Author: Thailand Golf Expert

Thailand Golf Updates – Coming This Year Lotus Valley Stay & Play

Thailand Golf Updates – Coming This Year Lotus Valley Stay & Play

One of the few Gary Player–designed golf courses in Asia, and the only one in Thailand, Lotus Valley Golf Resort has a unique look and feel as well as a progressive thinking management team and Board of Directors. They have plans to upgrade their championship golf facility with the addition of a modern, purpose-built hotel complex. Consistently featuring in the Asian Golf Awards as Best Value Golf Experience this pedigree course has even more ambition. Golfasian talks to General Manager Derek Schade who recently returned to Lotus Valley having completed his contract with Chiang Mai Highlands.

Golfasian            You return to Lotus Valley after a 2 year absence, what lured you back?

Derek                    I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Highlands, but the opportunity to spearhead Lotus Resort’s development wasn’t something I could turn down. Both the Owners and Directors are very innovative in their thinking and open to ideas from the whole Team. This is a very collaborative Project and I’m delighted to be a part of it.

Golfasian            Tell our clients what’s in store

Derek                    Gary Player’s original design was reinvigorated about 6 years ago by Jon Morrow and Turf Pro Golf’s Craig Bertram, keeping the original routing but enhanced by Bertram’s re-shaping of the green complexes. Notwithstanding, Lotus Valley remains at heart a Gary Player design. It is a golf course which is challenging, strategic and visually stunning. Most of all, it is great fun to play. Thus we offer a thoroughly modern, world-class layout and thinking-man’s golf challenge. On the playing side I am therefore focusing on outstanding year-round conditioning and maintaining our high standards.

Another area for improvement has been addressing Lotus Valley’s relatively remote location, lying as it does an hour plus from the centre of Bangkok. The vast majority of Members come from local manufacturing facilities, located in this rural area due to Government measures that encouraged foreign investment, particularly targeting the Japanese. There has been an acknowledgement that a significant slice of the wider golfing market needed exploiting to permit further expansion.

Two steps have been taken to address this shortcoming. First, the establishment of a Lotus Valley sales presence in Bangkok’s Ekamai which will act as a transport hub providing a shuttle to the course. Additionally, there are plans for an adjoining small hotel allowing golfing guests to enjoy a Bangkok shopping day prior to their golf. Complementing this and key to its success, we have recently broken ground on a purpose-built boutique hotel at the Resort itself with design features aimed to meet the needs of discerning golfers such as bespoke club storage, plus onsite massage facilities and a swimming pool to treat those minor aches and pains post your golf. Once complete, we will present to the market a total quality experience with one of the best golf courses in the country, excellent practice facilities, a five star clubhouse with food and beverage to match and on-site accommodation of the highest calibre. All this in value-for-money packages for which the Resort is renowned.

It’s exciting to work with a Board of Directors who are so forward thinking.  Any ideas seen to be a benefit to guests are accepted no matter who suggests them.  There is a wealth of experience in our Board Meetings since the Directors come from a variety of professionally run businesses; it’s refreshing and I’m learning a lot.

Golfasian            Having not played Lotus Valley for some time you’ve got us excited about all the plans. We wish you all the best with your new role and the successful completion of the club’s expansion project which will no doubt further enhance what is already a top Thailand venue. Golfasian looks looks forward to sending clients for Stay & Play! Thank you for talking to us.

Cambodia Golf – Siem Reap Gateway to Angkor

Cambodia Golf – Siem Reap Gateway to Angkor

Hi, my name is Philip Crowther. I am British, originally from the Great Yarmouth area of Norfolk and took up golf about 20 years ago while in my early forties. I predominantly played on seaside links golf courses in the UK and have worked and played golf in many locations around the world. Sadly, old age and lack of playing opportunities have slipped me back to a 28 handicapper these days.

The Winner

Although I have played in many locations around Asia, this was my first golfing visit to Cambodia. I organised this trip with five of my male work colleagues. Four of our wives came on the trip, but did not play golf. However, they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves with shopping, spa treatments and visiting Angkor Wat.

Angkor Golf Resort

This was a 6-day visit and we stayed at the Aviary Hotel in Siem Reap, playing 3 days golf at Phokeethra & Booyoung Country Clubs and the final round on the Nick Faldo course at Angkor Golf Resort. The hotel, staff and service were first rate and I quite happily recommend the hotel and would stay there again. The Cambodian people were wonderful, friendly and readily accepted ‘No’ when you didn’t want to buy something.

Overall the golf experience was fantastic, all the courses were in very good condition. However, the Faldo course at the Angkor Golf Resort was quite clearly the best of the three. The whole package, from their free driving range facility to the caddies, course and club house / restaurant were 5 star. The bunkers on this course were also very consistent throughout the course, and I know because I found enough of them on all three courses.

The Red Piano

Most nights we all met up for a group dinner on Bar Street, with the Red Piano Bar Restaurant quickly becoming our local haunt.

I cannot recommend this experience too strongly. We were looked after very well by Golfasian, from their handling of the enquiry to all the logistics, everything went smoothly. As for golfing in Siem Reap, it’s ideal for golfers and non-golfers, particularly couples. Now it’s just a case of where next?

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Pacific Golf Club, Carindale

Hi, my name is Bill Donovan. I have played golf seriously for 34 years. My current handicap is 10 and I am a member of Pacific Golf Club at Carindale in Brisbane. Pacific is an 18-hole championship golf course in a parkland setting, with water on 16 of the holes. It is a very challenging layout.

This is my 6th trip to Thailand and my 3rd trip to Hua Hin. Our group, 6 males all from pacific Golf club, have been to Hua Hin 3 times, Pattaya twice and once to Chiang Mai. Hua Hin is our favourite golfing destination in Thailand. We have booked the last 5 trips through Golfasian and they have been fantastic. Our last 3 trips have been booked through Fai at Golfasian and she has done a terrific job. Many years ago, one of our friends went to Thailand and absolutely raved about how good everything was and this prompted us to organise a trip.

Most of our trips involve 6 games of golf. We play 2 games then have a rest day. We normally go there for 10 days. Thailand is fantastic, the people are friendly and always happy, the food is fantastic (even in the street stalls) and the beer is also relatively cheap. Accommodation is really good and we always try to get a hotel near the entertainment areas so it is an easy walk home. Through Golfasian, we always have breakfast at the hotel, then lunch at the golf course. The meals at most of the club houses are great and what better than to have a shower and change, then a cold beer with a nice lunch to recharge.

The Group with caddies at Springfield

Our group really enjoyed the golf courses, the caddies, the course designs/layouts; bottom line, there is nothing to not like about the whole experience. We have done trips to Singapore and Malaysia but prefer Thailand. We always schedule our trips in November hoping that it may be a bit cooler, and fortunately our last trip was really good, as it can get very hot. The caddies are great fun but also quite knowledgeable mostly. After a couple of holes they know your distances and what club to hit, and are also good green readers in the main. Our favourite Thailand golf course is Black Mountain in Hua Hin. It is just a great course in terms of conditioning, design and overall presentation. Realistically, we haven’t come across a ‘bad’ course yet. I was a bit disappointed with Burapha as my logic is, when travelling for golf, you want to play great courses and designs. I found Burapha a bit boring. The last trip we played mainly “ambrose” and “3BBB” stablefords, which made the trip very relaxing, and not too competitive. On one ambrose day, my group had 7 birdies in a row!!

After golf we always went for a massage. I usually had a traditional Thai massage and they are fantastic. We tell the masseuse that we are in Thailand playing golf so they tailor the massage more along sports lines. If we finished golf early, we would either go shopping or have a swim in the hotel pool. Each night we all went out for dinner at various restaurants and the food is great and not expensive. After dinner, we sometimes went to the markets shopping and some of the group continued on for a few drinks and games of pool, while the others went back to our hotel In Chiang Mai. We went on an elephant trek and some did the Tiger temple on a day off.

Despite all the visits we’ll be back for more…and always with Golfasian.

Thailand Golf – Courses that might “Suit Your Eye”?

Thailand Golf – Courses that might “Suit Your Eye”?

The picture at the head of this article is of Tiger Woods after one of his 8 victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational played at Bay Hill. The phrase “This course really suits his eye” is mostly used by golf commentators on US television networks about professional golfers on the Tour. They are almost always referring to a player who is returning to a tournament venue as the defending champion. The premise is, this player has won here fairly recently and is therefore filled with positive memories. Therefore, no matter how well or poorly he has played during the past 12 months all those “pictures” in his mind of birdies, chip-ins and one-putts will give him (or her) added confidence…it will all come flooding back and the tempo, swing and optimism will follow. I’m sure this is true, but I’m not so sure this is the whole story, and what if anything can we amateurs take from this and use to our advantage?

Whether you appreciate it or not, we all have courses that suit our eyes and afford us the chance of a better score on the day. I’m guessing most readers will hit the ball left to right; did you know that Jack Nicklaus-designed courses favour a left to right ball flight as he did? Notables are; Springfield in Hua Hin, Laem Chabang near Pattaya, Legacy in Bangkok, Kirimaya in the Khao Yai National Park (narrow fairways and tough) and Mission Hills in Phuket. These quality courses may unlock a positive swinging day that brings you back time and again.

Royal Lytham GC in the centre of town
The gorgeous Lam Lukka

There may be other influences that would build positivity from the opening tee shot, and lead to a good round. I love to play in beautiful surroundings and would rather avoid electricity pylons and other signs of Man’s presence. One of the best courses in the world (ranked 57th), Royal Lytham, home to the Open Championship (British), is a superb links-style course bordered by a housing estate and railway line which never really “did it” for me. If I’m going to play links golf, I’d much prefer it to be at Royal Dornoch in a far more remote and wild part of north western Scotland; the course is a great favourite of Tom Watson. In Thailand, arguably the country’s most prestigious and best-conditioned course, Amata Springs, is similarly surrounded on one side by an industrial estate which for me is a big turn-off. I would rather play at a far more humble, though picturesque course such as Lam Lukka north of Bangkok.

