Myanmar workers lay grass at the Royal Mingalardon
Golf Course in Mingalardon township, Yangon, which is tipped
to open with a three-hole driving range in October –
almost 10 years after work first began on the project in
Pic: Lwin Maung Maung
AS golf in Asia goes from strength to strength and tourist arrival
numbers continue to climb, it is only natural that golf-tourism
becomes a larger part of Southeast Asia’s holiday and real-estate
With this in mind, the Zaykabar Construction Company is putting
the finishing touches on a world-class golf course for Yangon
that it aims to open in limited form by the end of October.
The Royal Mingalardon Golf Course, as the 21-hole spread of
trim greenery, lakes and sand-traps is to be known, will cover
about 280 acres of Mingalardon township in Yangon.
Part of Mingalardon Garden City, a 3000-acre housing estate
and industrial zone developed by Zaykabar Construction Co., the
golf course has been almost a decade in making and will initially
offer only a three-hole driving range, according to Zaykabar chairman
Dr Khin Shwe. It will be expanded to nine holes by the end of
the year before it is fully finished in 2008, he said.
“Thailand attracts millions of visitors a year, especially
from South Korea and Japan. They spend a lot of money playing
golf and stay for at least one week,” Dr Khin Shwe told
The Myanmar Times.
In Vietnam, he added, golf holidays were cheaper and visitors
stayed two weeks or longer. “Maybe visitors will stay more
than two weeks in Myanmar as it’s cheaper than any other
neighbouring country,” he said.
With just 10 golf courses in Yangon, Myanmar’s golfing
landscape is wide open for development. Thailand, by comparison,
has more than 200 golf courses and 40 in Bangkok alone.
“Myanmar needs to establish many more high-class golf
courses to attract international visitors,” said Dr Khin
Shwe, who is also president of the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs
The Royal Mingalardon Golf Course is to be the crown jewel of
Mingalardon Garden City’s 1000 acres of suburban housing.
Its completion will mark the end of an epic project beset with
delays stemming from the Asian financial crisis and Myanmar’s
own banking meltdown in 2003.
In March 2004, as work on the project picked up briefly, Dr
Khin Shwe had optimistically told The Myanmar Times the course
would open with three holes by the end of that year.
But this year, he says, it is really happening.
“We will launch a three-hole driving range for golf practice
that 50 people can use at the same time. The driving range is
targeted at all age levels,” Dr Khin Shwe said.
A Thai team of golf-course construction experts has been brought
in to oversee the project and is being headed by Aphisit Siriwatthana-phaiboon,
who said they had chosen the finest materials – mostly from
Europe – to create a top-quality green.
“After finishing this golf course, I hope visitors choose
Myanmar as a golfing destination because it is significantly cheaper
than neighbouring countries,” Aphisit said.
Dr Khin Shwe said hundreds of thousands of dollars had been
spent on a design by Canada-based golf-course company Nelson &
Haworth and the whole project would cost billions kyats.
To lure foreign visitors and those from outside Yangon, a three-star
hotel is to be built inside the golf course. Projected to open
next year, the hotel will be grouped with a tennis court, swimming
pool and club houses.
“Visitors will be able to relax for a week or two while
they play golf,” Dr Khin Shwe said.
Zaykabar Construction, however, is facing increasing competition
from other developers in Southeast Asia who are latching on to
the same idea.
Golfers will soon be able to tee off in Cambodia and finish
their round in Vietnam following the start of construction on
a cross-border resort this month that is believed to be first
of its kind in Asia.
The US$100-million project will feature nine holes on either
side of the Vietnam-Cambodia border, as well as a five-star hotel,
business centre and a cultural village.
It is also located near the main border crossing between the
two countries, which has seen an increase in traffic as tourist
“Many tourists are now travelling between Vietnam and
Cambodia and they only stop to eat lunch before continuing their
trip,” the governor of Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province,
Cheang Am, told AFP.
“But when we have such a resort they might stay for awhile
– when they come to play here, of course they’ll spend
It’s a thought Dr Khin Shwe could well relate to as he
eyes a surge in golf-tourism that although in full swing elsewhere
is yet to tee off here.