Category: Golf Travel

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Pacific Golf Club, Carindale

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

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

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

The Group with caddies at Springfield

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

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

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

Thailands Royal Resort

Thailands Royal Resort

Hua Hin is the oldest and most traditional of the Thai resorts. It combines the attractions of a modern holiday destination, 5 star hotels, fabulous restaurants, gorgeous beaches, first class golf courses, with the charm and fascination of a traditional fishing port. Which is exactly what it was like when I first visited, more than two decades ago. While most other Thai holiday destinations cater mainly to foreign tourists, Hua Hin is a holiday resort for foreigners as well as Thai nationals. Besides it’s great 5 mile long beach Hua Hin provides the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand while it’s yet virtually undiscovered as an international Golf destination. Green-fees and other costs are among the lowest in the world and course maintenance and services are kept to a very high standard.

Thailands Royal Resort - Black Mountain

Golf in Thailand was started in Hua Hin, with Royal Hua Hin being the first course, designed by a Scottish railway engineer no less. Hua Hin has another 9 fantastic courses, all worth a visit. Jack Nicklaus has Springfield Royal Country Club, which presnets the golfer with 27 wonderful holes, all beautifully designed. Sea Pines, a kind of links course, is the newest, opened just five years ago. The signiture 16th hole has that “wow” factor, with beautiful ocean views. Must plays are Banyan and Black Mountain. Black Mountain has held several PGA games over since it’s opening and has won many awards and honours.  The same can be said for Banyan, which has now been open for 9 years. It’s the course I’ve played most, not only for the golf, but the apres golf is perfect, sundowners are perfect.

The resort of Hua Hin was discovered in the early 1920s by King Rama VII as an ideal getaway from the sultry metropolis of Bangkok. The tranquil fishing village was turned into the Royal resort and consequently became popular among Thailand’s nobility and upper-class.

Thailands Royal Resort - Hua Hin BeachToday’s visitor to Hua Hin will still sense this special atmosphere and old world charm. Besides sun-filled days on the 5 mile-long beach there are leisure activities for the whole family from watersports and shopping to golf. The area around the town let’s you discover fabulous national parks with fantastic peaks, caves and waterfalls.

In the evening the winding streets have a great variety of shops and markets that make for a relaxed stroll, and the restaurants built on stilts into the sea offer superb seafood prepared in the age old traditional Thai way. Hua Hin has all the ingredients for a very special holiday experience.

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

Sand, Sea…………And A Seven Iron

Sand, Sea…………And A Seven Iron

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

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

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

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

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

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

 

Does Phuket Need to Reconsider Its Golf Strategy?

Does Phuket Need to Reconsider Its Golf Strategy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Playing and Staying on a Thai Golf Course

Playing and Staying on a Thai Golf Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caddie Championship in Thailand

Caddie Championship in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young Guns in Thailand

Young Guns in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thailand Golf in the Summer

Thailand Golf in the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golf in Thailand is Still a Game to Enjoy

Golf in Thailand is Still a Game to Enjoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo the World Golfer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Masters Means Armchair Golf This Week

Masters Means Armchair Golf This Week

With the low season here in Thailand just started, the green fees are now reasonable, the weather is still very pleasant and the courses are exceptionally green.

RM16-4 This is a great time to get the clubs out of the cupboard and head to one of 280 wonderful golf courses dotted around this beautiful country.

The Koreans have returned home to play in the own back yard so the courses are also not too busy.

But I am afraid this will not be enough to entice me away from my home this week.

No I have filled the fridge, checked that the beers are cold and from Friday onwards I will be glued to my flat screen….yes the Masters are back and so don't call me unless it is life threatening.

Not sure where you are but here in Bangkok we will get live coverage starting at 02.00hrs on Friday. For wimps there will be delayed coverage during the day, but somehow it just is not the same.

I hope I can stay awake until 06.00hrs on Monday April 11th.

