Category: Thailand Golf Resorts and Hotel

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.

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!

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.

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7 reasons to play on the Centara World Masters Championship

7 reasons to play on the Centara World Masters Championship

How do you decide on which amateur golf championship is worth to participate? Based on the positive responses from golfers from 23 countries who played in the first Centara World Masters Golf Championship in 2015, I can strongly recommend to you to come and play this year. The Centara World Masters Golf Championship is Asia’s largest and richest amateur week of golf.

Centara_4

The Centara World Masters Golf Championship will be hosted in the royal city of Hua Hin (Thailand), between 12-18 June 2016. Entry is open to all the male and female golfers over the age of 35 with an official handicap. All golfers play a 72 hole single Stableford event while “A” grade golfers are eligible to compete for the best stroke / gross. Over US $30,000 in prizes and lucky draws will be given away at the gala presentation dinner.

The Centara World Masters Golf Championship will be held in 4 golf clubs:

  1. Banyan Golf Club: 18 holes par 72, 7361 yards;
  2. Black Mountain Club: 18 holes par 72, 7343 yards;
  3. Imperial Lake View Resort & Golf Club: 36 holes, par 72/72, 6915/7015 yards;
  4. Springfield Royal Country Club: 27 holes, par 72, 7043 yards.

As you can see from the list, the organizers are providing the opportunity to play on different kind of golf courses where the quality of green’s and fairways’ conditioning are out of the question.

I have collected 7 reasons why worth to play on the Centara World Masters Golf Championship:

  • Banyan Golf Club: in 2011 was named as the 3rd best course of Thailand at the annual Asian Golf Monthly awards. In 2012, the club received the Asian Golf Monthly awards for Best Clubhouse in Asia Pacific.
  • Black Mountain Golf Clubit is the only course in Thailand ever named in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses Outside the US. The club has hosted 3 Asian Tour events. They were the “Best Course in Asia Pacific” in 2014 and 2015. The par-5 18th makes for a dramatic closing hole.
  • Imperial Lake View Resort & Golf Club: The club offers 36 holes with 4 challenging golf courses: Mountain, Lake, Desert and Link, designed by Roger Packard and Ronald Fream.
  • Springfield Royal Country Club: a TOP 10 golf course in Thailand ranked by Golf Digest; Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

Has something to add to this story? Share it in the comments!

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Where To Golf In Thailand – A City Or A Resort?

Where To Golf In Thailand – A City Or A Resort?

Thailand has 5 main golf destinations, two are cities (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) and three are beach resorts (Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket).

Bangkok is home to over 10 million residents. However, it’s safe to say that Bangkok has the most golf courses of any destination in Thailand. There are 60 golf courses located within 1 hour from the center of Bangkok; of which 20 or so are well-suited for visitor play. Bangkok also has world-class hotels, the best restaurants in Thailand, and a wide range of cultural attractions, shopping and nightlife. The downside is that travel time getting to and from the golf courses can be a bit longer than other destinations due to city traffic. I often recommend a few days in Bangkok at the beginning and/or end of any Thailand golf trip and also recommend weekday golf if possible (when the courses are less crowded and green fees are lower).

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Golf In Egypt Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Egypt 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%)
Egypt (6): Golf in the Egypt is widespread, especially in the resort areas such as Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh. Additionally, the Gary Player course at Soma Bay Resort is a sure standout. A high concentration of golf courses can also be found are in and around Cairo with the 27-hole Katameya Heights leading the pack.

Thailand (7): Over 250 golf courses in Thailand are spread out across the country. The best courses include Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin, and Red Mountain in Phuket. Chiang Mai in the north also has some top courses including Chiang Mai Highlands.

Service (25%)
Egypt (5): The golf courses in Egypt are generally self-serve with limited on-course service and no caddies. The resort courses attached to 5* beach resorts have better facilities, albeit Egyptian service is not the main reason why people travel to golf in Egypt.

