Category: Golf News

World Golfers Arrive in Thailand for 2017 Centara World Masters Championship

World Golfers Arrive in Thailand for 2017 Centara World Masters Championship

Hua Hin, Thailand, 11 June 2017 — Golfers from every continent have started arriving in Thailand for the fourth running of the Centara World Masters Golf Championship, Asia’s biggest and richest tournament for club golfers.

Franking Thailand’s golf tourism appeal, more than 500 visitors from 21 countries will arrive this weekend in Hua Hin for the start of the Championship on 11 June. The tournament has attracted big numbers from Australia, New Zealand, India, Myanmar and UAE.

The event’s international standing has brought golfers from France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, United States, United Kingdom and Iceland. South East Asia is well represented with 67 players from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and 12 from host country Thailand.

The Centara World Masters is open to golfers aged 35 and over, with competition across 18 divisions based on age and handicap. Golfers will play two rounds at the country’s top-ranking Black Mountain and Banyan golf clubs. Golfers will compete for more than 1.5 million Thai baht in prizes.

The tournament is a collaboration between Golfasian and Australian based Go Golfing Travel. Tournament director Mark Hawley from Go Golfing has confirmed Hua Hin’s natural beauty, welcoming locals, world class golf resorts and the Centara’s charming beachfront resort hotel is a winning combination and a big reason golfers return year after year.

Originally known as the “Railway Hotel”, the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin first opened in the early 1920s, just as the fishing village of Hua Hin was being discovered by the world via the opening of a new railway line to Malaysia. Thailand’s most refined beach resort was fortuitously graced by the newly-built Railway Hotel, which was designed to classic colonial lines.

Now considerately restored and expanded to include all of the recreational and guest facilities that travellers expect from a beach resort, the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas remains one of the ‘grand old hotels’ of the East. “Centara Grand does a great job pampering the throngs of golfers attending the Centara World Masters and is the event’s social and entertainment hub.”

In 2013 Hua Hin was voted best golf destination in Asia and the continued growth and success of the Centara World Masters showcases the destination’s golf and tourism experiences on a grand scale. Many participants are extending their stay in Thailand to visit Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket. The tournament is a major boon for tourism in Hua Hin during low season is expected to inject more than 85 million baht into the Thai economy.

The tournament website www.ThailandWorldMasters.com has scores for all players and event photos.

Follow us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/centaraworldmastersgolfchampionship

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For photos and more information, contact:

Pascal Orczech
Director of Business Development / Golfasian Co., Ltd.
pr@thailandworldmasters.com

Thailand Golf Tour Operator Golfasian Teams Up With Golf Hideaway

Thailand Golf Tour Operator Golfasian Teams Up With Golf Hideaway

Bangkok, Thailand & Hong Kong, China — Golfasian, Asia’s largest inbound golf tour operator has teamed up with Hong Kong’s most popular indoor golf lounge Golf Hideaway to provide exclusive golf holidays and prizes to Hong Kong golfers.

“The aim of the partnership with Golf Hideaway is to expand Golfasian’s reach to the Hong Kong market while at the same time offering the golf lounge members with exclusive Asian golf holiday deals, Thailand golf tournament slots and prize sponsoring,” explained Pascal Orczech, Golfasian’s Director of Business Development.

“We are delighted to partner with Asia’s Number 1 golf travel company, Golf Asian.  Our customer base at Golf Hideaway will benefit tremendously from this strategic alliance,” said Golf Hideaway’s Owner & Head Professional, Derek Crampton.

About Golf Hideaway:

Golf Hideaway is Hong Kong’s original indoor golf lounge with over 3,000 square feet featuring two state-of-the-art Full Swing Simulators, a separate lounge / bar area with full size pool table and darts board.

About Golfasian:

Established in 1997, Golfasian has been recognized as the leading dedicated golf tour operator in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia. We specialize exclusively in golf holiday tours, for both individuals and groups. By selecting the best value-for-money hotels and the finest golf courses you are assured of a truly memorable golfing experience.

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!

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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!

It’s not all golf you know…..well almost

It’s not all golf you know…..well almost

Golf for many of us is a very serious addiction. We have to have our regular fix!

Come rain or shine, business meetings or trade exhibitions, we will make all the excuses needed to arrange that very crucial meeting which just happens to clash.

That is our ‘speak’ for sod it I am going to play a round of golf anyway.

Golfasian-Thailand-Super-Golf-Fam-Trip-2010-Pattaya-008 Here in Thailand a lot of business is conducted on the golf course and in some companies, it is seen as an actual asset if you can play golf.

There are corporate tournaments, amateur tournaments, club tournaments, Pro Ams, weekday shotguns, expat clubs and night golf, all where you can do some serious networking.

Expat golf is huge particularly here in Asia, and in Bangkok they have several clubs. Perhaps the biggest is called the Wanderers, who have over 300 members and play shotguns every weekend.

The Asian Tour visits Thailand several times a year along with the LPGA. It’s amazing how many places on the tournament’s Pro Am are not taken up by the local prime minister or the CEO of the main sponsors. One enterprising travel agent managed to arrange for 20 of his clients to play in a recent Pro Am, an experience they are unlikely to forget.

Eithad Airways recently ran a very successful Corporate Golf Tournament in several countries, with all the individual winners flying business class to Abu Dhabi to play in the grand final at the Yas Links course. Surprisingly the eventual winners for 2010 came from the Bangkok round.

Many of the hospitality industry also use golf to act as networking events. You have a chance for four of you to mix work with pleasure over 4-5 hours on the course, followed by a slap up meal a few beers and some speeches and awards thrown in too. The Hyatt group had their own get together recently down at the Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin and the winner flew to Dubai and stayed at the Park Hyatt and played the wonderful Dubai Creek and Golf Club as well.

I would much rather spend a day at the golf course assisted by a smiling Thai Caddie, than stuck in a ballroom listening to the CFO of some company telling us how brilliant they are.

Perhaps instead of that company outing to the next big horse race, why not suggest to your CEO, that you should take some clients over to Thailand for a week’s worth of golf and networking.

But one tip to remember.

It is better to let your clients win, just by a whisker, and then you stand a chance of winning that new order. You may also get a pat on the back from your Managing Director who may even utter those immortal words…’Jones, we’ve got those Korean buyers in town and all they want to do is play golf. I don’t suppose you could….’

