The diverse topography of Asia, the largest and most populous continent in the world, has been a golf architect’s delight for ages. Home to every imaginable terrain on the face of earth, designers have revelled and been challenged while giving shape to vast tracts of land, creating masterpieces that test golfers’ skill and temperament to the hilt. Asia isn’t just about designer layouts and golf courses, though. Links-style courses and other designs, too have played a part in highlighting the continent as a golfing juggernaut.
Given the continent’s enormity and the gems strewn across this hotspot, compiling a definitive guide to Asia’s best golf courses is nothing short of a Himalayan task, and any list may not be a true reflection of why the region is considered a key point of attraction with its plethora of golf facilities that can rival the best in the world.
We attempt to put together 20 of the region’s top golf venues that should be on the to-do list of every passionate player. Scattered all across the region from Thailand’s Pattaya and Bangkok to Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur and Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, all of the golf courses mentioned here are unique in design, challenges and the rewards on offer. If one were to play a round each at the venues, the experience in one word would be wholesome.
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- Mission Hills, Shenzhen, World Cup Course, China
- Bali National Golf Club, Bali, Indonesia
- The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula, China
- Krungthep Kreetha Golf Course, Bangkok, Thailand
- Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin, Thailand
- Sentosa Golf Club (The Serapong), Singapore
- Hirono Golf Club, Japan
- Shanqin Bay Golf Club, China
- The Bluffs Grand Ho Tram Strip, Vietnam
- Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin, Thailand
- Kawana Resort, Fuji Course, Japan
- Nine Bridges Golf Club, South Korea
- Ayodhya Links, Ayutthaya, Thailand
- South Cape Owners Club, South Korea
- Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club - west course, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Ono Golf Club, Japan
- Lanhai International Country Club, Yangtze Dunes, Shanghai, China
- Naruo Golf Club, Japan
- Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course, Pattaya, Thailand
- Red Mountain Golf Club, Phuket, Thailand
This highly-regarded course was created by 18-time Major champion Jack Nicklaus and was named to celebrate the 1995 World Cup of Golf. It became the first course in China to receive US PGA accreditation for major professional events. Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, and many other golf legends have played here.
(Image: Mission Hills China)
Located on the beautiful island of Bali, this course reopened its doors in 2014 after completing a renovation. This exquisite course features lush tropical hills, jungle fauna, hypnotising views of the Indian Ocean and the luxurious Nusa Dua, hand-built stone walls to terrace the sides of fairways and tee boxes, and several artificial lakes.
(Image: Bali National Golf Club)
One of China’s acclaimed golf destinations, this course was designed by the former golf great Tom Weiskopf. The golf complex features 36 holes of championship play on its East and West Courses. Large mature trees, streams, rugged dunes, seaside vegetation, undulating fairways, natural rock outcroppings, and constantly changing ocean breeze on this seaside links-style layout offer an exceptional test for golfers of all skill levels.
(Image: Sunny Hainan)
A not-to-be missed name among Bangkok golf courses, the Krungthep Kreetha has been in play for more than five decades. It is incredibly surprising how serene it is here, given its urban setting. With immaculately kept greens, the course manages to be a favourite of both seasoned golfers and newcomers alike.
(Image: Krungthep Kreeta)
This golf club is all about an award-winning course, year-round immaculate conditions, pleasant climate, delicious food, a sizeable practice space, and a cutting-edge driving range. Situated in a valley surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and towering mountains, this course has hosted numerous Asian Tour events.
(Image: Black Mountain Golf Club)
The Serapong Course is considered Asia’s top championship course. It has been the proud host of the Singapore Open since 2005 and is widely esteemed by both professional and amateur golfers. Large lakes with stone-lined walls, fast and challenging greens, winding fairways, and breathtaking views of downtown Singapore are some of the highlights of this course.
(Image: Sentosa Golf Club)
This exclusive course is popularly dubbed the “Pine Valley of Japan”. The phenomenal short and intimidating long holes on this 91-year-old masterpiece layout will test even seasoned golfers. Wide, well-kept fairways, fast greens, and well-placed bunkers increase the level of challenge. The jaw-dropping scenery encircling the course is one of the most appealing aspects of Hirono.
(Image: Hirono Golf Club/ Taku Miyamoto)
Located south-east of the Hainan Island, this exclusive, members-only course is surrounded by the ocean on three sides. Due to the extraordinary topography, distinctive elevation variations, and great variety of cliffs, dunes, greenery, coastlines, valleys, and rocky outcrops, Shanqin Bay is favoured by golfers.
A world-class links course set on a seaside strip was designed by the legendary Greg Norman. One of the most singular golf experiences, it offers the opportunity to play real links golf while flanked by the dunes of southern Vietnam and with breathtaking ocean vistas.
