Sports

Stay and Play at Asia’s Best Golf Resorts

Where to find the fairest fairways, most dramatic courses and luxurious greenside resorts in Asia

Laguna Golf Lang Co, Vietnam

Course details: One 18-hole course
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced
Designer: Nick Faldo, a six-time major winner

Spread along central Vietnam’s coast, Laguna Golf Lang Co has links elements but also takes advantage of its topography by incorporating water paddy traps, expansive seaside bunkers that stretch the length of a hole, rocky outcrops and natural water features. Nick Faldo designed the course with the gamut of golfing skills in mind: for beginners, tees are set in welcoming locations and there’s plenty of opportunity to lay up and take an easier route to the pin; for advanced golfers, there’s plenty of challenge, with well-protected pins, deep fairway bunkers and unforgiving rough. Accommodation wise, the attached Banyan Tree Lang Co offers a range of luxurious villas for couples and groups; the larger two- and three-bedroom villas come with expansive private balconies, pools and living areas. Its spa is an appealing place to relax after a round in the Vietnam heat. Meanwhile, Angsana Lang Co provides a more family-focused option, with huge pools and relaxed restaurants. Beyond golf, guests of either resort can pursue activities like jet skiing, wakeboarding and ATV safaris.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Da Nang, then an hour by car

Mission Hills Shenzhen, China

Course details: Twelve 18-hole courses
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced
Designer: 12 global golf names – one for each course

How to sum up Mission Hills? How about: it’s the biggest golf resort in the world. There are 12 courses here, spread over two locations in Shenzhen and Dongguan, each designed by a golfing great – Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, and Annika Sörenstam among them. This means courses suitable for all golfers, regardless of skill, and all the facilities one may dream of. At this size, Mission Hills is more an all-in-one destination than a traditional golf resort: it encompasses a golfing academy, a huge mall, a spa, a convention centre and its own hotel, where you can stay to make a weekend of it.

Getting there from Hong Kong: an hour by car

The Els Club Desaru Coast, Johor, Malaysia

Course details: One 27-hole course; one 18-hole course
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced
Designer: Ernie Els and Vijay Singh

A few hours from Singapore lies Desaru Coast, an integrated resort on the southeastern tip of Malaysian. There’s been a flurry of development here in recent years: the opening of high-end hotels, including a Hard Rock, Westin and upcoming Anantara, as well as a new water park. But for golfers, the buzz was always about the development of this new 45-hole course. There are actually two courses: the Ocean, with a choice of three 9-hole courses of varying difficulty; and the Valley, better suited to advanced golfers, with narrow fairways and targets requiring next-level precision. Each is landscaped to showcase the area’s natural lushness, sand and seaside geography.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Singapore, then two hours by car or an hour by ferry

Kawana Hotel Golf Resort, Kawana, Japan

Course details: Two 18-hole courses
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced
Designer: CH Alison, Komyo Otani

Asia’s golf courses tend to be relatively new, but not this one. One of Japan’s most famous golfing destinations opened in 1928 with the launch of the Oshima course, and was followed by the more challenging and renowned Fuji course in 1936. The Fuji course is also spectacular, set high on the cliff ridge, with narrow, undulating landscaping and well-developed pine forests lining the fairways. The Oshima course is more accessible, with broader fairways and fewer traps, but retains the cliffside drama of its sister-course. The attached Kawana Hotel, also built in 1936, provides that touch of heritage that comes with staying at one of the world’s storied golf resorts.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Tokyo Haneda, then three hours by train

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin, Thailand

Course details: Three 9-hole courses
Difficulty: Beginner to advanced
Designer: Phil Ryan

Inland from the Thai resort district of Hua Hin lies one of the key players in the country’s golf industry, Black Mountain. Its course features three 9-hole sets – North, West and East – with the last of these posing the biggest challenge. Across the 27 holes, there’s a distinctive aesthetic that is at once jungle wild and supremely curated. At every point of the course, you’re reminded of where you’re playing, thanks to views of the imposing granite mountain that gives the club its name. Complimentary shuttles connect to a resort with two- and three-bedroom villas and to a water park.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Bangkok, then three hours by car

Bali National Golf Club, Indonesia

Course details: One 18-hole course
Difficulty: Moderate to advanced
Designer: Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects

Golf has been part of Nusa Dua, Bali’s original luxury resort enclave, for decades in the form of the Bali Golf & Country Club. But in 2014, it finally underwent a renovation, reopening as the Bali National Golf Club, adding seven villas with private pools to the mix and slightly redesigning the course. The result retains its tropical feel, opens up the views of the ocean and remains a tricky course with its considerable bunkers and water traps.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Denpasar (Bali), then 20 minutes by car

Lotte Sky Hill Jeju, South Korea

Course details: Four 9-hole courses
Difficulty: Moderate to advanced
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jr

In the last two decades, few countries have been as successful in the sport at South Korea. So it’s no surprise that they’ve got exceptional courses to match. Among the southern island of Jeju’s numerous options, Lotte Sky Hill stands out. There are four sets of nine here – the Ocean, Sky, Hill and Forest courses – and, overall, they tend towards the more difficult end of the spectrum, making it less accessible for beginners. But for those who can negotiate its bunker- and water-heavy layout, there are the rewards of a well-designed course. The geography of Jeju is itself a feature: often undulating, at times mysterious, at times rocky, it’s a beautiful setting for a round of golf – and for an extended stay at Lotte Hotel Jeju, about 10 minutes away.

Getting there from Hong Kong: Fly to Jeju, then about 40 minutes by car

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