Asian Golf Hits a New High

Asian Golf Hits a New High

The conclusion of the 2011 Avantha Masters at the DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi was just the result everyone was hoping for, when India golfer SS P Chowrasia won his second European Tour International Schedule victory in his 74th European Tour event.

This is a huge boost to sport in the region, where golf is now the fastest expanding sport in India, normally the home to Cricket.

SS P made European Tour history with his first win at the 2008 EMAAR –MGF Indian Masters, by winning on his first appearance as an Affiliate Member; the first player to achieve this feat.

He played in 73 European Tour events since his 2008 win. In that time his best finish was ninth at the 2010 Andalucía Valderama Masters.

He actually lost his European Tour exemption at the end of the 2010 season, and he did not get his card back at the European Tour Qualifying School. He began the 2011 season as a fully exempt for the Challenge Tour.

His win moves him to €300,000 in the Race to Dubai, and he gains an exemption until the end of the 2013 season.

From an Asian perspective, this is a massive boost, giving the Asian Tour another regional champion. Thailand also fielded three players in the top ten in New Delhi,

Saturday Play 272 Down in Pattaya, Yani Tseng from Taiwan won the Honda LPGA Thailand beating Michelle Wie. This was Yani’s 4th consecutive win in 2011 putting her on top of the Rolex rankings.

Thai players did well especially 15-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn who turned in the round of the day on the third day, with a 4-under-par 67 and sits in a tie for 11th.

The four day tournament which was broadcast all over the world, provided huge exposure for Thailand and particularly the Siam Country Club in Pattaya that hosted the event.

With several major Asian Tour and One Asia tournaments due to be held in Thailand in 2011, it is no surprise that the Kingdom of smiles has become one of the top golf vacation destinations in the world.

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

Asian golf legend and three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will compete in the inaugural US$750,000 Indonesian Masters next month, joining world number two Lee Westwood of England in the elite field at Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

22_VMA06_Winner_Thongchai Jaidee_resize Organisers announced today that PNTS, one of Indonesia’s fastest growing off shore bulk cargo handling companies, Garuda Indonesia, the national flag carrier, and Mercedes-Benz have also signed up as sponsors of Indonesia’s newest Asian Tour tournament from April 21 to 24, 2011.

Normally if you are planning to catch the stars playing in Asia, they only used to fly here at the beginning of the season. Now as Asia is seen as the growing market, more and more sponsors are prepared to open their cheque books, and there are now several tournaments in the spring and autumn.

 Black Mountain here in Thailand has hosted two championships in the past quarter, and there are several Asian Tour and One Asia tournament due in Thailand shortly.

India’s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar, a two-time Asian Tour champion and no stranger to success in Indonesia, and Thai standout Chapchai Nirat, a three-time winner, will also feature in the Indonesian Masters which will be beamed live throughout four rounds to over 40 countries and 440 million homes worldwide.

After writing several pages in Asian golf history with his exploits, Thongchai is determined to become the inaugural champion of the Indonesian Masters.

“I am looking forward to the Indonesian Masters next month, especially when it will be played at Royale Jakarta. I have heard it is a fantastic golf course and I believe it will contribute to a very successful week of golf,” said Thongchai.

 The 41-year-old Thai is presently the most successful golfer in Asia following an unprecedented three Order of Merit triumphs in 2001, 2004 and 2009. He also holds the most number of victories on the Asian Tour with 13 titles and is the leader of the career earnings ranking with over US$4 million in winnings since breaking into the scene in 1999.

 In 12 seasons on the Asian Tour, the former paratrooper has finished outside the top-10 of the merit list only twice to cement his reputation as one of the most consistent performers on the region’s elite circuit.

“I owe my success very much to the Asian Tour and it is tremendous to see new tournaments like the Indonesian Masters coming up on our Schedule. I will always support the Asian Tour,” said Thongchai.

 Thongchai is perhaps Thailand’s number one ambassador promoting golf in the kingdom wherever he goes around the globe.

 ‘I love to come home and experience some of the great variety of golf courses across Thailand. And of course with our wonderful caddies you cannot beat their infectious smiles’ said Thongchai.

Thai Golf Balls Launched

Thai Golf Balls Launched

Well do you have a favourite golf ball, or do you just tee off with any old brand?

Of course if you are lucky to be a professional on the PGA, European or Asian Tours, the manufactures are keen to give you loads of their balls for free. Maybe that's why they theatrically like to throw a brand new golf ball into the lake after a double bogie.

Thailand-golf-bals However for us happy weekend hackers here in Thailand, golf balls can be a very personal purchase. Maybe you get sucked in by the manufactures marketing, or perhaps you like the actual design, or maybe you really do get more spin…or like most of us, you are governed by price.

Across Thailand there are approximately over 250 golf clubs, ranging from the top Championship courses like Bangkok's Suwan Golf Club and Thai Country Club, to the flat field style public courses out in the countryside.

In fact the other day I played a round at Thai Country Club, and my caddie took out an old ball for me to tee off at the treacherous par three, their 3rd hole. She knew that with the wind blowing, that it was pretty likely that my ball would end up in the lake. True to form, yes it did go down to meet the fish, and luckily she kept my new Titleist dry in my bag!

I then began to wonder exactly how many balls like mine, end up lost on the busiest day of the week, Saturday, at all 250 Thai golf clubs?

Let's assume that the average number of Thai golfers playing 18 holes on Saturday would be say 100. Therefore 250 clubs x 100 players = 25,000 rounds of golf.

Then assume that the average handicap is 26, that it is fair to predict we loose on average of two balls per round (if you are honest probably a lot more!) which means 50,000 golf balls are lost every Saturday. That equates to staggering 2.6million golf balls every Saturday in a year.

Therefore including seven days a week, we are likely to lose between 12-15million balls a year. Maybe the casual tourist in Phuket or Hua Hin's courses this rate could be a lot higher!

No wonder the golf ball manufacturers  spend big bucks on TV and in the press, encouraging you and me to pop down to our friendly golf store, to hand over our hard earnt cash.

Luckily help is at hand, as many golf courses in Thailand  employ golf ball fishermen to collect all these 12 million balls, lost in the water.

In fact, it is a sobering thought that you may therefore find you are actually buying back your own original golf ball, from the friendly chap outside the club entrance or even at the club's pros shop.