Thailand (10): Golf in Thailand sets the standard for service. All Thai golf courses have caddies to assist visiting golfs in every task imaginable, except hitting the ball of course. Expect service excellence at all courses, whether the course itself is 5* or not.

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Chiang Mai Golf Magic

Chiang Mai Golf Magic

I am used to the frenetic pace of golf in Bangkok or golf in Pattaya, so whenever I head north get a real treat when I golf in Chiang Mai.

For the best Chiang Mai golf resort, I check into The Chedi Chiang Mai where I feel always welcome at Chiang Mai’s only five-star hotel located on the Mae Ping River.  Close by, I explore the temples and check out the night bazaar, a mere five minute walk away.

For the best golf in Chiang Mai, I drive out of town past rice fields, buffaloes, and mountains to the Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort & Spa. As soon as I arrive at the Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort & Spa their helpful staff and smiling caddies literally take over to start my Thai golf day.

The 18-hole course is set in the foothills east of Chiang Mai. The front nine utilizes the flatter parts of the terrain, while the back nine plays up natural inclines, cleverly using the contours and landscape to dramatic effect. Opened in December 2005, the course features Paspalum fairways and Tiff-Eagle greens. The bunkers are deep and severely penalizing to errant shots, but beautiful to the golfer’s eye especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The greens are firm and fast but hold a well struck iron shot.  Many greens slope away from the fairway putting more emphasis on strategy and local knowledge.

Their first hole, a 378 yard dog leg left, eases me into the course with a relatively wide fairway and a raised green surrounded by bunkers. Three is a long 550 yard par 5 with a stream running down the left- hand side. Bunkers come into play at various places along the fairways so most of you will take three shots to get within reach of the green. Eight, a 387 yard par 4, has almost more bunkers than fairways, with even more huge craters surrounding the green.

The real fun, however, starts on the back nine when I start to climb into the mist- covered mountains. Memorable holes include 13, with an elevated tee offering a panoramic view of the course. At 16, I am back battling the mountain, with a long par 4, with the fairway sloping down the valley on the right-hand side of the green. The signature hole is left for last, the 531 yard number 18. Here I tee off into the unknown down a valley, with a stream running across the bottom of the dip, with an uphill third onto the raised green opposite the club house.

Overall, the course certainly is worthy of the several golf magazine awards that have been bestowed on the club and definitely worth taking a few classic golf coursepictures here!

After a breathtaking day on the course, I let the magic of The Chedi Chiang Mai cast its spell. I always check-out a massage treatment at the spa and perhaps before the sun sets, take a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool beside the river.

With Chiang Mai often experiencing cooler weather than other Thailand golf destinations, a visit to this region makes a welcome break from the southern golf destinations of  Phuket or Koh Samui. The combination of the Chiang Mai Highlands Golf Resort & Spa and The Chedi Chiang Mai gives Thailand golfers much more than just a holiday. It is 5-star experience that encompasses great golf, superb hospitality and service in a wonderful part of Thailand.

Golf In Bangkok

Golf In Bangkok

Bangkok Golf Bangkok is an enchanting city with rich golf, culture and attractions. It is known as an international golf destination for its diversity of 60 golf courses, year-round golfing weather, delicious food, numerous attractions, and most of all friendly people. Bangkok was voted “World’s Best City” by Travel +Leisure magazine in 2010. The championship golf courses and vibrant streets of Bangkok never stop to amaze vising golfers.

Courses such as Thai Country Club, where Tiger Woods cruised to a 10 shot victory in the 1997 Asian Honda Classic and Alpine Golf Club where again Tiger Woods won at the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic exemplify some of Bangkok’s best golf. Nowadays, there is Royal Gems Golf City where golfers can experience August National by day and Bangkok by night.

Not only are the famous golf courses available for visitor play, but also some of the lesser known golf courses are truly gems in their own right. Thana City is Thailand’s only Greg Norman design and is located only 20 minutes from downtown Bangkok. Muang Kaew is similarly located and is one of the best maintained Bangkok golf courses.

