Author: tgzadmin

Is it at the dry cleaners?!!

Is it at the dry cleaners?!!

Make sure it’s clean, free of moths and it still fits you! Then you’ll be ready with all the other green-jacketed brigade as next month sees the 80th US Masters. It’s always held, same time every year, during the first full week of April and it’s the first of the years Majors.

Is it at the dry cleaners - Amen CornerThe US’ Jack Nicklaus has won it the most times, 6 if you were wondering, the last time back in 1986. Since then he’s put his vast knowledge of the game to a few Thailand golf courses, Springfield in Hua Hin, Legacy in Bangkok, Mission Hills in Kanchanaburi & Mission Hills in Phuket and Laem Chabang in Pattaya. Thailand loves this event, so much so that they created a course in Bangkok, one of South East Asia’s best kept secrets, The Royal Gems Golf & Sports Club, which replicates the back 9 of Augusta.  We can book this for you, maybe make a dream come true.

Is it at the dry cleaners - Danny WilletThe Masters is steeped in history and, as you would imagine, has a number of traditions. For instance, did you know that since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom. In most instances, only a first-time and currently reigning champion may remove his jacket from the club grounds. Another odd one, the day after the tournament closes, The Bobby Jones Scholars from Also, the University of St Andrews in Scotland, play a four-ball round on the course – the last people to do so before the green keepers start the process of repairing and restoring the course to pre-tournament standard. However, of all the traditions at the Masters, none is more endearing than the annual Par 3 Contest. This beloved event, held on Wednesday of Tournament week and now televised around the world, is above all a family affair. Wives and girlfriends, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews-all happily serve as caddies. The sight of toddlers, outfitted in miniature Augusta National jumpsuits, toting a light bag or tending a flagstick more than twice their height brings smiles to onlookers near and far.

Back in 1934 the winner, Horton Smith, won $1,500. The purse in 2016 was worth around $10 Million, with the winner, England’s Danny Willett, collecting close on 20% of that, very nice for a few days work. The first non-American to win was a South African by the name of Manny Zerman way back in 1992.

By the way, if you had looked at my dates in this article and thought “they don’t quite add up”, just to explain, between the years of 1943-1945 the Masters was cancelled due to World War II.

Wherever you decide to watch this grand event, I hope you all enjoy it immensely, as will I.

If you wish to come play any of the courses mentioned above, and even the famous Royal Gems, please do not hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

Just Do It, The Golfing Way

Just Do It, The Golfing Way

Banyan Golf ClubEveryone likes a good time, right, experiencing new cultures, playing on the best golf courses known to man. Well, I’ve something to tell you, so do we. So much so that we’ve been organizing and holding our own “tournaments” for some time now, and as time has rolled on, these tournaments have turned out to be, not only hugely popular, but sell out events, which are now growing in numbers, venues and countries.

 

Banyan Golf Club Hua HinSo, what are the advantages to registering for one of Golfasian’s events? There are lots of reasons, most of them individual to you. But, at the top of my reason list, you don’t have to do anything; I mean nothing, except turn up and play. Let me explain how it works. First of all, you’ll need to chose which event works best for you and your party. Moving on, once this is done and your departure date arrives, you’ll be met at the airport and transported to your hotel. A welcome chat will re-confirm where and when you’ll be playing, and how things will take place each day. Day one, you’ll be picked up at your hotel for each round, enjoy a fantastic day of golf, meeting lost of new people. All golfers meet at the 19th hole afterwards for a bit of food and a few beers, and generally chat about the day, then transported back to your hotel, with all your unforgettable memories.  Day two, see day one. Honestly, it’s that easy and that fun. Taking part in an organized event is always a little bit of a gamble, especially if you’ve never partaken in one before. But, once that gamble has been made, then it’s plane sailing, and you’ll definitely want to repeat the experience. There is, of course, the added bonus of winning one of the many prizes on offer. The Centara Masters is most probably our largest event, attracting around 600 players. This has become our signature event, a real celebration of golf, becoming the biggest tournament for club golfers in Asia.  The hotels we use are always first class, with plenty of activities to keep the non-golfers busy. You can get a choice of which hotel you would prefer to use.

For 2017 we are holding the following showpiece events. It’s super easy to register, just click on the links below:

12-18 March Amari Hua Hin Golf Week Thailand
Courses Black Mountain x 2
Banyan x 2

19-25 March Amari Pattaya Golf Week Thailand
Courses Laem Chabang CC
Burapha CC
Siam CC Waterside
Siam CC Plantation

11-17 June Centara World Masters – Hua Hin Thailand
Courses Black Mountain x 2
Banyan x 2

18-24 June Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort 2 ball Champs Thailand
Courses Siam CC Old Course
Siam CC Waterside
Laem Chabang
Siam CC Plantation

13-19 August Accor Vietnam World Masters 2017 Vietnam
Courses Montgomerie Links x 2
BRG Danang GC
Ba Na Hills

 

So, go on, take the plunge, register for one of our events, be one of the growing number of golfers to experience the trip of a lifetime. Golfasian can really take care of everything. For a full and comprehensive quote, or just for some advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

Sand, Sea…………And A Seven Iron

Sand, Sea…………And A Seven Iron

Mission Hills Phuket Golf Club Resort and SpaWhen people think of Thailand, and its paradise beaches, most think of the southern Islands, coconut trees, lying in a hammock swaying in the breeze, watching the sun go down with a cocktail in hand. Well, Phuket is all of that, and so much more. Phuket is one of those southern islands, surrounded by the beautiful and diverse Andaman Sea. Phuket and Golf go together very well, it’s a match made in golfers heaven. There are no less than eight championship golf courses just waiting for your visit. Most probably the best known in is Blue Canyon Country Club, the site of Tiger Woods’ 1998 Asian victory, and which has two championship layouts, the Canyon course and the Lakes course, both are a must play. Jack Nicklaus also has Mission Hills Golf Resort, a gem in Phuket. Some of the holes have the most amazing views looking out towards Phang Nga Bay, worth the admission fee alone.  Then there’s Laguna Golf Club and Red Mountain, the list just goes on and on.

 

There are numerous daily flights from Bangkok, as well as the many international flights, so Phuket makes for a great dual destination, so play in Bangkok and head down to the Islands.

 

Hyatt Regency ResortPhuket has an abundance of nightlife, full of fantastic restaurants offering the freshest seafood, as well as a huge choice of accommodation. No matter what you budget, there will be something to suit you perfectly. How about the first class JW Marriott Resort & Spa. Set in the most spectacular location, on the pristine sands of the world-famous Mai Khao Beach, this hotel welcomes you with 5-star guest rooms and suites and an impressive array of luxury amenities. Make yourself comfortable in their resort, which showcases sleek wooden floors, terracotta tiles, stunning views and much more. Dine at one of their 11 first-class exquisite restaurant and bar options, or experience the local delights within a short walk. After golf, enjoy their award-winning Mandara Spa.  Or choose the Hyatt Regency Resort, one of the few phuket hotels terraced up a steep hillside overlooking Kamala Cove at the southern tip of Kamala Beach. Their 201 rooms are larger in comparison to many of the Phuket hotel rooms available. Most of their rooms offer unobstructed panoramic views of the Andaman Sea with its spectacular tropical sunsets.

 

So, why not enjoy the sites, sounds, tastes and, of course, the golf, in Phuket. Golfasian can take care of everything. For a full and comprehensive quote, or just for some advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

There’s A Giant In Bangkok

There’s A Giant In Bangkok

Choosing the right hotel is always a trying task, and with the enormous number of promotions, deals and programs out there, it can be downright overwhelming. It doesn’t help that these days most hotels have Websites full of tantalizing photos and slick promotional information that make you believe you’ll be bathed in luxury as soon as you step foot into the lobby. How can you tell if a hotel will live up to its own hype and, more importantly, if it’s the right hotel for you and your party? Difficult indeed.
Marriott DeluxeLarge, giant hotels, were plentiful in Bangkok, or so it seemed. The first time I ever stayed there, more than two decades ago, I stayed in the Silom area in the biggest hotel I’d ever seen, let alone been in. Th
ere aren’t actually too many of them around anymore, what with the large number of “Boutique” hotels coming up. Not that there’s anything wrong with these, quite the contrary. However a few years ago, there was an impressive, old hotel called the Imperial Queens park, located along Sukhumvit Road in downtown Bangkok, surrounded by several of the city’s most vibrant shopping, business and entertainment districts. That iconic hotel has now been completely renovated, into the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, which boasts 1,360 rooms and suites. The rooms are all practically brand new, it’s only just opened, and it still has that new smell. The breakfast is most probably the best choice I’ve seen in town, offering everything you could possible need in the morning to get you fired up for the days activities. This hotel really gives you a feeling of space. There are five restaurants to choose from at the moment, with another one on the roof opening very soon. Its modern design, intuitive technology and authentic experiences are aligned to challenge the status quo and address the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s discerning travelers. Close proximity to Phrom Phong’s BTS Skytrain Station really helps, as well as the EM District, a new shopping district, being just around the corner. If you are traveling with non-golfers, they will be set.