This year Thongchai Jaidee has dropped out of the World's top 50 so like me he will most likely be watching on his TV set too.

My hopes are for a European victory with a wild card bet on Ross Fisher to win, and who can leave out Luke and Lee as well.

Anyway if you don't enjoy the tension on the screen, then I am sure you will find the odd hacker out on the course, wondering why the course is so quite! Enjoy.

Bangkok Weaves It’s Magic Spell

Bangkok Weaves It’s Magic Spell

I have now lived here in Bangkok for over a year, so perhaps do not class myself as a ‘tourist’.

Golfasian-Journalists-Thai-Country-Club However last week some international media descended into Thailand and I was invited to join them for an evening of culture. I therefore became a tourist for the night.

First stop was Siam Nirimit billed as ‘The Must See Show in Thailand.’

Siam Niramit is a world-class performance of Thailand's arts and cultural heritage. Set in the heart of Bangkok it is close to the MRT and major thoroughfares.

This is truly a must-see spectacular which is performed on the gigantic stage, now listed in the Guinness World Records.

Imagine a west End stage and then treble it….65 meters wide, and 40 metres wide and a very high proscenium. It really dwarfs the 150 performers, who have as many as 500 costumes.

On top of this, enhanced special effects with the world's most advanced technology are used to produce a stimulating, very realistic and inspiring experience. The lighting was superb!

Goats, Elephants in the auditorium and even a river and rain are all part of the extravaganza.

Afterwards our party was whisked away to experience a private river cruise up the busy Chaophraya River in Bangkok.

Run by the Marriott Spa and Resort, their small boat can comfortably sit over 20 guests in style as you glide up the Chapophraya, known as the ‘River of Kings’.

The food is typically Thai ranging from dips to soups and spicy main dishes, followed by sticky rice and mango.

Many famous sites are illuminated at night and it is wonderful to see the temples glittering in all their splendour. Bangkok beats the river Thames any day!

Of course most tourists will take in the Grand Palaces and the night markets, however my personal palace to add to your list is Thaniya Plaza, a shopping centre near Sala Daeng BTS Sky train with over four floors of golf equipment at very reasonable prices. Possibly the must see attraction at the top of the list before you head for your next Thailand Golf Vacation.

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….’

Hole in one – Thailand Golf

Hole in one – Thailand Golf

Thailand Golf Vacation

Arnold Palmer in 1986 got a hole in one during practice at a tournament, so a film crew turned up for the next day during the pro am, and told him they wanted to see if he could do it again. He got out his 5 iron and amazing Arnie got his second hole in one on the same hole. Two days running!

David Toms got one at a Major on and went on to win the PGA as a result.

Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee aced the 181-yard, par-3 fifth hole Saturday for the seventh hole-in-one in five U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach. It's the 41st known hole-in-one in tournament history and the first since Peter Hedblom aced the 238-yard third at Winged Foot in 2006.

One of the top YouTube films is Tiger Wood’s getting his hole in one in January 2008 on the 16th at Scottsdale Arizona  in front of 20,000 crazy golf fans.

Thailand-hole-in-one The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon was where the great Gene Sarazen got one his holes in one. Not an easy hole by any means. Why not try your luck out the replica version at the Royal Gems Golf City here in Bangkok.

Felicity Sieghart, 76 years old at the time, is believed to hold the record for the oldest person to make two holes-in-one during one round

Even a seven year old got his hole in one on TV during the Junior Open in America.

Super stars Jack Nicklaus has scored over 23 holes in one and Tiger has 18 to date.

So it is possible to do it more than once !

In golf, a hole in one or hole-in-one (also known as an ace) is when a player hits the ball directly from the tee into the cup with one shot. This is most possible on a par 3 hole.

Longer hitters have accomplished this feat on shorter par 4 holes. Nearly all par 4 and par 5 holes are too long for golfers to reach in a single shot.

