The Angkor Golf Resort is consistently rated as Cambodia’s best golf course so on a recent visit to Siem Reap I thought I’d give it a go and it didn’t disappoint. The first advantage of playing Angkor Golf Resort is it’s about 5 minutes to the airport. If you’ve booked a tee time ahead, the golf course will pick you up on arrival, and if you’re coming from Hong Kong, as many of you will be, that’s a good time to tee off as there’s limited direct flights from Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Express flight doesn’t serve food (they do offer paid food but I’d give that a miss), so when you get to the course, take your time, have some breakfast and if you want to know anything about the course or the area, either the Head Pro or Director of Golf will be more than happy to have a chat to you.
I like to play golf fast and not mess around, so I didn’t warm-up on the driving range before teeing off, but I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a 300 yard range with grass and is actually a proper driving range (take note Hong Kong golf courses). The course is 7279 yards from the back tees, but since I’m now just a once every few months golfer, I played off the Blue Tees, which at 6666 yards, will be more than a challenge for most golfers. The opening tee shot is what every opening tee shot be – you can get away with a “loosener” but you’re going to need to drive it somewhere in the postal code to have a chance at Par. After I chunked my second shot about 40 yards, I knew this was probably going to be more about relaxing than scoring, and actually I’m glad because I think I appreciated the course more playing like Ian Baker-Finch, rather than zoning out everything and trying to shoot a good score. I don’t think there’s a weak golf hole at Angkor Golf Resort, sure, there’s some ho-hum holes, but the vast majority of golf holes have something interesting about them, whether that’s the drive, the approach, the options available, the green complex, the scenery or whatever.
The fairways are wide but what I like about this resort course, is on one side there’s water, the other side you can bail out. There are no holes that I can remember with OB’s or water on both sides of the hole, which can make for a very unenjoyable round of golf. These days, like the majority of golfers, I’m playing golf on holiday, I don’t want to lose 10 golf balls, take snowmen or worse on holes and shoot the highest score of my life, yet I want something that’s a bit challenging. Angkor Golf Resort seems to deliver on this and have got the formula right. The fairways are wide, the approaches are relatively straight forward but make you think, yet I think I was, or at least it seemed like I was, in at least one bunker on every single hole! Perhaps the only thing I can fault about this course is the lake of sand in the bunkers, they were raked to perfection, but it was hard packed sand with very little sand so it made spinning the ball from bunkers almost impossible. This is perhaps because of the drought over the last few months and the recent rain so we’ll give them a pass for this.
Other than that and a few bare patches on the course (not affecting play and by a few, I mean literally a few), the course was in superb condition, the greens roll true and break as you see them. Again, this is what you want when on holiday. There’s a good combination of short and long holes, less demanding and difficult holes, and overall it’s just a very, very enjoyable way to spend your morning and one of the most stress-free days of golf I’ve had in a long time. This is currently low season in Siem Reap, so I pretty much had the course to myself, there were some other groups out there, but I was taking so many photos I never played quick enough to keep up. (I’ll post some of these photos in a follow up post)
The service at the course is outstanding, the locals are as friendly and as naturally hospitable as the Thai’s, and my caddie was excellent, keeping up, which is not always easy as I’m usually at my ball before I’ve finished my current shot, very quickly knowing what clubs I used and was within 5 yards of the Leupold 4xi rangefinder on most occasions for distances. Actually, I was playing like such a hack I abandoned the rangefinder and just relied on the caddie for distances the entire back nine – she was good! Unfortunately I had to meet up with my mate after golf so didn’t stay for lunch, but I wish I did as the clubhouse and whole golf course has that relaxed resort feel. Small touches like having your name on the locker when you arrive, course guides, towel, and water in the cart and numerous other touches make this one of the best golf experiences I’ve encountered, anywhere in the world. Having worked on golf courses in Asia before, you really have to hand it to them for achieving this level of service in what is still technically a third world country.
If you’re a golfer visiting Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat and are debating whether to play golf and take your clubs, I’d say it’s definitely worth it if you play Angkor Golf Resort. There are other courses in the area, but from what I’ve heard, and believe, they’re just not in the same league. It can be a pain taking golf clubs on a 2 night holiday when you’re playing once, especially when Hong Kong Express charge you for 20kg luggage and another $680 for golf clubs, and another $380 for getting your name wrong, but it was worth it. If you’re really not keen on bringing clubs, hire some at the resort, it’ll be well worth your time and you won’t regret it.
For more information about Angkor Golf Resort including booking tee times, visit the Angkor Golf Resort Website