Black Mountain

A Thailand golf round is about the overall experience, perhaps having a caddie for the first time or enjoying a cold drink every 3 or 4 holes at the excellent refreshment stops.  Banyan and Black Mountain in Hua Hin do this particularly well (in fact they do pretty much everything very well which is why they are so popular). Chiang Mai provides much cooler weather in the months Nov-Mar and has superb courses so maybe that’s where your best golf lies? Finally, be smart about the tees you select…the championships tees are there for the pros; leave them to it!

When you are choosing courses and destinations to play in Thailand a balance of considerations makes sense, but give some thought to the courses themselves and ask for advice about how to match your skills to get the best from your day.

Play until you’re Old and Grey? Nagging Golf Injuries – Ignore at your Peril

Play until you’re Old and Grey? Nagging Golf Injuries – Ignore at your Peril

Bobby Jones said “The best exercise for golfers is golfing” and I know what he means. In general it’s a pastime which involves getting out in the fresh air, walking for several hours and loosening up with some aerobic “swinging”…gotta be good for you right? Unless you are doing it for a living or it’s your dedicated sport, you probably took it up as the exercise for your twilight years, whenever they may have started. The snag is, because you might be playing in later life, you are more susceptible to the risk of stresses and strains that golf can present and you’re probably unprepared for them.

The reason I am writing about golf injuries is because it is now 6 months since I played a round due to a knee injury, made worse by playing golf and ignoring the problem. The eventual outcome was surgery, and now, with perhaps another 4-6 months before I play again, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter and perhaps prompt some readers to consider any nagging pains and what they might do about them. Better still, some may be in the peak of health and rather than take their chances on what might be on the horizon, head any issues off at the pass.

First, a disclaimer…I am not a physician (sports or otherwise) of any kind, just someone who has had a lot of time to deal with a golf injury, researched the issue for many hours, and endeavoured to fix myself so that I can return to the links better and stronger as a golfer. I’m also not going to talk about general fitness, health and well-being (diet, exercise etc) because all of us are bombarded daily by the common sense of leading a healthier life; it’s something we either adopt willingly or not.

When we talk about golf injuries, if you are someone of a “certain age” I’m sure you know to what I’m referring, but for younger readers here are some common problems they might not yet be experiencing:

  • Back Pain– Poor posture causes mechanical stress leading to disc related problems
  • Golfer’s elbow/Tennis elbow– An inflammation of the tendons attached on either side of the elbow
  • Shoulder pain– Several conditions such as rotator cuff tendonitis, impingement, or tears pain
  • Knee Pain– There are many conditions that affect golfers including torn meniscusligament tears, and osteoarthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome– Repetitive stress in the hands causing numbness and pain
  • DeQuervain’s tendonitis– Inflammation of the tendons at the base of the wrist that control the thumb
  • Trigger Finger– Causes the finger to lock up from a swollen flexor tendon catching in its sheath

I’ll focus on my own particular experience; meniscus tears, cartilage degradation and general deterioration of the left knee…it’s worn out!

If you look at the attached picture of the knee’s anatomy, it’s quite a simple but ingenious structure. In Layman’s terms, the knee connects the lower leg bones to the upper and allows the leg to hinge. A joint, it is stabilised by ligaments (strong “elastic bands” either side), cushioned by cartilage (in this case a disc-like pad called the meniscus) plus a layer of cartilage on the end of the bones, and protected by the Patella (knee cap) a triangular bone at the front. Completing this clever piece of kit are the leg muscles and hamstrings that provide strength and support.

Now remember I described it as a hinge, I did not say it is designed to swivel, hence its incompatibility with the game of golf. Awesome for walking and running, the knee is badly designed for the rotation of a golf swing; remember your left foot is at right angles to the target at address, and more or less pointing at the target on completion of the swing…what stress was applied during the transition? In essence, when playing golf you are grinding the knee’s insides together applying both longitudinal and worse still, significant lateral forces on those “elastic bands” and cushions.

Now lots of golfers play all their lives and appear to survive the rigours of the golf swing. However, factor in a contact sport when young (mine was rugby), or a simple twist or dislocation from time to time, plus add general wear and tear over 50 years and the trap is set.

So what do we do about it? Golf is a great sport for later life but it takes some maintenance to keep your body pain free over time. Stretching may be better than practice for enjoying a pain free game.  Most players need to make some time to stretch before playing or even spending time on the range. No-one’s body wants to be torqued and twisted without a little warning. While many players arrive right before tee time to play, a fifteen minute stretching routine can make a big difference.

Note, you can’t stretch enough! First, warm muscles, sinews and ligaments are more elastic allowing better stretching, therefore walk to the range to get your heart rate up a little for a warm up. Perhaps work from head to toe so you remember to stretch the whole body. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds. Don’t bounce or stretch to the point of pain. There are literally dozens of stretching regimes (golf-specific) on websites such as YouTube so I won’t go into particulars here. What about after the round? The clubhouse is a great place to relax and retell the stories of your round but after you’re done, a hot shower and a few more stretches should prevent the next day stiffness and keep you ready to play again. Of course in Thailand you have cheap and effective massages on your doorstep after every round!

Finally, if the signs of problems are already there don’t ignore them, whether back, knees or shoulders. Do not play through any pain! Educate yourself about measures you can take to heal yourself (the Web has significant self-help information), or seek medical advice and discuss with someone who has/is experiencing the same thing. Don’t allow a nagging pain to grow into something that deprives you of a game you love for a whole year…learn from other’s mistakes.

Thailand Golf Vacations – A Lady’s View

Thailand Golf Vacations – A Lady’s View

I am Sally Chappell, a mature Lady golfer. I live in Leeds England, and have been a member of Rawdon Golf and Lawn Tennis club for 14 years.  My handicap is 26, which I consider not bad as our course is a very challenging one, hilly with lots of trees.

 My friend Elizabeth Leach and I have played golf in Florida, Portugal, Turkey and Cyprus, and this year decided we would like a trip away in January, so Thailand seemed to be the ideal place for some good weather.  How right we were, the sun shone for the whole two weeks which enabled us to play golf in ideal conditions.

We were recommended by a friend to book with Golfasian, and Ian Morgan organised everything to our requirements with perfection.

We travelled with Emirate airlines via Dubai and unfortunately our journey out was delayed by 8 hours. We were a little apprehensive that would cause a problem with the transportation from Bangkok, but the worry was unfounded as the delightful, friendly driver was waiting for us when we arrived.

Our stay at the Laksasubha hotel was everything we had hoped; beautiful rooms, extremely friendly, happy staff, and a delicious breakfast every day served almost on the beach.

Banyan Golf ClubWe looked forward to the new experience of having a caddie and were definitely not disappointed. Our first round was at Sea Pines, a very picturesque course, particularly the holes around the bay.  The game at Springfield Country Club was so enjoyable, made so by the very friendly, efficient and fun loving caddies.  Pressure was definitely on us as far as the golf was concerned when Elizabeth and I realised our caddies were betting on our play, 10 baht per hole!  My favourite course was Banyan, probably because I got a birdie on the par 3 4th hole.

Every evening began with cocktails (of course) in the hotel bar on the beach, then we ate at various restaurants in the town.

 Two days left of our holiday and we were told about Svensons Ice Cream Parlour, very fortunate we didn’t hear about it at the beginning of our stay, otherwise we would have had to buy bigger clothes.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our golf holiday in Thailand. Hua Hin is a very relaxing resort destination, and we both felt safe wherever we walked. We have returned home with lots of very happy memories, thanks to Ian Morgan and his staff at Golfasian.

Thailand Golf Tours – Great Getaways

Thailand Golf Tours – Great Getaways

Hi, my name is Wayne, that’s me second from the right.

I’m from Figtree in New South Wales, Australia. I’ve played golf for almost 30 years and am a member of Port Kembla Golf Club which is a short distance south of town on a beautiful spit of land bordered to the west and east by water and the beach. The course is long at 6,300 metres, tree-lined, and a legitimate championship test. I am currently playing off a 6 handicap.

My first time golfing in Thailand (indeed my first visit) was in June 2015.  The courses looked great on the internet & I’d heard people were really friendly. I travelled with 5 mates from the Figtree Hotel Social Golf club and returned in 2016 with 3 from the 2015 trip plus one other…all blokes.

In 2015 we played 5 rounds in Pattaya and Bangkok with the following year taking in Hua Hin as well; 7 rounds in total this time. We travelled both times with Golfasian whom we found on the web. Our first impressions were outstanding. The tour was so very well organised from the collection at the airport to departure, absolutely seamless.  Straight away Thailand made a big impression and was a wonderful experience.  The people are so friendly; nothing is a problem, everyone is smiling…it all seemed very carefree. Whether that’s the case behind the scenes it makes for a fabulous visit. We liked all our hotels, as good as anything I’ve ever stayed at: great locations, service and amenities.

Despite it being Thailand’s low season and the start of the “rainy” period we had great weather, only a little hot.  You couldn’t ask for more: great courses, delicious food and most of all the friendliness of the people. Our caddies were very good at their job and were prepared to have a good laugh. My favourite course(s) were the Jack Nicklaus-designed Laem Chabang Country Club (what I expect of a top championship course) and The Royal Gems which is a replica course comprised of many famous holes throughout the world including Amen Corner from Augusta.  I’ve been watching the Professionals play these holes for years and now I was able to play them myself.  Black Mountain was just magnificent and Khao Kheow Country Club a gorgeous layout, with Nikanti such a wonderful overall experience.

After golf we’d spend an hour or 2 in the pool, have a few beers with the boys then all go out for dinner & a few drinks. All in all it was exactly what I had hoped for and more…I’ll definitely be back.

Green Aerification…Spoiling My Golf Trip?

Green Aerification…Spoiling My Golf Trip?

In all likelihood it could spoil that day…it’s certainly not helping. A common question from clients intending to travel with Golfasian is; “While I’m there, will the greens have been aerated?”

Showing up to a golf course only to discover that it has recently undergone an aerification process is never a good thing. Clients have, after all, paid a relatively large sum to travel to play overseas. You were expecting the golf course, and especially its greens, to be in great shape. Instead you find them full of little holes or covered in sand or other topdressing. Golfasian understands that the golf course aerification process can be especially frustrating to golfers.

