A new report from the editors at Internationalliving.com/au delves into Cambodia's increasing golf boom.
When people dream of visiting Cambodia they are more likely influenced by the exotic draw of its ancient temples, royal palaces and saffron-robed monks or the laidback beaches and undeveloped islands on the southern coast than anything else.
But recently the tides are turning—golfing is the sweet spot in the country’s tourism strategy which is successfully attracting new visitors.
Not only is the weather great for a round of golf throughout the year but the idyllic backdrops make it a hole in one for avid golfers on Cambodia’s interesting and ambitiously designed courses.
“Golf gained energy in the late 1990’s due to an informal group of influential local players who wanted to see a Cambodian golf industry,” says IL International Executive Editor, Eoin Bassett. “They encouraged investors to develop courses and some expats to join but it was surprise just how popular it would become with tourists.”
Today, the country has a number of extraordinarily attractive courses—some even enlisted help from famous names in golf including Sir Nick Faldo, IMG and Nicklaus Design. It is still quite an elite sport, but younger Cambodians are getting into the swing of things. With the increased demand, there has even been a local golf magazine launched in English and Khmer as well as a separate Chinese language edition which covers the latest local news and charts the booming industry.
The country has natural charm and offers excellent value for money with a wide range of accommodation and vibrant nightlife. For those planning a trip who are unsure as to whether golf standards in Cambodia will be up to par, prepare for a surprise…
Courses in Siem Reap
There are now three international standard golf courses in Siem Reap with standout features which is why tourists book holidays long enough for them to enjoy a round or two on each course. Prices are slightly higher than in Phnom Penh but at this level it is considered very reasonable for the quality of experience.
The Sofitel Phokeethra Country Club was the first international standard golf course to open in Siem Reap in 2007. Designed to a championship standard with a layout that promises to test even the most strategic of players, it has also been chosen to host official Asian PGA Tour events like the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open from 2007 to 2010.
The Angkor Golf Resort opened in January 2008 to significant acclaim thanks in no small part to its 18-hole course having been designed by the legendary Sir Nick Faldo. Describing the course he designed, Sir Nick Faldo explained that, “Our fairways are typically generous but our bunkering style is impressively bold. The greens have plenty of subtle undulations rewarding and encouraging a variety of approach shots.”
The third and most recent international standard course to open in 2009 is the Booyoung Country Club which was designed by respected Japanese architect Kentaro Sato. The course offers a choice of five tees on each hole to accommodate players of all abilities while the club’s immaculately pristine course and opulent clubhouse.
Courses in Phnom Penh
The Cambodia Golf & Country Club was the very first golf course to open in Cambodia in 1997 and boasts an air of tranquillity due to its location 45 minutes outside of the city centre.
The Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club was the second golf course to open in 1999 at a location much closer to the city making it popular with locals and expats. It offers an amazing setting in mature wetlands surrounded by palm trees and has some water hazards that can prove testing for golfers of any level.
City Golf Cambodia opened in 2010 with an interesting offering of a two-tier driving range, chipping and putting green along with Cambodia’s first par three 9-hole course which is known for its uniqueness. Located north of Toul Kork, the course benefits from easy access and having floodlights at night.
Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club is a golf course designed by Nicklaus Design and was the first international standard course in Phnom Penh when it opened in 2011. Regretfully it is not open to the general public and is for private members only, although some specialist travel agents offer limited packages that include extra costs for hotel and transportation.
Garden City Golf Club was a turning point for the golfing scene in Phnom Penh when it opened in 2013. Featuring extensive mounds and water hazards it is a visually impressive course and if its championship length of 7,361 yards sounds intimidating you needn’t worry as an additional four tees were included in the design to account for people of all golfing abilities.
The Biggest Course in Cambodia
Halfway between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, on the southern coast of Cambodia at Botum Sakor National Park, are the country’s newest courses which have been completed as part of the Dara Sakor Golf Club.
The first to open was the Ocean Course followed by the Hill View Course and when the third course is completed it will be the first club in the country to boast 54 holes. It is only possible to play with an advanced reservation with prices subject to confirmation. It is part of a massive resort believed to be the biggest in Southeast Asia covering a whooping 360 square kilometres of land and featuring a high-end resort.
submitted by -- Gayle