 

Marriott Coffee ShopWe are more than happy to help and guide you through the process; we know the hotels very well in Bangkok, and can help  all in your party make the most of their trip.

 

How about combining this hotel in a golf package. It’s popular with a lot of golf travellers.  So, why not enjoy this beautiful hotel in the heart of Bangkok. Golfasian can take care of everything. For a full and comprehensive quote, or just for some advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

GOLF – IN THE BEST CITY ON EARTH

GOLF – IN THE BEST CITY ON EARTH

Bangkok has always been a favourite for travellers around the globe; it’s the heart of Asia after all. Packed full of great shopping, the best street food ever (I can vouch for this) and a hugely diverse cultural heritage, Bangkok is THE go to city.

The Continent - Deluxe Room

Hotels are plentiful, all priced very competitively to suit your budget. Location is very important in Bangkok, being close to the bts (sky train) is a must. Feel free to email any questions you may have in order to pick the right hotel. The Continent is a hotel we use a lot, not only because of its superb value for money and its great location, but also because the hotel itself offers everything you will need to make the most of your stay. A beautiful roof top bar & restaurant, plus the pool, give the best views over the city. The Westin Grande, in the same area, also offers the opulence needed from a luxury stay. Situated right next to the famous Terminal 21 shopping mall, as well as some of Bangkok’s top eateries, this hotel has become one of our best selling hotels. Both hotels are easy to get in and out off, making the transfers to the golf course easy.

 

Thai Country ClubNow, golf in Bangkok is becoming a must for golfers from all over the world. The only difficulty is how to pick which courses you want to play at! For the best advice, it’s best to ask, as I’ve pretty much played them all. There are around 40 courses within the area, and new ones being designed as we speak.  The newest of these is Nikanti. Located 35 km’s west of Bangkok, around an hour’s journey from most downtown hotels. Nikanti is Asia’s first 18 hole par 72 course comprising of 3 six hole layouts Each individual layout consists of two par threes, two par fours and two par fives. The design allows for starts at three different points on the course adding to your flexibility in the number of holes played. Yet whatever your handicap, you’ll definitely enjoy the day. All-inclusive rates include: green fee; golf cart with GPS technology; caddie fee; and meals before, during and after each round. Of course the one that usually springs to every golfers mind is The Royal Gems Golf City, indeed a unique course. This is Asia’s first course that incorporates copy holes from around the world. Included on the front nine is the Road Hole from St Andres, the Postage Stamp from Royal Troon and Sawgrass’ famous 17th Island Green. To top it all, the back nine copies the back nine of the Augusta National, including Amen Corner. Greg Norman, Gary Player and the late great Arnold Palmer have their courses in Bangkok. Jack Nicklaus also has a number in the area.

 

So, why not enjoy the sites, sounds, tastes and, of course, the golf, in Bangkok. Golfasian can take care of everything. For a full and comprehensive quote, or just for some advice, please don’t hesitate to email info@golfasian.com

8 Reasons Why You Should Never Choose Vietnam as Your Next Golf Holiday Destination

8 Reasons Why You Should Never Choose Vietnam as Your Next Golf Holiday Destination

Vietnam is a truly bad choice for your next golf holiday destination. Here’s why.

Note: Please don’t tell your friends.

1) The golf courses in the north of the country are plain ugly:

Chi Linh Star Golf & Country Club
Chi Linh Star Golf & Country Club

2) …and in the center:

BRG Da Nang Golf Resort

BRG Da Nang Golf Resort

3) …as well as in the south:

The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip
The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip

4) The caddies don’t know how to smile:

Caddies

5) The hotels are uncomfortable at best:

InterContinental Nha Trang
InterContinental Nha Trang

6) The beaches are a joke:

Vietnam beach

7) Cultural heritage is non-existend:

Hoi An Heritage

 

8) And as we all already know, the food is just disgusting:

Vietnamese Food

Now, you hopefully have a good idea as to why you should (not) book your next golf holiday to Vietnam!

Worry-Free At The Golf Tee: Enriching A Well Protected Golf Lifestyle With Travel Insurance

Worry-Free At The Golf Tee: Enriching A Well Protected Golf Lifestyle With Travel Insurance

The popularity of golf has skyrocketed across the world with several unexpected countries emerging as world-class golfing hubs. While the sport was previously confined to the shores of Europe and North America, the modern game has taken a turn towards the Orient with Asia emerging as a key travel scene for golf lovers. Paying tribute to the budding attractiveness of this sport in the region, unbeatable golf courses have rapidly sprung to life across Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and many other parts of the Asian sub-continent.

But every time golfers step on to the golf course, they have potential liabilities –– whether as players or spectators. That’s why Golfasian has created a comprehensive golf travel insurance package designed to meet your every travel need.

Remove Your Handicap By Choosing Golf Travel Insurance

Golfing liabilities can arise from practically anywhere –– whether you’re practicing, playing, driving buggies or simply attending tournaments as a spectator. To protect yourself from harmful risks and losses, you’ll naturally want to equip yourself with proper on-course and off-course protection.

With this in mind, Golfasian and Pacific Cross insurance have come together to offer an exclusive and all-inclusive insurance scheme for all golf enthusiasts looking to indulge in the lure of the game and the exquisiteness of the region. The next time you book a golf holiday, you may want to consider golf travel insurance, giving you access to the widest travel coverage at highly competitive premium rates.

Minimize Your Liability With Comprehensive Golf Travel Benefits

Golfasian provides a unique golf travel insurance package for golfers traveling to different parts of the Asian continent. Some of the highlights of Golfasian’s travel insurance include:

  • Up To US$ 75,000 Worth Of Medical Treatment: Medical treatment includes fees for surgery, ambulance, medicines, tests, hospitalization and follow-up care.
  • Up To US$ 65,000 Worth Of Personal Accident Insurance: This covers permanent disability or accidental death (inclusive of sight and limb loss). The maximum coverage will double when an insured person travels on public transport as a fare-paying passenger.
  • Baggage Damage/Loss Up To US$ 800 And Baggage Delay Up To US$ 125: Any damage or loss of baggage that results from theft, burglaries, accidents or mishandling will be covered up to US$ 800 with a limit of US$ 250 per baggage item. Any baggage delay of at least 12 hours will be covered up to US$ 65 per item for purchasing emergency items like clothing and toiletries.
  • Golfing Equipment Loss/Damage Up To US$ 2000: Any damage or loss to the golfing equipment of an insured person –– either in transit or at an accepted golf club will be covered up to US$ 2000 with a limit of US$250 per article.
  • Loss Of Travel Documents Up To US$ 1500: Any loss of travel documents will be reimbursed up to US$ 1500 to cover the cost of replacing air tickets, travel expenses, passports and accommodation. The travel documents may be lost because of accidents or burglaries.
  • Up to US$ 300 for Hole-In-One: If an insured person is able to score a Hole-In-One at an accepted golf club, then an allowance of up to US$ 300 is payable, if the person is able to submit a signed certificate from the golf club.

Avail Of The Most Enticing Golf Holidays From Golfasian

Whether you’re looking to take advantage of Thailand golf holidays, Malaysia golf holidays or Vietnam golf holidays, Golfasian has a bevy of enticing packages designed to meet your every travel need –– enabling you to relish in the spectacular backdrop of the Asian region by combining it with your favorite sport. And to help you transform into a smarter golf traveler, Golfasian empowers you with a well-thought-out travel insurance package, designed to make your golf holiday as stress-free as possible.

Great Thailand Golf Tournaments to Participate in During Spring/Summer of 2016

Great Thailand Golf Tournaments to Participate in During Spring/Summer of 2016

There are a slew of great amateur Thailand golf tournaments to participate in during the spring/summer of 2016. Some of the best tournaments are those located in southeastern Asian countries like Thailand & Vietnam. If you don’t mind a little traveling, you can enjoy some of the best golf experiences often at a rather low cost.

Amari Pattaya & Hua Hin Golf Weeks (March 6-12 & 13-19, Pattaya/Hua Hin, Thailand)

Almost 100 club golfers from 10 countries are expected to participate at the Amari Pattaya Golf Week on 6-12 March 2016 and the Amari Hua Hin Golf Week on 13-19 March 2016. These two week-long Thailand golf tournaments for all golfers (with and without handicaps), include four rounds of golf at Championship venues and nightly social and entertainment events.