Aeration usually involves removal of half inch plugs that are subsequently filled with sand (topdressing); another word for this is coring. Other aerification techniques use machines with tines, or knives that simply poke holes through the soil; these have far less impact on the smooth roll of your ball but all in all a green isn’t at its best post maintenance of this kind.

But I can hear a great big “so what…I don’t want to play greens like that when I’ve travelled 2,000 miles to play golf, what are you doing about it?” The good news is that generally significant aeration takes place twice a year and at a time which is logical. When would you rest your soccer team….post and pre-season in all likelihood and greens get the same treatment. Thus in Thailand aeration takes place in April when the rains arrive and high season ends, and September when the course is gearing up for the new high season with maximum traffic starting November. Are you aware that Golfasian publishes golf course maintenance plans every month in its newsletter? Course inspections are also carried out to give notice that the greens may be particularly challenging. Bottom line, everything is done to guarantee the client a great day on the links.

Whilst trying not to be too tongue in cheek, does showing up to a golf course that is in the throes of aerification guarantee a bad time or a bad score? Consider the fact that PGA Tour legend Tom Watson shot a sizzling record 58 at his then-home course, Kansas City Country Club, just days after the greens had been aerated. Consider also that aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits for golf courses. When you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die…and with a more positive stroke a good score is still possible.

But rest assured, if Golfasian finds out that your best interests aren’t being served, everything will be done to resolve the problem, rescheduling where possible.

Golfing Thailand as a Single

Golfing Thailand as a Single

Titirangi Golf Club

My name is John Billington. I live in Aukland, New Zealand, which is the largest and most populace area in the country. I am a member of Titirangi Golf Club, a course designed by Alastair McKenzie on his trip south to design Royal Melbourne. I have played golf in most continents and especially on the McKenzie courses in California (including Cypress Point). I was a scratch handicapper but at 66 years I am now playing off a respectable 7.

I have been travelling to Europe for sailing holidays regularly for the past five years and transit through Asia. I travel one way alone, meeting my wife in Europe and taking the opportunity to play some golf on the way.

I started using Golfasian to arrange golf holidays in Thailand. It worked seamlessly for me with transport etc and because they tended to join me up with other groups I met many interesting people from all around the world whom I would not otherwise meet: Russians, Swedes, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Scandinavians, and golfers from all over Asia; fascinating!!

Red Mountain 1st

The courses are all good, well-groomed and economical by world standards whilst facilities are of a uniformly high standard. Last year I spent a week on my own golfing in Phuket and recently a week in Chiang Mai. Red Mountain in Phuket is particularly stunning and a great test, whilst Alpine Chiang Mai is unique with its beautiful surroundings and varied types of holes providing different challenges.

I usually stay in hotels in the city rather than at a resort because I enjoy sightseeing, the local markets and restaurants including the wonderful street food.

Thai caddies are exceptional and great company; quite able to lift my spirits and get me back on track if I’m finding it difficult to find my rhythm. The Golfasian drivers are invariably courteous and efficient, providing recommendations on local attractions.

I will return to Thailand soon, this time with a group of friends from Titirangi. We shall probably play in the Chiang Mai area because the climate is appreciably cooler, the countryside truly beautiful and mountainous and there is such a lot to do and see. I’ll leave the arrangements to Golfasian…they haven’t let me down yet!

Golf in Myanmar

Golf in Myanmar

My name is Catherine Capozzi, and I’m from the golfer heaven state of Arizona in the US. Now, I live with my husband in India. Despite growing up in a place renowned for golf, I can’t say I’m very good at the sport: we don’t belong to any golf club, and the extent of our practice involves playing 9-hole courses around sunset at a discount. Nonetheless, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to improve our swing every time we go back to visit Arizona in the winter. And in this case, we decided to bring our burgeoning love of golf with us on vacation to Myanmar.

Myanmar had been on my family’s radar for some time: We knew it was an up-and-coming destination that hadn’t succumbed to the usual touristy pitfalls of over development and pollution. We heard it was rustic, clean, full of Buddhist history, had amazing cuisine and friendly people. All of these things proved correct, especially the hospitality. The unspoiled nature was easily one of the best parts, and I was amazed at how pristine the country was.

We didn’t think Burma and golf would go hand-in-hand, but the courses were actually quite beautiful. They unfortunately didn’t have left-handed golf clubs and we didn’t bring ours, so we had to alternate between using the back of a 5-iron for the left hand, or practising with my right and toting around the 7-iron as my defacto club (not that it helped). Thankfully, we found every bad swing rather amusing. If we were smart, we ‘d have brought our own clubs.

The caddies were the real heroes of our game, because they were out in the rough fishing out my husband’s golf balls practically every shot. They also were so attentive, setting up the balls in a makeshift tee from grass tufts. The ladies were great sports.

The courses were gorgeous. In Bagan, the course is situated among the famous pagodas so we enjoyed weaving our cart through these historic monuments. The Inle course was expansive and was very well-maintained. The weather was also cool here, but it started pouring rain around the 6th hole. One of my fondest memories of the trip will be how we careened down the course, making a beeline for the clubhouse as we all got drenched—especially the caddies, as they clung to the back while the rain pelted them. We gave up our golfing ambitions for the day once the rains hit, but we had a fabulous time.

GolfAsian made our vacation effortless and so enjoyable. The group consisted of my husband, our 15-month-old baby, my mother, and me. I was a little worried that the itinerary was too hectic (three cities by plane in a week), but the organization made travelling a breeze: someone was always waiting for us on the other side, our guides were compassionate, responsive and informative, and all we had to do was show up.

In Yangon, we were booked in a fantastic, spacious hotel called the Rose Garden. Our guide showed us some of the heritage buildings downtown, and gave us a tour of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. We found Yangon to be lush, clean, vibrant, and full of friendly people. We had a great time visiting the market and buying jade, Buddha statues, paper umbrellas and other quintessential Burmese souvenirs.

In our next stop, Bagan, we explored the ancient Buddhist monuments that pepper the rustic city. Tharabar Gate was easily one of our favorite hotels, and we enjoyed the amazing spread of local cuisine (as a vegan, I especially enjoyed the local chickpea-based tofu and fresh carrot salads. The peanut sauce in Myanmar is the stuff of legends. My husband, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of the fish). My mother and baby had a delightful time going through the green countryside in a horse-drawn carriage.

Our last stop was the Inle Lake region. There’s simply nowhere else in the world that can compare to this unique spot: they have floating gardens and an entire city built atop the water. Visiting these sites by boat was such a special experience that even the later rains didn’t damper the mood. Though the hotel didn’t have the best variety of food and the WiFi was intermittent, (as is the case in most hotels, was our understanding) the grounds were lush, expansive, and made for a beautiful walk.

8 days later, we all felt like we got the full Burma experience. We had a delightful family vacation!

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel
Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel

Hi, my name is Gary. I am an Australian, originally from New South Wales, but now very comfortably domiciled in Perth, Western Australia with a wife of 35 years marriage and two grown up kids!

I have played golf since my father stuck a golf club in my hands when I was about 10 years old. At 61 years old now, I guess you could say I have been a long-term golfer. I have been a member of private golf clubs since a junior, and a member of my current golf club, Melville Glades for the last 22 years. My current handicap is 4 … hard earned at my age! I also happen to be the President of the club and have been on the Club’s Board for the last 5 years.  Melville Glades is a parkland golf course in the Perth metropolitan area and will celebrate 50 years of operations in 2017. We have in excess of 1,100 members with member competitions every day of the week.  Oh, we also have a mob of around 200 kangaroos that live on the golf course which is a very special experience for our members and visitors.

I have been to Thailand around half a dozen times, and have played golf in Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok and now Kanchanaburi. Thailand is renowned as the best and most enjoyable golf tourism experience in Asia, and the combination of well-conditioned courses, excellent caddy services and comfortable, luxurious Clubhouses, makes for a unique golfing experience for visiting Australian golfers.

Gary with Golfasian's Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan at Black Mountain
Gary at Black Mountain with Golfasian’s Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan 

My most recent golf tour included Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Hua Hin. We played 5 great golf courses, including Black Mountain, Thai Country Club and Grand Prix … all different with individual challenges. Royal Ratchaburi was a unique and most enjoyable golf experience playing in the countryside and through the mountains bordering Myanmar.

With golf tours in Asia, you need to consider the time of the year and the prevailing weather conditions. There are obviously peak season times where prices increase, however I like to schedule my tours around the “shoulder” seasons where I can access some lower rates and then build some “value-add” into the tour price with things such as trophies, prizes, complimentary polo shirts etc.

My most recent tour had 22 guests and most were golfing couples. Being a 10-night golf tour, we only arranged a couple of team dinners … this allowed the guests to “do their own thing”! Some couples teamed up with others for dinner and drinks, and others went out for massages and shopping … things Thailand are famous for!

group-photoAll in all everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would like to sample another Asian destination, perhaps Vietnam. Let’s see what Golfasian can do for us!!

Good Caddy, Not so Good…Some Answers Why

Good Caddy, Not so Good…Some Answers Why

Thailand’s caddies are one of its unique selling points generally because they work with an easy smile and just like the rest of Thailand’s renowned service industry just want you to enjoy yourself. But we golfers are far more demanding than just requiring a smile, we want Steve Williams on the bag. Therefore, that can’t be where the story ends.

d-schade-669x272If you have golfed here for many years you will have played with good, less good and somewhat mediocre caddies, generally described as “bag carriers”. To better understand what makes one caddy better than another and the inherent challenges faced in order to create the Williams effect, I spoke with Derek Schade, GM of Chiang Mai Highlands, who launched Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort in Northern Thailand and managed 3 golf courses in total.

GA – You launched an entire golfing organisation from nothing, so where exactly do you start when it comes to caddying?

DSIn the case of somewhere like Highlands which is entirely surrounded by rural areas, you are starting very much from scratch. It helps that I can speak fluent Thai so at first I went into the community and spoke to various groups explaining what would take place, the jobs that were on offer and what caddies might earn. Used to back breaking work in the fields, riding around in a cart with people prepared to pay 4,000 baht for hitting a ball with a stick for 4 hours got their attention…there was easy money to be made!

