Category: Interesting Thailand Golf Snippits

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

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

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

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

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

Golfasian            Tell our clients what’s in store

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

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

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

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

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

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Thailand Golf – Golfasian Regulars

Pacific Golf Club, Carindale

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

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

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

The Group with caddies at Springfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Mountain

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

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

Good Caddy, Not so Good…Some Answers Why

Good Caddy, Not so Good…Some Answers Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabulous Chiang Mai, a Great Golf Destination

Fabulous Chiang Mai, a Great Golf Destination

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

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

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

Doi Inthanon
Doi Inthanon

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

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

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

What makes Nikanti Golf Club an unusual golf course?

What makes Nikanti Golf Club an unusual golf course?

It seems like the golf architect Pirapon Namatra (Ope) of Golf East listened quite a lot to Tina Turner’s famous song ‘Break every rule’ when he designed Nikanti Golf Club, Asia’s first 18 hole, par 72 golf course comprising three six-hole layouts each with two par-threes, two par-fours and two par-fives. Thailand’s 291st golf course was opened in May 2014. The Nikanti Golf Club is almost adjacent to Suwan Golf Club.

When Pirapon Namatra (the designer of Banyan Club and part of the construction company responsible for Siam Country Club’s new Siam Waterside) invented and implemented his ‘triple-six’ concept, he introduced a new distribution of par-3, par-4 and par-5 holes. Rather than having traditional front and back nines, here there are three loops of six, each one returning to the stylish and soon-to-be sumptuously appointed clubhouse. The reason, flexibility. Don’t have time for a full 18? Just play 12. Want to have another go at the reachable but dangerous par-5 18th? Why not squeeze in that final loop of six?

Nikanti Golf Club 01

Nikanti is comprised of three six-hole layouts each with two par-threes, two par-fours and two par-fives. 6,789 yards from the back tees, each group of six holes is distinctive in look, design and play – offering several options of attack. Another example of uniqueness of the golf course is the focus on shot-making. This way, you will be able to test your ability to control the flight of the golf ball through adjusted swing paths.

Bangkok courses are often criticized for their lack of elevation change, but that’s not the case here. It seems like that the developer and the architect Pirapon Namatra of Golf East, had considered the 4 most important issues of golf course development during the evaluation of the property: acreage, topography, soil, and vegetation. A good example of topography is the incorporation of the area’s naturally rolling terrain. As well as this he did not neglect the environmental aspects. By incorporating the native vegetation, the course was given character and beauty.

Nikanti Golf Club 02

It is also interesting that Nikanti is a pay-to-play development; it does not offer memberships. The elegant clubhouse, modern and luxurious, feels sumptuous and classy.  The Nikanti team has paid attention to the details when instead of providing regular golf carts they selected Club Car’s GPS-equipped golf carts. You will love the Visage GPS technology that can not only manage your score, but also navigate easily on the golf course, order food and drink or simply book new tee-times via the touch-screen interface. Thanks to Nikanti’s all-inclusive philosophy guests not only get for their green fee and GPS-equipped golf cart but also the caddy and lunch.

What makes Asia’s 1st replica golf course unique?

What makes Asia’s 1st replica golf course unique?

The Gary Roger Baird-designed Royal Gems Golf City’s life and operations did not start smoothly (in the 1960s and early 1970s Baird worked as a senior architect with Robert Trent Jones). Right after the opening in 2011, it suffered significant flooding in December. However, they were able to reopen the golf club in 2012.

Royal Gems Golf City is Asia’s first replica golf course and combines 9 of the best holes in the world (see list below) like TPC Sawgrass, St Andrews and Oakmont. The back 9 of the golf course is the replica of Augusta National’s back 9 holes.

Royal-Gems-Golf-City-008

Thus, you will be able to experience Amen Corner yourself.  Hopefully, when the hundreds of young trees mature and reach their full height then it will really be like at Augusta. What makes this golf course unique is that each hole has its own individuality and will challenge every player.

This is the list of holes:

1- Oakmont #3 (Church pew bunkers)
2- Bay Hill #16
3- TPC Sawgrass #17
4- Doral #18
5- Royal Troon #8 (postage stamp)
6- St Andrews #17 (road hole)
7- Bethpage Black #7
8- Winged Foot #10
9- The Belfry #10
10-18- Augusta National #10-18

In its current form, Royal Gems Golf City is a par-72, 18-hole, 7,075-yard golf course. Royal Gems offers a combination of American, Scottish and Thai characteristics. Where we can play golf now, once there was a thousand rai of paddy fields. The remains of the paddy fields you can still see adjacent to the golf course.

The golf club is situated in pleasant, natural parkland to the west of Bangkok. The course has a few lakes, fast greens, narrow fairways, deep rough and enormous bunkers. Use of the club is restricted to members and their guests only but Golfasian has managed to gain access for its clients.