Also catering to the needs of non-golfers and traveling companions, a series of tours to the regions’ popular attractions and destination experiences will be offered.

Amari will host this unique dual-destination golfing experience at two of its top locations in Thailand: Amari Ocean Pattaya and Amari Hua Hin.

Centara World Masters Golf Championship (June 12-18, Hua Hin, Thailand) &
Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort 2 Ball Golf Championship (June 19-25, Pattaya, Thailand)

Club golfers have quickly made the Centara World Masters Golf Championship in Hua Hin, Thailand, the biggest international tournament for club golfers in Asia. 750 golfers from 23 countries attended the second annual Centara Masters in June and similar numbers will contest this year’s event from 12 to 18 June 2016.

With golfers keen to experience more of Thailand’s golfing holiday destinations, tournament organisers have added the Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort 2 Ball Championship from 19 to 25 June 2016. The Pattaya tournament will see may golfers extend their stay in Thailand to play the 3 courses at Siam Country Club and the highly ranked Laem Chabang. Away from the courses, Pattaya has pristine beaches, amazing restaurants, bars and shopping as well as exotic nightlife.

The Centara World Masters is open to male and female golfers over the age of 35, with 15 divisions guaranteeing you play with golfers of a similar age and standard. The tournament is played over 4 rounds. Hua Hin was voted Asia’s Best Golf Destination and the Centara Masters will see golfers play at Black Mountain, Banyan, Springfield and the composite course at Imperial Lake View.

The Pattaya tournament is played as a team of two, incorporating best ball, ambrose and aggregate competition. Golfers of all ages can compete and there are men’s, ladies and mixed divisions based on combined team handicap. Golfers play the 3 courses at Siam Country Club plus a round at Laem Chabang.

Carts and Thailand’s experienced and ever-smiling caddies are included at all courses. Caddies also wear souvenir caddy bibs featuring players name and country.

Both tournaments are hosted by Go Golfing Australia in partnership with Golfasian and the personalised service, supreme event organisation, big prize pools, nighty socials and dinners with world class entertainment ensure these event are lots of fun and great value.
Limited places remain for both events in 2016. Play both events and save 10%.

For more information visit www.thailandworldmasters.com and www.pattayagolftournament.com

Golfing on the Enchanting Island of Phuket

Golfing on the Enchanting Island of Phuket

When you contemplate booking your next golf holiday, the superior courses of Thailand are beckoning to you to come experience some of the best golfing in Asia. Thailand, known as the Land of Smiles, features excellent golf courses dotting the kingdom, and none of them is more in demand than those of Phuket. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket is easy to get to and a proven destination point for tourists of all stripes. For golfers in particular, Phuket’s array of amenities makes traveling to the island a no brainer when scheduling your perfect, getaway golf holiday.

Top Golf Courses of Phuket, Thailand

Variety is the spice of life, and Phuket provides plenty of spice when it comes to selecting where you want to tee up for a great round of golf. The island hosts more than a half a dozen superior courses with challenges and beautiful vistas built into the design concepts of each course. If you are coming to Thailand in search of great links and superior golfing conditions, you will find both at any of Phuket’s top professional courses.

Red Mountain Golf Club

The crème-de-la-crème of Phuket golf courses, Red Mountain Golf Club provides the ultimate golfing experience for experts and novices alike. Built on the site of an abandoned tin mine, the 18-holes of Red Mountain Golf Club meanders across multiple elevations dominated by dense jungle terrain on the one hand, and towering cliffs of soft red rock of the former mining operation while providing some of the most challenging holes on the island. As the highest course on Phuket Island, you will be afforded incredible views regardless of which hole you playing. Additionally, this award-winning course is centrally located just minutes from famous beaches like Patong and Karon, so this provides a prime opportunity for the non-golfing members of your family to enjoy their vacation while you explore every inch of this awesome golf course.

Blue Canyon Country Club

Blue Canyon Country Club, located just minutes away from Phuket International Airport, provides the closest links for new arrivals, and the club is strategically placed to take advantage of the many amenities along the island’s west coast. Blue Canyon offers two distinct golfing experiences: The Canyons and The Lakes. The Canyons, set in a natural environment that features 80 bunkers and ten holes where water plays a challenging role, is a championship-grade course with greens that run both fast and true. By comparison, The Lakes course navigates around three dozen bunkers and 17 holes that are impacted by the water hazards that lend the course its name.

The Incredible Caddies of Phuket

In the world of golf tourism, the Kingdom of Thailand has a secret weapon at its disposal that places it far above its competition, its cadre of highly qualified caddies. Rooted in the kindness of the Thai people, Thailand’s caddies are not only extensively trained in the fine art of golf, but they also deliver a fun experience for the more than 600,000 golf tourists expected to travel to Thailand this year. Friendliness is a way of life in Thailand, and guests are made to feel as if they are members of the family immediately upon disembarking from the plane.

Top 3 Reasons to Golf in Thailand

Top 3 Reasons to Golf in Thailand

For the true golf aficionado, distance means nothing unless it pertains to judging which club to grab from your golf bag to make that sweet shot on the back nine. As such, the world is your oyster when it comes to locating the next great golfing destination, and Thailand is the pearl you will find when you schedule your Thailand golf holiday.

A fully inclusive Thailand golf package puts you directly on the green for some of the best golfing that the world has to offer. With more than two hundred established golf courses in the country, an already well-established and robust tourist industry, superior climate, and some of the nicest people in the world, Thailand golf excursions are a perfect way to spend your holidays.

1. Great Golfing Options as Varied as Thailand Itself

As mentioned, with more than two hundred golf courses peppered throughout the country, the Kingdom of Thailand golf scene is already well established and awaiting your arrival. Even better, the rich environmental diversity of the country affords a Thailand golf holiday that directly matches your preferences.

For example, the experience of golfing in the highland mountainous regions affords breathtaking vistas rivaled only by the courses along the stunning beach resorts of Phuket and Hua Hin. Additional options include excellent golf courses in close proximity to the vibrant nightlife of the nation’s capital of Bangkok. In short, you decide on the Thailand golf experience that you want and there is a Thailand golf package aimed at meeting those specific desires and expectations.

2. The Rich Cultural Diversity of Thailand

Beyond offering stunning Thailand golf options, the country itself features one of the oldest and unique cultures in the world, so there is something to do for everyone in your traveling party. These adventures encompass everything from exploring towering waterfalls, visiting ancient Buddhist temples, trekking through jungle terrain atop an Asian elephant, or shopping in high-end boutique shops in the famed shopping districts of the country.

For “foodies” in your party, Thailand offers incredible cuisine that combines both international flavors and rich homegrown tastes in an explosion of flavors on your taste buds. Whether the motivation is a Thailand golf holiday or a Thailand pleasure getaway, there is something for everyone when you visit the nation that goes by the moniker, “Land of Smiles.”

3. Well Established Tourism Infrastructure

With a reputation as a visitor destination point owing to its rich cultural traditions and brilliant natural beauty, scheduling a Thailand golf holiday is easy because of the already well-established tourist industry. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is dedicated to supporting the development of an international Thailand golf industry, so there is a wealth of information available to plan your Thailand golf holiday. From five-star rated hotels dominating the skyline to charming Thai style bungalows nestled along the coastline, there is a large array of accommodation options regardless of where you decide to tee up within the country.

Plan Your Thailand Golf Holiday Today

If you are looking for a golfing experience unlike any other, consider planning a Thailand golf package that is without compare. Offering a beautiful climate year round, warm and inviting people, and plenty of thongs to do both on and off the award winning golf courses, a Thailand golf holiday is a great way to spend your time away from the office. Award winning Golfasian offers customized golf holidays in Thailand and it’s neighboring countries.

10 Reasons Why You Should Never Choose Thailand as Your Next Golf Holiday Destination

10 Reasons Why You Should Never Choose Thailand as Your Next Golf Holiday Destination

Thailand is a truly bad choice for your next golf holiday destination. Here’s why.

Note: Please don’t tell your friends.

1) The golf courses in the north of the country are plain ugly:

Alpine Golf Course Chiang Mai
Alpine Golf Resort in Chiang Mai

2) …and in the center:

Thai Country Club
Thai Country Club in Bangkok

3) …as well as in the south:

Mission Hills Phuket
Mission Hills Phuket

4) The Thai caddies don’t know how to smile:

Thai Caddies

5) It’s almost impossible to find a massage or spa:

Spa

6) Nightlife is non-existent:

Bangkok Nightlife

7) Nor are there any nice rooftop bars:

Bangkok rooftop bar
Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar in Bangkok

8) The hotels are uncomfortable at best:

Rest Detail
Rest Details Hotel Hua Hin

9) The beaches are a joke:

Thailand beach

10) And as we all already know, the food is just disgusting:

Thai Food

Now, you hopefully have a good idea as to why you should (not) book your next golf holiday to Thailand!

Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

The memory of the brutality of a course landscaped by burrowing
animals makes playing a well-maintained course that much more spiritually
uplifting. And this is why Thailand’s golf establishment has once again been
honored by the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (or the
IAGTO) as they have named the coastal city of Pattaya Asia/Pacific’s number 1
golf destination for 2012. The whole country actually received the award in
2010.

At the top of the list this year is Pattaya’s own Siam
Country Club
, which was named the best maintained course in the region. But
that isn’t all. Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin was named the best
championship course in the region and Thai Country Club right here in Bangkok
was named the second best layout in the region.

Green~57But ratings and accolades aside, there are a lot of beautiful
unsung courses in Thailand. Some part of me believes that there is an effort on
the part of local golfers to keep a few courses to ourselves. Of course it is
my business to let the cat out of the bag about this sort of thing, so here it
goes…

Khao Yai is a good place to start, as it doesn’t see as much
traffic as Pattaya or Bangkok. First let’s look at Mountain Creek Golf Resort
and Residence. The 27 hole course designed by Seve Ballesteros is laid out over
3 9 hole loops, each designed to take the best advantage of their natural
setting – highland, creek, and valley (also the names of the loop). The courses
layout is so harmonious with the natural landscape that the experience is truly
transcendental, it’s also a great course for a very short, or a very long
round, if you don’t have much time or have too much of it.

There are more there in the Khao Yai National Forest area,
and lots of great golf in Thailand (obviously Pattaya is a good spot to hit and
Bangkok’s golf offerings aint to shabby either) but you’ll have to wait for the
next article or check out the Golf
Thailand
site to learn more about those!

 

Does Phuket Need to Reconsider Its Golf Strategy?

Does Phuket Need to Reconsider Its Golf Strategy?

GreenPhuket Golf has always been a major attraction for tourists from all over the world who love to spend their time staying in first class resorts on this beautiful Thai island.

The same can be said for golf, and even the likes of Tiger Woods and Greg Norman have played here at the islands only true Championship course the famous Blue Canyon.

For such a small island, it is unusual to find such a wide variety of golf challenges, from seaside to mountain layouts, and all within a maximum of 45 minutes from your hotel.

The Phuket golf courses are: Phuket Country Club (27 holes); Blue Canyon (36 holes); Lock Palm (18 holes); Red Mountain (18 holes); Laguna Phuket Golf Club (18 holes); Mission Hills Phuket (18 holes); Phukana (nine holes, floodlit.).

The majority of these courses are in good condition and certainly they offer some great memorable holes, especially the 14th at Blue Canyon and the 17th at Red Mountain.

The problem is that most of the green fees are extremely high compared with similar standard courses in other parts of the country.

Here you could be looking at little change from Baht6, 000 once you have tipped your caddie at the end of the round.

Chanwut Hongyok the GM at the island’s busiest course Phuket Country Club has recently said in a local magazine that Phuket needs to start to look at its golf courses and to begin to be more competitive. He explained that it is now unlikely that there will be any new courses built ever again, as the land prices are just too expensive. Therefore he said the existing courses have to rethink how to fill more tee times.

I agree with him that things need to change otherwise the existing clubs will start to loose business.

That said, the Island is still home to one of my all time great golf experiences, Red Mountain, which is expensive, but delivers on all fronts. A great layout, well trained caddies, wonderful modern club house, top class clubs for hire and a certain magic.

Definitely worth booking through a golf travel operator here, and save on both green fees and hotels, then you can enjoy this part of the World’s golf paradise!

 

Playing and Staying on a Thai Golf Course

Playing and Staying on a Thai Golf Course

There is no better feeling than waking up to the sound of wildlife and knowing that you are about to experience a great round of golf.

Golf 2Many of the 250 golf courses across Thailand offer first class accommodation along, with sports facilities, bars, swimming pools and restaurants.

With the high cost of golf course maintenance many clubs now also rely on real estate to help their cash flow, and several courses offer luxury villas and condominiums beside the course too.

Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin is a good example where you can book one of their golf club suites.
The club house has four very exclusive and comfortable suites available with infinity water features and spectacular views across the entire golf course.

All their suites are equipped with luxurious interiors which include, en suite facilities, 42" flat screen TV's, DVD player, music system, satellite TV and mini bar.

It is hard to beat the beauty of having breakfast on the terrace overlooking the front 9 holes or a night cap in Mulligans!

Banyan Resort about 15 minutes away has 75 villas with pools and restaurants as well.

Over at the Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Club up in Chiang Mai, they have a number of villas known as The Resort at Chiangmai Highlands. They are only a short walk away from our clubhouse, yet are privately set amongst the trees, along the creek flowing through the course.  The resort offers Superior Resort Villas, larger Deluxe Resort Villas and Family Villas.  Resort Guests have access to the swimming pool and fitness facilities and receive a preferred green fee rate during their stay.

This Award winning course meanders along the mountains of this Northern region of Thailand, and offers a great golfing experience.

If you prefer the night life then head for the city centre hotels, however you will certainly enjoy the privilege of staying at two exceptional golf courses in Thailand. Check out www.golfasian.com for or more information.

Young Thailand Golfers on Winning Trail

Young Thailand Golfers on Winning Trail

GolfBig_f2Golf in Thailand‘s youth policy especially in golf seems to be paying off.

First a 15 year old Thai player wins in the USA, and Thai Juniors are confident of winning in Asia too next month.

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand won the 63rd U.S. Girls Junior championship recently, scoring a 2 and 1 victory over Dottie Ardina of the Philippines at Olympia Fields Country Club in the States.

It was the first victory in a match-play tournament for the 15-year-old, who captured the AJGA Girls Junior title earlier this year.

“This tournament is so big, it’s like a major to me,” Ariya said.

Earlier this month, she played in the U.S. Women’s Open, as did her sister Moriya, who caddied for her in this tournament because of a sore left wrist.

“I was so confident this week, because it’s easier than the Open,” Ariya said. “The back nine [in the afternoon], I had no power, but I still played good.”

Thailand Golf aims to win fourth consecutive titles in both men’s and women’s teams when it plays the Bangkok golf course, Royal Hills Golf Club outside Bangkok hosts the 32nd Asia Pacific Junior Golf Championship next month.

Thailand Golf Association president Rungsrid Luxitanond told a press conference yesterday that eight countries will take part in the annual tournament – Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma.

The event will take place from Aug 2-5 at Royal Hills Golf Resort and Spa in Nakhon Nayok.

The Thai men’s and women’s squads have won the team titles three times in a row and Rungsrid hopes that both teams will win again.

Bernard Langer did wonders for German golf as did the likes of Faldo and Tiger for their respective countries too.

Thongchai Jaidee the Thai golf hero has also made a big impact here in Asia and even runs his own junior golf academy in Lopburi.

With a golf course within easy reach (there are 250 across Thailand) and a policy where golf clubs actually go out of their way to encourage youngsters to come and play, it’s no wonder golf is in such a healthy state in Thailand.

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

When considering a golf vacation in Thailand it would be fair to say that most of us are likely to end up going with the flow to head for the popular destinations namely Phuket, Hua Hin , Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

02_golf02 Naturally Bangkok has the largest selection of championship courses, so it is a great place to start your vacation. However one area which is gaining a lot of attention is Khao Yai., approximately 2 hours north of Bangkok.

Khao Yai National Park, approximately 2 hours north of Bangkok, is situated in the Sankambeng Mountain Range, the southern prolongation of the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains.

The park is the second largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers, including evergreen forests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400 to 1000 m above sea level.

Khao Yai National Park has three main seasons, with an annual mean temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, though this varies greatly with the seasons.

Rainy Season Is from May to October. During this season most days have high rates of precipitation. The atmosphere is humid with average temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius during the day dropping to 13 degrees Celsius at night. Good waterfalls for travelers.

Cold season is from November to February, with clear skies, sunny and cool. The average temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius during the day and 10 degrees Celsius at night. Good time for hiking.

Hot Season Is from March to April. Humid with day temperatures of 20-30 degrees Celsius and 17 degrees Celsius at night.

Apart from the fabulous wildlife, this region is also the home to a number of first class golf courses, each one offering great golf, in spectacular scenery.

A brilliant setting for a coveted lifestyle, Toscana Valley Golf Club offers diverse range of recreational activities. The 18-holes Toscana Valley Golf Course at Khao Yai ascribes its handsome design to renowned golf course architect Bob McFarland.