Bangkok offers a truly unique golfing experience in its own chaos that defines the city where anything is possible. A place where golfers from the east meets golfers from west, where flat courses configured from rice paddies meet hilly layout designed by the world’s greatest golf architects, where high-rise buildings meets enticing temples and where street markets meets high-end retail shops. There is a Bangkok golf holiday for everyone.

Thailand Really Is A Golfer’s Paradise

Thailand Really Is A Golfer’s Paradise

Royal Trophy 2011 We all get bombarded by travel agents jargon or see the Tourist Boards latest TV adverts extolling their countries fantastic features. One such feature here in Thailand is golf!

Well I can safely say that Thailand golf is in a very healthy state here in the Kingdom of smiles with thousand of overseas players playing here every year. But it’s not just the tourists who love it here, so do the professionals who make their living out of the game.

Thailand recently hosted the 5th edition of the Royal Trophy, Seve Ballesteros’s version of the Ryder Cup, with Europe playing the best of Asia. This year’s edition moved down to Hua Hin’s Black Mountain, one of my favourite Thai golf courses. It seems that several of Captain Colin Montgomerie’s team also agree with me too.

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Bangkok Dining

Bangkok Dining

Bangkok Dining Many on a Thailand golf package spend at least a few days in Thailand’s capital during their golf holiday as it offers convenient flight connections to around the world in addition to great golf, high standard accommodation, shopping, dining and entertainment. I am often asked for restaurant suggestions and while I do not claim to be a foodie, I know what I like. Here is a brief list of some of my favorites:

ITALIAN
There are many good Italian restaurants all over Bangkok in various price ranges. The ones at the Sheraton on Sukhumvit and the Dusit Thani hotels are both very good at the higher end. Others I like a lot that are more moderately priced include La Gritta on Sukhumvit Soi 19, Basilico on Sukhumvit Soi 33, Via Vai on Sukhumvit Soi 8 and Limoncello on Sukhumvit Soi 11.  All offer a great pizza and nice wines as well as an assortment of homemade pastas and more.

THAI
This one is almost impossible because great Thai food is served up in so many places. Even the street food can be good though I don’t particularly enjoy sitting in plastic chairs on the sidewalk and dining a few feet from diesel belching busses while dodging the motorcycle taxi boys flying past our table.  For cheap and good, I like the outdoor corner restaurant just a few meters down Sukhumvit Soi 14 from the Asok Skytrain. At the higher end, the better hotels almost all have good Thai restaurants. It’s hard to go wrong with Thai food in Thailand and often the difference in price is more related to the atmosphere than the food itself.

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Golf In Australia vs. Golf In Thailand

Golf In Australia vs. Golf In Thailand

Australia Golf Recently I spent some time in Melbourne Australia golfing with my good friend Mark Penfold from Thailand Golf Tours in Sydney.  Mark and I got talking about why golf in Thailand is so popular with Australian golfers and what are the biggest differences between golfing in the 2 countries. Here are Mark’s views.

While the best golf courses are similar throughout the world in shot values, landscaping and maintenance, the unique points about golf in Thailand come down to 3 main factors.

1.  Experience and Service
Forget lugging your clubs from your car to the clubhouse. There are not many golf destinations  in the world where as soon arrive your clubs are taken from you and the next time you see them they are on a pull cart with a Thai girl smiling and giving you the courtesy “wai” (hello).

Then, there is something special about having someone give you yardages to the pin, telling you where the trouble lies, and advising which way the putts will turn.

Ever get thirsty when golfing or tired of waiting 1 hour or more for the beverage cart? Well not anymore. During your round there are refreshments stands ever 3 holes full of snacks and beverages to keep you going.

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Thailand’s Best Golf Tee Times

Thailand’s Best Golf Tee Times

Burapha Golf Pattaya A common misconception is that scheduling Thailand golf tee times ‘as early as possible’ is best to both beat the heat and get back to your hotel early.  Actually this depends on where you golf in Thailand and what your priorities are.