Maybe it's worth putting one of those extractable golf ball catchers in your bag in future.

 

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Most countries are lucky if they can attract one major golf tournament a year. Thailand on the other hand seems to be able to host more than its fair share of major golf events.

In November a certain Mr Tiger Woods made an emotional return to his mother country along with Casey and co. Then along came the Asian Tours Masters in December followed in early January by the Royal Trophy both hosted at Black Mountain in Hua Hin.

Honda-lpga Now the 2011 season is about to start with most of the top 50 woman in the World competing in the Honda LPGA at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya in mid February.

Paula Creamer, Michelle Wei, Shin Jiyai and defending champion Ai Miyazato will all be there along with a few Thai girls trying to earn some big bucks.

Also in February Amata Spring Country Club will become the first Thai venue to host Open Championship International Final Qualifying Asia from February 24-25, 2011.

The Club will welcome a field of a maximum of 78 players, who will compete for four places in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's.

  Royal-trophy-2011-monty "Amata Spring is a fitting venue for IFQ's first visit to Thailand," said R&A Director, Michael Tate. "In its short history, it has proven itself a stern test for some of the world's best players, and it will undoubtedly give us four qualifiers worthy of their place at Royal St George's."

The closing date for entries is 14 February. Last year, Asian Tour members Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, Malaysia's Danny Chia and newly-crowned Order of Merit champion Noh Seung-yul of Korea qualified for the Open.

Later on in June the Queens Cup, part of the Asian Tour, returns to Santiburi Country Club on the beautiful island of Koi Samui.

Thailand is now recognised as the perfect destination to host major golf championships, and the players enjoy their time in the Kingdom of smiles as well.

Mike Bridge   Editor Thai Golf News

Where to next? Young Golfers in Thailand

Where to next? Young Golfers in Thailand

In many countries around the world, golf is suffering from the global recession, and the industry will really begin to suffer unless it starts to focus on its future.

You can play a game of football with your mates after school with a ball and a couple of posts for goals. Same for Cricket, you can play the game just with sticks for stumps.

Heartland-golf But for kids to play golf, they first need to persuade their parents to actually take them to the course, and then they need to rent or maybe buy a set of clubs. All this can be very expensive.

Here in Thailand they have a very good system of encouraging youngsters to take up the game and big businesses are also helping too.

Singha and Chang both run academies where kids are groomed to eventually follow in the footsteps of the Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee.

Thongchai even has set up his own golf academy in Thailand to train girls and boys.

True Vision is another Thai company supporting golf. In fact there is still time to enrol junior golfers to compete in their 10th True Visions International Junior Golf Championships 2011   It's taking place at the end of March 2011 at Rayong Green Valley Country Club, &  St. Andrews 2000.   

Greg Norman and Gary Player are two legends of the game who have also called for a shift in the mindset of the golfing industry.

A longtime advocate of junior golf, Norman said: "We have to get more players into the game and be increasingly creative in the ways to attract them. Golf has to become more accessible and affordable. It has to open up."

One of the most active golf course architects in the region with ongoing projects in China and Vietnam, Norman said there is a need to "think outside the box" when it comes to golf facilities.

He cited a 12-hole course he has designed in South America as a potential model for Asia. "There's nothing to say that a golf course has to be 18 holes. Why shouldn't 12-hole courses be successful in Asia?" said Norman, adding that such facilities would encourage more people to participate and also would take less time to play.

Norman's concerns about the lack of newcomers entering the game also were voiced by Gary Player, who agreed that kids were too concerned with computer games, when they should be out there playing a sport. He thinks golf clubs should encourage more school visits during their quieter periods during the week. Give the kids a chance to hit the ball and maybe some will be hooked on the game.

 

Mike Bridge    Editor Thai Golf News

Royal Trophy Cliffhanger Ending!

Royal Trophy Cliffhanger Ending!

After the amazing scenes at the 2010 Ryder Cup with Greame MacDowell putting to win, I thought I'd seen it all!

Obviously not!!!

Black_Mountain_091115685 The Royal Trophy looked like a gimme for Asia, after Europe failed to win one of the four matches on day two at Thailand's Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.  Asia were needing only two and half points from the eight single matches to clinch victory. Team captain Colin Montgomerie was shell shocked!

Monty bravely put on a good front at that evenings press conference, and said that they had been soundly beaten, but he still had faith in his European players.

The Asian team had most of their top players in Hua Hin, with the exception of Y E Yang and KJ  Choi, whereas Monty had decided to give some of his younger players a chance.

He made a very wise decision to send out his number one ranked player Peter Hanson the only member of the victorious Ryder Cup team at Black Mountain to play in the first rubber against China's number one Liang Wen-chong.

Joe Ozaki the Asia captain then announced his 4th player would be Ryo Ishikawa, and after a minutes pause while he looked at his notes, Monty paired Ryo with Rhys Davies , known as the World's best putter.

The battle commenced at 10.35hrs on Sunday morning, and Hanson went 6 up to eventually show everyone that the European challenge had teeth.

Ryo hit his drive on the second hole into the water, and Rhys putted in to go one up after two.

Much to everyones amazment the scoreboards around the Black Mountaincourse were turning blue for Europe who were up in 4 matches, all square in two with only Jeev Milka Singh and Thongchai Jaidee one up.

Rhys then won his match on the 15th and soon after was joined by Stenson who squared his match on the 18th green against Asian Tour No 1 Noh Seung-yul. Monty soon followed by winning at the 17th green, but with Asia still up in two, it was anyones title.

They were golf buggies flying all over the final four holes as both team captains and their players went to support the final pairings.

Matteo Mannassero, the Italian 17 year old, made an astonishing 2nd shot from 140 yrds straight to within two feet of the pin to clinch his match on the 17th, to the cheers of his team mates.

But still Pablo Martin from Spain, had to go to the last hole with Jeev one up. Jeev had a horrible second shot from the edge of the grass by the fairway bunker, which meant he could not reach the green. Pablo also laid up on this long par 5. However his third shot into the green was magnifcent under enormous pressure. He got to within three feet of the hole to go one up. The crowd errupted and Europe had won the 5th edition of the Royal Trophy.

Coming up behind was Johan Edfors against Thongchai who managed to square his match again on the 18th hole.