Complimented by the stunning Khao Yai backdrop, the charming ambience resembles the environment of Toscana Valley, Italy.

Toscana Valley Golf Course was developed by the same team of experts responsible for creating world-class golf courses such as Green Valley Golf Course (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Rayong; Thailand), Windmill Country Club (Bangkok), Saint Andrews Hill 2000 (Rayong), Lotus Hill View Golf Club (China) and Guangzhou International Golf Course (China).

Apart from the golf Toscana offers equestrian facilities, where you can take advantage of professional instruction in horseback riding. For those who are already experienced, there is access to numerous riding paths through breathtaking Khao Yai scenery. If residents would prefer to casually stroll or have a vigorous walk, a vast network of hiking trails can be explored on foot.

Another club to recommend is Kiri Maya an exclusive 18-hole championship golf course – designed by Jack Nicklaus. It is set within natural surroundings with panoramic views of Khao Yai’s lush greenery and mountains. The course ranges from 4,875 yards (ladies) to an incredible 7,115 yards (tournament) and with its single-track layout, golfers feel as if they are the only ones on the entire course for a truly memorable golf experience.

Panorama Golf & Country Club is set amidst the meandering hills outside of Nakorn Ratchasima also in the Khao Yai area. This Thailand golf course offers some challenging play in simply striking natural surroundings. Although it offers relatively few hazards, this challenging, breezy course is nevertheless difficult, relying on the natural lay of the land rather than man-made obstacles. In addition to the immaculately maintained course, while playing Panorama G&CC only on two holes will you ever see another golfer on a different hole, 16 of the 18 holes has its own separate corridor of natural beauty and stunning scenery.

Most of the area does not cater for mass tourism so forget the 400 bed hotels. Check out http://www.golfasian.com/ and I am sure they will find you some wonderful small villa style hotels to stay in.

If you crave for something different, and are fed up with playing your golf back home next to a motorway or nearby a city centre, then please head for Khao Yai. You will not be disappointed.

Caddie Championship in Thailand

Caddie Championship in Thailand

Thailand is well known as a hot golfing destination with over 260 great golf courses and those ever smiling Thai Caddies.

Thailand Golf Caddies Come rain or shine they read the greens, give you the yardage, hold your umbrella and if you are lucky even give your shoulders a quick massage too.

After putting up with us holiday hackers, you would have thought they would have had enough of the golf course, but a large number actually like to play a round themselves.

Smart thinking General Managers encourage them to play on Monday’s or late in the evening, as it improves their knowledge and understanding of their course and the game overall.

Taking this a step further they now hold a series of Caddie Championships in various regions around Thailand sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Singha.

The hunt is on to find Thailand’s best lady caddy golfer.

The TAT – Singha Caddy Championship 2011 consists of six qualifying rounds leading to a grand final at Siam Old Course on September 26th.

All the rounds take place on a Monday rotating across six venues- Putalong Navy in Pattaya, Singha Park in Kong Kaen, Narai Hills in Lopburi, Majestic Creek in Hua Hin, Royal Hills in Nakon Nayok and Burapha in Pattaya.

There are 144 places at each venue and the top 24 golfers will qualify for the grand final. The sponsors’ support allows the caddies to play for a small entry fee that includes green fee, dinner and a lucky draw.

The Grand Final at Siam Old Course will see 144 qualifiers battling for the title of Thailand Caddy Champion, with a first prize of Baht 55,000.

What started out as a simple idea seems to be catching on as a team of Korean Caddies will fly to Thailand later in the year to play a team of Thai Caddies. Later on the will hold the International Caddy Championship in 2012 with teams from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand competing.

Maybe we can expect to find the future Michelle Wie or Yany Seng from these events.

Bottom line is the golf vacationers will now be getting some expert tips which has to be good!

All of this is great news for golfers and caddies alike. Next time you see that smiling face on the first tee, stop and think whether she might be a future LPGA champion as a result of this special opportunity.

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

Kanchanaburi is perhaps better known as the centre of Thailand’s gem industry, where mining has been going on for a number of years.

Many tourists also head there to visit the River Kwai and the railway made famous in World War 2.

08 However soon Kanchanaburi will add a new attraction, when the Blue Diamond Resort opens next March.

The brainchild of Dr Prachin Eamlumnow, who has made his fortune organizing the Bangkok International Motor Show, Blue Diamond, is a huge 2,000 rai project, with a five star golf course to be known as Grand Prix Golf club.

I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to play the front nine holes and it will definitely become one of Thailand’s top courses. Thongchai Jaidee and host of other professionals are due there soon to try the course too.

This new addition to Thailand’s 280 golf clubs will definitely lift the appeal to head for a few rounds to the Kanchanaburi region. It is only a 2 hour road trip West of Bangkok and it already boasts several courses.

These include Blue Sapphire Golf Club, Dragon Hills Golf & Country Club, Evergreen Hills Golf Club & Resort, Grand Garden Resort & Golf Club, Green World Hot Spring Resort & Golf Club, Mission Hills Kanchanburi Resort & Golf Club, River Kwai Golf & Country Club, and Royal Ratchaburi Golf Club. Nichigo Resort & Country Club is also a great course but apparently it is currently closed.

Nearest to the River Kwai is River Kwai Golf & Country Club. Many golfers are keen to play the course which bears the name of this famous region. There may be better designed and presented courses in the River Kwai region, but the jungle-lined fairways of this sometimes hilly course, will certainly provide your game with a challenging and exciting workout. The course is located alongside the banks of River Kwai Noi. With water in play on most holes, and several long tee shots to make this is both a very natural and at times testing course.

This is an 18 hole, 6564 yards Par 72 golf course designed by Art-Anan Yomchinda.The elevated clubhouse is large and modern, with wide ranging views and comprehensive facilities.

Another popular course is Blue Sapphire next door to the new Blue Diamond Resort. This 36 hole course meanders through a working gems mine with hills and lakes to challenge all types of golfers. There is the Canyon and the Ocean Courses to tackle.

Mission Hills Kanchanaburi Resort & Golf Club is owned by the same team who run Mission Hills in Phuket. It is a Jack Nicklaus designed 18 hole course which according to their website will test your mind, spirit, swing and soul! You have been warned.

If you have played golf in Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket or Chiang Mai then Kanchanaburi makes an excellent two centre stop when starting your golf vacation in Bangkok. Check out www.golfasian.com for more Thailand golf vacations.

 

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

Having played my short golfing time in the UK, the Middle East and now in Asia, I have to say there is a definite magic in the air when you tee off at a Thai golf course that is hard to find elsewhere.

IMG_6929 Perhaps our definition of what makes a great round of golf may slightly differ from continent to continent.

I have never experienced playing golf in Scotland and I am sure getting a good Scottish breakfast after a round at these historical courses must be awesome.

Also it is hard to beat the quality of the rock hard greens at most of the top UAE golf courses, and their club houses definitely offer everything for the pampered oil execs.

But as Thongchai Jaidee Asia’s golf super star has said, ‘What makes playing a round here in the Kingdom is the warmth and friendliness you receive by everyone from the taxi drivers to the locker room attendants.’

Certainly the smiles from the beautiful caddies can go a long way to making your round of golf in the Kingdom of Thailand an extremely pleasant experience. They know how to read the greens like a popular paperback novel, so you may with their help, break your record too!!!

This coupled with the huge variety of courses…280 in all across the country… makes taking a golf vacation in Thailand a true challenge for all levels.

Add the shopping, spas, cultural temples and palaces and the 5 star services in the hotels and restaurants and Thai golf vacations are hard to resist.

The Thai government is fully aware of the appeal its course hold, and they have created a number of excellent golf tours offered by a number of leading golf travel such as Golfasian.

You can play golf all year round even during the green season (rainy season) as the course have fantastic drainage systems so play is really delayed that long between showers.

If you like the links of Scotland or the seaside courses of Abu Dhabi, then don’t worry these types of courses and more can be found all across the kingdom… but the smile comes free.

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

I read recently that a large percentage of golfers in Europe don’t feel they are getting their monies worth during their round of golf.

High green fees, poor quality of locker rooms, badly maintained greens, slow playing conditions. These are a few of their gripes.

Muang Kaew 0611_H4_3184 Here in Thailand I think playing golf is a lot more laid back than playing say in Europe, so maybe we don’t expect too much. But we all expect our round of golf to go smoothly.

Bangkok is in fact spoilt for choice when it comes to first class golf clubs. There are approximately over 60 clubs within the Bangkok metro region, several that can be called Championship courses.

Most of them are very well run, and your experience can be extremely memorable.

But of course you do need to avoid some of the rush hours such as national holidays, when the courses are busy with part time golfers.