GA – I’m guessing things start slowly then become more involved?

DS – Exactly. Our programme ran in 3 week-long phases. First they needed to understand the language and etiquette of golf; tees, bunkers, greens, other hazards, where to stand on the green, when to talk and when to remain quiet, what the players were aiming to achieve. It was basic understanding when obviously all this was a complete mystery.

Following this we could look at more technical matters such as distances a particular club might travel and the flight of the ball, distances to aim points or trouble, greens and pins. Then how to rake bunkers and repair pitch marks.

Finally it was all about adding value and enabling better scoring on behalf of the customer (player). Take distances to a pin on a par 3: the hole marker will have distances from various coloured tees, perhaps a simple map and of course the flag itself will indicate front/middle/back and that has to be taken into account. The vast majority of caddies would say the distance as they saw it on the marker or score card, but the smart ones could say 150 to the middle but the pin’s at the front so maybe 145 yards. Some could even factor in the wind and the cream of the crop would then be able to club players. The final skill was to learn how to read the greens…an art for the best of us let alone for a Thai girl from a village who one month prior was planting rice.

GA – That’s a lot to learn in 3 weeks given the circumstances.

DS – It was and we were on a deadline to open. Basically, once we were sure the caddies wouldn’t embarrass themselves or the club they were let loose on the course but an attempt was made to put together groups where promising caddies could help the less able. In the end it worked surprisingly well.

GA – Impressive and it explains why some caddies are better than others.

DS – I know it is frustrating to get a caddy less able than another one in the group who is pulling out the right clubs and reading the greens superbly and of course that is reflected in the level of tipping, but I believe they are doing their best and when the course supervisors, the organisation and the caddies gain more experience naturally the abilities across the board rise. We are, of course, always investing in their training and are proud of all that has been achieved.

GA – Thanks Derek, hopefully we’ll all appreciate our caddies even more in the future.

Amazing Asia Golf Double-Header: Vietnam & Thailand Combined

Amazing Asia Golf Double-Header: Vietnam & Thailand Combined

Hi, my name is Willy Ma.   I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Canada to finish high school.  I then attended college in the US and made Los Angeles my permanent residence.   I am a member at Lakeside Golf Club in Burbank, Los Angeles, California founded in 1924: Bing Crosby was club champion 5 times. I am also a member at Village Country Club at Lompoc, California in Santa Barbara County.

My current SCGA Index is about 14. I started playing golf in the 1980s and take regular golf lessons from various golf schools and PGA Professionals so hope to get to single figures before too long. I often plan golf trips for my group of 8 to 16 golfers from all over the world aiming to play the world’s best courses. We’ve travelled to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos as well as locally in US.   Golf in China used to be my favourite but after this Vietnam and Thailand trip arranged by Golfasian, I would come back in a heart-beat. I find Southeast Asians are the friendliest and most respectful people…..and our dollars go a long way. I would like to plan more trips to Southeast Asia and eventually find a place there to retire. My wife is also an avid golfer but she cannot deal with the humidity and mosquitoes. I also love the food and massages; the only way to end a day’s golf. There’s no place like Thailand.

willy-ma-kings-island-gc
King’s Island GC, Hanoi

On my recent trip to Hanoi, I loved all the courses we played in the itinerary except The BRM Legend Hill.  It didn’t seem like a Jack Nicklaus-designed course at all. Notwithstanding, my most memorable hole was a 498 yards par 5.  I was on in two with a 12 foot putt for an eagle; lipped out and made a birdie; very satisfying.  We played the blue tees at all venues and found the courses in Hanoi were very challenging and well designed. My preference has always been for old established courses rather than modern ones.  My best rounds on this trip were at Sky Lake and Kings Island in Hanoi, Springfield and Banyan in Hua Hin.

Banyan GC
Banyan GC

Everything was perfect until the last round at Black Mountain in Hua Hin. I was so looking forward to playing there but the whole experience that day really disappointed me. The course condition was poor, muddy and wet with track marks all over the fairways. There was not one hole that was decent. On top of that, we backed into a group of beginner, older golfers from Australia. They were talking on the tee box most of the time and one guy in particular was always far behind his own group.  It was a five hour round and I had to wait five or more minutes to hit all my shots.  I asked our caddies to go around them but they were afraid to do so. I wish there were Marshalls at these courses and people would be more considerate of others.  I really wanted to quit after 9 holes. A shame things turned out that way because I’m sure such a prestigious course is wonderful in its prime.

The hotel selections in the package were very good especially the Anantara Resort. I liked the Anantara for its location away from all the tourists, plus the staff there were excellent. The manager Sheldon was always there to greet us at the breakfast buffet which was a nice touch. We totally enjoyed the breakfast buffet which was a great way to start our day before golf. All the Golfasian drivers were courteous and patient.

Lastly, I would like to thank Ms Ha Bui Viet for planning our package and our guide Brian Tho Nguyen in Hanoi for making our trip so pleasant.  They both really went the extra mile to help us with any request.

It was a memorable trip and we can’t wait to return for more.

Group’s Long Weekend Golf in Chiang Mai

Group’s Long Weekend Golf in Chiang Mai

My name is Tim Spriggs, an Englishman who lives and works in Singapore. For the past couple of years a group of friends and I have undertaken a short golf tour elsewhere in Asia, last year in Danang Vietnam and this year in Thailand. Whilst we play in Singapore, membership is prohibitively expensive so travelling works out cheaper and we enjoy exploring new places and their golf offer. We loved Danang, but having done quite a bit of research knew that Thailand would be great fun with superb food and some decent nightlife. Notwithstanding, we weren’t yet ready for a venue such as Pattaya and thought that Chiang Mai would be a sensible “christening”; for many of us this was the first visit to Thailand.

Working with Golfasian came about because of a simple Google search. Their website was comprehensive and informative and our initial enquiry was responded to promptly which always impresses. We were given some excellent advice about which courses to play and where to stay, preferring downtown. This was only a 3-day trip but it felt good to have everything organised and allowed the golf to take centre stage. On the side, I worked with Mike Moyer of Fenix Golf to organise team shirts, caps and prizes: Mike was incredibly helpful given this was only a small order (8 players) and he really took care of us.

Everything went without a hitch. Local travel arrangements, hotels and golf all materialized without a single issue. There are no compromises, no snags and no surprises. Every day we had some sort of team competition that culminated in a finale at Gassan Khuntan. The après golf started in the bar post the round with prizes and some “fines” various from appearing late for breakfast to not driving past the ladies’ tee (no names, no pack-drill).

alpine-chiang-mai-greenChiang Mai was beautiful and the people at all levels so welcoming. The food is sensational and golf courses are magnificent. We first played Alpine which was notable for its superb and very challenging par 3s, then 36 holes at Highlands (our favourite) whose backdrop was breath taking, and finally Gassan Khuntan which was super-challenging. Khuntan is in a truly exquisite setting located in the lee of the northern mountains of Thailand. The extensive water hazards will challenge most golfers so bring your best game to this course. It is shameless and can strip away your dignity, but what a pleasure. You cannot talk golf in Thailand without recognising the delightful Caddies. Those gentle people who give intuitive advice, moral support, best club selection and playing strategies to suit the course and your game. My experience tells me to listen and follow their wisdom.

All the group agreed that golfing in Thailand was special and are now planning a return. I would like to thank Golfasian for making it all possible in such a seamless way. We loved every minute and will return!

Fabulous Chiang Mai, a Great Golf Destination

Fabulous Chiang Mai, a Great Golf Destination

Having moved to the area of Chiang Mai I am reminded how beautiful the place is, full of culture and fabulous to explore. Thailand’s most mountainous region (albeit “mini-mountains”) it supplies fabulous opportunities for great golf.

Chiang MaiAdditionally, unlike Bangkok which tends to be hot all year round, Chiang Mai has a genuine “winter” period (end November until start April) when the temperatures can fall to the sublime mid twenties and prompt the actual wearing of a sweater (I only have one…threw all the others away). But that’s just the icing on the cake. Rather than go into great detail, which you will be better served by reading the Lonely Planet guide, I’ll provide an overview and give you just a taste.

The city is relatively compact and much more residential in feel which makes exploring on foot easy and fun. Whilst it has modern shopping, high rise hotels and commercial areas there are also myriad back streets with markets, small craft and coffee shops plus what seems like hundreds of small hotels and guest houses that cater for visitors, particularly those backpacking in Asia. In those back streets you may come across a beautiful temple or ancient monument which appears unexpectedly.  As you’d expect in Thailand, you are never far from “street food”which in this part of the world is subtly different (try the local speciality, Khao Soi, which is a delicious noodle curry with just a hint of Indian spices), but in recent years, because of the influx of foreign visitors and residents from the four corners of the world, there are all manner of restaurants and cuisines available…I particularly like The Swan, a Burmese restaurant in the centre of the tourist area.

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

Chiang Mai is surrounded by beautiful countryside, predominantly forest-covered hills and mountainous areas (whilst small nonetheless spectacular) including Doi Inthanon Thailand’s highest point. This terrain provides the wonderful backdrop to many of the area’s golf courses making them so different from others elsewhere in Thailand. Because the local area is largely rural the roads are quiet and in excellent condition because they don’t get so much heavy traffic and exploring in a car is actually pleasant and stress free.

What of the golf itself? In Highlands, Alpine and the recently refurbished Gassan Legacy you have 3 of the finest courses in the country, all of which provide challenging yet rewarding experiences in gorgeous surroundings. There are others, of course, over a dozen and don’t forget the superb Robert Trent Jones Santiburi near Chiang Rai, only a couple of hours away.  So there you have it…Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s unsung golf destinations , give it a try you’ll be delighted you did.

For information on Chiang Mai Golf Packages go to www.golfasian.com/golf-holidays/thailand/chiang-mai/ or contact info@golfasian.com

Living on a Golf Course in Thailand

Living on a Golf Course in Thailand

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka
Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka

For some of us golfers it’s a dream, certainly for me. I’m sitting on the balcony of my rented condominium looking out over beautiful Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort in the north of Thailand, my new home. Am savouring the view but also having to pinch myself and acknowledge how lucky I am.