Holes in one are extremely rare, and while it depends largely on the golfer's skill, many instances have been recorded when a ball has bounced off a tree, a bird in flight, or even a passing car, before settling into the hole.

Well I think all of us think and believe we could join this illustrious club, but perhaps we hope it won’t be on Saturday when the 19th hole will be packed, ready for you to buy the round of drinks.

Maybe golf insurance is worth considering, especially if you are running a hole in one price like a car, a holiday or boat.

And, just imagine if someone actually wins! What a day to remember that would be! But because you have insured the prize, all it has cost you is the modest hole in one insurance premium!

However, with 100 amateur golfers, a 165 yard hole and £10,000 car as a prize, the cost is £255. Just £2.55 per golfer!

Here in Thailand there are a number of par 3’s that I think have the potential to make your dream come true!

Take the 17th at Red Mountain Golf Club in Phuket, literally teeing off down an old disused mine shaft, or the 4th known as the Ravine at Santiburi Golf Club on the island of Koi Samui.

Let’s add the 8th an island hole at Riverdale in Bangkok, or maybe the 3rd at Maung Kaew also in the capital of Thailand. All these holes have the potential for that special moment in your own golfing history.

But remember for most of us mere mortals, you might like to know that the odds of an amateur getting a hole in one is 12,500 to 1. So maybe it’s worth saving your cash on the premium and use the money to enjoy an extra round on your Thailand Golf Vacation.

Old Age Pensioner Breaks Golf Record In Bangkok

Old Age Pensioner Breaks Golf Record In Bangkok

Having written my blogs covering other golfers making news for the past few months, please accept my apologies if this time I blow my own trumpet.

Firstly I admit that I am not a good golfer. My handicap registered by the Emirates Golf Federation a few years back is a mere 28, although some of my friends call me a bandit.

Here in Thailand I normally average 105 on my card, and that is tough going as it seems I am apparently allergic to sand!

In fact as a journalist, I try to write my articles and reports based on my own abilities as ‘a fat older golf tourist.’

I do however love golf, and always try to improve my own game…..currently I am heavily into the course management of my game. No heroics here, just get round in one piece, and keep the score below three figures if possible!

Last week I was invited to join a number of editors and journalists from Europe and the United States at the fabulous Thai Country Club here in Bangkok.

These respected reporters were here on a week’s trip to check out exactly why Thailand is one of the top golf destinations in the World.

Partnering Peter from the UK, Wee from Thailand and Alice from the United States, our four ball started off at midday.IMG_8206 I am on the left.

I had managed to secure the services of one of Thai Country Club’s top caddies Khun Chob, who is also herself a mean golfer as well.

At the first two par 4’s I scored bogeys, and then I conquered my fears of the third, a tricky par 3, and made par.

Unfortunately my third shot on the 4th hole was one for the cameras (Heroics again!!!)and it went into the water.  I ended up with had a horrible 8 on this clever par 5, which some say it is possibly one of the top ten holes in Thailand.

By the time we got to the 9th hole, my caddie Khun Chob informed me I was on 46. My usual figure for the front nine has been 52-55 so nothing special here I thought.

By the time we got to the tenth she told me I had actually made it in 46. She had tried to explain that if I got five on the ninth my score would be 46. Maybe it was her tactics to make me more relaxed, anyway I felt a lot better, and made par on the par 3 11th hole.

By now Khun Chob was reading the greens like a James Patterson paperback, and my putter was getting hotter too.

Things were going well and by the time I reached the 18th I had scored five pars and I was doing well.

However my drive on the 18th went over the trees onto the 14th fairway, and I thought that was it. Chob told me not to play out back onto the 18th fairway, but to carry on down the 14th parallel with the 18th fairway instead. My third shot was over some small palm trees and my ball landed on the green. Two putts and I made five.

I had made 93 which you might think is nothing special, but for me it was my best round to date.  A record for me that felt like my own British Open title.