I am sure that there have been occasions when you have had to wait on the tee boxes while a five ball ahead slowly putts out. Then they decide to play a game of cards, and grab a full course meal. I have known a round to take up to 5 and half hours which is painful.

The clubs that are popular however seem to adopt sensible policies with a maximum of four players per round and a good course marshal will cleverly move along the slow coaches, even giving their caddies a lift in the golf cart.

It is very rare to find a hold up at the Thai Country Club in Bangkok, where they still manage to push through over 55,000 rounds a year. And of course their facilities are top class being part of the Peninsula hotel group.

Maung Kaew Golf Club is another popular 18 hole course near to Bangkok’s airport that seems to work. They have great greens and very professional caddies who politely move the players along.

Of course every club will tell you they have a quite time. Maybe it is on Thursday afternoon’s or early on Monday’s. It’s worth asking the receptionist at the club, or even the caddies themselves, as they can give you the real information.

During the summer month’s some clubs have twilight rates starting at 3pm , so it is possible to play up to 7pm getting in a full round when it is not busy.

While the rest of the world seems to be announcing a golf recession with golf clubs closing down, it seems nobody told the golf course owners here in Thailand.

Every year we seem to have new courses opening. In the past 12 months we have had Riverdale Golf Club in Bangkok, brought to you by the same team that built Phuket’s Red Mountain Golf Club. Then there was the Royal Gems Golf City with a replica of the back nine holes at Augusta.

Both these clubs offer the golfing experience, and of course playing a round in the warm weather and to be assisted by a smiling Thai caddie helps too! Enjoy your next round in the Kingdom of golf and smiles!

Young Guns in Thailand

Young Guns in Thailand

On May 11th-13th 80 youngsters will line up at the Rose Garden Country Club near Bangkok to contest the 9th Mercedes Trophy Junior Golf Masters.

9th-Mercedes-Trophy-Junior-Golf-Masters These juniors aged between 12 and 18 years old have had to win through seven qualifying rounds held at various courses around Thailand, to get into this final and the winners will be then flown to Portugal for the Oceanico World Kids Golf Championship in July.

Everyone keeps saying for golf to survive, we have to encourage youngsters into the game. Well it is events like the Mercedes Trophy that is giving them the chance to taste victory and they seem to be relishing it.

Tiger Woods has been blamed for many things, on and off the golf course. On it, his propensity to spit – a habit which causes more rancor on this side of the pond than stateside – and equally his tendency to react to bad shots by slamming his club into the ground and/or uttering a four-letter word don’t go down well with the sport’s traditionalists. Off it, his business is his own.

One thing you can’t take away from Woods, though, is how he has inspired young players from around the world to seek to emulate his more acceptable side: that is, playing great golf to win great titles. The success of the so-called “Young Guns” on tour has much to do with the global impact made by Woods on the game.

It’s interesting to look back to the 2005 season when there was much talk of a new generation of player emerging. Just who were these “Young Guns” of six years ago? Do the names Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott ring bells?

Now in 2011 we have the likes of Rory McIlroy, Seung-yul Noh, Matteo Manessero, Ryo Ishikawa and Ricky Fowler all winning big tournaments before they reach 22 years old. Here in Thailand 18 year old Thitiphun Chuayprakong made his own headlines by playing in the final round with World number one Lee Westwood in the Indonesian Masters grabbing a creditable 3rd place.

Thailand’s golf hero Thongchai Jaidee is also keen to inspire youngsters to play, and has put his money where his mouth is and finances his own full time golf academy in Thailand.

Prayad Marksaeng was a young Thai golfer when he entered the Mercedes Trophy nearly nine years ago. It inspired Prayad, and he then went on to become a successful golfer on the Asian Tour.

Maybe we will see the next champion emerging with the Trophy on May 13th.

Thailand Golf in the Summer

Thailand Golf in the Summer

Now we are well into the summer months, there are real advantages of playing golf in Thailand.

The temperature is still bearable, and although there are rain storms, you can cope with a bit of planning.

It amazes me how a major downpour back home in the UK can wash out a whole days play, as the British courses just were not built to handle a major storm.

Golfasian-Thailand-Super-Golf-Fam-Trip-2010-Chiang-Mai-048 In Asia and especially here in Thailand, apart from creating some great courses, the designers spend as much time on the drainage. It obviously seemed to have paid off, as I have recently experienced a few short downpours, and within minutes we were back on the fairways.

Storms here tend to announce their arrival with cooler temperatures and darker skies, which actually makes playing more comfortable. It can take up to an hour or so for them to arrive, so you have plenty of time to grab a few more birdies.

Most storms start around late afternoon, so book a round at 11.00hrs and you hopefully will be back in the clubhouse before it rains.

Most clubs have numerous food and drink stations dotted around the course, so when it does rain, we normally enjoy a bit of social chat while having a beer or two.

All pro shops sell waterproof covers for your golf bags, which the faithful Thai caddies will be happy to use. Although most clubs do not offer any rain delay compensation, you should be able to complete your round.

Another big advantage of playing in the summer is that some courses are not that busy, so sometimes you can be the only four balls on the front nine. Great if like me you hate waiting to take your next shot.

They also tend to offer special summer rates too. Various regions also promote ‘golf festivals’ so watch out for the Hua Hin festival which normally starts in August. A great chance to play some top class courses such as Banyan Golf Club or Springfield.

Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand is perhaps a bit cooler, especially if you head for Chiang Mai Highlands.

Perhaps another plus factor is if it does rain, in Thailand it is still warm. Beats trying to drag your golf trolley back to the clubhouse on a windswept links course in Ireland!

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin has all these and more, being one of Thailand’s new natural golf courses.

Pirapon Nimatra is one of the few top Thai golf course designers who first saw the property as a mountain plantation.

I actually started work on the course in 2005 although we didn’t open until 2008.

IMG_8745 I remember driving up a small road and then we walked the rest of the way, and what I saw was a fantastic piece of property. The contours of the land was excellent, however I was worried about the water shed, as it is on a hill and there was not much water running through.

The owners were also keen not to disturb the natural environment, and they told me that I was not allowed to cut any trees. It took us a long time to route the course and in the end we only had to move one tree. All the young trees you see now actually came from the owners own housing estate nearby.

It is quite a long course, but it seems to play shorter due to the firm conditions. We used a local grass that takes less chemicals and water that was essential.

It is a fun course and I am pleased with the opening dog leg par four. As I say in my course notes just aim for the coconut tree and off you go. It’s good starting hole and it all flows very well. Some people like the front nine, but for me the course gets really interesting on the back nine.

10th is a fantastic little par 4. You can either hit a 3 wood or iron off the tee to the fat part of the fairway, or use the driver to try to get half way up the valley with an iron onto the green for your second shot. It has a raised tee down to a valley with the green way up on the other side surrounded by boulders. That was one of the toughest holes for us to create as it initially did not stand out as a typical golf hole. I am really pleased as it turned out to be a thinking hole to play but fun at the same time.

LIML5178 I think what makes the course enjoyable, especially for golf vacationers are the unusual surroundings. On several holes if you miss the fairway, your ball can end up in a pineapple plantation. Those were the original plantations and we just left those areas which intrigues are foreign guests, many who have never seen pineapples growing before.

The owner also told us to keep the Banana tree next to hole number eight as he explained that Europeans may have never seen that type of tree before.

Our signature hole is a short par 3. It’s weird how hole 15 become our signature.

I walked the property on my own and I caught a glimpse of the sea even though the Dutch owner did not know there were any sea views at all. I then worked out where to build the tee and the green to focus on the view, so that was a nice little surprise.

A lot of people talk about our last par 3 the 17th, which is perhaps the most hated or frustrate hole on the course.  Most modern course don’t have many par 3 uphill now, they usually bulldoze the green down a few metres. Well we decided to keep the natural contours there, the hole sits there like that…that’s the Banyan!

The final hole heads down to the clubhouse, which in itself has won several design awards. We decided to position the clubhouse there, so you can almost see the entire course from the terrace. It is a very traditional style which I think works very well.

So to sum up Banyan, if you want to play a an old style course that takes you back a bit in time,  with not wall to wall green, not too manicured, natural feeling with funky greens and bunkers then come and have a try. And watch out for the pineapples…they are sharp!!!

The Banyan Golf Club in Hau Hin is a member of the Golf in a Kingdom experience. For more details check out www.golfinakingdom.com

I would like to play golf! What is the best way to learn fast?

I would like to play golf! What is the best way to learn fast?

Nobody is the same, but it’s like riding a bicycle, it looks hard to start with, but with practice and once you have grasped the principles, then it comes easier.

PICT3631 Whereas most sports can be played when you are younger, the beauty of golf is that a 15 year old can have a competitive game with a 50 year old. So any age can start to take up the game of Golf.

