The Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Club opened in 2005 and significantly added to the quality of Chiang Mai golf courses. The drive to Highlands from Chiang Mai leads through exceptionally beautiful landscape, in an eastern direction passing rice fields and plantations into the mountains.
The Chiang Mai Highlands golf course is built on a ‘power spot’ – the hermitage of Kuba Sivichai (the revered monk who founded the famous Doi Suthep temple). This site is breathtaking in every direction. Its tranquility, high elevation, cool climate, fresh air, pure water, and fertile soil, form the perfect place for the 27-hole layout.
Chiang Mai Highlands was designed by Lee Schmidt of Schmidt-Curley Design from the USA and the same designer as Mission Hills, Amata Spring, Siam CC, and other top golf courses in Asia. After only two years of operation Chiangmai Highlands was catapulted onto the international golf scene as one of the best golf experiences in Asia.
Chiangmai Highlands has won many prestigious awards. In 2007, Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort was voted #3 for “Best New Golf Course in Asia” by Asian Golf Monthly. In 2013, Chiang Mai Highlands was awarded by the same publication as the “Best Value for Money Golf Course in Asia”.
An additional 9 holes was opened for play in 2015 and the new holes up-the-standard of golf even higher at this premium course. The same year Chiang Mai Highlands was selected as one of the three “Best Golf Resorts in Asia”.
The Highlands course itself is exciting and challenging for player of any level and offers the choice of 5 different tee boxes. Featuring Paspalum grassed fairways and Tiff-eagle grass greens ensure excellent hitting surfaces and faster more consistent greens year round. The bunker complexes are deep and punishing, but lend a nice contrast to frame each hole. In fact, the course features are over 130 fairway and greenside bunkers, most all with high front edges.
The greens at Chiangmai Highlands are undulated and typically run around 10 on the Stimp-meter. The greens are firm yet receptive and hold well struck iron shots. Many greens slope front to back which pressurizes golfers to pay more attention to strategy and utilize local caddie knowledge to putt in regulation.
The approach areas around green complexes often feature closely mown catchment areas giving the golfer many options of playing either a chip-and-run, pitch shot or even putting the ball up onto the green surface. Imagination is a terrific asset when trying to get up and down at Chiangmai Highlands.
The golfing experience starts with the downhill hole #1. Magnificent views of the entire course and the mountain skyline can be seen in the background. After the “inviting” 1st hole, the golf course effortlessly flows along, gaining strength, beauty, and character with each passing hole. Another standout is the thrilling and unforgettable 18th. The short downhill par-5 can be reached in 2 by long hitters, although most golfers will be better rewarded with a lay-up in front of the large river that crosses the fairway before playing an uphill chip for an easy par.
The 4C hole is by as good as they come. A long par-4 with a strong dogleg right, the tee shot requires careful placement left of the fairway bunkers. Then, the long iron or hybrid approach needs to be steered left to navigate away from the bunkers and water right of the green. A well-stuck shot will be rewarded with a good birdie opportunity.
The large and undulating greens are not easy to play, especially since they are protected by massive bunker complexes. Bunkers and water hazards provide the distinctive note of this course and require a strategic game. In fact, the course features are over 100 fairway and greenside bunkers, most all with high front edges.
A Thai-styled clubhouse with pleasant atmosphere and all facilities provides relaxation before or after the golf round. Locker rooms could use some upgrading, but are adequate nevertheless. Chiang Mai Highlands has a superbly maintained practice facility including several practice greens, a short game area and a 300 yard driving range with grass tees. There is a small on-site Thai resort with private cottages for those wanting to stay in the countryside and play multiple rounds at Chiang Mai Highlands.
Overall Chiang Mai Highlands is one of the best golf experiences in Thailand and a “must-play” as part of any Chiang Mai golf holiday.