It may have seemed a bold step at the time. But the vision of a group of businessmen from the Netherlands to build a golf resort near Hua Hin, which opened five years ago, has been one of the region’s great tourism success stories.
Banyan Golf Club, located a few kilometres south of the village where the Thai Royal family built a summer palace in 1924, has celebrated its fifth anniversary with an invitational charity event and dinner that attracted 170 golfers and visitors including the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Khun Tawatchai Arunyik.
The event raised more than THB600,000 (USD20,000) for the Bright Dawn Foundation, which provides health care and educational support to disadvantaged school children in the Hua Hin area.
With 200 members and a large regular customer base of golfers from western Europe, South East Asia and Australia, Banyan has recorded more than 150,000 rounds since opening in early 2009, the year it was named as best new course in Asia Pacific.
The club is ranked number one by Trip Advisor among places to visit in Hua Hin. For the past two years its contemporary Thai clubhouse, designed by Bangkok firm Smith Abayawat, has been named at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit as the best in Asia Pacific.
“Apart from golfers, a lot people come to have a drink, sit on the outdoor terrace and enjoy sunset views over the BurmeseMountains,” says general manager, Stacey Walton, who has been with the club since it opened. “We are also a popular stop for cyclists who enjoy the quiet, winding roads in the area.”
Designed by prominent Thai golf course architect, Pirapon Namatra of Golf East, the course takes full advantage of the land’s natural contours. “We left the land as it was when the course was built,” Stacey Walton explains. “Only 8000 square metres of soil and just one tree was moved. Over the past five years, the course has matured nicely and everyone tells us what a delight it is to play.”
Stacey Walton describes Banyan as a resort course with links characteristics. “The tinge of yellow in the colouring with patches of long grass are reminiscent of links courses,” he says.
As well as delivering a high-end golf and lifestyle experience, Banyan played a major part in Hua Hin being declared Golf Destination of the Year at last November’s International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (IAGTO) annual convention, held in Spain.
One of seven golf courses in and around Hua Hin, its paspalum tees, Zoysia fairways and Tiff Eagle greens are presented in excellent condition year-round. The club’s 3400 baht (approx. USD115) green fees, plus cart and caddie fee, are comparable with other courses in the area.
Banyan Resort, a few kilometres from the course, has two-bedroom pool villas that can be rented as part of stay-and-play packages.
Banyan Golf Club and Banyan resort are members of Golf In A Kingdom, a collective of Thailand’s best golf courses, hotels and resorts. Visit www.golfinakingdom for more information.
Banyan Golf Club http://banyanthailand.com/golf