Some of the biggest names in golf have been involved in the design of golf courses in Hua Hin and it does not get much bigger than Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear is regarded by many as being the greatest golfer of all time and he has also made a successful career from designing golf courses.
Springfield Royal and Country Club is a Nicklaus course in Hua Hin and he is responsible for the design of the original 18 holes at this venue. Located just 30 minutes from the centre of Hua Hin, it is easy to reach yet nestles in the shadows of the mountains.
Open for play in 1993, there are now three sets of nine holes, with the third set designed by the golf course architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley.
The original Nicklaus 18 holes, known as the Mountain and Lake Courses are not as challenging as the latest creation but as one would expect from a Nicklaus design, water and sand play a huge role. However, there are five tee boxes on each hole so you can play from whichever is suitable, with the black being the toughest of the lot and only recommended for top players.
Keeping the ball straight is the key to success at Springfield Royal Country Club. The course does not play particularly long but if you are failing to find the fairway, the rough, water and sand comes into play. The waste bunkers on the back nine holes of the original 18 are especially tough and can lead to dropped shots towards the end of the round.
This first hole is a good example of having to find the fairway, with rough and a well-protected green. The first water hazard is found on the second hole, with a pond to the left and stream separating the fairway and green.
However, it is not until you hit the back nine holes, called the Lakes Course, that you begin to find water becoming a problem. The fourth and fifth holes on this course both require approach shots over water to the green. The final hole, which is a par-5, has an island green, making it a great way to finish the round.
The Nicklaus Course has been well maintained and you will enjoy playing in lovely natural surroundings.
The third set of nine holes is the Valley Course and many argue this plays tougher than the original course. The greens are especially challenging and if you find yourself on the wrong side of the hole, putting becomes a real test.
The facilities at Springfield Royal Country Club may not be the most modern in Hua Hin but the restaurant is excellent. You can enjoy tremendous views across the golf course with something to eat and it is a nice way to end the day.