Kaeng Krachan Country Club & Resort Is This Where Golfers Can Play the Region’s Best Nine Holes?

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Kaeng Krachan National park is the largest National Parks in the Country, covering over 2,900 square kilometres.  However not only is this park a haven for wildlife and a place where many visitors can experience a taste of natural Thailand it’s also become a haven for golfers.  Situated on the Northern fringe of the National Park is Kaeng Krachan Country Club and Resort.  One of the joys of this Course is its harmony with the natural surroundings; certainly not a Golf Course that has been artificially ‘manufactured’ or developed from a cleared landscape.

The Course has twenty seven holes; the original eighteen holes opened in 1994, are very different in character from the newer nine holes.  This nine (open in 2008) deserves special attention as the ‘C’ or Mountain course is one of the most underrated Courses of our Regional golfing scene.  It’s largely unknown to many golfers, both residents and visitors to the Region.  In my opinion, it is perhaps the best nine holes of any.  This ‘sleeping giant’ is our focus as it should be ‘on the radar’ of every golfer looking for the best golf the Region can offer.

 

How Do You Get To The Golf Course?

The answer to this question is that it’s not that easy.  We are reluctant to try to give advice about driving to the Course and I have been with others several different ways!  Local knowledge may lead you along unsealed roads and through small villages on the way.

The best advice may be to say go with someone who knows first.  However here goes! Take the main highway towards Bangkok from Cha-Am.  Look carefully for the sign to Kaeng Krachan on the left before reaching the town of Tha Yang.  After several kilometres there is a large roundabout with a sign saying that Kaeng Krachan is straight ahead.  Take this route and you will finally reach an entry gate however this is still another 15 kilometres from the Golf Course.

Instead turn left at the roundabout (route 3510) then after about 5 kilometres if you look carefully you will see a boom gate on the left and a sign to the Golf Course.  It’s then about another 7 kilometres to the Course.

However no responsibility if you get lost.  Finding the Golf Course can be an adventure in itself!  The driving time from Cha-Am should be a little less than an hour.

 

About the Mountain Course

But first let’s set the record straight…………………………….. 

It is popularly described both by local golfers and websites that review or provide information about golf courses worldwide that this Course is a Jack Nicklaus design – WRONG!  We contacted Nicklaus Design, the parent Company of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and received the following definitive comment:

‘……the construction of the course proceeded without our direct involvement and as such they are not permitted to state or represent that Nicklaus Design nor Jack Nicklaus were involved in the design.’   (sic)

Suggesting that the Course is a Nicklaus design is not because of any misinformation by the Course management.  It’s one of those myths perpetuated by some websites which seem to repeat stories without their own research.  You can’t always believe what you read on the web!

However the design question does not reflect badly on the integrity of the Course.  Some would say is the best nine holes in the Region!

 

One of the main features of the Course is how it harmonises with the spectacular landscape and threads its way through the natural terrain.  This is a fantastic and authentic golfing excursion.  

Most holes have undulating fairways and greens.  Combine this with many doglegs (usually left) and the greens are hidden from the tee on almost all par four and par five holes.  The fairways are generous and water is not commonly in play however golfers who stray from the fairway are likely to be punished with very severe ‘jungle’ terrain close to the fairway borders.

Our advice for golfers who are wayward is to play a provisional ball whenever there is any uncertainty about finding the ball.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take a drop near to where the ball became lost and stay within the Rules of Golf!  The only option is to replay the shot (with a penalty) from where it was last played.  If you’ve just played a big tee shot this may be a long walk back.

Additionally it is not necessarily the case that an unplayable ball can be dropped (with a penalty) in a position where you will have a clear forward shot or return to the fairway.  The three options for proceeding are:

v  Return to the spot of the previous stroke and play again

v  Drop within two club lengths, not nearer the hole

v  Drop behind the spot, going back as far as you want, keeping the original spot between the hole and the new place where you drop.

If your unplayable ball is more than two club lengths into the ‘jungle’ it’s likely that is where it must stay!

 

The Opening Hole

The first hole of the Course immediately provides golfers with an indication of what is to come. From an elevated tee a magnificent mountainous backdrop comes into view.  There is a downward sloping fairway which should not be missed as it is guarded by heavy foliage on both sides.  The hole is 390 yards (par 4) from the white markers. The fairway is lush and after heavy rain may not provide the sort of carry you expect.  Approaching the green there are many bunkers on the left side.  If you think you may be short perhaps the safe option is to stay right.  This might be regarded as a signature hole of the Course and a great way to start the round.

 

The Closing Hole

At 437 yards from the white markers distance may be an issue in making your par four.  The inside corner of a left hand dogleg is guarded by a large bunker.  In the bunker and your chances of a par become remote, however if you are too far right you have just added to the distancehome. It’s important to pass the ridge at the corner of the dogleg to give you any chance of making the Green in two.  Then the fairway becomes more generous and slopes down to a large undulating Green protected by five bunkers.  The challenging elements and visual appeal makes this a memorable and fantastic closing hole.

 

Best Par Three

It’s safe to say that both of the par three holes are worthy of mention and similar in design.  This means a raised tee to sculptured greens guarded by deep bunkers.  The second hole of the Course provides an elevated view from the tee so that you can see clearly the shape of the green with a large ‘clover leaf’ bunker left and another right.  It appears to be longer than the 153 yards though our caddies were confident in their recommendations about club selection which is an important aspect of making the green.

 

We noted some inconsistency in the speed of the greens from one hole to another, perhaps one small issue for the Course management.  However our caddie’s sound advice before the putt helped us to manage this uncertainty.  Thanks to our caddies who were very professional and well informed.  Their good humour also increased the day’s enjoyment.

 

Final Comment

Whenever I have played this Course time seems to go by very quickly.  That is probably because of the visual attraction of the landscape and the lack of any ‘pedestrian’ holes.   Mark Twain is accredited with once saying that ‘golf is a good walk spoiled’.   We would say that the enjoyment of playing these nine holes certainly didn’t spoil our walk through the splendid natural countryside of Kaeng Krachan.

A suggestion………………  At each Tee Box there is a sign with a diagram and information about the hole.   This would be would be useful if not for the fact that the signs are badly worn to the extent that they are no longer clear or even visible.  Some upgrading required!   

We would certainly recommend that any golfer looking for a five star golfing experience take the time to travel to this unheralded golfing masterpiece regardless of who is responsible for its design!

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