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Life Beyond LIV

Blue Canyon Country Club may have missed out on a turn as a venue on golf’s most lucrative tour, but it is reasserting its credentials as one of Thailand’s top clubs.

When LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman inspected Phuket’s Blue Canyon Country Club in early 2023 it sparked media speculation that this course may get to host a LIV event in 2024. Although Blue Canyon’s push to become a LIV venue was ultimately unsuccessful, the club has just relaunched its most fabled course.

Decorated by lakes and woven through the forest, picturesque Blue Canyon was named Thailand’s Best Golf Course at the 2023 World Golf Awards. This complex boasts two 18-hole courses, including its signature layout, the ultra-challenging Canyon Course.

That course, which has previously hosted major international golf events involving stars like Tiger Woods and Norman, was reopened to the public in February following a major renovation, which involved the upgrading of its fairways, greens, and tee boxes.

The rejuvenated course will further enhance the golf tourism appeal of Phuket. Travelers flock to this southern Thai island to laze on its powdery beaches, indulge at sumptuous resorts such as Trisara and Amanpuri, gorge on its addictive food, and shop in its many busy markets.

Phuket is also one of Asia’s best golf tourism destinations. Scattered across this island, which is about 50km long and 20km wide, are an array of fine golf clubs. They include Red Mountain, Loch Palm, Mission Hills, Aquella, Laguna, Katathong, Phuket Country Club and Blue Canyon.

Blue Canyon’s design makes the most of its naturally splendid setting, according to Lakupabkawin. “The Canyon Course is created around existing canyons and woodlands, with minimal interruption to the natural landscape and wildlife,” she said. “It is a masterpiece of design characterized by spectacular and daunting natural hazards including numerous water features accentuated by towering trees to challenge golfers of all levels.”

To that I can attest, having tested my limited golfing skills at Blue Canyon recently. As we made our way around the club’s stunning Lakes Course, my golf partner and I were mesmerized by the scenery, daunted by the course layout, and impressed by the service.

The club’s knowledgeable caddies, one of which was assigned to each of us, steered us away from the danger of bunkers, lakes, and forests as best they could. By the end of our 18-hole round, under blue skies and a blazing sun, we were thrilled and planning a return golf trip to Phuket. Although we may wait a year or two before again tackling Blue Canyon, which is a testing course better suited to more advanced golfers.

Created more than 30 years ago by leading Japanese golf course designer, Yoshikazu Kato, Blue Canyon is in Mai Khao, in Phuket’s north-west. A short distance from Phuket airport, Mai Khao is one of the island’s blooming resort areas, with several plush properties opening there in recent years.

The influence of Yoshikazu Kato is also evident in Blue Canyon’s huge clubhouse, inspired by the architecture of Japan’s Meiji Era in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Following our round, we looked out over the Canyon Course and the neighboring, tree-lined hills from the plush Golfer’s Terrace restaurant. We savored tender beef steak, fresh Thai spring rolls and the star local dessert, mango, and sticky rice, as we analyzed the few highlights and many lowlights of our golfing performance.

Adjacent to this accommodation is Blue Canyon Spa, which specializes in relaxing Thai massage, and more vigorous sports massage, designed to help golfers recover after a long day on the course.

Perhaps, in years to come, tourists will swarm this course to attend a LIV Golf tournament. Until then, tourists are fortunate to have easy access to this championship-level course and many more elite golf facilities across Phuket.