It won’t be all plain sailing because the site is quite remote and my wife (also a golfer) and I have spent the last 9 years in bustling and bedazzling Bangkok so this is a huge change in tempo. However, we plan to give this life a go and see if our future lies here.

This is day two and I have decided to write a blog about the experience. It won’t be about me, but hopefully give readers an insight into this area, it’s golf and this particular lifestyle…keeping things in the ‘Zone’.  The main reason I am writing, is that whilst I’m sure such blogs exist for places like Florida or The Algarve I haven’t seen such a blog for Thailand. I also won’t keep up the blog for too long, because as I said, it’s an insight only.

On that note let’s see where the next several weeks take us. I’d value any feedback or questions.

Wonder when we’ll play our first round?

JC

 

 

Our Best Hua Hin Golf Holiday

Our Best Hua Hin Golf Holiday

Hi, my name is Tony Spanjers. As you can see from the photo we were a group of sixteen, made up of “Captains and Presidents”, Captains being Orange and Presidents being blue. We played a two ball match play stableford format with Captains prevailing on this particular trip. We are all from Perth, Western Australia and are members of Araluen Golf Resort, which is situated in the hills South East of Perth. Those of us who are no longer working generally play every Saturday and Wednesday together. Our handicaps range from 7 to 27, so a fairly diverse mix of ability.

For some time have been touring as a group, with numbers varying between 12 & 16, every year in July or August [winter in Perth]. Each year we choose a different tour director and different location. Last year we toured and played golf in Da Nang Vietnam, and 2014 we were in Pattaya. We have also been to China’s Mission Hills, New Zealand, the Gold Coast Australia, and sand belt, Melbourne Aust.

We were all very happy and impressed by our Hua Hin golf tour, in fact we considered it our best tour yet from all angles. Prices were very reasonable (important as a few of our members aren’t working). The golf courses were excellent, especially Black Mountain Golf Club and the management of our itinerary and transport plus tee times was exemplary. Our only concern was the condition of the greens at Sea Pines but overall we were very happy with the caddies, the weather [only got wet once], the hotel which was in a great location in the centre of all the entertainment venues and had the most friendly staff, plus the Thai people in general.

Black Mountain- View from behind the 10th greenOur best score was a 49 points which was outstanding, from memory first game at Black Mountain…it wasn’t me!

After every round, we enjoyed group beers, ate lunch, and collated scores and updated team positions, paying out prize money to first, second and third as well as settling personal bets.

Back at the hotel it was a quick change and head for the pool’s swim up bar for a couple of hours. All would meet in the lobby around 8 pm and head off into the night and choose a local restaurant for dinner. After dinner some headed back to hotel, some to a nightclub or pool bar, eventually all ending up in bed ready for the battle to resume the next day. As I said, it was a great trip and one to remember. I’m confident Thailand will feature in future outings.

A Big Fan of Golfasian

A Big Fan of Golfasian

Graham and Mark S at Centara MastersMy name is Graham Cater, an Aussie who plays Southport Golf Club on the Gold Coast of Australia. It is there I hone my skills and test my mental strength to ready me for our annual Thailand Golf Tour.

Playing golf in Thailand is not just about the game it is an exotic experience that has left me with the most wonderful memories from the Land of Smiles. Now I don’t always play well and I have been known to miss the odd easy putt but nothing can stop the enjoyment I get playing on some of the best golf courses in Asia.

Graham with some GA staffI first heard about golf in Thailand and Golfasian whilst playing with a group in Singapore. It sounded exciting and the more I investigated the practicalities of putting a tour together the more enthusiastic I became. Then it all came together in March 2012. I had contacted Golfasian and received a quick response from Bee. I was amazed at the efficiency with which Bee put our first golf tour in Hua Hin together. Local travel arrangements, hotels and golf all materialized without a hitch. Five years on and Bee is still looking after our group. She has become our good friend as have many of the wonderful staff of Golfasian.  Currently we are considering Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia for an extended tour, all of which are covered by Golfasian with their own in-country staffs. What makes touring so easy with Golfasian is their awareness of your individual needs. This is integral to their business model. There are no compromises, no snags and no surprises.

Grahams crazy companionsThailand is a beautiful country with a wonderful culture. The people are most welcoming, the food is sensational and golf courses are magnificent. I love the green curries, Pad Thai and the tasty whole fish with an accompaniment of shrimp and lobster, all washed down with a cold Singha beer.  What is surprising is how little it costs to have such a spread of dishes.  We play courses in Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin. We consider Hua Hin our home-from-home destination. The sweeping fairways of the Pirapon Namatra-designed Banyan offer golfers a world class experience in spectacular surroundings. The championship course Black Mountain is everything you would expect and is acknowledged as the best golf course in Asia. Hosting both Asian and European Tour events it has won a string of international awards and is my favourite course. Gassan Khuntan in Chiang Mai is in a truly exquisite setting located in the northern mountains of Thailand. The extensive water hazards will challenge most golfers so bring your best game to this course. It is shameless and can strip away your dignity, but Some of Grahams friends on a caddie's motorbikewhat a pleasure. You cannot talk golf in Thailand without recognising the delightful Caddies. Those gentle people who give intuitive advice, moral support, best club selection and playing strategies to suit the course and your game. My experience tells me to listen and follow their wisdom.

From the mountains to the sea there is a golf course in Thailand for every golfer. It is such a relaxing experience, it is beautiful and such fun. Golfasian cannot improve your golf but they can give you a golfing experience you will never forget. I have recommended 60-70 golfers and friends who have also enjoyed the Golfasian experience and all returned with the same praise. Thanks for providing such outstanding service.

Drought – A Golf Course’s Greatest Challenge

Drought – A Golf Course’s Greatest Challenge

We are aware that Thailand’s tropical climate has a rainy season (Apr-Nov, see http://www.thailandgolfzone.com/thailands-rainy-season-how-does-it-affect-our-golf) and the remaining months enjoy hot and predominantly dry weather throughout, resulting in a tourist “high season” especially in respect of golfing visitors. The 4 main golf areas, Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai all have to manage their water in this period in order to sustain good playing conditions throughout the year. When water is scarce, there is the added challenge that community demand takes priority. Thus, sustainability becomes paramount and stockpiling precious water in the rainy season essential.

Designers are very aware of this which is why water features abound in Asia and strategic reservoiring in the form of large lakes is no accident. A great deal of time and specialist expertise is invested in planning for water sourcing. We all want our courses to be lush and green and when conditions are parched, greens rock hard and fairways threadbare we notice; although every cloud has a silver lining and 40 yards run on your driver comes in very handy! Notwithstanding, drought conditions are bad for business…visitors expect the best experience and take good conditioning for granted so the 2015/16 dry season has been a significant challenge as genuine drought conditions prevailed for the first time in years. One prestigious golf course in particular suffered; Springfield Royal Country Club near Hua Hin. This superb Jack Nicklaus design was hit hard with its various lakes as low as 10% capacity and significant restrictions placed on water usage. Others in the area faired just as badly, but the 2 most prestigious local courses Black Mountain and Banyan weren’t impacted so severely, perhaps because they planned better or maybe they were just luckier. Black Mountain was of course hosting the True Thailand Classic in February and needed to be in prime condition in front of the television cameras but a few months later even they were seen to suffer “around the fringes”.

The drought was certainly bad with almost no rainfall from November until late May; just a couple of showers in January which made no impact. It was the worst drought in Thailand in almost a decade. The last was in 2009 but this year was more severe. An additional factor is that Hua Hin’s population is also expanding rapidly and the growing demand for domestic water risks outstripping supply completely.  There are rumours of water pipelines from outlying areas that support Hua Hin but as yet nothing concrete has been announced.

La Quinta, California

This isn’t a new experience for global golf. In the United States, in areas that suffer from water shortages throughout the year and experience high household demand, such as California and Arizona, the golf community has always struggled with its water consumption, environmental credentials and aura of exclusivity. When Californians can’t clean their beloved cars because of hosepipe bans and on the television and lining magazine shelves there are glossy pictures of pristine, fabulously green fairways with what appears to an extravagant use of sprinklers used to maintain this idyllic lifestyle for the wealthy and privileged, naturally there is a clammer to close the whole industry down.

Thailand doesn’t yet face this type of problem and water management is very clearly a challenging and complex issue as periods of severe flooding give way to drought. Nevertheless, the golf industry, which is an important and growing contributor to the country’s tourism offering needs to do all it can to plan for the threat of drought and manage its resources accordingly to minimise the risk of losing some courses altogether.

Springfield Royal Country Club
Springfield Royal Country Club

I shall end by saying that from what I experienced this past weekend, happily the staff and management at Springfield Royal Country Club have recovered their course to full playability which is good news for golf fans.

Your Views…Hua Hin

Your Views…Hua Hin

Hi my name is Paul Keefe. My wife and I live in Montreal in Canada.

I am 72 and have been a Member of a golf club for 50 years. My current club of 33 years is Royal Montreal. We have 45 holes and our claim to fame is we are the oldest golf club in North America. We have hosted the President’s Cup and many Canadian Opens.

My lowest handicap was a 12. While I was working golf was limited to 20-30 games a year but since retirement 10 years ago, I have been playing a lot of golf. My handicap increased over the years to 18.

image2My wife and I first came to Thailand in 1990 for our honeymoon and since coming for golf for the first time 6 years ago we have seen many changes. On one particular trip we stayed for 8 weeks and loved the experience.

We have tweaked our trip each year to see as much of South East Asia as possible. In Thailand we have golfed in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Hua Hin and Pattaya. We have also golfed in Vietnam and Cambodia (Siem Riep and Phnom Penh).

There is so much to like about golf in Thailand, but in particular we think the hotels are outstanding because of their superb service and the friendliness of staff. We like the Westin in Bangkok because it is on the BTS transportation line. In Hua Hin the Centara and the Hilton are located on a beautiful beach and are right in the center of town. For the golf, of course having a caddie is a real treat. They are really good with yardages and reading greens.

The courses for the most part are in great shape and most are excellent designs. My favorite courses are Black Mountain and Banyan in Hua Hin, St Andrews and Siam Country Club in Pattaya and Thai Country Club and Summit Windmill in Bangkok. The weather is usually great. In 6 years I was only forced to abandon one game due to a rain storm. We always walked until this year when we started using a cart because of medical issues.

