The new course designed by Golfplan at Chee Chan Golf Resort in Pattaya, Thailand, officially opened in December 2018.
Views on the course are dominated by a 110-feet high likeness of the Gautama Buddha carved into a mountainside and visible from nearly every spot on the course, including the opening hole.
“We couldn’t afford to miss that opportunity, to start golfers on their spiritual journey under the watchful eye of Siddhartha Gautama,” said Golfplan partner David Dale. “The Buddha invites a decision on the very first tee: play conservative to the right lower landing area and approach the green uphill, over deep bunkers; or drive more aggressively, left of the centre bunker, to create a downhill approach to unguarded putting surface.
“We have much to learn from the Buddha, who taught us a middle way between sensual indulgence and uncurbed asceticism. For golfers the larger message is unambiguous: relax and keep it in the fairway.
“At Chee Chan, the cultural aspect was ready-made and close by, but we accentuated the experience over and over again. By my count, holes five, six, eleven, fourteen and seventeen all play toward Buddha Mountain. Eleven and seventeen afford golfers excellent views of a Buddhist temple nestled into a different hillside. The experience is unique precisely because it’s so unique to Thai culture.”
Read: GCA spoke with David Dale in January 2018 about what golfers could expect at Chee Chan
“It’s a privilege to work again in Thailand, especially on a site so unusual. This is flat, coastal country here by the Gulf, but we had fully 25 metres of elevation change to work with at Chee Chan,” said Dale. “The eye is naturally drawn to the escarpment featuring the Buddha, but the property is ringed by these limestone karsts – some are 150 metres tall! The perimeter holes play uphill to their bases, then back down again. These enormous features give the entire course both an amphitheatre feel and a pleasing sense of seclusion.
“In this environment, it’s tempting to shape the golf course in competition with these large features. But I think we struck the right balance. The contour is flamboyant but toned down through the landing zones. There are several cavernous valleys that separate the holes, which tend to melt over and between these landforms. With the introduction of drought-tolerant bahia grass to frame and accent all this, it’s a pretty stunning tableau.”
Watch: Chee Chan Golf Resort’s promotional video
“I love golf,” said Narit Chia-Apar, founder of Chee Chan Golf Resort and chairman of the development firm, Chartered Square Holding Company. “I know how golfers think and what they want. I know the level of service that is expected, and so I built the course based on the needs of myself as a golfer, and not just as an investor. Whatever I see fit to give the best impression for our visitors, I will make sure that we have it here.”