Chiang Mai is the perfect place for a golf holiday. Its location in the north of Thailand means it enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year and there is plenty to keep people occupied off the course.
However, it is the quality of the Chiang Mai golf courses which make staying in this region of Thailand a golfers dream. Most of the golf courses are within an hour of the city centre, so you never have to travel a great distance for a round of golf. In addition, Chiang Mai golf courses each offer something different, so there is plenty of variety.
You could stay in Chiang Mai for as long you like and never get bored of the golf, it is that good. The question is, where should you start when deciding which Chiang Mai golf courses to include in your golf holiday?
The Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort is regarded by many to be the top golf course in northern Thailand. It opened for play in 2005 and was designed by Lee Schmidt, one half of the successful Schmidt-Curley Design team from the United States. Even the journey to the golf course is spectacular but nothing beats what awaits at the golf club.
Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort offers stunning views across 27 holes of golf, whatever direction you care to look. The course has won several awards and thanks to the five tee boxes on every hole, everyone can enjoy a good round of golf. Although water does come into play on some holes, this course is known for the quality of its bunkering and you will find both the fairway and greenside bunkers to be good but testing.
The undulating greens will accept good approach shots but many slope from back to front and that’s worth keeping in mind when playing towards the green. The practice facilities at Chiang Mai Highlands Resort are excellent and you will find a driving range, practice greens and short game area.
Moving on and having played host to the Asian Tour, Alpine Golf Resort can make a genuine claim to be one of the top golf courses in Thailand. Opened for play in 2008 and designed by Ron Garl, this golf course has 27 holes and the trees provide the main backdrop to much of the round. You will find a nice variety of green trees around the course, some of which line the fairways. Despite being pleasant on the eye, expect a challenge if you are playing from the back tees as 18 holes can stretch to over 7,500 yards.
The 27 holes at Alpine Golf Resort are split into three sets of nine called the pine tree zone, wetland zone and paddy zone. Each of these has features one would expect given the name but for a unique experience, we recommend including the paddy zone as this is home to Thailand’s only paddy green.
The facilities at Alpine Golf Resort are very good, with a 4-star resort and international restaurant among the amenities on offer.
It is impossible to play golf in Chiang Mai without including at least one of the golf courses belonging to the Gassan Group. They own a total of three Chiang Mai golf courses and each one of them delivers a great round of golf.
It is difficult to pick out one as being better than the other as they each have their own reasons to play. Gassan Panorama Golf Club was closed for some time but re-opened in 2017 as one of the longest golf courses in Thailand. The 18 holes have been designed around a large lake and the tree covered hills leading to the mountains provide a lovely backdrop to the round. There is also a luxurious, unique clubhouse to enjoy a drink and meal at the end of the day.
Moving to the second course in the Gassan Group portfolio which is called Gassan Khuntan Golf Resort. This is located next to the Khuntan National Park so as one would expect; the scenery is second to none. An additional nine holes were opened in 2018 to make Gassan Khuntan Golf Resort a 27 hole golf course. Water, doglegs, island greens and steep bunkers are the main challenges on this course but you can get some practice in before the round using the driving range and putting greens.
The third Gassan Group golf course in Chiang Mai is called Gassan Legacy Golf Club. This golf course enjoyed a full renovation by Schmidt-Curley and re-opened for play in 2014. Water plays a significant role on this golf course and although it is the shortest of the three Gassan Group golf courses, accuracy is a must. Many of the holes offer more than one potential route to the green and making the right choice is key to a good round.
When deciding which of the many Chiang Mai golf courses to play, Gassan Panorama, Gassan Khuntan and Gassan Legacy Golf Club should feature highly on your list. Which you decide to play will depend on what sort of challenge you like when playing golf as they are each very well maintained throughout the year.
Remaining in Lamphun Province and close to Khuntan National Park, one of the most beautiful of the Chiang Mai golf courses is undoubtedly Chiang Mai Inthanon Golf and Natural Resort. This requires a short 40 minute trip from the centre of Chiang Mai to one of the most rugged golf courses you will find in Thailand. That’s a compliment, as this golf course has a very natural feel, with tropical fruit orchards surrounding the 18 holes. Water comes into play regularly and you can enjoy nice views of Doi Inthanon, the tallest mountain in Thailand. Once you have a completed a round, sitting outside to admire the golf course and the mountain in the background is highly recommend.