When you golf in Phuket humidity plays a big factor on ‘how hot it feels’.  During night time warm moist air over the sea moves over Phuket Island driving up humidity, then during the day the sun comes out and burns off humidity.  If you golf in Phuket, humidity will typically be highest in the very early morning and lowest during late afternoon. The “coolest” part of the day is afternoon, not morning.

Another phenomena particularly in and around Pattaya is that there is very little air movement in early morning. Then, in the afternoon, pleasant sea breezes from the gulf of Thailand descend upon Pattaya golf courses by around 2-3PM each day.  The net effect is that the most uncomfortable time of day is 9AM to 1 PM.  If you schedule to golf in Pattaya 7AM the front nine will be pleasant. But, by the time you get to the back nine, the weather can be very hot with stagnant air as you come down the stretch.  I do not know about you, but this often wears me down. On the other hand if you plan to tee tee-off at around midday it will be hot when you start, but much more moderate with pleasant breezes after you make the turn. This makes golf in Pattaya much more enjoyable.

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Best Place For A Relaxed Thailand Golf Retreat

Best Place For A Relaxed Thailand Golf Retreat

Mae Salong Chiang Rai is away from the crowds and still offers a great golf holiday.  Thailand’s northern most city of significance, Chiang Rai may not have a quantity of golf courses but with Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club it certainly has quality.  And with conditions at Waterford Valley Golf Club having improved in recent years there are now two courses well worth checking out.  A variety of cultural attractions in the area also add appeal with the Golden Triangle, the Queen Mother’s Botanical Gardens, a mountain-top Chinatown, opium museum, and long tail boat upriver excursions.

The Chiang Rai Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Santiburi Country Club is laid out over vast fields with excellent placement of holes and an abundance of water hazards and bunkers. The golf course is widely regarded as one of the best conceived and maintained golf courses in Asia. Golfers living in Thailand will tell you that Santiburi in Chiang Mai is one of their favorite golf courses in Thailand, and this is no small compliment! Santiburi Country Club was the first Chiang Rai golf course.

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Best Place For A ‘Quiet and Peaceful’ Thailand Golf and Beach Holiday?

Best Place For A ‘Quiet and Peaceful’ Thailand Golf and Beach Holiday?

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin Hua Hin is the winner here, with Phuket’s north and west coasts posting an honorable challenge.  Until recently the golf in Hua Hin was mostly ‘so-so’ quality, though that has changed with some of newer venues which are up to world class standards. Banyan Golf Club won the “2009 Best New Golf Course in Asia” award, while Black Mountain Golf Club, only 2 years old, was voted as the second best Thailand golf course, just behind Thai Country Club. Both courses are located in the foothills above Hua Hin, which make for spectacular après golf views from the clubhouses overlooking vast and fertile valleys below.

The old favorites like the Nicklaus designed Springfield Royal Country Club and Palm Hills Golf Club along with the newer Hua Hin golf courses mentioned are all only around 15 minutes from town, which makes golf in Hua Hin also the most convenient in Thailand.

Mature couples in particular are drawn to Hua Hin specifically because of the ‘quieter and gentler’ nightlife here, and it continues popular as a weekend retreat for Bangkok residents as well. The “downtown” area is populated by boutiques, shops, and quaint restaurants and in comparison with the other Thailand golf destinations like Pattaya and Patong Beach on Phuket, practically free of beer bars and discotheques.

The Hua Hin golf area is located 2 hours from Bangkok by road or 2.5 hours from the new Suvarnabhumi airport.