Royal Gems Golf City is one of the very few golf courses in Thailand to be an official member of the United States Golf Association and is approved for professional championships.

Royal-Gems-Golf-City-015

Golf Club membership in England versus Thailand

Golf Club membership in England versus Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Thailand Golf Good for the Blood Pressure?

Is Thailand Golf Good for the Blood Pressure?

Two things have happened to me in the past several days, neither of them very good and both I regret. First I became frustrated that a Golfasian client wasn’t appreciating Thailand golf for what it is, an overall experience rather than the ultimate golf environment, like say Myrtle Beach in the States. Then stupidly I fell into a very similar trap albeit subtly different, even after 15+ years of playing here and almost 8 living in the country.

The ingredients for the client’s frustration were not getting what was expected in terms of quality of golf, and not being allowed to tee off when they had booked because the course starters wanted to bring groups forward and they had people to fit in.  I can empathise with the frustration but because people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones I’m not going to criticise!  My frustration was far less forgivable and entirely self-inflicted…I became agitated at the level of traffic on my way to the course (it’s my road after all isn’t it??) compounded by the totally unhelpful behaviour of a great number of drivers who made the situation worse than it needed to be (as far as I was concerned), and finally the police-operated traffic lights (don’t even go there).  This didn’t get better when arriving ready for golf in a bad frame of mind already and heading for the 1st tee I saw a group of 5 golfers ahead of me chatting away merrily with an empty fairway in front of them then, after an age, each “bonked” 2 balls off the tee in various directions and at various distances accompanied by much laughter…these guys didn’t have a care in the world while I was re-living my hour of hell in the car.

Both the client and I have lessons to learn. In terms of Thailand’s golf offering this blog aims to provide a wider perspective on golf in Thailand, espousing how wonderful it is, yet it also tries to educate all those who care to visit about the vagaries of the experience.  I’ll aim to do a bit of this now.

So let’s lay it on the line…there are some generally accepted great courses here (I’m thinking Alpine Bangkok/Nikanti {?}/Amata Springs/Black Mountain/Banyan/Siam Plantation amongst others), some excellent ones (Chiang Mai Highlands/Thai Country Club/Springfield/Santiburi {both of them}/Red Mountain), a huge selection of decent ones and a plethora of also-rans. What puts them in the latter category: generally they are let down by sub-standard conditioning of playing areas throughout and if that’s the case they are probably badly managed in all sorts of ways and also lack investment for all sorts of reasons?  However, the Pete Dye designed course in Thailand is rarely going to be of the standard of its US counterpart but its genetics are the same. The lesson here is, if you want US-style conditioning you are going to pay for it and even then it isn’t guaranteed; rather bizarrely I have played Alpine when it was immaculate and again when it was very “scruffy” and that’s being kind. Actually the real lesson is, if you want US-standard conditioning play in the US.

The advice here is look beyond the greens that aren’t running at 11 on the stimp metre and bunkers that have unseemly grass sprouting from their edges (check out Whistling Straits at the PGA Championship this weekend) and appreciate that you’ve paid a fair fee, can still hit the ball well and can very definitely have a good time, which is what it’s all about (see my other blog Pattaya Golf – Take the Rough with the Smooth).

On to the so called “contract” you think you’ve made with Thailand golf.  I have a reality check…the starter, if the course has one, generally isn’t really a starter (there are exceptions) and doesn’t have your exclusive rights in mind…that also applies to marshalls.  On the subject of 5-balls for instance (I can feel my blood pressure rising!), there are those that are at the golf course to have a convivial time with their friends and that is accommodated in Thailand because Thais “get” that it might be the case rather than we who are insisting on the 3 hour round and sprinting around like possessed maniacs.  As for stupid people like me who let the drive to the course set myself up for a dismal round, bear in mind that most of your fellow road users have never had a driving lesson in their life, many don’t have licences and sensibly the testing system isn’t very taxing to accommodate both anomalies.  Whether that’s a recipe for safe roads is another subject.

So why play here, as my wife reasonably pointed out? Because on the whole it’s great and no matter where you are from there is inconsiderate driving and bad traffic management as well as slow golfers blocking your way. The real question is how one copes with all this bearing in mind almost all of us aren’t getting paid to do this…IT’S A HOBBY as I try to tell myself!!!  My recommendation (I’m speaking to myself of course) is to somehow put everything in context: the traffic, the 5-balls, the course conditioning and realise that the most important thing is to have as good a time as you can which will be born of a slow, smooth swing and a slightly drawn drive that splits the fairway, hopefully followed by lots of similar shots.  In a nutshell, you can’t fight golf and you can’t fight Thailand.

Now I’ll excuse myself and head back to the asylum.

Don’t get carried away

Don’t get carried away

It’s all relative, but we’ve all had that “banner” golf round, when everything clicks…when we’re “in the zone”. It may be scoring less than a hundred for the first time or breaking par, but all of us had to keep going right to the 18th to reach that milestone, keep the concentration, the rhythm and the focus.

