One-Shot Wonder

The island green 17th at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok continues to grow its reputation as one of Southeast Asia's most exciting holes

The floating island green 17th at December’s Thailand Golf Championship

In much the same way that the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour's Players Championship, has become one of tournament golf's most recognisable holes, the penultimate hole at the Schmidt-Curley-designed Amata Spring Country Club, situated on the outskirts of Bangkok, is forging its own reputation for excitement and terror for the one hazard that's nigh on in impossible to recover from - water.

Measuring just 145 yards from the back tee, this short one-shotter, like the one at Sawgrass, features an island green, a design element that has been copied and incorporated at numerous courses throughout Asia. But unlike the others, Amata Spring's signature hole differs by virtue of the fact it's unwalkable: the only way to reach the putting surface is by boat. A short stroll from the tee brings you to a small pier where your launch, manned by appropriately nautically-attired staff, is ready to whisk you to the floating green.

Golfing purists might shudder at the thought; island greens are, by their very nature, contrived. But there's no doubt they're also a lot of fun, something the best players in the world agreed with when they arrived at Amata Spring for the Thailand Golf Championship last December.

Major champions Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson were joined in their praise for the 17th by Ryo Ishikawa, Hunter Mahan and Thailand's own Thongchai Jaidee, who went as far as describing it as the "perfect" tournament golf hole.

"I think it's one of the best holes I've ever played," declared Watson, the 2012 Masters champion. "I just think it's neat that you have to take a boat to the green. Even though it's only a wedge or a 9-iron you're always worried. With the adrenaline pumping under the conditions of trying to win a golf tournament it makes it very difficult because of the water on both sides. It's short but really fun."

Ishikawa, the young Japanese star who is known in his homeland as the "bashful prince", said he was just happy to see his tee shot remain dry.

"I enjoy playing it - but only in the Pro-Am," laughed the 22-year-old after the first round. "In the tournament it's a different feeling. It's normally a 9-iron but it all depends on the wind. I've hit 7-iron when the wind has been stronger. Today I hit it to 20 feet, which is always a good result."


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