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Best Place For a Thailand Golf With Nightlife Holiday

Best Place For a Thailand Golf With Nightlife Holiday

Nightlife Pattaya Depends on what you are looking for.  For raw and wild “in your face’ action Pattaya is the place for many. Golf lovers can play the 2 excellent Siam Country Club courses in between visits to the infamous Walking Street.  Be prepared though, for some the action is just too much and it spoils the otherwise wide selection of reasonably priced Pattaya golf courses

For those Thailand golfers who can do without the bar scene but a Jazz Festival sounds appealing?… Hua Hin is it. Many consider golf in Hua Hin to be the best value in Thailand at the moment with championship courses like Black Mountain Golf Club and Banyan Golf Club leading the pack. In fact, this year Banyan Golf Club was voted the best new course in all Asia. Hua Hin town itself, while much more subdued than other Thailand seaside resorts, still has its share of nightlife. Most hotels have in house live bands and I can think of no other better way to unwind after golf than listening to live Jazz under the stars during the Hua Hin Jazz Festival.

If a street with a zillion beer bars does the trick than Phuket might be your choice (Bangla Road in Patong).  Many also visit Phuket to enjoy its white sandy beaches and golfers will find plenty of both beach and nightlife for sure. Add to that top courses such as Blue Canyon Country Club where Tiger Woods claimed one of the best come from behind PGA victory’s in 1998 and Red Mountain Golf Club, arguably the most spectacular course in the island, and you have a recipe for the best golf and nightlife holiday destination in Thailand.

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Phuket Golf Memberships

Phuket Golf Memberships

Phuket Golf Owning a membership at of one of the golf courses in Phuket seems like a good idea to some, especially frequent golfers to the island who shun the idea of paying high green fees.

Thailand golf club memberships may be held by overseas residents and their prices are much lower than what one would pay at clubs in the USA, Europe, and Australia. Generally, the golf club membership secondary market in Thailand offers some even better deals than from the clubs directly. That is the good news.

However, like anything else, buyers beware!

Membership prices have been on a declining trend over the past year. The global economic slow down is apparent in Thailand and many expatriates are returning home and need to sell. There are very few buyers in the market, and Phuket is the worst hit area. I know of 4 high profile Phuket real estate projects that have been cancelled and put on indefinite hold.

Take note of the many Phuket golf club memberships now available and advertised in print and on the internet. The prices shown often do not include the transfer fee, back dues (can be as much as the membership itself), and taxes. These hidden fees are subject to negotiation with the seller. Make sure you check with the golf club in question about any specifics.

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Thailand: Golf and My 2008 Ryder Cup Plans

Thailand: Golf and My 2008 Ryder Cup Plans

Thailand_ryder_cupIf you are planning a Thailand golfing holiday later this year, you may wish to consider being here at the same time as the Ryder Cup. The 2008 USA versus Europe shootout is scheduled for the weekend of 19-21 September at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Thailand is a great place to catch all of the action on TV at one of the many sports bars in the main golfing centers. Valhalla is the Jack Nicklaus designed course where Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a thrilling US PGA play-off in 2000 on his way to a sweep of the four majors. Kentucky is 11 hours behind us.

I for one can not wait for this great event to start. Here’s how I plan to spend that week-end:

On Friday, September 19, after finishing work in Bangkok, I’ll probably head for somewhere like The Londoner on Sukhumvit Soi 33 with its super array of large TV screens, a wide selection of beers brewed on site, a good range of both Thai and Western food. Play begins at 7 pm Thailand time and I’ll probably watch the golf through until the early hours.

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In Thailand Golf Respect “The Elders” (Part 4 of 4)

In Thailand Golf Respect “The Elders” (Part 4 of 4)

Golf_tournament_thailandHere is the final part of Respect “The Elders”: A British expatriate golfers favorite Thailand golf courses.

Siam Country Club, Pattaya

Set in the rolling hills behind Pattaya, this layout always gives me a lift. Being the first golf course in the area, of course the architect, I. Izumi, had the pick of prime locations and he did select well. The long driveway through the gentle hills past the reservoir and the sprawling mausoleum of the founding father builds the anticipation for a special day out. I particularly like the opening hole on each nine. Driving down hill always gives you the essential feeling of power to commence a good round. If there are weak points it’s certainly not the scenery which is breathtaking – it’s always breezy and to be honest the caddies are perhaps the happiest, friendliest bunch in the land. There is nothing lacking in hospitality and good cheer.

