Six of the best: Golf resorts in Asia

MISSION HILLS GOLF CLUB, CHINA

A lot of world records were broken when Mission Hills Golf Club was built. This is the largest golf complex on Earth – there are12 of Asia's best courses built by the world's leading course designers (including Greg Norman, Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus) all on the one site in southern China (you can drive here from Hong Kong in under two hours). You'll also find the world's largest pro shop, China's largest day spa and the only five-star hotel built beside a golf course in the country. It might sound like a golfing Disneyland, but there's nothing kitsch about playing here. In fact, these are China's prettiest courses – built alongside rainforest-covered mountain ridges and mountain streams. Greg Norman's course is hardest by far, it's also Mission Hills' most popular. See www.missionhillschina.com 

 LAGUNA LANG CO GOLF CLUB, VIETNAM

Five years ago, Vietnam won an international golf travel operator's award as the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year; now it's well on its way to becoming Asia's most popular luxury golf destination. There are more than 45 world-class courses, with another 20 in development. The best place to access them is on the country's central coast – dubbed "The Golf Coast", where four of Vietnam's best courses can be found. The finest of them requires an hour's drive from the airport at Danang. Laguna Lang Co Golf Club is built beside a picturesque horseshoe bay. Designed by six-time major winner Nick Faldo, Laguna Lang Co Golf Club takes golfers into forested mountains which run parallel to the beach. The resort's only a few hundred metres from the course; with luxury suites built high along a rocky headland overlooking the bay. See www.lagunalangco.com

THE BLUFFS HO TRAM STRIP, VIETNAM

This is what Scotland might look like with coconut trees. The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip might be just two years old, but already it's considered by many as Asia's finest course – and it's most difficult. This is a links-style course designed by Greg Norman built among sand dunes beside the South China Sea, with 50 metres of elevation variation. You'll play 18 holes and never once feel like your legs are level. If you find the rough, take your punishment – don't try to hit anything more than a wedge. And when the wind blows (as it's prone to doing on this exposed part of the southern Vietnamese coastline) don't expect to play near your handicap. Located two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City, the resort is home to a 541-room five-star hotel and 10 restaurants. See www.thebluffshotram.com

BALI NATIONAL GOLF CLUB, BALI

For years Bali had lagged behind Thailand and China in what it could offer international golfers. But not any more. In the past five years, Bali has become a bona fide international luxury golfing destination. But still its best course remains one of its first – though the Bali National Golf Club was completely overhauled three years ago. Bali National's back nine holes will test any golfer – you'll have to navigate your way between six lakes; while the 17th and 18th island greens are a cruel way to end a round. Located just 20 minutes drive from Bali's international airport, the resort offers luxury villas overlooking the 17th and 18th holes, plus you're in the middle of Nusa Dua, where you'll find high-end restaurants, bars and hotels. See www.balinational.com

BLACK MOUNTAIN GOLF RESORT, THAILAND

Black Mountain Golf Resort used to be an old pineapple plantation, now it's the most lauded golf course in Thailand. It was the first course in the country to host a European Tour event, and it hosts annual Asian PGA Tour events. It was also the first course in Thailand to make US Golf Digest's Top 100 Courses Outside the US, and it won the best course in Thailand six years running in Golf Monthly magazine. There are 27 holes now (nine extra holes were built last year), all running through the foothills of beach resort town Hua Hin, three hours drive south of Thailand. There are two and three-bedroom pool villas just beside the course, and a bar and restaurant just across from the 18th green offering the best whiskey in Asia. See www.blackmountainhuahin.com

THE ELS CLUB TELUK DATAI RAINFOREST COURSE, MALAYSIA

Playing right beside the Andaman Sea with views across to Thailand, it's not just the ocean that might steal your golf ball; there are long-tailed macaque monkeys on the course that are every bit as capable. But then the The Els Club Teluk Datai Rainforest Course is built right in jungle on the remote north coast of Langkawi. Rather than bunkers, you'll have to contend with natural hazards like mountain streams and 10 million-year-old rainforest. The course won the World Golf Awards' Best New Golf Course when it opened three years ago, and it's designed by three-time major winner Ernie Els. The resort that the course is a part of (Datai Langkawi) is currently being refurbished, but there are accommodation options across Langkawi. See www.elsclubmalaysia.com/the-course/teluk-datai-the-rainforest/

Craig Tansley was a guest of Mission Hills Golf Club, Luguna Lang Co Golf Club, The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip and visited other courses at his own expense.

  

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