Seve Ballesteros set up the Royal Trophy to promote the game of golf and to encourage youngsters to take up the game. With so many of the World's top youngsters playing this week at Thailand's top golf tournament, I think Seve would have been very proud and pleased with a fantastic advert for golf.

I am sure that viewers in 250 countries who watch the tournament live would have been glued to their seats.

Well done everyone especially Captain Montgomerie OBE.

 

Back To The Sixties! – Titanium Club in Bangkok

Back To The Sixties! – Titanium Club in Bangkok

I have to admit I do like to relax after a day on the golf course, perhaps with a cold beer listening to some great music.

Once you have discussed all those great shots you thought you made around some of Bangkok’s many wonderful golf courses, had the massage, eaten, then it’s time to hit the town.

Bangkok's night life has literally hundreds of bars, night clubs and discos to choose from, ranging from a roadside vans blasting out the hits, to the swanky hotel clubs.

Personally I am not into drum and bass or garage music. In fact I’ve been known to panic when they say ‘Who is this Eric Clapton you talk about?’

Well for all you middle age hippies out there all is not lost. While Red Mountain maybe my golf course heaven down in Phuket, Titanium is now my music base when in Bangkok.

Titanium-disco-bangkok Located off Sukhumvit on Soi 22, Titanium Club and Ice Bar is one of Bangkok’s coolest bars with innovative lighting, creative drinks and great sounds.

Upstairs, check out their Ice Bar, where the temperature is down to minus 10degrees C and offers the most spectacular array of vodkas in all of Thailand.

There is a great house band called Unicorn, an all female group who can really play with passion.

But for me and my golf buddies, the star attraction undoubtedly is to hear at full blast Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd played to perfection by the club’s other house band, The Big Boy Band.

Five middle aged Thai guys who can achieve a perfect rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody with all the harmonies is my type of music high.

They give it all and play all the old favourites from Dire Straits to the Rolling Stones.

They don’t play every night so best check out what’s on by calling tel +66 (0)2 258 3758.

Give the girlie bars a rest next time and head down to Soi 22. Apparently the club holds a Doctors and Nurses night once a month as well. Get your Vodka injections here, and watch your drive go that extra few more yards !!!

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Interest in the Royal Trophy is already extremely high, with over 250 journalists from Europe and Asia keen to get their pictures and stories, at yesterday’s press conference.

Although Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie OBE is here in Thailand, along with a host of top stars, the media’s attention was focused on super star Rio Ishikawa, the Japanese pin up boy.IMG_6826

In 2010 Rio made a World record closing round of 12 under par 58 and is returning to represent Asia at the Royal Trophy for a third successive time, and he is still only 19 years old.

Europe not to be out done, have invited their very own super kid, Italy’s Matteo Manassero. Matteo won his first European Tour title at just 17 years old, claiming the Castello Masters last October. He was also recently named European Tour’s Rookie of the Year 2010.

Latest team news is that Eduardo Molinari has had to pull out of the European Team due to injury and Fredrik Andersson Hed has flown in last night to take his place.

Peter Hanson, Thomas Bjorn, Johan Edfors, Matteo Manassero, Henrik Stenson, Pablo Martin and Rhys Davies make up the rest of Monty’s team.

Asia has ten of their players in Thailand to choose from, as Jeev Milka Singh is still recovering from a back injury. He told the media yesterday that he would eventually decide if he was fit to join the team after today’s pro am at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who is the only player to have taken part in every Royal Trophy match said’ He felt that the Hua Hin course was tougher than last year’s host Amatar Spring Golf Club, and that everyone will need to be aware of some of the greens.’

European team member Rhys Davies from Wales, who is known as the World’s Best Putter, maybe has an advantage, but everyone is predicting a very close fight to the finish on Sunday January 9th at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

The enormous media interest in this event is great for sponsors Tourist Authority of Thailand, as it is promoting golf in Thailand to the masses of fans around the World.

Ryder Cup Fever Comes To Thailand!

Ryder Cup Fever Comes To Thailand!

The Royal Trophy, the brainchild of the great Seve Ballesteros, arrives in Hua Hin Thailand this month, with a steela cast of top golfers from Europe and Asia.

The European team’s captain is none other than the 2010 triumphant Ryder captain, Colin Montgomerie, and when he calls the players can’t wait to play for Europe.

Peter Hanson, Thomas Bjorn, Johan Edfors, Matteo Manassero, Henrik Stenson, Pablo Martin and Rhys Davies make up Monty’s team.

Rhys Davies emphasised his eagerness to enjoy a taste of the action with Europe as he spearheaded the powerful force descending on the Royal Trophy.

BM Stock 080810096 The golfer hailed as the best putter in the world after just one season on the European Tour was the first player from either team to turn up at the stunning Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.

And he was quickly experiencing the speed of the greens as he waited for Colin Montgomerie and the rest of his European team-mates to join him for the eagerly-awaited fifth edition of the Royal Trophy.

Davies commented: “I guess being here this early is a sign of how excited – and honoured – I feel to be part of such a prestigious competition.

“After witnessing Europe’s fantastic Ryder Cup win at such close quarters in October – as part of Colin’s support team – I was even more determined to actually play for a European team as quickly as possible.

“I never dreamed my chance would come this quickly, but having been selected I was determined to leave nothing to chance in terms of preparation, which is why I flew in to Thailand early on Sunday.’

The Asian team are perhaps as good as the US Ryder Cup team, with many of their team taking some big trophies in 2010.

Their team captain is Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki from Japan and his players include veteran Thongchai Jaidee Thailand’s super star, Japanese wonder kid Ryo Isikawa, Asian Tour Number one Noh Seung–yul, Kim Kyung-tae, Yuta Ikeda, Shunsuke Sonada, Liang Wen-Chung and Jeev Milka Singh.

Whatever the outcome, the billions of TV fans around the World and the thousands of spectators at Thailand’s Black Mountain Golf Course will be in for a treat.

 

Golfing in Thailand

Golfing in Thailand

Dubai I had a chat the other day with my friend Mark Siegel of www.thailandgolfzone.com about golfing in Thailandand he started with a very surprising comment – if any one just wants to play golf, he suggests they stay at home and play golf and not come to Thailand because really it is just the same so what is the point.

 

 

However if you want to immerse yourself in a new culture, experience eating food from a different continent every night, spend $1 on dinner one night then $500 the next THEN you should come to Thailand to enjoy a golfing holiday no other country in the world can offer.