I was engrossed by Eddie Pepperell at the Open Championship on Sunday. One of England’s brightest new talents, he was having a fabulous day, remorselessly chasing down the leader’s score of -10, “peppering” the pin and rolling in everything he looked at.  He reached the 17th tee having just had yet another birdie and now tied for the lead; so far a blemish-free round. Admittedly, the famous St Andrews 17th, the Road Hole, is one of the most fearsome holes in golf, but to these guys the drive isn’t that challenging, albeit requiring about a 300 yard blow there is lots of room both right and especially left where most bale out.  Clearly, Eddie suddenly felt he was bullet-proof and picturing a birdie even here taking the lead on his own, he lashed at the driver, came out of the shot and sprayed it right into the grounds of the St Andrews hotel and out of bounds. To my mind, he didn’t put the shot in perspective, recognise the danger or just take stock…he was “pumped up” having tied the lead.

The point is, we are all subject to the same thing, losing focus. Pepperell wasn’t under pressure, he just let adrenalin take over and didn’t take a moment to consider that this was an important shot in his round which required his full attention.  The lesson for all of us, whether a par at 18 is required to break 90 or holing a six footer means we shoot 68, is we need to continue what has been a fabulous day’s golf by staying in the moment as much as possible and not get carried away. Probably it will be nerves that we have to deal with, but whatever it is, we must find a way to continue our momentum and go back to basics with our pre-shot routine and good fundamentals; that’s what got us to this position, this moment of glory. Good luck, and reach that milestone!

My Kanchanaburi Adventure

My Kanchanaburi Adventure

By Ian Morgan –  Golfasian’s Hua Hin & Phuket Manager

Having played golf all around Thailand over the last 11 years, there are very few areas I haven’t seen. So living in Hua Hin it’s amazing I have never taken the road north to look at Kanchanaburi and the surrounding area. The main attraction was to see Grand Prix Golf Club which so many of my friends have talked about; surely it wouldn’t be as good as they said? On this occasion my journey started in Bangkok and I decided to play a new course called Nikanti on the way to Kanchanaburi. Only 6 months old, it was in immaculate condition and a very unusual concept of six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s. A really enjoyable experience and it’s one of those courses that makes you want to go back.

So on to the Grand Prix Hotel before playing the new course. The views, the condition and the whole set up was wonderful and certainly in the top six courses I have played in Thailand. No expense has been spared to make this one of great golfing experiences in Thailand. After golf I was lucky to be invited to lunch by the owner Dr Prasad whose dream to build something special has come true. Sad to leave this set up, but it’s a 40 minute drive south to the Ancient Town of Kanchanaburi and the famous River Kwai. The scenery in this area is magnificent and I am surprised by the quality of the courses and the amazing value. My favourite was Nichigo, a picturesque parkland-style course on the banks of the River Kwai. Wonderful views from all three nines, and looking around made me feel like I was in the mountains and rolling hills of Chiang Mai. Evergreen Hills Golf Club was another good golfing experience and again some wonderful scenery, but beware they do allow 6-balls, so it could be a slow round.

So back to Hua Hin, and I decided to play Royal Ratchaburi to break the journey on the way back home; this was a truly Thai Experience. Not much English spoken in these parts, but I loved the old style course and to see the monkeys running down the fairways was an unusual experience.

Overall I was expecting Kanchanaburi to be a little run down and the courses not in good shape, but apart from Mission Hills the courses were in excellent condition and for those golfers looking for a different, typically Thai experience….try it!. Not just for golf either, and although I didn’t have time on this trip there is so much to see. The River Kwai Bridge, Hellfire Pass & the Memorial Museum, Death Railway and the Erawan National Park with its famous waterfall to name just a few things worth seeing here.

You won’t be disappointed and I will be returning very soon.

 

    

The Opening Tee Shot – Some trickier than others

The Opening Tee Shot – Some trickier than others

I can’t remember when I lost my first tee traumas. I remember having them; feeling super conscious about people watching and living in fear of a top, shank, massive slice (probably) or a huge pull. But they’ve gone, not because I’m a superb golfer but rather I have definitely gained in confidence since those days and as a single figure player I’m not supposed to have traumas…nerves maybe but not traumas. Importantly, I have also conditioned myself to be more positive in my approach to any shot, particularly that of the opening one.

Nevertheless, things aren’t that straightforward and with all the positivity in the world some shots are more intimidating than others.  In general terms I’d rather not have a long par 3 to start with simply because long irons are the weakest part of my game and there just seems to be less margin for error and more likelihood of a bogey which isn’t the ideal start; plus my short game needs “warming up” as it’s the second weakest part of my game!  When I asked colleagues at Golfasian there was definitely a theme…water left and right of the landing area are a big psychological issue no matter how generous the fairway, particularly with a strong crosswind, although a long water carry off the tee wasn’t worrisome and personally I’d rather grip it and rip it anyway.  Let’s look at some examples and perhaps you can post some of your own.

