Navatanee Golf Course: This pleasant and testing parkland layout was one of Trent Jones II’s earliest designs, built specifically for the 1975 World Cup of Golf. It took two years to turn what were then rice fields into Thailand’s first international standard, professional championship venue. Navatanee’s claim to be the No.1 or No.2 course in Thailand, certainly held sway throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, but nowadays, such a claim is challengeable – even following Trent Jones’ 1997 strengthening of the course. The current layout, which occupies relatively flat terrain, doesn’t include overly pronounced earthmounding or fairway contouring, but is still an absorbing course, full of classic Trent Jones bunkering.
The Navatanee golf course is always well-maintained, and the caddies are very knowledgeable. Forty years after opening the Robert Trent Jones Jr. design makes for some of the most challenging golf in Thailand. Upon entering the course, excitement levels rise as you pass by the par-3 17th at right and the par-4 16th at left. Some more great holes sprinkled throughout the course include the short par-4 5th which is one of the more difficult despite being only 329 yards, and the par-5 9th around the water, which receives unanimous approval from all who play here.
Signature hole at Navatanee Golf
The signature 6th hole at Navatanee is a 445 yard par-4 that demands a draw from the tee to reach the green in regulation. This beautiful hole was selected as one of the best 500 holes in the world in 2000 by US Golf Magazine. A very challenging par 4 with a slight dogleg to the left. It is an intimidating hole even for good players. The left side of the fairway faces a lake and the second shot is across the lake. You need to hit the tee shot to the left half of the fairway in order to hit the green for the next shot. Mounds catch the safe tee shot right, leaving a sloping lie. Because the front side of the green borders the water, if you are short of the green, even a little, you will be in is the water hazard. The green slants from back to front and is slightly elevated. When you hit a poor tee shot, you should not force yourself to aim for the green on the second shot, and had better lay up on the fairway, 40 to 50 yards left front of the green. Making par on this hole is a notable achievement.
The clubhouse at Navatanee Golf Club has a superb indoor/outdoor restaurant overlooking the 9th that serves up some of the best local food around including excellent wine selection. Changing and shower facilities renovated in 2015 are some of the nicest in town. On-course kiosks supply a wealth of beverages and snacks during the round. Warm-ups are limited to the large putting green at the staging area as there is no driving range.
Navatanee is as close to a private country club experience you can have in Thailand. The play is brisk and sub-four hour rounds are the norm. Golf carts are compulsory, and caddie pre-booking is only allowed for members.
Navatanee has become a legendary course in Thailand that simply must be experienced.
Note that only members can play during the weekend.