 

 

OK so now he has my attention and what he talked about was so true. You are simply treated like a king from the minute you arrive at a golf course till the minute you leave. Staff at golf courses around the world can spend all the money they like on staff training – it will not compare to 1000’s of years Thai culture where they are brought up to be respectful. As Mark put it, the,Thai-ness of the people here is some thing special.

  

 

Most people that live here have a massage every week, usually for me and my friends it is the day after our golf game. But this is not excessive as it costs under $10 and it is part of the culture here. Most Thai’s have a foot or traditional massage each week, it is just what they do. So coming to Thailand and having a massage (or a couple) is much cheaper than at home, it is very good for you mentally and physically and it is getting yourself in to the local customs.

 

 

There are of course what you immediately imagine when you hear the word Thailand – some of the best beaches in the world. Combine this with world class diving, some excellent trekking, fabulous cooking classes and you have all your non golf days jam packed with treats. Compare that holiday to going to Valderrama which is world class golf destination, but what else can you do? Who wants to learn how to cook paella anyway!

 

 

Caddie 1 Then of course the clincher – the world famous Thai caddies. Some people feel a little uncomfortable at the start when having a caddie, having a person one who quite literally does everything for you on the golf course except hit the ball (sometimes I think I should let them do that as well). But by the end of the week they are dreading going home and playing with out a caddy in the future. Mark Penfold of Thailand Golf tours laughs when he recalls the time he returned to Australia after 3 weeks of golfing in Thailand, tees of on the first hole and walks down to his ball only to realise he has left his clubs on the tee box, no caddy!!!

 

 

The caddies are happy smiley, laughing, they are your friend and often can read a green better a scratch golfer. Whilst in Thailand you are more likely to enjoy the company of your caddie than you are talking about your score card which is why the caddies are often the highlight of your day.Caddie 3

 

So there you have it for combination of golf, value for money, world class locations, incredible weather year round, resorts that are anything upto are 5* plus, a wonderful culture and of course the unique experience of Thai caddies there is now only one choice for your next golfing holiday, it has to be Thailand

Should you go to Phuket or Hua Hin (or both)?

Should you go to Phuket or Hua Hin (or both)?

 

SI 2  A not uncommon question I am asked is where a person/couple/family should head to – Phuket or Hua Hin – for their golfing holiday. There are a number of issues to look at before the best answer is uncovered.

Firstly when do you plan to go? Hua Hin is the driest place in Thailand of all the golfing destinations and is often a better destination to give yourself every chance to play under bright blue skies. Most of Thailand gets a good drenching at some point or another during the year and you always want to Google a good rainfall chart before you book a trip anywhere.

The next point to consider is what (if any) activities you plan to do on your non golfing days (probably blasphemy on Golf blog to suggest such a thing). If you are a diver then Phuket is probably a better option during the dry season as it has truly world class diving destinations nearby. Phuket also has excellent surfing waves during the summer months.

For nightlife and eating both cities have their share of very (very) good restaurants, active clubs and bars and all the ‘extras’ that are associated with Thai night life. Patong is Patong and you either want to go there and see it or you don’t but Hua Hin doesn’t really have anything like that.

For purely golf – it is just about a dead heat. The best two courses in each area are world class. Banyan Estate and Black Mountain golf course in Hua Hin are true delights to play on, the respective club houses and restaurants are 4* for both service and culinary delights. I could go to Hua Hin for a week and only play these two courses and be VERY happy with my golf trip (so long as I scored well!). Similarly in Phuket the new Red Mountain and the famous Blue Canyon (sometimes it seems you NEED to have a colour in the name of a golf course in Thailand) Canyon Course where Tiger won the Johnnie Walker Classic in 1998. Both are fabulous courses, the Canyon Course, probably the toughest course in Thailand with its tricky greens and difficult layout whilst Red Mountain has huge altitude changes and uneven fairways, some very tight holes  but you are rewarded with the best putting surfaces on the island of Phuket – once you get there!

From there each destination has its next level of courses. Hua Hin has Majestic, Palm Hills and Springfield, all these courses where involved in the professional Asian Tour’s qualifying school process in 2010, great courses, very playable and kept in good condition. Phuket has the Blue Canyon Lakes course, my favourite course on the island, very playable, a good honest test of your golf game, you are rewarded for good shots and penalised (heavily) for the bad ones. There is also Loch Palm with its short but very tight course with lots of water. Laguna is quite long and rated one of the best resort courses in Asia. Needless to say on courses that have Lakes, Loch and Laguna in the name there are plenty of water hazards. Red mountain

Perhaps for many the final deciding factor is money and here Hua Hin definitely has its nose in front. For the overall package I would say Hua Hin is about 35 percent cheaper for hotels, food and golf.

Of course the best answer just might be to have a two city stay whilst in Thailand. Spend the first 4 days in Phuket play, Red Mountain and Blue Canyon – both courses – then fly to Bangkok transfer down to Hua Hin and play Banyan Estate and Black Mountain. That way you really cover the best 4 courses in Southern Thailand. 

See you on the tee box

Thailand Golf Blog is Back in Virtual Print

Thailand Golf Blog is Back in Virtual Print

Hey guys, we are BACK! After a 2 year hiatus the Thailand Golf Blog will become an active golf chat site again with a weekly blog by me, Graham the golfnut, and hopefully other posts from you the golfing public.

What can you expect from the new and improved – and well rested – Thailand Golf blog? I will be putting up a lot of new content about what happens on the golf courses around Thailand, where you have to play and where you must not. There will be a few course reviews on brand new courses (like the new Royal Gems 63 hole complex that is not even open yet), helpful tips for people coming to Thailand to golf for the first time, like the fact that you use your umbrella every day for either the rain or the sun, but it is always used.

We will be covering Asian Tour events, Thailand Golf Tournaments,  and now that the European Senior Tour is holding events here in Thailand, maybe, just maybe we are not far away from another PGA event here again.

Enjoy the new posts here, I will endeavour to maintain the high humour content that Niftee had going here and make this the best read and most enjoyable golf blog going. (Except maybe Thailand Golf Zone!)

Swing Straight, Shoot Low.