If only the greens could be redesigned and laid by a top knowledgeable contractor. If only the lies on the fairways were more consistent. If only there was less traffic (but then perhaps the fees would go up!). If only one of the big name golf architects could surely make it, once again, a real treasure capable of holding the biggest of professional golf tournaments.

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Golf Villas In Thailand: A Dream Or A Drag

Golf Villas In Thailand: A Dream Or A Drag

Thailand_golf_villa In an earlier posting about living in Thailand so that you can golf here year round, I referred briefly to the pro’s and con’s of buying golf course property. Nobody loves their golf more than me but, personally speaking, the last place that I would want to live is on a Thailand golf course – and that goes double for my wife.

OK, you have easy access to golf whenever you want; particularly if a golf membership  is included in the golf course real estate. Some Thailand golf courses have a good range of other facilities such as restaurants, massage, gymnasium, tennis courts, driving range and swimming pool.  Also you can have the quiet of the often beautiful setting of a Thailand golf course far away from urban development. Buying a golf housing estate creates an instant social network of friends and you will never be short of a neighbor in search of a round. Golf properties also offer good rental potential.

But, consider the practicalities too. If your wife does not play golf, what will she do with herself whilst you are out gracing the fairways? And after you have eaten in the club restaurant for seven nights in a row, or you have simply run out of beer, you may well have a 30-minutes-plus ride to the nearest restaurant or seven eleven – indeed, at some Thai golf housing estates like Lakewood or Summit Windmill in Bangkok, it can take 20 minutes just to reach the exit!  For me, it is just too quiet.

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Thailand Guest House, Is It Suitable For A Thailand Golf Vacation

Thailand Guest House, Is It Suitable For A Thailand Golf Vacation

North_pattaya_2Some of you planning a golf trip to Thailand may wonder about staying in a guest house to save costs during your Thailand golf holiday. Unless you specify a particular location, I usually suggest that you would be better staying in a recommended and, if possible, internationally branded hotel. Let me explain.

In Europe and the USA you are likely to find a wide selection of bed and breakfasts, which are most always clean and comfortable at a reasonable cost. This is not the case in Thailand. In the first place, hotel rooms, even at 5 star properties, are already much less expensive than in Europe and the USA. In addition, most of the lower cost Thailand guest houses have some combination of unsanitary conditions or bug infestations and almost always located in the least desirable parts of town, thus making them unfit for western golf tourists. This is because, unlike in the more developed countries where the lodging industry is heavily regulated, including periodic inspections, there are few such safeguards in Thailand.

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River Kwai / Kanchanaburi Golf: Conclusions

River Kwai / Kanchanaburi Golf: Conclusions

River_kwai_kanchanburi Golf in Kanchanburi is staring to see a resurgence as the weather has now turned cooler and we are in the mist of probably the best Thailand golf season ever! Over the last 2 days I had discussed the various golf options in the region by reviewing 5 best Kanchanburi courses. Here is the final post in my River Kwai golf series, covering accommodation selections as well as mentioning a great local dining tip, regional culture and history.

If you want to stay in the area, you basically have three options:

1. In Kanchanaburi itself. The River Kwai Hotel is a comfortable, reasonably priced hotel suitable for golfing groups being centrally located not far away from tourist bars and restaurants, with a lively discotheque next door.

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Phuket Golf: Blue Canyon Country Club, Lakes Course

Phuket Golf: Blue Canyon Country Club, Lakes Course

Blue_canyon_lakes_course Here is the continuation of my Blue Canyon Country Club review.

A second 18 holes, the Blue Canyon Lakes Course, was opened a couple of years ago and presents an equally demanding challenge. It has been closed for the past six months for extensive maintenance work and is scheduled to re-open in two weeks on November 13.

I can not wait to play the Lakes. The last time I was in town I had the good fortune to be given a preview of the upgrading and I fully expect the course to be as good as, if not better than, it’s more famous sister, Canyon Course.

