The first course built in Phuket back in 1989 and conveniently located in the centre of the island amidst rolling hills, limestone cliffs and landscaped forests, the original 18-hole course at Phuket Country Club has aged well and remains a firm favourite, especially since the introduction of buggies. It’s short by modern standards, at just 6,484 yards from the back tees, which means even high handicappers can give a good account of themselves, but there’s still plenty to keep better players interested.
Despite the absence of water, the front nine presents the biggest challenge, with a testing series of undulating holes. The first is a short par-4 involving a nervy drive over a ravine to reach position A; aiming to the right hand side of the fairway is safer, but on your second shot you won’t be able to see the green. The second is a downhill par-3 where finding the elevated green is a challenge often complicated by the swirling wind, making club selection key.
After a medium-length dogleg par 5, where it’s often safer to play an iron off the tee, the 4th is a challenging par 4 with the threat of OB, and the 5th a tough par-3 with water down the left side and three bunkers protecting an undulating green. The narrow landing area on the 6th fairway places a premium on accuracy off the tee, and you should try your best to end up below the hole with your second to avoid having to putt downhill on the severely sloping green.
The 7th features a three-tier green surrounded by bunkers, and holding the elevated green on the long par-4 8th requires a deft touch on your long approach. The front nine ends with a great par 5. If you can carry the tree that stands in the way of the direct route to the green, you can get there in two, but a miscue can be severely punished.
The back nine is flatter and more open, and it’s at the 10th that water first comes into play at what is perhaps the most famous hole in all of Phuket. This 557-yard monster plays right around a massive lake, almost turning 180 degrees. The conventional route involves three shots that must flirt with water, although if you have time, take an extra ball and go straight across the loch by hitting at right angles from the front tees, from where it is just possible with a mighty swipe to reach the front edge of the green in one (and on a par-5 that is quite some achievement).
Following the more straightforward 11th, where the main challenge is avoiding the bunkers protecting the right side of the green, things get tricky again. At the 12th, you’ll need accuracy off the tee to reach the narrow landing area and an impeccable approach to reach an elevated green ringed with bunkers. The 13th offers the chance to pick up a shot if you can avoid the water than runs down the right-hand side, and while the short par-3 14th offers some respite, the 15th is a long par-4 with a narrowing fairway, OB both sides, and a green protected by 4 bunkers.
Water is again in evidence both at the par-4 16th and surrounding the island green at one of the best par-3s in Phuket, the 17th. The round finishes with a long dogleg par-5. If your tee shot can avoid the water that cuts through the fairway, the rest of the hole plays uphill to the most difficult green on the course, so you’ll have to work hard to avoid a three-putt blemish to cap off your round.
The changing rooms have recently been renovated and are now the best in Phuket. The clubhouse features one of the largest and best-stocked pro-shops in Phuket, and there’s an extensive practice area if you want to try out some of the clubs on offer. Reasonable prices at the restaurant mean that a well-earned meal after what will no doubt be a memorable round of golf won't break the bank.
Note that the club features a members-only 9-hole layout which is sometimes used as an alternative when the other course is closed for renovation.