When considering the range of outstanding golfing getaways in Asia, Taipei may not spring instantly to mind. However, boasting 25 courses within a one-hour drive of the city centre, Taiwan is an attractive and viable destination.
With a flexible schedule and visiting at specific times, you’ll be rewarded–and surprised–at the array of golfing facilities offered, many representing good value for money.
Although the majority of the clubs are purported to be “members-only”, most happily welcome visitors–particularly on designated “golf days“, which tend to be Monday and Tuesday when green fees are reduced by up to 30%. Special rates are also available at some clubs if you tee-off early, while discounts can be negotiated if you’re part of a group or society.
Most Taipei hotels will be able to assist you, not only in booking tee-times but also in arranging transport.
TA SHEE RESORT
Where is it? Set amid rolling hills and surrounded by scenic spots in Tao Yuan Province, Ta Shee Resort is about 35km south of Taipei and a 50-minute drive from Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) International Airport.
What’s it like? The 27-hole Ta Shee opened in 1994 and had since then established itself as the best-known golf resort in the country. Set in an 102-ha area, the facility was the idea of a Taiwanese designer, then later renovated by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Since hosting one leg of the Johnnie Walker Super Tour in 1997 and 1998, it has staged other high-profile tournaments, including the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic, which saw Tiger Woods being beaten by New Zealander Michael Campbell, and the inaugural BMW Asian Open in 2001.
Facilities: Three nine-hole courses named East, Centre, and West. The championship course comprises the East and Centre, measuring 7,150 yards from the back tees and playing to a par of 72. The West Course is lit for night play. The driving range is open daily from 0630 to 2200.
After the golf: The Club boasts a 208-room resort with all the facilities. Try Champions Punch, a blend of punch and local rice wine.
MIRAMAR GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Where is it? A 20-minute drive from CKS International Airport or about 40 minutes from downtown Taipei.
What’s it like? With two 18-hole courses sculpted by Jack Nicklaus, Miramar is a definite favourite of many local golfers. It appeals because unlike the majority of undulating, physically punishing courses close to the capital; its layouts are relatively flat. However, keeping with his course design philosophy, there are all the usual trademarks of the Golden Bear, namely deep bunkers and large water hazards.
Facilities: Two 18-hole courses, both measuring slightly less than 6,000 yards from the white tees, a driving range and two practice greens. Locker rooms have a sauna.
After the golf: Attached to the clubhouse is a 100-room hotel featuring various dining outlets, function rooms, a reading room as well as rooms for billiards, bridge, and chess. Stay and play packages are available such as a TWD5,500 (US$158) rate for an overnight twin share stay, including green fees (with caddie or cart) for two, breakfast and local transport.
SUNRISE GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Where is it? South of CKS International Airport, but conveniently located near the main freeway out of Taipei or about a 45-minute drive from the city.
What’s it like? The first foray of designer Robert Trent Jones Jr into Taiwan, Sunrise is a stunning mountaintop course with numerous dramatic elevation changes–the result of a vast earthmoving exercise that saw the terraced hillside at Yang Met transformed into fairways, greens, and tees. Six major lakes are a feature, ensuring the availability of a myriad of strategic alternatives with every hole. With a high slope rating, tight fairways, and windy conditions, it is, in the view of many, the toughest golfing test in the country. Sunrise hosted the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Cup Qualifying Tournament in 1993 as well as the Taiwan Open on several recent occasions.
Facilities: One 18-hole course, playing to a par of 72 and measuring 7,091 yards from the championship tees. Also a driving range and putting green.
After the golf: A resort-style complex, Sunrise encompasses four main areas: the sprawling clubhouse, recreational facilities, golf practice areas and the course itself. Both the clubhouse and locker rooms are among the largest in the world. Opulence abounds–massive marble columns greet you as you enter the main building that boasts panoramic views of the course. Incorporated within the clubhouse is an 83-room hotel. There are also 114 residential units and a condominium.
TAIWAN GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Where is it? About an hour’s drive north of CKS International Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Tamsui.
What’s it like? Widely regarded as the Home of Golf in Taiwan, Old Tamsui, as the club is known, has been the breeding ground for many of the country’s top professionals. With so many caddies having learned their trade here, the club is also affectionately referred to as the “cradle of the golfers.” First constructed in 1914 with only three holes, the opening nine were ready by 1919. A decade later, Japanese designer Akahoshi Shire completed the 18-hole layout. To this day, the club retains a splendid air of tradition, featuring mature, tree-lined fairways and postage-stamp-size greens. The club also maintains an experienced all-male caddy force, among the most skilled in the region.
Facilities: One 18-hole, par-72 course, measuring 7,015 yards from the championship tees. There is also a driving range and putting green.
After the golf: An understated old-style clubhouse with all the essential elements.