Category: Thailand Golf

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 the 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.

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

Is it at the dry cleaners?!!

Is it at the dry cleaners?!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Aerification…Spoiling My Golf Trip?

Green Aerification…Spoiling My Golf Trip?

In all likelihood it could spoil that day…it’s certainly not helping. A common question from clients intending to travel with Golfasian is; “While I’m there, will the greens have been aerated?”

Showing up to a golf course only to discover that it has recently undergone an aerification process is never a good thing. Clients have, after all, paid a relatively large sum to travel to play overseas. You were expecting the golf course, and especially its greens, to be in great shape. Instead you find them full of little holes or covered in sand or other topdressing. Golfasian understands that the golf course aerification process can be especially frustrating to golfers.

Aeration usually involves removal of half inch plugs that are subsequently filled with sand (topdressing); another word for this is coring. Other aerification techniques use machines with tines, or knives that simply poke holes through the soil; these have far less impact on the smooth roll of your ball but all in all a green isn’t at its best post maintenance of this kind.

But I can hear a great big “so what…I don’t want to play greens like that when I’ve travelled 2,000 miles to play golf, what are you doing about it?” The good news is that generally significant aeration takes place twice a year and at a time which is logical. When would you rest your soccer team….post and pre-season in all likelihood and greens get the same treatment. Thus in Thailand aeration takes place in April when the rains arrive and high season ends, and September when the course is gearing up for the new high season with maximum traffic starting November. Are you aware that Golfasian publishes golf course maintenance plans every month in its newsletter? Course inspections are also carried out to give notice that the greens may be particularly challenging. Bottom line, everything is done to guarantee the client a great day on the links.

Whilst trying not to be too tongue in cheek, does showing up to a golf course that is in the throes of aerification guarantee a bad time or a bad score? Consider the fact that PGA Tour legend Tom Watson shot a sizzling record 58 at his then-home course, Kansas City Country Club, just days after the greens had been aerated. Consider also that aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits for golf courses. When you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die…and with a more positive stroke a good score is still possible.

But rest assured, if Golfasian finds out that your best interests aren’t being served, everything will be done to resolve the problem, rescheduling where possible.

Golfing Thailand as a Single

Golfing Thailand as a Single

Titirangi Golf Club

My name is John Billington. I live in Aukland, New Zealand, which is the largest and most populace area in the country. I am a member of Titirangi Golf Club, a course designed by Alastair McKenzie on his trip south to design Royal Melbourne. I have played golf in most continents and especially on the McKenzie courses in California (including Cypress Point). I was a scratch handicapper but at 66 years I am now playing off a respectable 7.

I have been travelling to Europe for sailing holidays regularly for the past five years and transit through Asia. I travel one way alone, meeting my wife in Europe and taking the opportunity to play some golf on the way.

I started using Golfasian to arrange golf holidays in Thailand. It worked seamlessly for me with transport etc and because they tended to join me up with other groups I met many interesting people from all around the world whom I would not otherwise meet: Russians, Swedes, Germans, Dutch, Swiss, Scandinavians, and golfers from all over Asia; fascinating!!

Red Mountain 1st

The courses are all good, well-groomed and economical by world standards whilst facilities are of a uniformly high standard. Last year I spent a week on my own golfing in Phuket and recently a week in Chiang Mai. Red Mountain in Phuket is particularly stunning and a great test, whilst Alpine Chiang Mai is unique with its beautiful surroundings and varied types of holes providing different challenges.

I usually stay in hotels in the city rather than at a resort because I enjoy sightseeing, the local markets and restaurants including the wonderful street food.

Thai caddies are exceptional and great company; quite able to lift my spirits and get me back on track if I’m finding it difficult to find my rhythm. The Golfasian drivers are invariably courteous and efficient, providing recommendations on local attractions.