Post our rounds of golf, in the beach towns we would return to the hotel and enjoy the facilities, in Bangkok we shopped. The shopping compared to Canada in terms of choice and variety is incredible.  Of course having a post golf massage is wonderful.  Renowned for its cuisine, the restaurant choices are amazing. The shopping centers have great restaurants and the prices are incredibly reasonable.

We keep coming back because of the value, choice and wonderful, varied experiences. We think Thailand is hard to beat as a golf destination.

Your Views on Golf in Hua Hin

Your Views on Golf in Hua Hin

Hi, my name is Craig Philpott. I am from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. I travelled to Hua Hin with 4 mates from Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane.  I have played golf for approximately 30 years. My handicap is 4 at the moment. I am a member of Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane. Nudgee is a members’ course but open to guests as well.

This was my first time to Thailand. We selected Hua Hin so we could watch a member of our club, Scott Hend, play in the Thailand Classic, which he duly won so we now have to return next year! Three of the members on the trip have known Scott for quite a few years so this was a cause for much celebration.

My first impression of Thailand was “how good is this”. We were picked up by Golfasian at Bangkok airport and transported straight to our hotel at Hua Hin in a very comfortable vehicle. Check-in was swift and I was in my room within 10 minutes of arrival. Next morning we enjoyed a very good breakfast before heading to the front of the hotel ready for golf. The Golfasian driver was waiting for us and we were on our way. We played Sea Pines first and I would recommend this course to anyone. It’s a very good course with great views out to sea on the first, second and the last few holes. Played Banyan and it was everything I had been told it would be. A course with everything, tight holes, wide open holes, trouble for the unwary but playable for all; also in very, very good condition. Springfield Royal was next. Due to the drought it was very dry, which meant not only were the fairways firm (although well grassed) but the large dams were dry. Tee blocks, fairways and greens were in remarkable condition considering the lack of rain the course has received over the past 2 years. I would love to play this course again once the rains return and replenish the water holes. Majestic was next and it also was quite dry once off the fairways. Very playable for all standards and an enjoyable course. Again, would like to play this course after rain as it would be a great test. The staff have done a great job to have it in the condition it was in. Black Mountain was the last course we planned and it was in absolutely great condition 4 days after the Thailand Classic. Not sure what I can say about this course apart from it was a privilege to play such a wonderful layout. Playing from the 7000 yard tees I somehow eagled the 18th, driver, 3 wood and a 3 metre downhill putt. Black Mountain rates in the top 6 courses I have played, sitting alongside the Palmer course in Hawaii, Cottesloe in Perth Western Australia, Royal Adelaide, Troon North in Scottsdale Arizona & Torrey Pines South course.

We liked everything about the trip. Caddies were great; all very pleasant and very informative. It didn’t take long for them to work out our strengths and weaknesses. The price may be leaning towards the top of the scale but when everything is as well organised as this trip was it was well worth the money. Condition of the courses was fantastic when all is considered. Favourite course was Black Mountain but the others were very enjoyable. There were many favourite holes but due to my eagle the 18th at Black Mountain is at the top. The 14th & 15th at Springfield Royal would be great holes when the dam is full; what an awesome sight from the tee blocks. The 3rd & 18th at Banyan were great, 1st, 2nd, 16th, 17th & 18th at Sea Pines – fantastic. Majestic also had some great holes but I can’t remember which numbers. Weather was beautiful…couldn’t ask for better. One player had 38 stableford points one day which was the best in the group. My best was 34 at Sea Pines, maybe I was enjoying the courses too much to concentrate. The best day was the Thursday at Black Mountain. Everything about this day will be remembered for a very long time.

After golf we did a little bit of site seeing but mostly visited restaurants and bars, checked out the markets and did some forward planning for our return which will be asap. Everyone we encountered was smiling and happy. Fantastic local people who were only too willing to chat and give us ideas on what to do.

I’ve already recommended Golfasian to others and will continue to do so for anyone who wants a fantastic golf holiday in Asia. A huge thank you to Ian Morgan and his team in Hua Hin for a job well done.

Amateur Weeks – Spice up your Golf Vacation

Amateur Weeks – Spice up your Golf Vacation

Pattaya WeekGolfasian, Thailand’s largest Inbound Golf Tour Operator, has been bringing clients to Thailand for amateur tournament golf since 2012. In the following year, for their Amateur Golf Weeks the venues were expanded to include Cambodia and Vietnam.

Although the company has been providing Asia golf packages to clients throughout the world since the late 1990s, including transport, accommodation and golf, a gap in the market was recognised for a 5-star offer with an additional element…competition. Importantly, the tournament play would be run along professional lines with sponsorship, branded shirts, caddie bibs, sophisticated score keeping using the latest software, plus marshalling (in co-operation with course staff), rules officiating and of course prizes; all overseen by Tournament Director PGTAA qualified Mark Penfold, who has over 10 years of experience in the industry.

“One of the most common responses when we ask clients what they most liked about their golf trips with us is everything is taken care of, I can just concentrate on my golf. When we introduced the competitive element we needed it to be very fair and transparent, giving participants the confidence that things were being run properly, just like they are at their home clubs. Elements like the caddie bibs add a bit of drama and uniqueness giving players the feeling that they are being taken seriously and playing for something that matters; this often brings out the best in them.”

They mean it when they say 5-star. For Pattaya this year, the accommodation was at the Amari Ocean View and 4 rounds of golf were played at Siam Country Club’s superb triumvirate of courses plus the Jack Niklaus-designed Laem Chabang. The timing, in March, deliberately takes advantage of the recently finished Honda LPGA Thailand on the Old Course as well as the joint European/Asian Tour’s Thailand Classic at Hua Hin’s Black Mountain, ensuring both are in immaculate condition with lightning fast greens. But people shouldn’t be intimidated. Men and women of all ages are welcome and there are competition divisions for handicaps ranging from scratch to 40+. The scoring is along stableford lines so pace of play is maintained.

pattaya 4Because it’s also about the social side either travelling with friends/spouse or forming friendships anew, there is an emphasis on the social side with both welcome and prize giving dinners plus daily happy hour gatherings for the latest scores update, near pins and assorted other giveaways.

What do people think…?

“As usual the whole 7-day event was memorable. Sure, the golf is the draw card but besides the great courses I loved the tension (not too serious) of the competition, the social events, catching up with old friends and making new. When the rest day came around it was a great opportunity to site-see, do some shopping and soak up the local culture. I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next one.”

Richard – Sydney

Your Holidays in Focus

Your Holidays in Focus

 

J Kirby 1Hi, my name is Joe. I started playing golf in 1992 as a club member at Amstel Golf Club, but am now playing off a 10 handicap at Drouin Golf and Country Club at Drouin Victoria in Australia. The Drouin course is predominately couch fairways set amongst a picnic day racecourse, quite picturesque. My lowest playing handicap has been 7.

Before this trip, I had travelled to Thailand twice before, backpacking, and not staying in any one place for any length of time.

A local Drouin member had taken a group of friends to Thailand last year and had organised another trip in May 2015, so I decided to join this group along with a few others who hadn’t been to Thailand golfing either. I didn’t know these members, but by the time we left Hua Hin the 12 of us had become good mates. All agreed to return next year.

We all agreed it was sensational. The golf courses are well above par, the food great, the night markets and social activities were sensational.

Having had such a magnificent time golfing in Thailand, I couldn’t wait to go again.

I found Golfasian on their website and their Asia Golf Week tournaments caught my eye. They were available at a great price, including golf, caddies, carts, accommodation, all overland transfers plus group dinners. I booked in for the Chiang Mai amateur tournament, apprehensive at first not knowing anyone, but was soon put at ease with some supporting emails from Mark Penfold, director of events.

Upon arrival at Chiang Mai I was promptly picked up for my transfer to the hotel. The group meeting that night was full of expectation and excitement. As the week rolled on new friendships grew and the golf became more competitive. The beautiful courses at Alpine, Chiang Mai Highlands and Gassan were very challenging and a real test, particularly as it was a competition. If it wasn’t for the knowledge of the caddies I’m guessing many of us would have really suffered.

Kirby Alpine CNXThe Alpine Golf Resort had been set up for the ASEAN championships, so it was very tough with its Bermuda rough and tight fairways.

The last round at Chiangmai Highlands Resort and Spa surrounded by the local hills was also tough but very scenic and easy on the eyes. My score of 34 points wasn’t good enough to hold off the better players on the day. The courses selected by Golfasian, that I have seen so far, are top quality layouts making you think about every shot.

The location of the hotels were excellent, very close to all amenities, bars, restaurants and markets. The golf course transfer drivers were efficient; always on time and very polite.

Although the weather was hot, which I don’t mind, the caddies were always on hand with an umbrella and a cold drink or parking the golf cart in the shade; the ultimate indulgence.

J Kirby 2After the round a nice cool drink, snack and some good stories were exchanged in the beautiful club houses, before returning to the hotel for an evening meal.

I am extremely impressed with the professionalism of Golfasian. I really can’t think of anything that could improve the Chiang Mai amateur championship tournament.

I urge those thinking about it to just do it, you won’t be disappointed. I’m off to Hua Hin in March 2016.

Thailand Golf Trips – Not Just for Golfers

Thailand Golf Trips – Not Just for Golfers

My name is Steve Hall.  I am originally from England but migrated to Australia just over 8 years ago.  We live on the beautiful South West Coast of Australia in a small place called Australind, approximately 2 hours South of Perth.   Here we are fortunate to be able to enjoy the outdoor life; lovely beaches, many BBQ’s, beach fishing, numerous wineries and of course golf. I started to play golf with my sons when we first came to Australia and later, when we made friends with others who enjoyed the game too, I joined one of our local golf clubs called Sanctuary Golf Resort.  It is an 18-hole municipal golf course and can be quite challenging at times with its many lakes and sand bunkers.