Alpine (Bangkok) 1st

Alpine Bangkok 1st

About 400 yards this isn’t a straightforward opener. Rolling hillocks left and right, water to the right and well placed bunkers all command your attention. You need to stay just right of the centre fairway and get the ball out there at least 250 yards to launch your day in the best possible way. Easy as that?

Royal Golf Lat Krabang 1st

Royal Golf & Country Club 1st

Why is this tough? Because a fade is a no-no and almost always goes in the water if the shot is over 220 yards. Easy for you natural drawers of the ball but I have to work at it and the first tee isn’t where I want to start. Trees immediately left block starting things out there so basically it’s a draw or very straight hit…terrific.

Pattana 1st

Pattana 1st

Water left and right with a tight-ish fairway; take a look at the picture for goodness sake. Brings me out in sweats.

Red Mountain 1st

red-mountain-golf-course-hole-1

 

It’s like a cobra; beautiful and deadly with jagged hills left and right. The fairway pinches in at a crest with lots of danger lurking beyond that’s all blind. First time there and you are relying on your caddy’s words of wisdom and a very smooth straight shot.

Banyan 1st

banyan-golf-club-06

 

This picture is taken from above the the fairway looking up towards the green; much easier from here. You tee off from 240 yards directly right of here. You can see the lake at the corner on the right and everything slopes down towards it so basically it’s a magnet. In truth a well-placed iron would do the job but likely leave a long shot into the green. Hit something long and the fairway shrinks to nothing. I like a 3 wood left centre and let the slope feed the ball towards the corner. Be confident and it isn’t that hard but who’s confident on the 1st?

Got any to add?

Is Innovation in Thailand Golf Tourism Possible?

Is Innovation in Thailand Golf Tourism Possible?

Every commercial organisation is looking for an edge, something different, unique; golf tourism is no different. The stock formula has worked for decades because the market has very identifiable requirements with a few adjustments around the fringes, namely the location, style and class of the offering which therefore dictates the price.

Historically, the USA and likes of Spain/Portugal have dominated as preferred golf holiday destinations with the UK close behind due to its association with the history of the game.  If it wasn’t treading the links in the footsteps of Old Tom Morris you were after, like as not in Europe the lure would be great weather which is what every golfer craves; helps the feeling of well-being and soothes the aches and pains which all lead to a smoother swing and a better score…at least that’s what we all believe.  This accounts for Carolina and Florida as the most prolific USA golf destinations. Add to great weather a Jack Niklaus (or other named) masterpiece in excellent condition and the stage is set perfectly. The only remaining item essential to all holidays is good accommodation perhaps by the sea or another exotic location with great views, and the easy availability of wonderful food and drink.  Make it all appear tremendous value and you have a recipe for success, something not lost on the industry’s leaders.

Thankfully, due to cultural differences Asia provides some of those special details which make a great deal of difference, namely a natural inclination to make customers happy by providing superb service, particularly true of Thailand the Land of Smiles. One of their secret weapons is the female caddy who can turn a bad day of golf into a bearable, even pleasant one.

When Asia appeared on the scene (excluding Japan which is parochial and a separate case) the opportunity was there to innovate but to a degree the advice given, mostly by western consultants, was do it like us but a bit better, but more extravagant (aided by the global shift in economic influence and power, hence money). This was as a result of an industry ruled to a large degree by conservatism. Signs of this abound, you only have to take a look at Mission Hills in China to see it is all about grandeur, famous names and a heritage from the last 20-40 years. Naturally the facilities are extravagant, quite superb, but is it innovative or just a good idea scaled up?

The good news is that golf tour operators were prepared to explore different ways of doing things and signs of golf tourism innovation are manifest in Thailand courtesy of a collaboration between the Bangkok-based inbound golf tourism operator Golfasian and Australia’s Go Golfing. Go Golfing pioneered the concept of full-blown amateur tournament golf managed along professional lines (Tournament Director/Official scoring etc) for golfers over the age of 35 of all abilities who want the holiday experience but aren’t averse to a bit of excitement while on the golf course; the formula is proving popular. There are several key components to the golf: don’t play medal golf but rather a points system (in this case stableford, widely used in Australia) which keeps pace of play acceptable and create several “divisions” based on age, gender and handicap so everyone plays in groups of a similar standard and age plus has the opportunity to compete for what can be extravagant prizes. Importantly, stay at great hotels and finally make sure there is plenty of socialising at the end of every day so people can meet and greet, the holiday atmosphere is maintained and things aren’t taken too seriously.  