   

Thai Tigresses

Thai Tigresses

My thanks to Mark for his comments on my earlier posting where I talked about the US Women’s Open Golf Championship and commented on the strong showing of Asian lady golfers, particularly the Koreans, the “Seoul Sisters” of golf. Mark asked: “And what about the Thai lady golfers? Maybe a separate post on their progress as this would be very interesting”. So here goes:

Onnarin_sattayabanphot Whilst no lady Thai golfer has reached prominence yet on the LPGA Tour, there is a whole crop of very talented Thai youngsters coming through. Perhaps the most promising is 23-year old Onnarin “Moo” Sattayabanphot. (Moo means “little pig” in Thai!). At the age of 12, Onnarin (pronounced o-NARE-n) first picked up a club when she went to the driving range with her father.  She was so intrigued by how such an odd-shaped club could hit a ball so far off a tee, that she quickly became interested in taking the game up. While in high school at La Salle College in Bangkok, Onnarin captured 11 tournaments in four years, was a member of the Thai national team from 1999-2001, won silver medal as an individual and gold medal as a team member in both the 20th and 21st Southeast Asia Games, and was named 1999 Golfer of the Year by the Thailand Amateur Ladies Golf Association. Two years ago, Onnarin ventured from her home in Bangkok to the United States for the opportunity to play golf at a top university (Purdue) and get a quality education while doing so. Whilst at Purdue, she recorded 15 top-10 finishes in collegiate competition, including one win, was selected for the Big Ten All-Conference First Team selection (2004-2006), and the 2006 NGCA All-American Second Team selection. Last year, before turning Pro, Onnarin was named the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year and Purdue Female Athlete of the Year. This year she has played eight events on the Duramed Futures Tour, achieving eight top ten finishes, the best being second, and earning US$16,052 to date, ranked 19th. Onnarin missed the cut in the US Women’s Open on +10, but perhaps her happiest moment so far as a Pro was when she achieved a rare double-eagle or albatross on the par-five 11th hole of the Louisiana Pelican Classic last April.

Other Thais making their assault on the Futures Tour this season are Srisawangnontaya_2Nontaya "Net" Srisawang from   Chiang Mai, Huachai from Bangkok, and Tiffany Tavee, actually born in Arizona of Thai parents. 20-year old Nontaya, currently ranked 43rd with two top-ten finishes, knows how to win having come first in 2004 Teens on the Green World Championship, the 2004 Asia Pacific Junior Master Golf Championship, the 2004 Thailand Ladies Amateur Open, the 2005 Hong Kong Ladies Open, the 2005 Phuket Thailand Ladies Master Championship, the 2006 Orient Masters in WenZhou China and the 2007 LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament. I believe Nontaya gave a helping hand to Onnarin by caddying for her at the US Open.

In all there are 17 Thai lady professionals who are potentially capable of winning high-profile tournaments anywhere in the world, including rising players like Pornanong Phatlum, Porani Chutichai, Rungthiwa Pangjan, Tiranan Yoopan, Titiya Plucksataporn, Walailak Satarak and Banchalee Thienthong, as well as seasoned Pro, Rayong’s Russamee Gulyanamitta. Chutichai_porani 21-year old Porani, from Chiang Rai, has qualified to play in the Step Up Tour in Japan, while Tiranan and Rungthiwa are heading to Japan to play in the Q-School this year. I have deliberately not mentioned yet the popular 17-year old twin sisters, Aree and Naree Wongluekiet, now also living in the United States. Their mother is Thai but they have now opted for Korean citizenship (their father is Korean) and are announced on the first tee as “from Korea”, which seems a shame.

One final footnote that I came across whilst preparing the above and may amuse you. If you think Onnarin Sattayabanphot, or any of the other names in this post, are hard to pronounce, try saying the name of Hawaii’s state fish that is engraved on the wedge carried by Shayna Miyajima of Maui, Hawaii. Believe it or not, ‘Humuhumunukunukuapuaa’ fits on the back of the club. I am told that the fish’s name is pronounced like hum-moo-hum-moo-nooku-nooku-ah-poo-ah-ah. And why does Miyajima have the name of a fish on her golf club? "My club fitter is in San Diego and he’s trying to learn Hawaiian words (!) and I guess he just really liked that one," she said. Feminine logic at its best.

Play fast, swing slow.

Wet Week In The UK

Wet Week In The UK

Tewkesbury_floods2_2 My recent sporting experiences in the UK confirmed why I prefer to be in Thailand, especially for golf.

The week-end before last I went with some friends on a mini golfing break. We had booked a great deal at the Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club, five minutes off the M5 motorway and about 75 miles from my home in the UK. Two rounds of golf, with buggies, one night’s accommodation, dinner and breakfast, all for £80 (about 160 US$, less than 5,000 baht). On arrival, we were told that the course was closed due to heavy rain. Eventually, we were allowed on to the soggy course (but, no buggies) and managed to get round in time for dinner. Tewkesbury_floods_2

The next morning, we completed 13 holes before the heavens opened again. From then on the rain never stopped and within a couple of days, Tewkesbury turned into a stranded island and more than 10,000 families were left homeless in the area, electricity supplies to 50,000 homes were cut and, ironically, 150,000 homes were left without water.

Lords_rain The following Friday up to Lord’s, the home of cricket, for the second test match between England and India. Having travelled to London in relentless, driving rain, on arrival the ground resembled a lake and it seemed that no play would be possible. Miraculously, the weather relented after lunch, and due to the fantastic new drainage system, we were able to enjoy a few hours’ cricket.

Last week-end, I was at Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland for the Open Golf Championship only to be greeted again by "dreech" Scottish weather: constant drizzle and a cold, stubborn mist. The players and spectators looked like Michelin men with layers of wet proof gear, some even wearing winter golf mitts. This, in the middle of July! Apparently, a foreign visitor asked why the tournament was not played in the summer!Open_golf_rain_2

The Open had not got off to the best of starts what with Gary Player’s outrageous, unfounded claims about alleged drug usage in the sport, and the farce which led to eight competitors playing 19 holes rather than 18 in the first round of the final qualifying round at Sunningdale. They had to play the fourth hole of the Old Course twice after, mid-round, the pin position was deemed unplayable and moved from one side of the green to the other! Might there be repercussions in the next outing of the MUGS? Half a dozen golfers arguing with Charlie to change an "unfair" pin position after they have played the hole?

