The forgotton course in Phuket has no doubt been Mission Hills over the past few years with over pricing and poor playing conditions being the main reason. Some friends of mine have been playing there every Friday for the past few weeks and coming back with favourable reports and a recent telephone call from the Director of Golf Operations asking me to come and see the course prompted my recent visit.
The quality of the restuarant, clubhouse and locker room, pro shop and driving range has never been in question, but the quality of the greens and fairways has meant a deserted course along with de motivated staff. But this has all changed and from the moment i walked in there was a completely different atmosphere about the place. The owner of the course also owns Mission Hills in Kanchanaburi and until recently Mission Hills in Khao Yai which he has sold, which could be the reason for more time and effort being put into the Phuket course.
Last year the fairways were relaid with Bermuda grass (known for withstandaing high temperatures), and although they are by no means perfect there is a big improvement and the expectation along with hard work is that they will continue to improve. There are only 40 caddies due to lack of golfers but they are there every day starting work at 05-30 AM. They are playing a big part in course conditions and my caddy after doing two rounds in the day was back out on the course weeding at 18-30 in the evening. Of course the most important of any course are the greens and they were very good and a joy to putt on. Again the owner takes great credit for this, instructing his Head Greenkeeper to spend time at Red Mountain and Loch Palm to learn how to look after the greens better and keep good surfaces.
Its doesnt take long to lose your reputation, but it can take time to get it back and Mission Hills are doing their best to get the course back to its best, which can only be good for golf in Phuket. My golfing experience was great and finished off by some lovely food and a cold beer and will be back very soon to enjoy the service, golf and some of the most spectacular views any golf course in Thailand can offer.