I never thought my first game of golf in 2017 would happen to be on Honeymoon (I didn’t bring the clubs for fear of an early divorce!) and I was even more surprised when I teed it up for the first time in the New Year in Cambodia, at Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap to be precise!
The setup is superb, along with getting picked up in their Courtesy Bus from my hotel which was a very nice touch indeed! David Baron, their Director of Golf, was on hand to greet me and I was given a very warm welcome from all the staff. A locker with my name on it and all, I took a little bit of time to check out the facilities before I headed for a back 9 start with my caddy! The facilities at Angkor Golf Resort are excellent and rival any other golf course or resort in Europe, the US or further afield. They are as follows:
- 300 Yards Grass Range and Practice putting green
- Chipping/ Betting Hole (19th Hole)
- Contemporary Designed Clubhouse
- Pro Shop with range of top brands
- Modern Locker Room & Showers
- Golf Cart, Clubs and Shoes rental
- Restaurant that serves both Western and Asian cuisine (the local beer is great too!)
So, onto the golf course. What a great test, starting on the Back 9 I managed to split the first fairway and life seemed easy for a moment…….all that changed when I pulled my approach into the greenside bunker and proceeded to make bogey! Nick Faldo, who designed the golf course, was always a great bunker player and the greenside bunkers especially will prove difficult to even those with fantastic short games. 11 is a short par 4 with a very smart design, play safe and give yourself another testing approach with probably a mid to short iron depending on how close you want to get to the water or go for the carry to a narrow landing area short right of the green. Suffice to say I tried to play safe but it didn’t work out too well, another bogey on the card!
At this stage I was getting worried if my caddy had already given up hope on me but luckily a nicely struck 8-iron to a few feet on the par-3 12th gave me my first birdie of the day, especially useful as I was playing through an American couple at the time. 13 is an amazing par-5, meandering through the bunkers and finishing up at a beautiful green at the top right, definitely a par-5 when par is a welcome score. 14 & 15 are testing par-4s with water in play on both of them while I remember 16 well as the par-5 presented me with second birdie of the day, life seemed easy again!! It’s a tough finish to the back 9 at Angkor Golf Resort, 17 is a long par-3 with water right and not much room to bail out on the left. There is a safer short either short or front left of the green but I was in birdie mode but unfortunately my swing forgot I was, PBFU (as some of us know it) followed. 18 is a lovely finishing hole, with water your constant companion down the left hand side. With the pin cut tight to the back left of the green I felt another chance at birdie coming up, when my ball seemed to stop 10 feet from the hole it looked like it but a bit of backspin sent it trundling down towards the water. Another bogey and a chance gone but a super finish to what was an excellent 9 holes. Onto the front 9 and my back 9!
The front 9 is different to the back 9 which provides a good contrast, starting again with a par 4 which is pretty much straight up. 2 good shots to the front of the green ended up with a stress free 2 putt, good start! The short par-4 2nd hole ended up with a bogey after too many visits to sand and avoiding trees and then it was onto the 606 yard par-5 3rd hole (off the Faldo Tees!). What a monster of a par-5, thankfully I walked off with a par! My swing felt good and things were starting to click, my caddy was superb as well though as the putts started to drop. A routine par on 4, a nice short par-3 was followed by nearly driving the short par-4 5th. A lovely up-and-down from sand gave me my 3rd birdie of the day. Good pars followed on 6 & 7 and everything seemed rosy in the garden standing in the middle of the fairway on 8 with wedge in my hand for my approach. A couple of yards long though and a bogey resulted, another bad swing on the 9th left me walking off with 2 bogeys to finish but all in all a thoroughly enjoyable round of golf on a stunning golf course.
Angkor Golf Resort isn’t just about the tourist or ex-pat golfers though. They are making great strides to help develop Junior Golf in Cambodia, ranked as the Best Course in the Country they are definitely leading the way here. Run in 5 Stages, it has opened up the opportunity to play golf to many children in the locality and Resident Professional, Alan Martin, must take a lot of credit for this. In November of 2015, over 250 children visited Angkor Golf Resort to experience golf which is fantastic. The Junior Golf Programme is very much linked to the Faldo Junior Series as well which provides even further opportunities for the children to play golf and play competitively too. Angkor Golf Resort even have their own Academy Ambassador, 16 year old Tevy Sareoun!
A fantastic trip to Cambodia was made all the better for taking on the challenge of their best golf course, and Angkor Golf Resort is just that! They have something fantastic events coming up in the near future as well – Angkor Spring Event (Singles Stableford) on Sunday 26th March; their popular Fourball Championship from 7th-9th April and also The Faldo Challenge from 2nd-4th June. Check out their Events Section for further details!
For those on Social Media, Angkor Golf Resort is active on both Twitter and Facebook, so give them a follow and a like! It is a great place to tee it up if you are ever planning a trip to Cambodia and especially Siem Reap.