The first example of such a tournament in Asia was the Centara World Masters played in Hua Hin last June which attracted 500 competitors from 23 countries. Chosen for its royal seaside resort credentials and access to superb golf, in particular the award winning Banyan and Black Mountain, it was an instant hit. Feedback was extremely positive, immediately afterwards competitors were asking when the next event would take place. This winning formula was not lost upon the organisers and the 2015 Centara World Masters will again be staged in Hua Hin 15-19 June. This year over 600 participants are expected and the prize fund is now over $70,000. A similar tournament is scheduled for Vietnam in September.

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

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

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

Note: Please don’t tell your friends.

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

Alpine Golf Course Chiang Mai
Alpine Golf Resort in Chiang Mai

2) …and in the center:

Thai Country Club
Thai Country Club in Bangkok

3) …as well as in the south:

Mission Hills Phuket
Mission Hills Phuket

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

Thai Caddies

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

Spa

6) Nightlife is non-existent:

Bangkok Nightlife

7) Nor are there any nice rooftop bars:

Bangkok rooftop bar
Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar in Bangkok

8) The hotels are uncomfortable at best:

Rest Detail
Rest Details Hotel Hua Hin

9) The beaches are a joke:

Thailand beach

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

Thai Food

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

Will Thailand Become The World´s Biggest Golf Destination?

Will Thailand Become The World´s Biggest Golf Destination?

Lately Thailand golf tourism has skyrocketed to an estimated 750,000 arrivals in 2012, up 50% over the past three years. This is worth an estimated US$2 billion in revenue to the Kingdom. There is no doubt that Thai golf tourism is riding on the back of a general tourism explosion, with total foreign arrivals doubling over the last seven years to more than 22 million in 2012.

While I personally would like Thailand golf to become the biggest golf destination in the world, I doubt that this will ever happen. Here is why.

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Golf In Portugal Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Portugal Versus Golf In Thailand

Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.

Quality (30%)
Portugal (9):  Even though there are only 70 golf courses Portugal is one of Europe’s best golf destinations. The Algarve region is the most famous golfing area and the best course there is Victoria Golf Vilamoura, home of the 2013 Portugal Golf Masters and tour stop for the European Tour. However, my course in Portugal is the Seve Ballesteros designed Porto Santo. This traditional links course plays along the Atlantic Ocean and is as good as golf gets!

Thailand (7): There is good golf cross the country with most of best courses in Thailand in and around Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin. Thai Country Club has hosted more professional golf events than any other Thai golf course. Black Mountain Golf Club is the only golf course in Thailand to be rated in the top 100 courses outside the USA by Golf Digest.

Service (25%)
Portugal (6): The golf in Portugal is good, but don’t expect much in the way of service on the golf course. There are no caddies, hardly any Portuguese play golf, and it is very difficult to find Portuguese workers who have a service mindset. However, the golf resorts in Portugal can be excellent. My most memorable experience was at the Four Seasons Country Club, Quinta do Lago.

Thailand (10):  Service, hospitality, and Thailand are synonymous with each other and golf is no exception. Thais golf as much as the visitors and you can always meet friendly locals on the golf course. Caddies are standard at all Thailand golf courses and will be missed by every visiting golfer on their first round back home.

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After Hours Thailand Golf

After Hours Thailand Golf

Thailand Night GolfHere is a new story from Davy, previously the number one golf retailer in Southern California and now a converted Thai golf addict.

When the phone rang it was a Thailand golf buddy all excited to tell me he had a game set up with some movers and shakers that were coming to town; and after a great lunch he had planned we would entertain them with a round of golf.

Lunch was indeed great; authentic Thai delicacies rolled out by smiling courteous servers. Thailand hospitality may be the greatest in the world. But it was getting late so I called him aside and said, “We’re only playing nine holes, right?”

“Eighteen holes,” he smiled.

“Hate to break the news to you but it’ll be dark in a couple of hours. Had no idea lunch would be so extravagant.”

“No problem,” he said, “they have lights.”

Not night golf, I thought. Previous encounters with nocturnal golf had me believing that you had to be 11 Titleist’s short of a dozen to play golf at night. If the almighty had wanted golf played at night we’d have been born with bat vision or golf balls would have headlights.

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LPGA Shines In Thailand

LPGA Shines In Thailand

LPGA Pattaya Thailand 2012Thailand knows how to put on a show, and the top LPGA players will be at the Honda LPGA Thailand this month.

With the worlds 59 best lady golfers in attendance, the Siam Country Club in Pattaya will be the perfect backdrop to kick off the LPGA tour season in style.
This popular tournament was launched in 2006 when a certain Miss Hee-Won Han from South Korea won the inaugural event. Since then the likes of Suzann Petersen from Norway, Lorena Ochoa from Mexico , Ai Miyazato from Japan, Yanni Tseng from Taiwan have all held the coveted trophy.

Add star names such as Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and crowd favourite Michelle Wie, and you can understand why the sponsors are prepared to offer a massive US$1.8million in prize money.

