Golfing around Taipei

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When you consider the range of outstanding golfing getaways in Asia, Taipei may not spring instantly to mind. However, with 25 courses within a one-hour drive of the city center, it’s an attractive and viable destination.

If you have a flexible schedule and visit at specific times, you’ll be rewarded with-and surprised at the array of golfing facilities offered, many representing good value.

Although the majority of dubs are purported to be “members only,” most happily welcome visitors-particularly on designated “golf days,” typically Monday and Tuesday when green fees are reduced by up to 30 percent. 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 with booking tee times but also with arranging transportation.

TASHEE RESORT

Where is it? Set amid rolling hills and surrounded by scenic spots in Tao Yuan Province, about 22 miles south of Taipei and a 50-minute drive from Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) International Airport.

What’s it like? The Z7-hole Ta Shee opened in 1994 and has since established itself as the best-known golf resort in the country. The 252-acre facility was the idea of a Taiwanese designer and 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. East and Centre comprise the championship course, 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 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

After golf: The club boasts a 208-room resort with tennis, squash, badminton, and basketball courts, as well as swimming pools, a gym, bowling, snooker, a bar and nightclub, banquet and meeting halls, and children’s facilities. Try Champions Punch, a blend of punch and local rice wine, in one of five food and beverage outlets serving Asian and Western cuisine.

MIRAMAR GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

Where Is it? A 20-minute drive from CKS International Airport, about 40 minutes from downtown Taipei.

What’s it like? Sculpted by Jack Nicklaus. Miramar is a definite favorite of many local golfers. It appeals because, unlike the majority of undulating and physically punishing courses close to the capital, Miramar’s layouts are relatively flat. However, in keeping with his course design philosophy, there are 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 saunas.

After golf: Attached to the clubhouse is a 100-room hotel that features various dining outlets, function rooms and a reading room as well as rooms for billiards, bridge, and chess. Stay-and-play options are available; one package offers an overnight stay for two for $158 which includes green fees (with the choice of caddie or cart), breakfast and local transportation.

SUNRISE GOLF & COUNTRY GOLF

Where is it? South of CKS International Airport, conveniently located near the main freeway out of Taipei, Sunrise Golf & Country Club is 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 Mei 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, Sunrise is, in the view of many, the toughest golfing test in the country. The club hosted the Alfred Dunhill Cup Qualifying Tournament in 1993 as well as the Taiwan Open on several recent occasions.

Facilities: One 18-hole course, which measures 7,091 yards from the championship tees and plays to a par of 72, as well as a driving range and putting green.

After 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: Huge 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. The facility also houses 114 residential units and a condominium.

TAIWAN GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

Where is it? Taiwan Golf & Country Club can be found about an hour’s drive north of CKS International Airport, 10 minutes from downtown Tamsui.

What’s it like? Widely regarded as the home of golf in Taiwan, Old Tamsui, as the club is generally 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.” Constructed in 1914 with only three holes, the opening nine were ready by 1919. A decade later, Japanese designed Akahoshi Shiro 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 caddie 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 a putting green.

After golf: Relax in the understated old-style clubhouse with all the essential elements.

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