Although I have been playing the game now for several years, I still have a rather high handicap; one I would not care to mention, but I am slowly getting it down.  My wife says she is proud of me for my sheer determination in continuing on but I do enjoy the sport, more on a good day, and especially the social side which comes with it.  It is our third time in Thailand but our first time golfing.  We chose Thailand and especially Hua Hin because it was highly recommended to us by our son.  He stayed there with friends a couple of years ago and was very impressed with both the area and the golf.  I found Golfasian on the internet, emailed them with our requirements and went from there.  We travelled with friends of ours, Scott and Sandra.  Neither of our wives play golf so we needed to make sure that there would be enough for them to do whilst we were off enjoying the game.  Golfasian came up with a very attractive package and before we knew it we were booked and ready to go.

LaksasubhaWe stayed in Hua Hin for seven nights at the Hotel Baan Laksasubha Resort. A beautiful Colonial, Thai-designed property located right on the beach and close to all the shops, bars and restaurants.  The rooms and grounds were kept very clean and the staff were so friendly and helpful.   The infinity pool overlooking the beach was a big hit for us.

Our itinerary included three alternate days of golf where we played Springfield Royal Country Club, Banyan Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf Club.  The conditions of the courses were excellent but my favorite was Banyan because there I played a better game and although all our caddies were excellent, the caddies we had here were a lot of fun.  Whilst we played golf, the girls kept themselves entertained with shopping, massages, relaxing by the pool and lunch and cocktails at the beach bar.  After golf we would all relax by the pool with a cold beer.  What could be better.  In the evenings we dined at some of the wonderful restaurants Hua Hin has to offer.  The food was excellent and the people very friendly.

siam wineryOn one of the none golfing days we took a taxi to a winery which was just under an hour away.  “Winery in Thailand” I hear you say.  Yes, we could not believe it either and it did not cost much to get there.  It was set in beautiful lush green surroundings and reminded us of one of the wineries not far from where we live.  There we sampled some lovely wines ready to then order with our lunch.  The food was tasty but the portions a little small.

We spent another day fishing at the Hua Hin Fishing Lodge.  The surroundings were idyllic, relaxing and then explosive when you catch a fish.  Here the girls caught their biggest fish ever.  A nine kilo and eighteen kilo catfish.  It was amazing and an excellent day was had by all.

The simplicity of booking the holiday was excellent and we found the staff of Golfasian excellent too.  Travel from the airport in Bangkok to the hotel in Hua Hin and the return journey was the most comfortable we have experienced.  The whole Thailand golf experience from start to finish was fantastic and not only would we recommend this to others, including none golfers, but we are hoping to return again next year.  This time for longer in order to try out more golf courses.

 

The perfect Father/Son golf trip – Hua Hin

The perfect Father/Son golf trip – Hua Hin

My name is Aki Mustonen. My father, who accompanied me on this very special father/son trip is Timo. We come from Finland; Dad lives in Helsinki and I live and work in Beijing.

My father started playing golf in Finland at the age of 35. Once my sister and I arrived he stopped playing but once I became old enough (aged 10) he got me a couple of modified clubs and I was able to practice with him occasionally. At that time I was more interested in football and ice-hockey so one day I informed him I was no longer going to play golf. My dad continued playing occasionally and once we moved to China in 1998 he joined a golf club there, and again I occasionally joined him. At this time his handicap was 12.

I was finally bitten by the golf bug when I attended the Sports Institution of Finland at age of 22. To my pleasant surprise we had access to a free 9-hole practice course. Very quickly my handicap dropped to the low 20s, also playing golf quite a bit with my father. My current handicap is 18 but I’m looking to drop to 10 this year.

Vierumaki Golf Club
Vierumaki Golf Club

In Finland I belong to Vierumaki golf club, which has 2 tree-lined courses (pine trees and lots of heather) and the practice facility which the Institute uses.  The “Cooke” is a championship course and challenges all levels of players: the 18th and 13th holes were included in Golf Digest magazine’s readers’ Dream 18 golf course.

This was not the first time we had travelled to Thailand having previously been to Bangkok, Koh Samui and Phuket with the entire family. This was, however, the first visit to Hua Hin which appeared to have a good golf pedigree and was still relatively convenient for Bangkok.

Our first Thailand golf experience was something very special for both of us. Thanks to Golfasian everything was taken care of in advance so all we had to worry about was to wake up, have breakfast and play golf. In Finland we always walk, but in Thailand we used carts for almost every round because it does get very hot during the day (caddies appreciated it too!). Additionally, our two favourites, Black Mountain and Banyan are quite hilly.

IMG_1393One part of the golf experience was the energetic and friendly caddies with whom we got to share our rounds. Not only were they keen to laugh and joke around with us but they also proved to be very capable at reading the tricky greens, especially at Black Mountain. Thanks to one amazing caddie and her green-reading skills I scored my best round at Black Mountain, 84 from the back tee! Some of the caddies also respected the Finnish tradition of enjoying a small “nip” of cognac when a birdie was scored 🙂 although I have to admit it didn’t happen too often. Another part of the golf experience was meeting nice people who joined us to make a 4-ball. It’s interesting to hear stories and backgrounds from different people around the world.

IMG_1611After golf we would have a shower to freshen up, drink a beer (or two…) and have a snack at the club house. On a few occasions (3) we enjoyed ourselves so much we played an additional round. If we had time we would go back to our rented villa which was part of the package and enjoy the sunshine by our pool, perhaps the Black Mountain Water Park or even at the beach which is 20 minutes away. Generally we had dinner in town at one of several restaurants before heading back to bed and preparing for a new day’s golf.

In conclusion we were really satisfied with how everything ended up for us in terms of transport, accommodation, golf and free time. Hua Hin has a lot of beautiful golf courses and we found that it was perfect to be able to focus on the best course as far as we are concerned, Black Mountain, while also taking the opportunity to play three others. Two weeks was the right amount of time to get in a lot of golf but still have enough time for other things.

We highly recommend Golfasian services as well as Hua Hin for those who are looking to enjoy a memorable golf experience.

Thailand Golf Holiday Experiences

Thailand Golf Holiday Experiences

Hi, my name is Bob Wood. I am from the Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane in Australia.

Bob Wood HI1I have played golf for over 50 years but have become more serious in recent years after my retirement from Secondary School teaching. I play off a handicap of between 6 & 8, depending on the benevolence of the golfing Gods and am a member of Caloundra Golf Club a parkland course north of the town of Caloundra and just a few kilometres inland. I usually play competitions at my club 3 times a week.

Recently, on a golfing trip to Thailand I had my second hole in one at Lam Luk Ka Golf Club one hour north of Bangkok on the 145 metre par 3, 12th (the first was last year at The Royal Gems). It’s always great to see the ball go in off the tee on a par 3 but particularly good fun when you are on holiday playing with friends in beautiful surroundings.

This is my 6th Thailand golf holiday with like-minded golfing addicts from Australia. I consider Thailand to be the best golfing experience in the world. The courses are excellent and the caddies in the main are friendly, competent and diligent; they add to the ambience of any day. The friendliness of the Thai people in general is overwhelming.

West Course 12th
West Course 12th

Our Thailand destinations have included Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Hua Hin all of which offer the full cultural and golfing experience without the hassles of big city traffic and crowds.

All our trips have been expertly organised by Golfasian, whom we have found to be friendly, well organised and reliable.

Surprising Chiang Mai

Surprising Chiang Mai

Having reviewed the superb Chiang Mai Highlands golf course recently, I just got back from another short trip to Chiang Mai, this time with visitors doing the tourist “bit”. Courtesy of blogs like this, for those of you who are novices to Thailand in respect of golf I’m guessing the destinations most familiar to you will be Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin (less so) for something that combines golf and other holiday-typical activities, in their case the beach.

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka
Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka

Chiang Mai turns out to be a bit of a dark horse (although no beach which will become obvious when you look at the map), offering superb golf (see Chiang Mai golf) plus plenty of things to enjoy when away from the links. Chiang Mai is my second favourite city in Thailand, just slightly behind Bangkok which I have grown to love. One of the reasons is that unlike Bangkok which tends to be hot all year round, Chiang Mai has a genuine “winter” period (end November until start April) when the temperatures can fall to the sublime mid twenties and prompt the actual wearing of a sweater (I only have one…threw all the others away). But that’s just the icing on the cake. Rather than go into great detail, which you will be better served by reading the Lonely Planet guide, I’ll provide an overview and give you just a taste.

The city is relatively compact and much more residential in feel which makes exploring on foot easy and fun. Whilst it has modern shopping, high rise hotels and commercial areas there are also myriad back streets with markets, small craft and coffee shops plus what seems like hundreds of small hotels and guest houses that cater for visitors, particularly those backpacking in Asia. In those back streets you may come across a beautiful temple or ancient monument which appears unexpectedly.  As you’d expect in Thailand, you are never far from “street food”which in this part of the world is subtly different (try the local speciality, Khao Soi, which is a delicious noodle curry with just a hint of Indian spices), but in recent years, because of the influx of foreign visitors and residents from the four corners of the world, there are all manner of restaurants and cuisines available…I particularly like The Swan, a Burmese restaurant in the centre of the tourist area.

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

Chiang Mai is surrounded by beautiful countryside, predominantly forest-covered hills and mountainous areas (on a small scale admittedly but spectacular nonetheless) including Doi Inthanon Thailand’s highest point. This terrain provides the wonderful backdrop to many of the area’s golf courses making them so different from others elsewhere in Thailand. Because the local area is largely rural the roads are quiet and in excellent condition because they don’t get so much heavy traffic and exploring in a car is actually pleasant and stress free.

What of the golf itself? In Highlands, Alpine and the recently refurbished Gassan Legacy you have 3 of the finest courses in the country, all of which provide challenging yet rewarding experiences in gorgeous surroundings. There are others, of course, over a dozen and don’t forget the superb Robert Trent Jones Santiburi near Chiang Rai, only a couple of hours away.  So there you have it…surprising Chiang Mai, give it a try you’ll be delighted you did.