Held at the Siam Country Club’s famous Old Course, a par 72 playing 6,477 yards for the girls, the players all commented on how perfect the fairways and greens were playing.

With most sports suffering during the recent economy down, the golf industry has turned to Asia for its future.  The exposure that the event brings to Thailand is truly global. Meanwhile perhaps the biggest winner will once again be one of Thailand’s number one courses, Siam Country Club in Pattaya.

If you want to follow in the stars footsteps, why not plan to attend the event and then play the Pattaya golf club’s two championship courses? The Old Course and Plantation courses are the 2 best Pattaya golf courses, and by a wide margin.

It’s Not Only Thailand Golf

It’s Not Only Thailand Golf


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

Come rain or shine, family vacations, or business meetings, we all make all the excuses needed to arrange that very crucial meeting which just happens to clash with golf. That is our ‘speak’ for sod it I am going to play golf anyway.

Here golfing in Thailand, a lot of business is conducted on the golf course. Golfers in Thailand often travel with their so-called business associates and in some companies; it is seen as an asset if you play golf.

There are amateur tournaments, club tournaments, Pro Ams, weekday shotguns, and social expat clubs, all where you can join do some serious networking. In fact, I am running a couple of events myself. They are the 2011 Phuket Amateur Week, 1st Team Amateur Championship, and the 2011 Chiang Mai Amateur Week. All three are good examples of how you can make your Thailand golf tour around a  competitive golf events and ‘legitimize’ your Thailand golf holiday to the missus at the same time.

The Asian Tour and One Asia visit Thailand several times a year along with the LPGA. In fact the next event is the Thailand Open at Bangkok’s Suwan Country Club in August. These events are good for Thailand golf visitors to play in the pro-am and rub shoulders with some of the world’s best golfers.

It’s amazing how many slots on the tournament’s Pro Am’s are not taken up by the main sponsors. Case in point, last year’s European Seniors Open at Royal Gems did not have enough amateurs to fill its field. Moreover, 2 years back I managed to get slots for 12 Phuket golf visitors at the Thailand Open at Laguna Phuket Golf Club and this was undoubtedly the highlight of their Thailand golf holiday.  Pro Ams are an experience golfers in Thailand are unlikely to forget.

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New Thai Golfers

New Thai Golfers

Thailand Junior Golf 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 friends after school with a ball and a couple of posts for goals. Same for baseball, you can play the game just with sticks for bats and cans for balls.

But for new golfers to enter the sport, they first need to find and get to a golf 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 newcomers to take up the game and big businesses are also helping too. For example, Singha and Chang beer both run academies where new golfers 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 "10 th True Visions International Junior Golf Championships 2011 " was held last month in Pattaya at Rayong Green Valley Country Club and  St. Andrews 2000.  

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Lady Golf Stars Shine In Thailand Once Again

Lady Golf Stars Shine In Thailand Once Again

LPGA 2011 Thailand knows how to put on a show, and the top LPGA players were all on display at the Honda LPGA Thailand this weekend. With virtually all the star names in contention, the Siam Country Club in Pattaya provided the perfect backdrop to kick off the 2011 LPGA tour season in style.

This popular tournament was launched in 2006 when a certain Miss Hee-Won Han from South Korea won the inaugural event. Since then the likes of Suzann Petersen from Norway, Lorena Ochoa from Mexico and Ai Miyazato from Japan have all held the coveted trophy.

Add star names such as Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and crowd favourite Michelle Wie, and you can understand why the sponsors offered a massive US$1.8million in prize money. Held at the Siam Country Club Old Course, a par 72 playing 6,477 yards for the girls, the players all commented on how perfect the fairways and greens were playing.

With most sports suffering during the recent economy down, the golf industry has turned to the East for its future.  Mike Whan, the LPGA Commissioner said, ‘The LPGA has gained several events in Asia this year, and seems to be headed in the right direction. With the support we get in Thailand, we really can bring over the big stars. The coverage the event gets for Thailand golf is truly global.’

Thailand featured nine players in the tournament and in fact 15-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn turned in the best round of the final day with a 4-under-par 67.

Perhaps the biggest winner will once again be all of golf in Thailand and especially, Thailand's Golf In A Kingdom.

My Take On Golf Carts At Thailand Golf Courses

My Take On Golf Carts At Thailand Golf Courses

Golf Asian Golf Cart While most of my Thailand golf is played walking, there are times when a golf cart (buggy) is also useful.

For example, for corporate days and golf tournaments carts are more versatile, suit a wider variety of players, and help keep the golf speed of play moving along at a reasonable pace for all.

Then there are the Thailand golf courses with extreme elevation changes that are better left for walking by mountain goats as opposed to golfers in Thailand. These include the incredibly hilly Santiburi Samui Country Club and Red Mountain Golf Club in Phuket. The compulsory golf carts at these two Thailand golf courses are truly a needed to prevent golfers from passing out before they finish their rounds.