Here in Thailand clubs actually encourage beginners to play.

Apart from being a great sport for every one of both genders and all ages, you are always trying to improve your game.

So how do you get going?

In a recent survey by a number of golf professionals and golfers in Thailand, they were asked is there a fast and easy way to learn to play golf? Well I have selected a few of their replies….

‘I would highly recommend that once you have the basics down by learning with a pro, you spend some time on the golf course with the pro. I find it very frustrating when I cannot figure out what is going wrong on the course, especially when it seemed to be working just fine on the range. Someone knowledgeable can diagnose a problem quickly to allow you to try to correct it whereas fixing your own problems on the course can be next to impossible.’

 ‘I also suggest that you begin your learning from the smallest of shots and gradually increase the size of the shots and length of the club. Those who try to learn with a driver are about as likely to do it as if one were to try to learn juggling by using nitro glycerin. As the length of the shot increases body movements are added one at a time. Thus each new short game shot teaches more of the body actions. The elbows are trained after the hands, the shoulders movements are then added to the actions of the hands and elbows etc, until all of the body motions have been learned.’

 ‘There will always be room for improvement, and so once you are feeling comfortable with what you are doing, try to keep records of scores i.e. score card, and set yourself challenges each time you go out to play.’

‘I have been playing for 3 years and I've got every book, DVD, CD, all the gear and still got no idea ! All this stuff just mushes your brain up, information overload.
What has worked for me is a regular lesson each week, trust and practice what you have been taught and play at least once a week on the course with good players who have the patience to play with a starter. Ask a few friends to recommend a PGA pro and use him and stick with him. Don't keep changing instructors. Most of all have fun playing golf and don't take it too seriously. Just when you think you've mastered it, it all falls apart, that's why all the tour players still have coaches and keep changing their swing and equipment. It's a continuous learning process no short cut.’

‘Join a country club! There is a significant difference between daily fee golf and private clubs. My game improved 20 strokes in six months by playing regularly at a club. A private club is a liberating experience; you can play more often, in a more flexible playing environment, under better course conditions, with other like minded enthusiasts. You won't feel pressured to play 18 just because you paid a greens fee, so you can slip in an hour or so of play when your schedule permits. Only time for five holes? As long as you don't interrupt play, have a go at it! If a country club is not an alternative, try an annual membership at a daily fee course so you can play more often. You'll learn why golf often becomes one's passion!

‘The best way to learn to play golf and the best way to learn correctly is to learn the game from the green back to the tee. By this I mean be willing to learn how to putt, chip and pitch the ball, be willing to take the time necessary to gain control of the ball in these areas of the game. Why? Skills in golf are learned, earned and acquired. Learning the short shots using short swings greatly accelerates this process. Find a PGA professional who is willing to instruct you in this manner.’

‘Contrary to what most pundits will tell you, start at the hole and work your way back with the help of a willing teacher. Get a good feel for putting first, then chipping and pitching, and move back to 100 yards, then all the way back to the tee. It's a target-based game that relies on accuracy. Starting by blasting balls on the range, like I did as a kid, will set you up for a long learning curve, fraught with frustration. Most strokes are taken within 100 yards. A good short game will build confidence, and the game is a lot easier and more fun if you're confident.’

‘If you have never picked up a club before I would say go to a driving range borrow some clubs grab a bucket or two of balls and imagine you are ten years old and have some fun.’

Well there are few of their suggestions. OK from my point of view, too many lessons can feel like you are back at school. When I started to learn, I went out to a par three course such as the Bangkok Golf Club, with a mate who was also learning and we took just three clubs…an eight iron, a wedge and a putter….and just went around those nine holes for two months. Then we felt confident to hit the big time by venturing onto our first 18 holes. Just like riding a bike, just a bit more expensive. For a full list of golf courses across Thailand, why not check out Golfasian.

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

Thailand’s leading golf course designer and builder, Pirapon Nimatra, is responsible for designing and renovating numerous courses in Thailand.

Therefore who better to explain why playing golf here in Thailand different from the rest of the World?

‘First of all we have great weather and you can pretty much play golf all year around. Secondly the caddies do make the experience playing here just that much friendlier and fun,’ said Pirapon.

Saturday Play 116 ‘However from my perspective as a golf course designer, what makes Thailand different is the variety. For example you can play on a 100 year old course like Royal Hua Him, where the greens and bunkers have that old style, or you can go to the other end of the scale to Siam Country Club which is very modern looking with new grasses and flashy bunkers. ‘

‘Then of course you have the variety of locations from sea side courses in Phuket and Hua Hin to mountain courses in Chiang Mai, similar to what you might play on in Hawaii. So the overall mix is what I think is special about playing in Thailand.’

Recently several international golf professionals found the greens were totally different at the Maybank Open in KL compared with the Masters at Augusta. How would you describe the actual playing surfaces here compared with US or European courses?

Pirapon explained,’ Well in America especially North of Florida you have cool season grass similar to Europe, where as we have warm season grass and they are two totally different animals. Warm season grass is a lot grainier, and it also grows a lot faster, but it also adds another dimension. When you are reading the putts here, you don’t just need to look at the slopes, but also which way the grass is actually growing. Also if it is hot and windy and depending on the time of day they could be playing to a difference of a foot on the stimp metre.’

Thailand has nearly 280 golf clubs. Is that a lot for the number of regular golfers?

‘Well they say that there are over 1 million players, but it is still good news for us golfers. There is a lot of competition to attract the players, so the rates are quite reasonable.’

You earlier mentioned caddies adding to the fun. As a golf course owner yourself, what do you think are some of the most important things the caddies need to know, especially as they meet lots of golf vacationers?

‘Well the caddies are expected to know our golf course and all the yardages, and as the grasses are likely to be a lot different from back home, so they can help by reading the lines too. Also it can be quite hot here sometimes, so one thing we train all our caddies is to keep your bosses cool! They will carry the umbrella and they also have little fans, so when you are waiting on the tee, they will keep you cool.’

They don’t do that at St Andrews in Scotland?

‘No they have a slightly different attitude, and they are not nearly as pretty too!’

Finally as a Thai based designer and builder of golf courses, what would you sum up is Thailand’s number one asset?

‘Apart from the huge variety, it is the people that make it so special. You are in touch with the caddies, the people at the club house and in the locker room, and it is their friendliness that brings back foreigners here to play golf again and again.’

Golf in Thailand is Still a Game to Enjoy

Golf in Thailand is Still a Game to Enjoy

Sometimes I think we forget that the game of golf is all about getting out in the fresh air to hit some balls and then have a cool drink with your fellow golfers afterwards.

However golf in the 20th century seems to be all about one upmanship, and this is being fuelled by the manufacturers with their massive marketing campaigns.

The ball will give you distance and this club will give you control and this putter is very responsive.

I was actually put off even considering lifting a club at an early age, when my Uncle tried to take around in the cart at his golf club in leafy stockbroker belt of Surrey. ‘No children’, said the stuffy club manager. We do not allow children on the course on weekends!

P1020405 Now of course everyone is thinking of schemes to actually encourage youngsters to take up the game. Here in Thailand there is no such stuffiness. Clubs love to encourage kids to play, and even go out of their way to hold tournaments as well.

Of course there is the friendly banter among mates and the occasional wager on the match, but in general I have found playing golf in Asia a very friendly and enjoyable experience.

Sure we would all love to play at St Andrews, Troon or Augusta, but it’s a lot more fun to have four attractive caddies telling you that you have 190 yards to go or to aim one cup left on the green. Not sure if they all know why it is called ‘a dog left or right’, but at least they add glamour to the round.

The other big plus point here in Thailand, is that you really do get a variety of courses to test your game. It is not only challenging but also exciting to drive off a raised tee down across a valley of pineapples onto an undulating green surrounded by palm trees.

Thailand is in the business of providing the ‘WOW’ factor. And the good thing is that there are so many good golf clubs within easy driving distance. In fact it is not unusual to have three clubs all within a mile of each other.

Check out the 17th at Red Mountain in Phuket - it is literally 140 metres down a mine shaft. Disused thank goodness!!!

Chiang Mai Highlands mountainous holes are not only beautifully but are also very tricky.

Monkeys, pelicans, giant lizards….it all adds to your golfing experience in Thailand.

Seriously though, golf in Asia is all about experience, and let’s not forget it is all done with a big SMILE.

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo Manassero’s been in Asia, the Middle East, off to the States, then to Europe and now back in Asia all since January.

I caught up with him this week at the Maybank Malaysian Open where he had arrived on Monday to really taken in playing back on the slower greens.IMG_1467

I first asked Matteo what were his recollections of playing in his first Royal Trophy?