Coincidentally with my comments in a previous post about Asian men failing to make an impression on the PGA Tour (unlike the ladies), all the talk before The Open was about whether K J Choi could be the first Asian player to win a major. In the event, Choi had his career first top-10 at a major and left Carnoustie convinced that he will one day hoist the Claret Jug. Asian Tour stalwart, Singaporean Lam Chih Bing failed to make the cut despite being spurred on by an entourage of twelve family members including his 79-year-old grandmother. She must have found Carnoustie more than chilly because I know I certainly did.

In the end, the exciting finish and Padraig Harrington’s first major win will be what is best remembered about the 2007 Open at Carnoustie. But my thoughts were more about heading back to Thailand for some hot golfing weather.

Play fast, swing slow.

GorgeoUS Golf

GorgeoUS Golf

Morganpressel As per my previous post, last weekend I watched the Golf Night programme on satellite TV. Having followed the very exciting finish to the European PGA Tour Open de France, I was dissuaded from switching off and going to bed by the sight of some stunning lady golfers gracing the US Women’s Open Golf Championship.

Wow! What a change from the days when lady Pro golfers tended to look like retired hockey players! The event was more like a fashion show and many of the participants would not look out of place on the models’ catwalk.

Kerr_3

As you probably saw, the winner was Cristie Kerr – at her 42nd major attempt! The 29-year-old Kerr shot a final-round, 1-under-par 70 at the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines, North Carolina, to register a two-stroke victory and finally claim that elusive major prize, just like Phil Mickelson did in the Masters in 2004.

What really caught my eye though was that, out of the top twenty five finishers, no fewer than sixteen are Asian, or of Asian extraction. Twenty four Koreans made the cut, only one less than the number of Americans.

Park Typical is runner-up, 18-year old Angela Park, a veritable United Nations wrapped into one small package, born in Brazil to South Korean parents before moving with her father to California at the age of eight. And at only 5ft 5 inches (about 1.62 metres) and looking like she weighs about 8 stone (112 lbs or 51 kilos), Park can really play golf. Look at her stats: Average Drive 245.3 yards, Fairways Hit 82%, Greens in Regulation 72%, Putts Per Hole 1.68.

Actually Cristie Kerr is listed as being the same height as Park although she looks much bigger (on my tv at any rate) having a more ‘American’ build. I read afterwards that she had shed three and a half stones (about 49 lbs or 22 kilos) over the past few years. Just as well because after sinking the winning putt, she leapt into her husband’s arms. Some years ago she would have flattened him.

Michellewie NOT included in the sixteen Asians referred to above, is Michelle Wie. She followed up her shameful and controversial withdrawal from the Ginn Tribute (when she was in danger of shooting an 88 which, under an odd LPGA rule, would have meant that she would not be allowed to play in tournaments for the rest of the year) by also walking off the 10th hole of the second round of the Open after aggravating her wrist injury. Wie seems to have lost her way. She has yet to win anything of significance on the LPGA Tour and her attempts to compete with the men have been an unmitigated disaster. Compare her to Morgan Pressel (pictured above). Apart from returning to golf too soon from her injury, Wie seems to be distracted by all of her off-course commitments. I do hope that Alexis Thompson does not go the same way. At the age of twelve (yes, that’s twelve, just 148 months into her existence), Alexis became the youngest ever participant in the US Women’s Open. Someone that young, however good she may be, playing in Pro golf tournaments just does not seem right to me. She failed to make the cut on +16.

It appears that the strong Asian influence now on the LPGA Tour is not reflected in the men’s game. My guess is that, apart from V J Singh, the Asian men have not yet developed the power needed to succeed on the PGA Tour. Compare Angela Park’s average drive of 245 yards with the fact that the average drive of the longest driver on the US Tour is now touching 320 yards. As for me, on a good day, with a downhill running fairway and a typhoon-strength gale behind, I am right up there with Angela Park! I would be interested on your views about the Asian take-away of the LPGA Tour.

Play fast, swing slow.

French Connection

French Connection

Storm This last weekend on satellite TV I caught the Golf Night programme – mainly to ogle the divine Di Stewart. Featured were two events: the European PGA Tour Open de France ALSTOM played at Le Golf National near to Versailles outside of Paris; and the US Women’s Open Golf Championship.

The French Open was won by England’s Graeme Storm, a former Amateur Open winner who holed Britain and Ireland’s winning putt in the 1999 Walker Cup match against America. Otherwise, he is best known for creating history in 2000 when his mother, Jane, caddied for him in the Masters. The 29-year old Storm lost his tour card in 2003 and spent the winter in a cream cake factory, cleaning baking trays to pay for his trips to the European Tour Qualifying School in Spain. I suppose he could not have chosen a more apt place than Versailles to capture his first Euro Tour event since it was there that Queen Marie Antoinette famously said of the French population, "Let them eat cake" – before she was guillotined. To continue the analogies, in the final round Storm did not lose his head and went home with a 666,660 Euro slice of the prize pie, thus guaranteeing himself a place in The Open at Carnoustie. The runners-up were left with only crumbs of comfort.

What I had not realised was the long history of the Open de France. It was inaugurated in 1906 and is the oldest national open in Continental Europe. Hard to imagine now, when you can fly from London to Bangkok in under twelve hours, but the top British pro’s in the early 1900’s used to consider the tournament as a ‘major’, travelling for a couple of days to reach the venue.

