most exclusive of golf clubs in The Philippines, but it most certainly one of the most enjoyable rounds you are likely to play.