I will return to Thailand soon, this time with a group of friends from Titirangi. We shall probably play in the Chiang Mai area because the climate is appreciably cooler, the countryside truly beautiful and mountainous and there is such a lot to do and see. I’ll leave the arrangements to Golfasian…they haven’t let me down yet!

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel
Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel

Hi, my name is Gary. I am an Australian, originally from New South Wales, but now very comfortably domiciled in Perth, Western Australia with a wife of 35 years marriage and two grown up kids!

I have played golf since my father stuck a golf club in my hands when I was about 10 years old. At 61 years old now, I guess you could say I have been a long-term golfer. I have been a member of private golf clubs since a junior, and a member of my current golf club, Melville Glades for the last 22 years. My current handicap is 4 … hard earned at my age! I also happen to be the President of the club and have been on the Club’s Board for the last 5 years.  Melville Glades is a parkland golf course in the Perth metropolitan area and will celebrate 50 years of operations in 2017. We have in excess of 1,100 members with member competitions every day of the week.  Oh, we also have a mob of around 200 kangaroos that live on the golf course which is a very special experience for our members and visitors.

I have been to Thailand around half a dozen times, and have played golf in Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok and now Kanchanaburi. Thailand is renowned as the best and most enjoyable golf tourism experience in Asia, and the combination of well-conditioned courses, excellent caddy services and comfortable, luxurious Clubhouses, makes for a unique golfing experience for visiting Australian golfers.

Gary with Golfasian's Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan at Black Mountain
Gary at Black Mountain with Golfasian’s Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan 

My most recent golf tour included Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Hua Hin. We played 5 great golf courses, including Black Mountain, Thai Country Club and Grand Prix … all different with individual challenges. Royal Ratchaburi was a unique and most enjoyable golf experience playing in the countryside and through the mountains bordering Myanmar.

With golf tours in Asia, you need to consider the time of the year and the prevailing weather conditions. There are obviously peak season times where prices increase, however I like to schedule my tours around the “shoulder” seasons where I can access some lower rates and then build some “value-add” into the tour price with things such as trophies, prizes, complimentary polo shirts etc.

My most recent tour had 22 guests and most were golfing couples. Being a 10-night golf tour, we only arranged a couple of team dinners … this allowed the guests to “do their own thing”! Some couples teamed up with others for dinner and drinks, and others went out for massages and shopping … things Thailand are famous for!

group-photoAll in all everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would like to sample another Asian destination, perhaps Vietnam. Let’s see what Golfasian can do for us!!

Living on a Golf Course in Thailand

Living on a Golf Course in Thailand

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka
Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort. Courtesy of Richard Castka

For some of us golfers it’s a dream, certainly for me. I’m sitting on the balcony of my rented condominium looking out over beautiful Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort in the north of Thailand, my new home. Am savouring the view but also having to pinch myself and acknowledge how lucky I am.

It won’t be all plain sailing because the site is quite remote and my wife (also a golfer) and I have spent the last 9 years in bustling and bedazzling Bangkok so this is a huge change in tempo. However, we plan to give this life a go and see if our future lies here.

This is day two and I have decided to write a blog about the experience. It won’t be about me, but hopefully give readers an insight into this area, it’s golf and this particular lifestyle…keeping things in the ‘Zone’.  The main reason I am writing, is that whilst I’m sure such blogs exist for places like Florida or The Algarve I haven’t seen such a blog for Thailand. I also won’t keep up the blog for too long, because as I said, it’s an insight only.

On that note let’s see where the next several weeks take us. I’d value any feedback or questions.

Wonder when we’ll play our first round?

JC

 

 

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!

 

Young Thailand Golfers on Winning Trail

Young Thailand Golfers on Winning Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

Wildlife, Scenery and Outstand Golf…Khao Yai Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caddie Championship in Thailand

Caddie Championship in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

Secret Thai Golfing Gem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

Golf Comes With a Big Smile in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young Guns in Thailand

Young Guns in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thailand Golf in the Summer

Thailand Golf in the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

Pineapples, Bananas and Thai Golf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.’

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.

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!

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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