Category: Chiang Mai Golf

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

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.

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!

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.’

Playing Golf in Thailand

Playing Golf in Thailand

We all like to experience playing a round of golf in a different part of the world, so if you are used to playing in the cold regions of Europe or the States, then you are in for a treat when you arrive here in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Greg1 Their tourist adverts promote Thailand as the Land of Smiles and they are very proud to promote vacations in their country, especially golf holidays. It’s not surprising as there are over 250 golf course scattered across the country.

You cannot beat playing a round in the tropical sun of Thailand, when back home the local club is two feet under snow!

Now according to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the world's hottest city, being located just 14 degrees north of the Equator, However Bangkok is sunny at any time of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).

Thailand is a fairly large country so you can experience cooler weather in the north in places such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, while there are cool sea breezes on the islands such as Koi Samui or Phuket.

The most pleasant time for example to visit Bangkok is the cool season that lasts from November till February. It is both the coolest and driest period. Even the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaew even wears a scarf during this period! Don't think that's necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20s as it gets dark (lower 70s in Fahrenheit).

March and April represent the hot season, and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don't be surprised to see temperatures rising into the 40s °C (around 100 °F+). So plan in a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool.

Then there's the wet season that runs from May till October. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city, and spells of thunder at times. It's not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a pleasant way to cool down from the heat, and while they may last all day, usually they're over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are normally to be best avoided.

Your travel agent such as Golfasian will be happy to advise you on the best area to enjoy the favourable climate. Whatever season you're visiting, so long as you well prepared it is no big deal.

In fact many locals like to head for their favourite golf course for an early morning round. Therefore you may find that playing a round starting at around 13.00hrs will be fine. The course will be a lot quieter, and you can still play up to 18.00hrs in the cooler afternoon temperatures.

Dress lightly for the weather, as shorts are the norm on the golf course. But remember that even on cloudy days you can get sunburnt, so bring plenty of factor 30, plus mosquito repellent is also useful.

Once you have asked your travel agent to select your hotels and golf clubs, all you need to do is get ready to enjoy some of this Thai magic. Have a great golf vacation.