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Three Ball Golf Thailand

Three Ball Golf Thailand

LaemChabang(C)_8Par3 In my view, and I am sure many of you will agree, the best form of golf in Thailand is a ‘friendly’ four-ball, better-ball with three like-minded pals. The amicable banter and gamesmanship all go to make for a fun round, especially if there are a few bucks, or even the post-match round of drinks, riding on the result – in particular, in Thailand, if the caddies are encouraged to join in the wagering, say by doubling the tip of the caddies carrying for the winning pair.

Sometimes people are nervous about venturing on a Thailand golfing holiday when they are single travellers, particularly if it is their first visit here. Don’t worry: firstly, most of the golf courses will try to match you up with other players – indeed, many golf courses will not allow singletons to play because they know a customer who has to wait on every shot will, most likely, be an unhappy golfer. If you are travelling with a Thailand golf vacation company, they also will do their best to link you up with other clients of a similar level. I know of golfing visitors who have made life-long friends in this way., myself included

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Thailand Golf Zone Gets New Authors

Thailand Golf Zone Gets New Authors

Thailand Golfer I bet some of you are getting tired of reading my Thailand golf articles, right?

Well I have good news for you. I have enlisted the help of some of my friends, colleagues, golf professionals, and even a reader of this blog to liven up the Thailand Golf Zone. Now, in addition to my own views, you can read about the experiences several Thailand golf gurus.

Over the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years various guest and expert Thailand golfers will all be contributing to these pages. So sit back, relax, and get ready for the best original Thailand golf and Thailand golf vacation content you have ever read!

In the meantime, remember one thing. It is not only the golf, but it is “Golf In A Kingdom: The Thai Golf Experience” that is unique world over and keeps golfers coming back year after year after year to Thailand! In fact, take a look at this site and you will see what I mean.

Thailand Adds Another Golf Event

Thailand Adds Another Golf Event

Santiburi Samui Golf Thailand will launch its newest golf tournament on the Asian Tour this season with the establishment of the inaugural Queen’s Cup in August. The Queen’s Cup presented by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand will be staged at the Santiburi Samui Country Club on the holiday isle of Samui from August 13 to 16, 2009.

The US$300,000 tournament, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Thailand PGA, will be held in honor of the Queen of Thailand.

The Santiburi Samui Country Club provides a great venue for the event with extreme challenge and charm with a lush tropical setting. It is located on a hillside of northern coast of Koh Samui, amidst old coconut gardens. The golf course has a commanding scenic panoramic view of Maenam Beach and the nearby island of Koh Phangan, site of the famous full moon parties. In fact, the golf professionals participating in the Queen’s Cup will have a hard time to concentrate on their rounds with these magnificent views of the ocean and beaches from every hole. Expert high scores, even for the leaders!

Bangkok Airways will mark its sponsorship involvement with the Asian Tour for the fifth consecutive year by coming on board as the event’s presenting sponsor. The launch will reinforce the growth of golf in Thailand and Asia and continues to place Thailand on the world’s golf map.

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Fake Golf Clubs & Golf Balls in Thailand

Fake Golf Clubs & Golf Balls in Thailand

Fake Golf Clubs Counterfeit golf products in Thailand are becoming increasingly troublesome for the Thailand golf industry. I know of one Phuket golf course that has stopped selling clubs in their pro shop as a result. Chris Faxon, an anti-counterfeiting consultant and one of the leading attorneys in the Thailand golf industry, estimates the counterfeit golf industry is valued at more than $100 million US worldwide on an annual basis, including Thailand.

That figure has increased steadily over the last five years. Though no one can say how big the problem is within Thailand, I know of one recent raid on a Pattaya golf club fitter that resulted in seizures of counterfeit golf equipment. Additionally, at least 3 golf tour operators (1 in Bangkok, 1 in Hua Hin, and 1 in Pattaya) use only use fake golf clubs for their rental sets. Besides being illegal, this is also highly unethical.

A client who visits for a Pattaya golf holiday every six months told me the other day at Laem Chabang that he has started seeing Titleist Pro V1 balls being sold at the second hand golf ball shops in front of the course. In the past, I never saw any counterfeit balls in Thailand until early this year, certainly not at any retailer, so I will have to check this out for myself.

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Cambodia Border Dispute Being Settled Thai Style: Peacefully On The Golf Course

Cambodia Border Dispute Being Settled Thai Style: Peacefully On The Golf Course

Phokeethra Golf Golf delegations from Cambodian and Thai defense ministries teed off this week in a spot of golf diplomacy ahead of talks aimed at resolving their territorial dispute.

Cambodia's defence minister Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan played a round in the northwestern tourist hub of Siem Reap with other military officials ahead of their Wednesday border negotiations. The round was hosted by the Phokeethra Country Club.

General Neang Phat  said, “We are playing golf with the Thai delegation now. We will talk about the border issue later.”