The Lakes site has basically the same make-up as the Canyon: a mix of rubber plantation and water filled canyons created by open-cast tin mining, but combined with more water hazards – water comes into play on 17 holes.  Gradual undulations make for a generally easy walking course, although golf carts are now compulsory . The 18 holes run continuously rather than two loops of 9. Only holes 17 and 18 flow consecutively in the same direction.

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Thailand Golf Joiners at the Hard Rock Pattaya

Thailand Golf Joiners at the Hard Rock Pattaya

Hard_rock_pattaya_joiner_1Nick, a good Thailand golf buddy of mine who had recently returned from a long weekend Pattaya golf trip with six of his best friends was in a state of shock when he saw his Thai wife looking through his credit card bills. Being a curious and non-trusting type, his wife asked him to explain a 1,500 baht charge marked “joiner” from the Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya (see photo at left).

Fortunately my friend was quite fast on his feet, maybe due to other past and similar occurrences, and explained that he and his friends had engaged in some play boxing which accidentally damaged the hotel room where they were staying. Upon checking out and learning of the room damage, the hotel management demanded the big foreigner pay the repair bill. The room needed a new joiner to “fix the door” my fiend told his now slightly confused Thai wife, who, by all accounts, accepted the explanation, albeit reluctantly.

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Thailand Golf Packages: How to Compare and Select One? (Part 2 of 2)

Thailand Golf Packages: How to Compare and Select One? (Part 2 of 2)

Green_valley_1 Thailand golf vacations can be some the best the world consisting of great hotels, golf courses, and transportation. While yesterday’s post focued on accomodation ooptions, today I will finish up by discussing about golf course selections and transportation options.

The selections of golf courses are  very important, especially for the first time visitor who has no experience of the courses. The standard, dfifficulty level, location and green fees can vary significantly. Once again, care should be taken when considering any package with regards to this as any qualified operator should be glad to work with you to customize your package to your needs.

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Thailand Golf Packages: How to Compare and Select One? (Part 1 of 2)

Thailand Golf Packages: How to Compare and Select One? (Part 1 of 2)

Thailand_golf_vacation
The Thailand golf high season is fast approaching and many of you maybe looking to take the golf holiday of your dreams. Therefore, I thought it appropriate timing to write on this important topic over the next 2 days. Much of the information I will cover is applicable not only to Thailand, but other destinations as well and I hope you find it useful.

When arranging your golf holiday in Thailand, it is always wise and recommended to compare offerings from more than one tour operator.

Unless you are getting quoted an exactly similar package, where upon the choice would purely be down to price, then you must take care in evaluating and comparing the different products you are being offered.

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Thai Military Coup Update

Thai Military Coup Update

Thailand_army What would you do if you were to bump into these guys at the train station on your way to the office (I really did yesterday) ?

Here is my up-to-the-minute Thailand situation report as well as my assessment of how things will progress going forward and advise for travellers coming to Thailand.

The military coupe d’etat in Thailand has been reported worldwide in the last 24 hours and I trust you are aware of the main events. I am glad to report that the situation in Thailand is very calm and peaceful as of 8:44 AM Thursday morning.

In the last 24 hours the following has occurred;

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Thailand Hotels: Accomodation Selection Factors (Part 2 of 2)

Thailand Hotels: Accomodation Selection Factors (Part 2 of 2)

Laguna_phuket For beach resorts such as Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket, then there is a huge choice of accommodation available. In Phuket in particular, there are many stunning resorts located on the shore of the many beautiful beaches, which can be a totally idyllic and relaxing way to spend your holiday. Obviously, they are at the higher end of the price scale, and equivalent properties away from the beach will be less expensive.

Luxury beach resorts such as the Laguna Phuket shown at left with it’s excellent and accompanying golf courses are available for as little as $125 US per night, while off beach 4 star accommodations can be found for as little as $75 US per night. Obviously, these prices will vary depending on the season, November to April being the most expensive high season, and  when advanced booking is required  to avoid the disappointment of your selected hotel being unavailable.

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