Thai Country Club has played host to the likes of Ernie and Tiger who played there in the 90's. Golf Digest in the States rates the course their number one in Thailand too. So not only did I break my own record, but at one of the more difficult courses in Asia.

Now I cannot wait to get on some more courses here across Thailand and try to break my own record. I am beginning to understand why the country is called The Kingdom of Smiles.

I am still smiling!

What Makes A Great Golf Vacation In Asia Even Better

What Makes A Great Golf Vacation In Asia Even Better

For a lucky few of us, vacations are taken several times a year. But for most of us we can only grab the odd week or maybe a fortnight away to play our golf.

Not everyone in the family is going to get excited, when you tell them you plan another family vacation, where you will travel miles to find your ultimate 18 holes.

OK I think we have found the answer to your predicament, the Kingdom of Smiles, namely Thailand.

Swinger I am positive it will not be hard to persuade you to experience Thailand’s marvellous Championship courses. However, first you need to let the rest of your tribe exactly what you have in store for them too.

Firstly there is the climate which is hard to resist, especially lying by the pool with a cocktail and you’re I Pod.

What female can resist a bit of retail therapy? Well if you include Bangkok in your itinerary, they can shop almost 24/7 and find local Thai designer ware at very reasonable rates. From swanky air conditioned shopping malls to the massive weekend markets they will be spoilt for choice and it won’t break your bank balance either!

If there are teenagers involved, I am sure a bit of river rafting, bungee jumping or checking out the DVD’s for sale at the night markets will keep them happy.

Through in the odd elephant trek, a visit to the floating market and add the fabulous Thai cuisine, and you will have a very satisfied family.

They will not even notice you quietly creeping out of your hotel suite at 7am with your golf bag, as they will all be exhausted and sleeping soundly.

Thailand is a golfing country and the sport is taken very seriously by the local tourist board, as they can see that overseas players are an important income earner for their hospitality industry. We golfers spend money and naturally they want you to spend your dollars here in Thailand.

Having said that, golf across Thailand is actually very reasonable, and according to a recent survey, their green fees are 29% lower than all other Asian and Middle East golf clubs.

Tour operators such as Golfasian, run a very well oiled operation, so you the golfer can just enjoy the game, while they look after getting you to the course and handling the payments.

Tour Operators are the life blood of most golf club’s income, as the will be able to fill a substantial number of tee times over a twelve month period. Hence you are likely to benefit from some good tee times and at very competitive rates too.

Many of Golfasian‘s staff are also crazy about golf themselves, and like you, they try to play as many courses around Thailand as possible. If you need to know where to play, bearing in mind your type of golf handicap, they can advise you.

If during your fortnights family holiday, you want fit in around 6-8 rounds of golf, don’t worry. I am sure the rest of the family will be too busy to even notice you’re away enjoying some first class golf on some great Thailand Championship courses.

Remember if you could do with some family bonding, you can always suggest that everyone goes to a Thai Spa. I am sure your back swing will improve after a deep tissue sports massage, and they rest of your brood should also enjoy their Thai massage as well.

Enjoy and happy golf vacation to you all!

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.

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.

Why Do I like to Play Golf in Thailand?

Why Do I like to Play Golf in Thailand?

Why?

Because I can get out into the fresh air, hit some balls and enjoy the company of some friends, for maybe five hours.

OK maybe we don't always want to be with them all the time, so if they are fading their drive to the left, maybe if I want some peace and quiet I will drive purposely to the right.

But that is being a bit extreme!

DSC01280 Golf is just the right type of sport, where we can play badly, but still feel it was all worth it, and enjoy a drink at the clubhouse afterwards. Perfect!

Perhaps what makes playing around of golf here in Thailand, is it's all just a bit more relaxed. In fact it can be very relaxed indeed.

As soon as your car drives up, you really don't have to lift a finger. All is required is a greeting to your caddie and they take over.

Maybe after changing into your trendy Loud Mouth outfit, or your Ian Poulter Tartan Trousers, you can indulge in a pre round snack in the club house.