Military officials from the two countries also golfed together in Siem Reap last October after fighting erupted between the two countries on disputed land around 11th-century Preah Vihear temple. Troops from the two countries have been in a border standoff since tensions flared last July, when the cliff-top temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962, but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometers of land around the temple which has yet to be officially demarcated.

The first golf match was won by Cambodia. In this week’s match the Thai’s won on a count back. Score Thailand 1 and Cambodia 1. 

I guess the border dispute will have to go on until clear winner can be determined in the next golf match. Other nations should take a cue from the Thai’s and use golf diplomacy to settle things. If golf works in business, then I see no reason it can’t work in government.

Singha Thailand Open 2009 & FREE Phuket Golf

Singha Thailand Open 2009 & FREE Phuket Golf

Daniel Chopra
The Thailand Open will make an emphatic return to the Asian Tour schedule from March 5 to 8 at the Laguna Phuket Golf Club and boast prize money of US$500,000.

Having not been played since 2005 due to a lack of sponsorship the event is now back in full swing. The tournament welcomes on board Singha Corporation (as in Singha beer) as the title sponsor and the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and PTT Public Company Limited as premier sponsors.

It will be a full-field event on the Asian Tour and in another boost for the event US PGA Tour star Daniel Chopra will compete. The Swede is a two-time winner in America. The final 2 rounds of the Thailand Open will be broadcast live on Star Sports.

The event will showcase world class golf facilities, gracious Thai hospitality, and the great value for money that Thailand represents.

Voted in the top 10 for Best Golf Resort in Asia, Best Clubhouse in Asia and Best Golf Course in Thailand by readers of Asian Golf Monthly magazine, Laguna Phuket Golf Club features a wealth of scenic lagoons, coconut groves and undulating fairways, set against the dramatic backdrop of the surrounding mountains and Andaman Sea.

Coincidentally, the Thailand Open was last played in Phuket when New Zealander Richard Lee lifted the title in 2005 at Blue Canyon Country Club.

Sponsored by Golfasian and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, you can win a chance to play FREE in the Pro-Am, the day before the Singha Thailand Open 2009!

How? It’s simple, just fill out a Phuket holiday inquiry and be entered to win a slot in the Singha Thailand Open 2009 Pro-Am! Golf packages can be tailor-made and include all Phuket resorts and Phuket golf courses.

Tiger Woods’ Last Thailand Golf Visit

Tiger Woods’ Last Thailand Golf Visit

Tiger_woods_thailand
Tiger Woods' last trip to Thailand as a golf professional in early 2000 was a bit of circus. Politicians, media and other VIP’s almost stormed his plane when it touched down in Bangkok even before he could get his seat belt off.

Tiger would describe it as the craziest week of his life but as usual gave one of his oh-so diplomatic answers he mentioned, "I always enjoy coming back to Thailand," continuing, "It's always neat to be back among family and friends."(ed. yeah right!)

A lot of Thai golfers don’t see Tiger in a favorable light. Even though his mother is Thai, very few Thai’s see Tiger as even half Thai. In typical Thai fashion they think he should be sharing some of his wealth for the country, as do other local Thai golf superstars like Thongchai Jaidee and friends.

"He basically has forgotten the Thai people," says Prasong Pathom, a medical doctor who watched Tiger Woods play at the 1998 Honda Classic at Thai Country Club and comments "He is a great golfer and has done some good with his foundation in getting equipment for young kids, but a number of Thais see it as nothing more than a token gesture."

In 2000, Woods received an appearance fee of $1 million to compete in Bangkok at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Alpine Golf & Sports Club. In fact, the yet-to-be famous and now-ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra is reported to have paid for the bill in exchange for a few photos with the reigning US Open champion. Being a council member of Kasetsart University, also located near many golf courses in Bangkok, Thaksin was also heavily involved in arranging Tiger Woods' receiving an honorary doctorate of philosophy in golf sports from this school.

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Golf Score Card Man

Golf Score Card Man

Golf Score Card ManWhat do you do back home in the cold winter weather either before or after your Thailand golf holiday?

Well how about sifting through all your golf memorabilia collected from past golf vacations?

Here is a letter from a fellow reader of the Thailand Golf Zone that you might find interesting, and just maybe you can help Bob out.

Hi Mark,

I always get a lot of pleasure from reading your interesting articles on your Golfasian website, and I thought that just maybe some of your readers of Golfasian might be interested in my quest.

My name is Bob Davies and I am Scottish but now live on the east coast of Australia and I am a collector of golf club scorecards from around the world.  I am trying to be the first person in the world to obtain a golf club scorecard from every country & island that plays golf, and at this point in time I have golf club scorecards from 226 different countries & islands, including some remote places like Antarctica, Ascension Island, Diego Garcia, Tristan Da Cunha, and Afghanistan to name a few. (ed. I did not even know there were golf course in most of these places.)

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