Massy_1 I was particularly fascinated by an item on the tv programme about Arnaud Massy, one of the great characters of golf in its early days. The son of a sheep farmer, Massy worked on a sardine boat and supplemented his income by caddying at the new Biarritz golf course where a great many of the best professional golfers from Britain came to practice during the off-season in the warm climate of southern France. Blessed with natural abilities, he learned from these pro golfers and in 1898 Sir Everard Hambro (a philanthropist from the Hambro banking dynasty, and no mean golfer himself) sponsored and took him to North Berwick, Scotland to develop his skills for a professional career. As a self-taught player, he had started off playing left-handed. In Scotland he then had to rebuild all his technique to play right-handed. In 1906, Arnaud Massy won the first edition of the French Open repeating the success the following year, defeating a strong contingent of British players including the great Harry Vardon. He followed up by becoming the first non-Brit to win The Open Championship (British Open) in 1907 at Hoylake. On being presented with the Claret Jug, he learnt that his wife had given birth to their baby girl christened Margot and they gave her the second name of Hoylake.  His victory raised the profile of the game in his native France, and with three other major players, Massy put on exhibition matches in various European cities that contributed significantly to the increased popularity of golf on the continent. In 1910, he won the inaugural Belgian Open and in 1911 was the runner-up at the British Open to Harry Vardon, conceding only on the 35th play-off hole. That year, Massy completed his book on golfing that was successfully published in France then translated into English for the British market – certainly the only example of a French golf book translated into English! In 1912, he won the first Spanish Open ever played. Massy’s golfing career had to be put on hold as a result of World War I. While serving in the French army he was wounded at Verdun but at war’s end was able to return to golfing. At age 41, he had lost four prime years and struggled to compete. Remarkably, in 1925 at age 48, he won the French Open for the fourth time and then won back-to-back Spanish Opens in 1927/28. He participated in the first matches against the USA. When his career finally wound down he worked as a pro at courses in England, France and Morocco. Married to an English woman, he lived in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Second World War. Arnaud Massy remains the only French golfer ever to have won any of golf’s four majors, and was also the only golfer from Continental Europe to win a major before Seve Ballesteros won The Open Championship in 1979. This swashbuckling character was France’s greatest golfer ever.

My take on the US Women’s Open follows in the next posting. Play fast, swing slow.

Golf’s Worst Foursome

Golf’s Worst Foursome

An assortment of golfing items for your pleasure today:

First, a golf trivia question for you (answer below): For all golfers in the USA who have established official handicaps, is the average handicap over or under 18?

Asamalexis20crop Second, congratulations to Tiger Woods (whose mother is of course Thai) and wife, Elin on the birth of their daughter, Sam Alexis Woods, born early Monday morning, June 18th only hours after the very exciting ending of the US Open and Tiger’s missed birdie on the final hole. How considerate of mother and daughter to wait until after the end of the US Open. Apparently, it is the first time Tiger has been happy to be par (Pa, geddit!)

Third, congratulations also to Angel Cabrera who won the US Open. He joins 1967 British Open Champion Roberto De Vicenzo as the only Argentines to win a major Championship. Here is what Angel had in his bag:

Driver – Ping Rapture 7.5 degrees
3 wood – Ping TiSi Tech 14 degrees
Hybrid – Nickent 3DX DC ironwood 17 degrees
Irons (3-9) – Ping S58 w/ Rifle 7.0 shaft
Pitching Wedge – Ping S58 47 degrees
Sand Wedge – Titleist Vokey spin milled 54 degrees
Lob Wedge – Titleist Vokey prototype 60 degrees
Putter – Ping Redwood Anser 35 inch long
Ball – Titleist Pro V1x

Last, an item that I read somewhere which amused me:

What is golf’s worst foursome? Answer: Monica Lewinski, O. J. Simpson, Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Why? Well, Monica is a hooker, O. J. is a slicer, Ted can’t drive over water, and Bill can’t remember which hole he played last.

Being a Brit, I have to propose my worst golf foursome as: Tony Blair (likely always to be found where there are Bushes), Gordon Brown (his score is never quite what it seems when you look more closely), John “Two Jags” Prescott (the Club secretary’s not safe, and he’s likely to biff you for saying so), and Alastair Campbell (too much spin). Oops, there goes my M.B.E.!

I’d really appreciate it if you could let me have your worst golf foursomes, with the reasons you chose them. Either post them, or email to me and I will do the rest.

Also, I will be speaking at a golf dinner later this year and if anyone out there knows a good golfing grace, e.g. “For what we are about to receive ……..”, I would love to hear it.

Play fast, swing slow!

Golf trivia question answer: The average handicap for all golfers in the US with established official handicaps is 17.3

“I See”, Said The Blind Man

“I See”, Said The Blind Man

Bruce_hooper_international_blind_go My attention was drawn this week by a visiting golfer in Thailand, to a golf tournament held earlier last month at Downfield Golf Club in Dundee in Scotland. The tournament was attended by over 20 partially sighted and blind golfers, including Tayside and Fife Blind Golf Society. Most players were accompanied by a guide who assisted in describing distance, direction and characteristics of the hole. They also helped with club alignment.

I guess most participants would have thought they would have an equal chance with all the other competitors when they teed off. But when some began holing long putts, pointing towards the green and even reading from their own scorecards, some eyebrows were raised. And by the time the winner walked off the 18th green the result was already in doubt amid claims that sighted players had taken part.

One observer, who did not want to be named, was appalled at the apparent ‘abuse of goodwill’ and wrote an anonymous letter to the local newspaper. It said: ‘I work in the voluntary sector so am aware of most disabilities and their consequences, but it was obvious the majority of these “blind” people were sighted. In the clubhouse I observed “blind” people walking around unaided, buying refreshments and going up and down stairs with ease. Outdoors many were pulling their own trolleys and one in particular was reading a scorecard. I watched players tee off with little or no assistance and several watched their own shot approach a green. One particular gentleman even pointed up the fairway before asking “Is that a flag?” I struggled to see the flag against the tree line, and I can see to drive a car! Perhaps the worst of all was the number of “blind” players who putted out without any assistance and then picked their own ball out of the cup.’ Downfield Golf Club said that it would not be taking any action.

Hmmm. That reminds me of the golfing joke about the Social Worker, the Surgeon, the Bank Manager and the Engineer playing a four ball at their local club one Saturday morning. Play was disastrously slow and the four enquired of the course marshal what was causing the hold up. The marshal told them: ‘Remember last year when the clubhouse nearly burnt down and was only saved by the fast response from the local fire brigade? Well, one of the firemen involved, who was a keen golfer, lost his sight and, as a gesture, the club has allowed him to play a round of golf today.’ ‘Wow, that’s great!,’ said the Social Worker, ‘I can make sure that he is getting all of the social services that he needs.’ ‘Yes,’ said the Surgeon, ‘and my wife is a top eye specialist. I’ll arrange an appointment for him to check that everything is being done to restore his sight’. ‘And I can arrange to set up a trust fund to pay for any treatment’ said the Banker. Then the Engineer piped up: ‘Why can’t he play at night?’

If anyone has an interesting or amusing story about golf in Thailand , or elsewhere, please post it or email it to me.

Play fast, swing slow!