One of the original Chiang Mai golf courses is called Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort. This opened for play in the mid-1990’s and was designed by the legendary Peter Thompson. Those who like playing golf surrounded by water will have a great time as in addition to the usual lakes and streams you find on golf courses; Royal Chiang Mai Golf Resort is home to waterfalls. Trees line the fairways and the sand used in the bunkers comes from the Mae Ping river, so there is definitely a local feel to the course. In addition to the 18 hole course, there is a driving range and two practice putting and chipping greens.
Another of the original golf courses in Chiang Mai is Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club. This course was designed by Dennis Griffiths and opened for play in 1990. It is a local favourite as it is located just 20 minutes from the centre of Chiang Mai and very easy to reach. However, despite its proximity to the city, Summit Green Valley is set in natural surroundings, with palm trees lining the golf course.
This is the second golf course owned by Summit and the most difficult of the two. This is not an easy golf course and scoring par off the back tees, which play to over 7,200 yards, is a good achievement for most players. Water comes into play regularly throughout the 18 holes and although the fairways can look generous from the tee, the hazards are not far away. Bunkers are positioned close to many of the landing areas and protect the greens. However, the greens are large and receptive, so landing the ball on the putting surface is not difficult.
The par-4 9th hole is the pick of the holes at Summit Green Valley. The tee shot must be hit over water and the green is an elevated island. The clubhouse has all the facilities one would expect from a top golf course, including locker rooms, pro shop and restaurant. Summit Green Valley is a great place to begin or end a Chiang Mai golf holiday.
Another of the Chiang Mai golf courses which can be accessed just minutes from the city is North Hill Chiang Mai Golf. Within 15 minutes from the centre of the city you can be at North Hill teeing off on the first hole. What was previously a 9 hole golf course has been extended to an 18 hole golf course with great results.
North Hill is a parkland style golf course without much in the way of elevation change. There are palm trees dotted around the course but they are never densely populated and do not form much of a hazard. However, the water and sand do create a problem and this quickly becomes apparent on the second and third holes. The second hole is a par-3 and the green is well protected by a large bunker to the front-right and a smaller bunker to the back. The third hole is a par-4 and requires an approach shot over water to a green with large bunkers to the front and rear.
Water continues to come into play throughout the round, especially on the back nine holes when hitting the ball over water becomes the norm. The clubhouse at North Hill features locker rooms, a games room, spa, fitness room, pro shop and award winning restaurant.
Remaining within 30 minutes of Chiang Mai city, Mae Jo Golf Club has become a very popular place for a round of golf since opening in 2004. Designed by Seni Thirawat, who is a well-known local designer, this is one of the shorter Chiang Mai golf courses playing to just 6,657 yards from the back tees. However, the challenge of this course is not in the length but the layout.
Mae Jo Golf Club provides lovely views of Doi Suthep mountain and fruit trees and orchids and make up much of the foliage alongside the fairways. Doglegs and water hazards are the main stumbling blocks to a low score and accuracy is key off the tee as many of the fairways are narrow. Water comes into play almost immediately on the second hole but the holes between 12 and 15 enjoy a break from the water and some opportunities to play a little more aggressively.
The practice facilities at Mae Jo Golf Club are very good with a driving range, putting greens and bunkers. The clubhouse is home to locker rooms, a restaurant and terrace, which is a nice place to enjoy some refreshments following a round of golf.
If you are willing to travel a little further afield to play golf in Chiang Mai you can enjoy a round at the rural Gold Canyon Golf Course. It can take over an hour to reach this golf course from the city but if you want to play a round of golf with little water or sand, this is the course for you. You will not find many tourists playing at Gold Canyon Golf Course and that in itself can make for an interesting experience as you mix with the local players.
The course is not particularly tough and good golfers will find the opening nine holes to be straight forward. Things get more difficult on the back nine but Gold Canyon Golf Course is suitable for players of all abilities. It offers something a little different from the other Chiang Mai golf courses highlighted above.
In addition to the Chiang Mai golf courses covered here, you can play at Hariphunchai Golf Club, which is a 9 hole course close to the city. Despite being only 9 holes, this is an excellent golf course and one of the best conditioned in Chiang Mai. Thanks to the special flooding system in place, this is a golf course which is playable all year round, even following heavy rain.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing Chiang Mai golf courses and it is a magnificent place to enjoy a golf holiday.