(Image: The Bluffs Grand Ho Tram Strip)
Opened in 2008, this course is a major draw for young players as it is regarded as one of Thailand’s natural golf courses. The natural greenery and picturesque views here are a treat, as it was built on a once-thriving pineapple orchard. Undoubtedly a golfer’s paradise, it offers beautiful coastal vistas to the east and gorgeous mountain views to the west.
(Image: Banyan Golf Club)
Designed by the illustrious architect Charles Hugh Alison, the Fuji course was opened in 1936. It was designed to take full advantage of the terrain’s natural features to offer mind-blowing views and difficult rounds. The sought-after course features stunning Pacific Ocean views from the cliff tops, deep folding fairways, mature vegetation, and Mount Fuji as a backdrop.
(Image: Prince Hotels)
Located on the volcanic island of Jeju, Nine Bridges is the first Korean golf course to be ranked in the world’s top 100 courses. By hosting the LPGA from 2002 to 2005, Nine Bridges became the first club to host the LPGA in Korea. This course is known for its sensational setting, flawless design, bent grass fairways, and immaculate maintenance.
(Image: Nine Bridges)
The most exclusive course in Thailand, Ayodhya Links is a private championship course. Beginners as well as professionals from across the world are enticed by and challenged by this course’s masterfully manicured topography, which features naturally rolling fairways, undulating greens, elevation variations, lovely streams, dazzling lakes, uniquely designed bunkers, and water hazards.
(Image: Ayodhya Links)
The premier links-style course, designed by Kyle Phillips, is set along a stunning seaside cliff that offers golfers beautiful vistas throughout their round. The centre of this course has a towering hill that offers golfers a distinct sense of three dimensions and continues to challenge the world’s best players.
(Image: South Cape Owners Club)
Formerly known as TPC KL, the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club is located in the heart of Malaysia’s capital. Host of the Malaysian Open from 2010–2015, the west course is a tranquil 18-hole championship facility with immaculate aesthetic appeal and carefully tended fairways. It provides golfers with the ideal fusion of an alluring layout, flawless course conditions, and serene natural surroundings.
(Image: Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club)
A private course located in a magnificent landscape with rolling hills adjacent to a picturesque lake. Often referred to as the sister course of the historic Hirono, this heavily vegetated course is known for its major elevation variations and numerous ponds. The travellator between the 12th green and the 13th tee here is quite a rare sight for a golf course.
(Image: Ono Golf Club/ Golfpass)
Originally created by Nicklaus Design, the Yangtze Dunes underwent renovation and reopened in 2018. The island’s original landform and continuous coastline combine to offer a distinctive natural setting for this course. This links course is made more difficult and enjoyable by winding fairways, concealed sand pits, natural flora, and the constantly shifting sea breeze.
(Image: Lanhai International Country Club)
Designed by the renowned Charles Hugh Alison, this intriguing course is located in the lush hills east of Japan’s renowned Rokko range of mountains. The 18 holes at Naruo have been aesthetically laid out, including deep bunkers, large-scale fairways and greenways, considering the natural characteristics of the location.
(Image: Brian D. Morgan/ Naruo Golf Club)
Thailand’s first privately owned 18-hole golf club, this venue has hosted numerous prestigious events since its opening in 1971, including the Thailand Open (four times) and other events on the Asian golf circuits. One of the oldest among the Pattaya golf courses, Siam was reopened in 2007 after renovation. For more than 10 years straight since its renovation, it has served as the LPGA’s home venue.
(Image: Siam Country Club)
The finest among the Phuket golf courses, this course is carved into the steep rocky terrain left over from the old tin mine days and is both a visual joy and a truly remarkable challenge. Known as the most difficult course in Phuket, all skill levels are welcome on this strategic par-72 course. The breathtaking distant mountain scenery and the vast, clear sky over Phuket are the course’s best features.
(Main image: Nine Bridges Golf Club; Featured image: Krungthep Kreetha Golf Course)
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Thailand
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: A stretch of land specifically designed for golf, typically with nine or eighteen holes, each featuring a tee, fairway, and putting green, as well as possibly one or more natural or man-made hazards.
Answer: Asia is home to 6,349 golf courses, according to the R&A's 2019 Golf around the World publication.
Robin Bose has covered multi-discipline sport for prominent publications in India like The Statesman and Outlook before being bitten by the golf bug in 2008. He specialised in the sport and covered it across the world for Hindustan Times over 13 years. After moving on, he divides time between setting up his venture, TheGolfingHub, and watching his teenage son chase his dream in golf.