For information on Chiang Mai Golf Packages go to www.golfasian.com/golf-holidays/thailand/chiang-mai/ or contact info@golfasian.com

 

 

Chiang Mai Highlands – Just got better

Chiang Mai Highlands – Just got better

This month I was invited by the General Manager, Derek Schade, to review Chiang Mai Highlands’ new nine holes which opened to the public on November 1st. Derek had only taken up his post at Highlands recently after a successful period running Lotus Valley Golf Resort. There was a “return of the prodigal son” element as he had previously managed the Golf Club and enjoyed working closely with the inspirational owner Khun Vichai who persuaded him to re-join the Team.  As I hadn’t played in the area for several years, and given Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort was in the running for the 2015 Asia Golf Awards Best Golf Resort in Asia Pacific (they subsequently won!), I took the opportunity to explore the whole facility and give readers an insight into what the complete package offers.

First, golf in the Chiang Mai area is a wonderful experience not just because of the spectacular backdrop of lush, verdant hills. It is also due to the general climate which is just that bit more forgiving than central and southern areas of Thailand with temperatures and humidity 5-20% more favourable. As its name would suggest Chiang Mai Highlands takes particular advantage of the locale and the designers Schmidt-Curley, who have delivered several projects in Thailand, notably the prestigious Amata Spring home to the Thailand Golf Championships, were eager to leave their mark yet remained sensitive to the beauty of the region. They were able to create something challenging and rewarding yet natural, sitting comfortably within its surroundings.
Lee Schmidt was the actual designer of the original eighteen and designed the new nine. Whilst subtly different in that the fairways on the new ‘C’ Course are wider and more forgiving, plus the greens much larger with distinct tiers, it is clear all 27 holes have the same DNA. Every shot requires an element of strategic thinking followed by sound execution in order to steer clear of hazards. These are natural in the form of young and mature trees or streams that meander throughout the course, plus bunkers that define the “smart” landing areas off the tees as well as approaches to the greens. These aren’t the only architect’s tools in use because the lay of the land allows for significant slopes and undulations, complemented by mounding that provides for a great or otherwise lie and/or line to the green.  Many greens have severe run-offs but they are a large target so it’s not all penal.

Hole 1 resizeJust like the original eighteen this nine exercises the brain and cannot be overcome by brute force alone. A case in point is the first hole; a 545 yard par 5 that doglegs left at a distance of about 300 yards from the blue tees. Standing on the tee you’ll straight away see the owner’s sensitivity to the environment because only 80 yards from the tee on the right sits a quite lovely tree that ever so slightly prevents a completely unimpeded view and on many courses would have been removed; I’m glad it’s there. Bunkers at 250 yards on the left dictate a drive that favours the quite open right hand side but then you wonder if the chance of getting on in two is out of the question.  It probably is for all except the likes of Rory McIlroy because once the hole turns left the ground climbs sharply to the multi-tiered green which slopes from front to back and provides for 2 very different pin positions. Even for a layup second the left side is peppered with bunkers such that the right hand side, and far right at that, is the only sensible option no matter how alien it feels. From a hundred yards with a sand wedge in your hand the perspective changes and for the first time 2 deep bunkers guarding the right of the green stare you in the face. In essence at every shot selection your decision process must be considered and measured, weighing risk and reward. Such is the case with every hole on the nine from a long par 5 to a short par 3.

One striking feature of the nine holes was how good their conditioning was; a credit to the fact the owner didn’t want to rush the opening but rather wait until the nine holes reflected the high standards of the original A/B course. I implore you to discover all this for yourself and am confident you’ll walk away delighted.

For information on Chiang Mai Golf Packages go to www.golfasian.com/golf-holidays/thailand/chiang-mai/ or contact info@golfasian.com

Golf Club membership in England versus Thailand

Golf Club membership in England versus Thailand

Last Sunday I turned up to play alone at Lam Lukka and was sensibly paired by the starter with 2 Thai gentlemen. After a few polite introductions we completed the first 3 holes and at the first drinks stop started a more involved conversation. This was about the differences between being a member of a club in Thailand versus England where I come from.  First of all I need to say that this is my experience and there are some generalisations, but in the main I believe the following are valid observations.

I have been a member of 5 clubs in England and am a member of 2 here in Thailand. They are very different propositions. The vast majority of clubs in England are member-owned and through their affiliations are subject to the governance of the English Golf Union and its various Associations. There is similar infrastructure in Thailand but understandably not so mature in its development.

An English golf club has a very formal hierarchy with an operational organisation managed by the Club “Secretary” who takes care of the running of the course and its facilities. This is also true of Thailand albeit the post is more practically described as the General Manager, but there the similarities end because this hierarchy is far more evident day to day in England. Because Members are effectively shareholders of the club they participate in the management of the organisation by virtue of a standing Committee which influences rules and guidelines for play, dress codes, social matters, pricing and other matters.  Importantly, two posts on the committee are filled by the Captain and Lady Captain who are voted in by the other Members as their representative for the year and who fulfil an important role which is far more than ceremonial. The reason for these positions originally was because there has been a long tradition of competition in English golf both internally within the club, playing for various trophies, as well as external competition between local and regional clubs in tournaments managed by the various Associations: thus you need a team Captain.

Whilst the position of Captain is quite demanding and expensive because they are expected to participate in all things social as well as playing probably 200 times a year and certainly twice every weekend, there are perks. The Captain will have their annual subscription waived, enjoy a rather prominent car parking position next to the front door of the clubhouse and best of all as far as I was concerned, have absolute right of way on the first tee…they turn up and as a function of courtesy you step aside…wonderful! Not all Captains used that privilege, can’t think why not? Another unusual tradition is that the Captain plays with all prospective new members so it is important to be on your best behaviour that day and create a good impression.

But what of the day to day for us lowly types who seek only to play and not get involved with the organisation, bureaucracy and politics (there was a lot of that going on)? Just like Thailand I tended to play with a regular group of various ages; a common theme being they were very sociable. The difference was I probably met that group because on joining the club the first thing I did was sign up for the inevitable weekend competition. In this way I met people both on the course and afterwards when it was customary to get together in the bar and say hello over a civilised drink. On one occasion this turned out to be an unexpected event when I arrived at the pro shop to pay the competition entrance fee and looking at the list of players the professional told me I was joining “Dennis, who’s out on the practice green”. Dennis turned out to be a very famous TV star who subsequently became a firm friend.

Membership of a golf club is also different in England because there is much more emphasis placed on the wider social side with everyone encouraged to attend the numerous evening functions.  These are important sources of club revenue required for investment and upgrade of the facilities; you didn’t mind because you were spending money on a club you had a stake in. There were no millionaires or large corporations bankrolling the courses because most were created as a local community facility (albeit generally for the better off in society), not as a property development exercise which is common in Thailand.

golfer in the rainAlthough not about membership at all and more about day-to-day play, another significant factor is the weather. Inevitably you’d be glued to Friday’s weather forecast for the weekend. This would dictate the number of layers you had to wear which could be astonishing (you’ve seen the professionals playing in the Open Championship in Hoylake in July)…10 degrees, 30 km/h winds and lashing rain…not exactly Hua Hin? Okay, it didn’t rain every day but looking back it felt like it. Clubs in England do have a drinks stop, but just the one which is generally after 9 holes and rather than an ice cold beer they offered coffee or hot chocolate and a bacon sandwich which was meant to thaw you out (just what was needed I have to admit). No caddies of course, except perhaps at some of the very prestigious courses, which means carry your own clubs or commonly use your own trolley, tend the pins and rake your bunkers.

Do I miss it? Not a bit! Whilst I enjoyed the sense of “belonging” that an English club gave me, the Thailand experience for me is superior. Pretty much guaranteed weather (I’ve been rained off the course only once in 15 years’ playing in Thailand), I play generally better courses and having a caddie to keep me cool, calm and collected has meant that I’m a better player with a lower handicap. Also, because I like joining other groups there have been lots of opportunities to meet people from all over the world.

What’s the downside? You play faster in the UK…to stay warm!

Your Views of Golf in Thailand

Your Views of Golf in Thailand

My name is Steve Madden and I live in Sydney, Australia.

pennanthills1I have played golf since I was a young boy, however it’s only in the last 4-5 years that I have had time to play on a regular basis. My current GA handicap is 13 and I am a member of Pennant Hills Golf Club in Sydney. With its roots established over a hundred years ago Pennant Hills is considered a “Private” A Grade golf course, featuring tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain. Whilst not long by modern standards the par 71 course is still demanding.

I have played golf in Thailand many times originally playing in Phuket whilst on holiday with my family in 2006. I first came across Golfasian when I saw their advertisement in an Australian golf magazine and they have looked after me ever since.

Resize1There aren’t many destinations I haven’t visited: Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai & Pattaya have all been sampled. Most times I have travelled with a group of like-minded male golfers all of whom love the experience of playing “Golf in a Kingdom”. Golf in Thailand is great because of the quality of the courses on offer, the hot and humid climate and the post-golf activities. Although the price of golf is quite expensive (if you choose to play some of the best courses) it is well worth the money in my opinion. A point to consider is that as a full service company, Golfasian packages include transfers to and from the course, accommodation and green fees plus caddy. You are collected promptly, delivered directly to the course and chauffeured in well-kept mini vans that have plenty of room for you and your golf gear. After golf the driver delivers you back to your hotel without any hassles, capping off a great day’s golf.  I also thoroughly enjoy the great attitude of the caddies that form a large part of the unique experience. Their friendly nature and willingness to provide advice and guidance makes golf in Thailand something you keep coming back for!! The humidity can sometimes be challenging but I love this type of weather so it isn’t a problem.

Personally I love visiting Thailand for the culture, food and night life. Most of the hotels that we have stayed at have been first class including the Sofitel Bangkok, the Holiday Inn Bangkok and a recent stay at the Shangri-La Bangkok which is right next to the Chao Phrya river, a wonderful bustling thoroughfare that harks back to the 19th century when Bangkok was a significant Asian trading centre.

resize2After a great day’s golf you can relax by the pool or grab a massage before heading out for dinner. The cost of food ranges from cheap but delicious street food to a top quality dining experience; Thailand has a taste for all budgets! Then it’s back to the room for a rest before another day’s golf!

The best thing about booking your golfing vacation with Golfasian is that they take the hassle out of planning. All you have to do is turn up and swing the club! I would highly recommend Golfasian to anyone looking for a great golf experience in Paradise!!!