‘It was amazing. Nobody expected us to win and we as a team were on a high and felt we could win. Everything went right from the beginning actually, and we were up after three holes right to the end. It was fantastic really!’

That was Matteo’s first time in Thailand and he told me he really enjoyed the trip.

‘I enjoyed staying in Hua Hin and I liked Thailand. Everyone there does not have any problems, and you don’t see anger in Thailand. Everyone is smiling and that’s what makes Thailand such a great place.’

I then asked him what he thought about playing at Black Mountain.

‘I think it is a good course. It was fantastic. It was always in good condition and is a well shaped course and the greens are pure. The shape of a course is what makes a great course. It’s quite a long course but I enjoyed that week. The par 3 hole 11 is fantastic with the lake and it is one of the tough holes there. I know Johan Edfors and a few of the other guys actual practice there in the winter and it is definitely a good idea.’

Compared with us weekend golfers and even the Asian Tour players, you guys at the Royal Trophy were getting onto the greens on a few of the par 4’s.

‘Yes we were able to get close with the following wind, so it was worth the go,’ he told me.

Finally I asked him if he plans to keep Asia on his schedule in the future.

‘Yes definitely. I am a great fan of a worldwide tour, as you want to play in Europe, the States, the Middle East and here in Asia. If there is a chance of playing a Worldwide Tour that would be good. It is just a great experience.’

He’s currently ranked 57 in the World and with a good showing in KL where he lead the first round Matteo could be soon in the top 50 at the age of 17 years old.

 

Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

23_VMA05_Winner_Shiv Kapur Well I did try everything to kick this dreadful disease…..but in the end the power of seeing a certain 21 year old from Northern Ireland win a green jacket, meant I woke up at 1.45hrs this morning in Bangkok and turned on the TV to watch the 75th Masters.

If you were a Hollywood script writer I don’t think you could come up with such a dream finish.

At one stage there were seven players tied for the lead!

Of course initially I was rooting for Rory McIlroy, but he seemed to disintegrate on the 10th hole and ended up losing it completely in one horrendous hole.

Meanwhile Tiger was playing for the USA as the only American on the first page of the leader board and it looked like a Tiger win was on the cards. Now, what a story that would have been. However after a couple of birdies went he finished with -10 and so can we say the Tiger is almost back on track?

Jason Day a 23 year old from Australia, fellow Ausi Adam Scott and Englishman Luke Donald all came within a whisker, with some gutsy shots on the final three holes.

However playing his usual solid and reliable game was South African Charl Schwartzel who came through the pack to claim the 2011 green jacket.

One could say that before his Major win, Charl was one of the up and coming European Tour players, who always was up there, but had not grabbed the limelight like his great buddy Louis Oosthuizen who won the 2010 British Open.

Well the golf tour moves away from the States this week as a mini Asian swing starts with the 50th Maybank Malaysian Open kicking off this week in KL, followed by the China Open and the Korean Open.

The promoters had paid for the big guns with Kaymer, Oosthuizen, Campbell and McIlroy to turn up at the KLGCC. Listed as a player this morning is a certain Charl Schwartzel playing under category B as a winner of a European and Challenge Tour event.

Now I would assume that the tournament promoter must be thinking he has won the PR coup of the year, by having the current Masters Champion in his field.

Asia is now attracting a lot of big name players over here on a regular basis and this has to be a great advert for our wonderful golf courses dotted about the South East Asian region.

Kaymer was the star turn in KL, Westwood will be teeing off the following week in Jakarta, and Els and co will join them in South Korea.

Behind the scenes I hear that there are plans to hold a major European and Asian tour event here in Thailand.

Asia and in particular Thailand already has a booming golfvacation industry.

With over 280 courses to choose, Thailand has numerous venues available. Watch this space?

Major Winners in Asia

Major Winners in Asia

Sometimes everything just falls into place and as a journalist, all the travelling and waiting around just pays off.

Being based here in Bangkok, the big names on the professional circuit tend to side step playing in our local tournaments, perhaps with the exception of the popular Royal Trophy.

Therefore twice a year I need to stock up with pictures and stories by covering the bigger events here in Asia. On Tuesday I therefore flew to Kuala Lumpur.

This week was very unusual, as the 50th running of the Maybank Malaysian Open could almost be termed as the Asian Major, having attracted three out of this year’s Major winners to participate.

World number 1 Martin Kaymer and British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, were invited some time ago by the sponsors, along with a certain Rory McIlroy.

Then much to the delight of the tournament organisers, Charl Schwartzel, who had actually been scheduled to play anyway, won last weekend the coveted green jacket, and the Maybank’s global TV audience had now skyrocketed. Great for the sponsors, even better for Asian golf!

In the space of 20 minutes last Wednesday at the KLGCC, I managed to grab all three Major winners for a quick interview. As they had all flown from Augusta, they were naturally all jet lagged, but were genuinely keen to get out on the course.

Both Charl and Rory travel over together from Augusta, and the airline had managed to lose their clubs; therefore both were starting their first rounds without even seeing the course before. Reminds me of all us weekend golfers who turn up and play at the 280 Thai golf courses without even having the yardage books or even a reliable caddie!

All three told me that they had played before in Asia, and in fact Martin had made his first cut here IMG_1513 in Asia in 2007, earning him his first pay check. Fond memories!

So far Thailand was still to be tested by them, but Martin certainly was keen to play and jokingly said ‘send me an invitation.’ He knew all about the end of season Asian Tour Masters and the Royal Trophy, and his manager admitted it would make a good end of season break for the World No 1. Maybe Black Mountain or Colin Montgomerie should take note?

The media circus then moved on and they were back on duty playing in the Pro Am.

This is a great time for me to grab those relaxed photos of the stars, so I managed to get a Media Golf Cart and waited at the start.

One of the organisers ran up and said would I mind taking a caddie and his player to the first tee, as they were late. Yes I said, and who should sit down next to me but Craig, Martin Kaymer’s Scottish caddie along with the great man’s golf bag. Martin hung onto the back and off we went for the four minute ride.

If only I had someone free to take a picture!

Not to miss an opportunity, when we got to the first tee, instead of a tip, I cheekily asked if I could have a picture with Martin. Craig the caddie turned photographer and duly obliged. Result was me the Editor with Number 1 …my own personal scoop!

As I say some days it all just falls into place. If Martin does fly over to play in Black Mountain in the next few years then I will have done the job and Thailand can experience why he is World Number One.

Masteritist… a Very Serious Golfers Disease

Masteritist… a Very Serious Golfers Disease

I thought I was really suffering big time over the past five days, with what I thought might have been the dreaded Asian flu.

Blame it on the changeable weather we have been having over here in Thailand, but I had the mother of all coughs, a cold and just lost all my energy.

Swallowing all antibiotics under the sun, it just would not go away, and I was really getting concerned.

One of the problems that goes with flu and a bad cough, is you really don't get into a deep sleeping pattern, so I was up most of the nights.

By day three I was getting desperate, so turned on the TV at 02.45hrs and caught the first round of the Masters live from Augusta.

Yes while they are having tea in Augusta, we are just enjoying breakfast in Thailand, so the TV schedules are designed for insomniacs.

On the screen, was Rory shooting a fabulous opening round, and my personal favourite Ross Fisher getting – 3 for 5th position.

IMG_0318Having recently played the Royal Gems Golf Cityhere in Bangkok, where they have replicated the back nine at Augusta, it was even more special to see these guys coping with Amen corner and that crazy par 3, the famous 16th.

Not all the big stars shone with Westwood playing average, which World No 1 looked like he was really out of sorts. Henrik was just not in the zone and finished a dismal last at +8.

Woods and Mickelson were still there fine tuning their game. Not a classic round but a great start for Europe with Quiros making a late charge to tie with McIlroy.

By Round Two I was starting to get my energy back and actually managed to sleep until I woke with a start, to switch on the TV at 04.45hrs. Rory was now -10, Jason Day had shot a great 64 and wait a minute, isn't that Tiger, 'Son of Thailand', on -7. Yes Tiger was in the zone and you could hear the TV commentators getting excited, anticipating that ESPN would be getting some huge ratings if he made a charge.

I would assume that having paid a shed load of Dollars to persuade Martin Kaymer to tee off in next's week's Malaysian Open, Maybank the sponsors, must have been wondering if they had made the correct decision as the German missed the cut.

Wow with all this excitement, I seem to be feeling better and the flu had definitely disappeared at last. Now I had another illness, and it might mean a few more sleepless nights. Masteritist had taken over!

Still at this rate I only hope I have enough energy left to cover the Maybank Malaysian Open next week in KL. Hey the tournament organisers may have hit their own jackpot if Rory wins in Augusta, as he will be walking around the KLGCC with maybe a green jacket!