Happy City Golf Resort in Thailand

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Located in the Northern Thailand foothills just outside Chiang Rai, the Korean owned Chiang Rai golf resort is billed as the world’s only 29-hole golf course. Locally designed and built by some Thai golf pros, three 9-hole courses are named Lakeside, Mountain Breeze, and River. Additionally, there are two spare maintenance holes that can be switched in and out to allow for course improvements without disrupting play on any of the nines.

Opened in 2012, the Chiang Rai Resort is still maturing. In 2013, new trees have been added.  Then in 2014, Bermuda grass replaced the original Paspalum in the Happy City fairways and tee boxes. This makes the course more tolerant to the dry and cool conditions during the winter months that Chiang Rai is known for, though the course is still not in great condition.

Ultra-dwarf Bermuda greens ensure true rolls with good speed. Five sets of tees offer challenges for every level of golfer. Frequent winds insure cooler temperatures throughout the year. However, this also means golfers need to factor the wind into their shots at Happy City more so than most Thailand golf courses.

Most holes at Happy City Golf Resort feature elevated tees playing to winding fairways with tough approach shots over water. The first 10 holes, known as the Lakeside Course, are as hard as they come with an abundance of water and sand bunkers.  Keeping the ball in-play and erring on the conservative side when in doubt is the key to scoring well.  The many bunkers can take some getting used to, as the sand is a small pebble variety unique to Thai courses.  Right handed slicers can rest a little easier as the worst trouble on the Lakeside course is mostly to the left side.

The second 10 Mountain Breeze Course has the worst of its trouble to the right, and is a bit more open with wider fairways that invite more aggressive play especially for those who play a draw.  However, it too is far from a pushover. The final 9 holes, The River Course, are the most challenging of all.  While not as long, it’s a higher degree of target golf and most holes have greens set on peninsulas or islands. High handicappers should probably avoid The River Course, and others might want to make sure they have plenty of balls in their bags.  The Lake Course is intended as the extra nine for those who want to take it on.

Unique touches at Happy City include a pineapple grove between two holes (not fun to hit out of) and the par-3 13th Texas hole.  As befits the name, it’s big.  232 yards from the back black tees and 194 even from the 3rd set of tees (white), with a large U shaped bunker in front, a lake behind, a native area right and a small fairway on the left front.  Oh and one more thing, the U bunker has several cactus growing in it!

Two other unique and fun holes are the 7th and 16th duo. The par-3 7th features an enormous 60-yard green modeled after the Korean peninsula.  The par-3 16th hole measures 178 yards and its design replicates the map of Thailand.

The well-appointed clubhouse sits directly over the greens of the 2 finishing holes of the Lakeside and mountain Courses. Other Happy City facilities include an oriental spa and sauna, driving range, golf academy, putting and short game areas. The on-course refreshment stands are also unique, with one modeled after a Dutch Windmill, one with a Disneyland theme, and one that looks like Fred and Wilma’s house from The Flintstones.

Chiang Rai golfers welcome Happy City Golf Resort as an interesting, albeit quirky, addition to the area’s international golf courses.

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