I suppose a golf destination could be defined a place with more than 2 golf courses in close proximity. At least this is how I would define it? The golf courses need to be of good standard and the destination should have more activities on offer than just golf.
Using this definition you would have to think that Siem Reap in Cambodia is a great destination. Admittedly Siem Reap is a massive draw not because of the golf but because of the Angkor temple complex (which put simply is phenomenal). You could spend a month exploring the temples of Angkor and still not have seen everything….it’s that big. People from all over the world flock – at mass – to see these impressive structures and because of this the city has developed into somewhat of a western hub (yes unfortunately you can also find some western delicacies like KFC and Burger King which somewhat waters down the sense of place one gets having visited the temples).
Not far from the city center you will find the Angkor Golf Club designed by Sir Nick Faldo (with IMG). The golf course is managed by David Baron (of Ganton fame) and what a nice guy with the skills to match. Jim Gubricky is the golf course superintendent and has been since day 1 (Jim also was involved in the construction). This is one of the better maintained golf courses I have seen in SE Asia (which is even more impressive when you consider the amount of time spent maintaining the sand areas). Of course I do have an aversion for LOTS of sand as I described in an article I wrote many years back for the HK Golfer magazine labelled “Bunkeritis”: http://www.hkgolfer.com/courses-and-travel/bunkeritis…..and of course it’s not Jim’s fault that there is that many bunkers (he is just tasked with maintaining them). That said I am being picky because the Angkor GC is a good golf course and made even more impressive by the environmental initiatives on display and as I highlighted in a recent tweet (see below). I wish more golf courses appreciated the value of the environment as is the case at Angkor. A job well done and continuing.
Not far from Angkor Golf Club – and linked to the Sofitel hotel – you will find the Phokeethra Golf Club. This 18 hole golf course is managed by the very charismatic and very engaging Fabrice Ho from New Caledonia (another great destination by the way). Fabrice has been working hard to improve the golf course and by all accounts the golf course is on the up. The condition was good the day I visited and there are clearly some fun holes and tough ones a well. Much like at the Angkor Golf Club this golf course has its fair share of sand traps (and also water hazards) but it is different. The bunkers carry a different style and the holes are framed by hundreds of palm trees. What was striking to me was some of the attention to detail. Often the difference between a good and great golf course is in the small detail and I often tells clients that looking at the small things can improve the golf course and experience considerably. Fabrice and team are clearly looking at the big and small stuff.
See my tweet here:
Siem Reap does have a 3rd golf course – the Siem Reap Booyoung Country Club – which I did not manage to get too unfortunately. If you are heading to Siem Reap then certainly the temples will be first on the agenda but those that enjoy their golf should also take time out for a game or two or three….