Golf in Cambodia can be a costly hobby with caddy and cart on top of green fees, the cost will leave quite a scorch-mark in your wallet; rarely less than $100 at the international standard courses in Cambodia… However, there are alternatives and we decided to have a look at what could be described as Cambodia`s forgotten course, the Cambodia Golf & Country Club (CG&CC). The course has a lower rate of $48 (caddy and green fee included) on weekdays, thus providing a more affordable alternative.
CG&CC was once upon a time one of Cambodia’s main venues for golfers and business meetings alike, but is now overlooked due to its fresh competition. Located only 24km, roughly a 40 minute drive, from Phnom Penh International Airport along National Road 4. The ‘Sugar Palm Course’ – as it is often referred to due to the abundance of native Sugar Palm trees that are scattered mainly over the front nine holes of the 120 Hectares of Cambodian countryside that is CG&CC – is Cambodia’s oldest 18-hole golf course established in May 1997.
As you approach the main entrance from National Road 4, you can see the remnants of what once was one of the ‘go to’ places for the Cambodian aristocracy of the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, time has moved quickly in the past 20 years in Cambodia and Cambodia Golf & Country Club has unfortunately not kept up with the pace. The driveway down to the clubhouse needs some TLC. This should always be a main focus for the groundskeepers – first impressions count.
The Clubhouse itself is a large space, capable of entertaining large functions, with a welcoming reception tucked inside the main doors, amply sized changing rooms, individual security lockers, restaurant and café. The ‘Pro-shop’ leaves much to be desired, there is an option to rent clubs and shoes.
Stepping out of the clubhouse doors to the course, the view of tended flowerbeds and a signature lake is a nice touch encased by neatly trimmed lake banks adorning topiary CG&CC letters. The course itself, measuring at 6,385 yards from the white tees and 7,077 yards from the blue tees, provides various challenges for all ability levels. The wide fairways on the front nine invite you to open up your shoulders and let rip but beware; it will put to test your club selection as bunkers come in to play frequently and can catch you out if your course management isn’t up to par.
The back nine has a different feel altogether with tighter and longer fairways as well as plenty of chances to clean the mud from your ball with water positioned in the most inconvenient spots on most holes! The condition of the course is reflected in the cost; the greens themselves were a mixed bag, some neat and trim, others 50% top-sanded / top-dressed. Normally, I would put this down to general maintenance but I fear that this is their general condition. The tees, the native grass fairways and rough were all in a good condition and were very playable… bunkers could do with a fresh bag of sand, or four.
Overall, I enjoyed visiting the Cambodia Golf & Country Club. The caddies and staff were very knowledgeable about the course and its surroundings and a pleasure to spend an afternoon with. I think many of them have been with the club for a number of years and are holding out for the return of the heydays. All at Cambodia Golf Today hope to see this day arrive sometime soon – more courses and diversity will only help to strengthen the rapidly expanding golf community and golf tourism of Cambodia!