No cups of tepid tea here…..how about some chicken Satay, washed down by a fresh young coconut. OK and a cold beer perhaps too.

Then outside where the golf cart awaits, with your smiling Thai caddie ready and willing.

She tells you her name is Beer! Oh really I thought she said did I want another drink!

She already has your tees and golf balls ready for the battle ahead, so off we head for the first tee, a Par 4, 350 yards.  No problem!

Beer tells you it is a 'Dog red reft'.  (I think she meant 'Dog leg left' but no matter…. ),  with bunker at 240 yards ahead. Aim 'light', she kindly explains.

Golfasian-Thailand-Super-Golf-Fam-Trip-2010-Pattaya-013 No matter, anyway as your ball sails off in the direction of the lake on the left. Caddie gives me a smile as she realises that maybe I did not take her advice.

Cheers from the Thailand Ball Manufacturers Associations, as my ball drops in the water, and they see their turnover doubling before their eyes!!!

Trying to impress Beer now, so completely miss hit my third shot and end up getting a miserable seven. Not a great start.

By the time we reach the back nine we have stopped at some very pleasant rest stops, wolved down numerous beers and enjoyed some excellent snacks to boot. My caddie now realises that I am no Tiger Woods, more like in the woods!

We then decide to involve our four caddies in some betting. Whoever gets closest to the pin on the next par 3, gives their caddie a chance to putt for a birdie or par. All other players chip in to pay if she succeeds.

Caddies all join in the fun, and we are now eight merry players wobbling up the 15th.

Must say it is a bit much when you tee off again over a lake, to find three scantily clad Thai men waiting to dive in and get your ball….I will probably buy it back a few times in the club's pro shop over the next few months.

Luckily I make it to the green, much to Beer's delight and she putts in two to win a few more baht.

I think we have maybe let two groups through, laughed when the caddies tried to tell us about their favourite movie 'Hally Potter', and had a thoroughly enjoyable four hours of good fun….called golf!

Of course I forgot to mention that we had played amongst some fantastic scenery, saw a few cheeky monkeys, some lizards, a number of colourful birds (feathered variety) and it did not snow!

Playing in Thailand is a unique experience not to be missed, and it is all done with a big smile too.

Yes, now I can remember why I like to play golf!

Why We Like to Play Golf in Thailand?

Why We Like to Play Golf in Thailand?

Apart from over 280 wonderful golf courses to select, the fantastic variety of layouts from seaside to mountain tracks, plus those smiling caddies, Thailand also has on offer a great climate too!

When I lived in the UAE, only Mad Dogs and Englishmen would venture out to play a round of golf between June and September, when the temperatures rose to 52 degrees centigrade. Russian and Korean golfers also have a limited number of months to play due to their severe winters.

Thailand is luckily different!

Now having lived here in Bangkok for over a year, I am easily able to cope with a round of golf during almost all months.

Thailand has an all year round climate, that can best be described as tropical and humid for the majority of the country during most of the year.

The area of Thailand north of Bangkok has a climate determined by three seasons whilst the southern peninsular region of Thailand has only two.

Chiangmai Highlands 01 In northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May.

The later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures as although the northeast monsoon does not directly affect the northern area of Thailand, it does cause cooling breezes from November to February.

For example last week we played a round in Pattaya at Burapha Golf Club, and we actually experienced there seasons, dull, wet and sunny all in one round. Great fun!

The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.

Maybe back home it takes time for your local course to recover, whereas here they are used to the odd sudden downpour, and with excellent drainage, most courses are playable almost immediately after the storm moves on.

The caddies all have large umbrellas to protect you from the sun or rain, and you can buy golf bag waterproofs before you start your round.

The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons — the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsular.

On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit Thailand is from November to February when the northeast monsoon is blowing cool, dry air which serves as a respite from the heat.

