A troubling opinion, particularly being voiced by the younger generation, is that the game of golf is too boring or slow moving. That is a serious problem facing the game today and why some golf courses are coming up with innovative solutions. One Thailand golf course was designed with modern lifestyles in mind.
The Nikati Golf Club, in Thailand’s Nakon Pathom Province, is Asia’s first 18 hole par 72 course comprising three six-hole layouts. This revised design not only allows for starts at three different points but also gives flexibility in number of holes played.
Rather than having two nines that loop back to the clubhouse, Nikanti has crafted three beautiful sixes that all start and end at their magnificent clubhouse. That allows golfers to play six, 12 or 18 holes, depending on how much time is available.
Another unique thing about Nikanti is that each six comprises two par threes, two par fours and two par fives. That means it is still a par 72 but in 18 holes you play six par fives and six par threes and six par fours. This contrasts with the usual four par fives, four par threes and ten par fours.
Golfers find the experience refreshing and very enjoyable. It is evident that Nikanti has given plenty of thought to making the game more relevant to modern lifestyles as well as accessible to a bigger group of golfers.
Nikanti Golf Club is certainly creating its own cache as a visionary place that is looking to combine a strongly designed course with an equally enticing customer experience. The course, owned by the Sasomsub family, held its official launch three years ago.
Visitors just pay a single rate, which includes green, caddie and buggy fees (including caddie tip), free flow of water and snacks on the golf course, and a meal before and after the round. The all-inclusive experience is further enhanced by a careful attention to service and a clubhouse ambience that is second to none.
Every corner at Nikanti feels like it has been thoughtfully designed with the patrons in mind. Locker rooms are sleek and stylish without being over-designed. Common spaces offer visitors a selection of different places to congregate with their own groups. Apart from the complimentary buffets available before and after your rounds, more elaborate six to nine-dish set menus are also available at Nikanti’s lovely Kan Restaurant. And the bar there is also a fine place to have a tipple before engaging in your multi-course meal.
Thai course architect Piraporn Namatra’s layout at Nikanti would certainly not look out of place with that created by other internationally renowned course designers. Bermuda fairways ripple and roll towards intricately designed green complexes. Putting surfaces of TifEagle turf can confound those playing here for the first time, but then again, that’s part of the challenge and fun.
Most of the par-3s are long, with three of the six in excess of 200 yards (black tees). But their design affords weaker golfers places to “lay up” in the event that they don’t have a club, or a swing, to get their tee shots onto the green. However there are four tee-off positions at each hole so length is up to you.
The design consistency throughout the course is worth noting as each six-hole grouping blends into the next without changing its general characteristics. However, unlike 18-hole courses designed with two nines, there is no strict distinction of a “finishing hole” as each of the ending holes in each six-hole configuration can achieve that status.
While length can be useful off the tee, course management is probably worth more here. Water can be found on many of the holes and force you to play around them. The raised sides of the holes give the course a stadium effect while preventing shots hit astray from rolling further into trouble.
A huge help in avoiding these trouble spots are the highly trained and extremely efficient caddies. They almost have a sixth sense in picking up the nuances of your game within the first hole of watching you. Whether it is reading lines on the greens or recommending what club to play, you can almost blindly trust them to make a better decision for you than yourself. Just looking at the online reviews it’s amazing how many times the caddie has been mentioned in glowing compliments.
There is an added advantage of playing in the afternoon here because the light takes on a nice glow as the sun sets over the horizon. And ending your round with a cocktail, and a meal, on the terrace overlooking the golf course might just be the best way to end your five-star experience at Nikanti.
Nikanti Golf Course
In Nakon Pathom Province, about a two and a half hour drive (180 kilometres) north of Hua Hin via Route 4 and then Route 30197,375.
Costs quoted apply until 31st December:
Weekdays 4,500 THB, weekends 5,500 THB. The price includes green fees, golf cart with Visage GPS, caddie fees (and tips) with complimentary meals and drinks before, during and after the game.
Reservation can be made up to 30 days in advance by telephone (+66 34 965666) or email at [email protected].