During this cool season, the temperature ranges from 18ºC to 32ºC in Bangkok, while in northern and northeast Thailand, temperatures can get quite cool with morning temperatures as low as 8º C to 12º C with the occasional 20º C day.

Nights can be particularly chilly and at high altitudes the temperatures can and do drop below freezing.

The summer period, or hot and dry season, is from March to June. At this time temperatures in Bangkok average around 34º C, but can often reach 40º C with the humidity levels of 75%.

Try and avoid April, unless you plan to be permanently submerged in the ocean, because this is the hottest month across the country.

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort 0611_H12_0853 From July to October is the monsoonal season when most of Thailand's annual rainfall is accumulated. The humidity averages just under 90%, with temperatures averaging around 29º C in Bangkok.

The monsoons finish when the wind direction changes, bringing dry weather from the northeast. At best this season can be described as unpredictable and not the constant downpour of rain like you would expect. The middle months of this season may hold particularly heavy rains for the north of the country.

This is all great information to have, but in reality it's still possible to avoid the mid morning heat in April by booking an afternoon tee time say at 13.30hrs. The course will be a lot quieter and if you do happen to get caught by a storm, then you can always shelter at the many food and drink stops.

The rates are also slightly lower after April / May so you not only will find the courses less hectic, but you will also have some more cash to buy those cheap golf clubs in Bangkok.

Try a visit to the cooler courses in the North when a round at Chiang Mai Highlands can be very pleasant in the summer.

With sensible planning and friendly advice from your golf travel specialists you can really enjoy golf here in Thailand all year round.

Festivals Abound in Thailand

Festivals Abound in Thailand

There are amazing festivals held annually around the World, that most of us would definitely add to our list of must see events to see.

There is the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Rio Carnival in South America, the Notting hill Gate Carnival in London, to name a few.

Here in Thailand we are very fortunate as they have many festivals each year, and some are actually quite unusual.

If you are planning a golf vacation here in Thailand and want to bring the family, it is definitely worth checking out when the best festivals are taking place.

While you can enjoy some extra tee times on some of Asia’s best golf courses, the rest of the family will be busy enjoying many Thai traditions.

Here are a few of the more unusual events!

There is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, an ancient royal rite held in Thailand to mark the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season. This year it is on Tuesday, 10 May 2011.

Loy Kratong is a major celebration in November when Thais pay respect to the goddess of the waters by floating candlelit offerings on any and all waterways around the kingdom.

North east Thailand's most popular – and certainly most visited festival – is the annual Surin Elephant Festival. This is always held, come what may, on the third Saturday of November. Whilst undoubtedly it has become a tourist and commercial spectacle, the festival is also a fascinating tribute to all things "elephant"!

In this very well patronised tribute to the Buddhist kingdom's best loved animal, over two hundred of the giant beasts are assembled to entertain and thrill the huge crowd, which gets larger year by tear. Few visitors are disappointed with what they see.

The island of Phuket’s has several of its own festivals and perhaps the most distinctive event is their Vegetarian Festival, held annually over 9 days in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

A colourful event, it celebrates the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.

One of my favourites however, is the quaint Thai festival in April called Songkran. This festival celebra Thailand-golf-festival tes the start of the Buddhist New Year as well as the end of the dry season.

Traditionally, Buddha images are bought out of their chapels and ritually washed. This ritual bathing has evolved in larger cities to out-and-out water warfare.

For three crazy days, Thais and foreigner’s alike splash around the streets in a friendly water fight. This is the time to wear your swimwear, and just get wet or just sit on the sidelines and soak up all the fun.

Songkran is now extremely popular with tourists, to the extent that the Tourism of Thailand now is heavily promoting Songkran as a great time to visit Thailand. This year the festival takes place on April 13th-15th across Thailand.

Playing golf in Thailand is a kind of festival of sorts as well. Although there are no specific dates, we all like to celebrate a great day on the golf course, and helped by your smiling caddie, I am sure you will not be disappointed.