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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!

Golf in Myanmar

Golf in Myanmar

My name is Catherine Capozzi, and I’m from the golfer heaven state of Arizona in the US. Now, I live with my husband in India. Despite growing up in a place renowned for golf, I can’t say I’m very good at the sport: we don’t belong to any golf club, and the extent of our practice involves playing 9-hole courses around sunset at a discount. Nonetheless, my husband and I have made a concerted effort to improve our swing every time we go back to visit Arizona in the winter. And in this case, we decided to bring our burgeoning love of golf with us on vacation to Myanmar.

Myanmar had been on my family’s radar for some time: We knew it was an up-and-coming destination that hadn’t succumbed to the usual touristy pitfalls of over development and pollution. We heard it was rustic, clean, full of Buddhist history, had amazing cuisine and friendly people. All of these things proved correct, especially the hospitality. The unspoiled nature was easily one of the best parts, and I was amazed at how pristine the country was.

We didn’t think Burma and golf would go hand-in-hand, but the courses were actually quite beautiful. They unfortunately didn’t have left-handed golf clubs and we didn’t bring ours, so we had to alternate between using the back of a 5-iron for the left hand, or practising with my right and toting around the 7-iron as my defacto club (not that it helped). Thankfully, we found every bad swing rather amusing. If we were smart, we ‘d have brought our own clubs.

The caddies were the real heroes of our game, because they were out in the rough fishing out my husband’s golf balls practically every shot. They also were so attentive, setting up the balls in a makeshift tee from grass tufts. The ladies were great sports.

The courses were gorgeous. In Bagan, the course is situated among the famous pagodas so we enjoyed weaving our cart through these historic monuments. The Inle course was expansive and was very well-maintained. The weather was also cool here, but it started pouring rain around the 6th hole. One of my fondest memories of the trip will be how we careened down the course, making a beeline for the clubhouse as we all got drenched—especially the caddies, as they clung to the back while the rain pelted them. We gave up our golfing ambitions for the day once the rains hit, but we had a fabulous time.

GolfAsian made our vacation effortless and so enjoyable. The group consisted of my husband, our 15-month-old baby, my mother, and me. I was a little worried that the itinerary was too hectic (three cities by plane in a week), but the organization made travelling a breeze: someone was always waiting for us on the other side, our guides were compassionate, responsive and informative, and all we had to do was show up.

In Yangon, we were booked in a fantastic, spacious hotel called the Rose Garden. Our guide showed us some of the heritage buildings downtown, and gave us a tour of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda. We found Yangon to be lush, clean, vibrant, and full of friendly people. We had a great time visiting the market and buying jade, Buddha statues, paper umbrellas and other quintessential Burmese souvenirs.

In our next stop, Bagan, we explored the ancient Buddhist monuments that pepper the rustic city. Tharabar Gate was easily one of our favorite hotels, and we enjoyed the amazing spread of local cuisine (as a vegan, I especially enjoyed the local chickpea-based tofu and fresh carrot salads. The peanut sauce in Myanmar is the stuff of legends. My husband, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough of the fish). My mother and baby had a delightful time going through the green countryside in a horse-drawn carriage.

Our last stop was the Inle Lake region. There’s simply nowhere else in the world that can compare to this unique spot: they have floating gardens and an entire city built atop the water. Visiting these sites by boat was such a special experience that even the later rains didn’t damper the mood. Though the hotel didn’t have the best variety of food and the WiFi was intermittent, (as is the case in most hotels, was our understanding) the grounds were lush, expansive, and made for a beautiful walk.

8 days later, we all felt like we got the full Burma experience. We had a delightful family vacation!

A Big Fan of Golfasian

A Big Fan of Golfasian

Graham and Mark S at Centara MastersMy name is Graham Cater, an Aussie who plays Southport Golf Club on the Gold Coast of Australia. It is there I hone my skills and test my mental strength to ready me for our annual Thailand Golf Tour.

Playing golf in Thailand is not just about the game it is an exotic experience that has left me with the most wonderful memories from the Land of Smiles. Now I don’t always play well and I have been known to miss the odd easy putt but nothing can stop the enjoyment I get playing on some of the best golf courses in Asia.

Graham with some GA staffI first heard about golf in Thailand and Golfasian whilst playing with a group in Singapore. It sounded exciting and the more I investigated the practicalities of putting a tour together the more enthusiastic I became. Then it all came together in March 2012. I had contacted Golfasian and received a quick response from Bee. I was amazed at the efficiency with which Bee put our first golf tour in Hua Hin together. Local travel arrangements, hotels and golf all materialized without a hitch. Five years on and Bee is still looking after our group. She has become our good friend as have many of the wonderful staff of Golfasian.  Currently we are considering Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia for an extended tour, all of which are covered by Golfasian with their own in-country staffs. What makes touring so easy with Golfasian is their awareness of your individual needs. This is integral to their business model. There are no compromises, no snags and no surprises.

Grahams crazy companionsThailand is a beautiful country with a wonderful culture. The people are most welcoming, the food is sensational and golf courses are magnificent. I love the green curries, Pad Thai and the tasty whole fish with an accompaniment of shrimp and lobster, all washed down with a cold Singha beer.  What is surprising is how little it costs to have such a spread of dishes.  We play courses in Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin. We consider Hua Hin our home-from-home destination. The sweeping fairways of the Pirapon Namatra-designed Banyan offer golfers a world class experience in spectacular surroundings. The championship course Black Mountain is everything you would expect and is acknowledged as the best golf course in Asia. Hosting both Asian and European Tour events it has won a string of international awards and is my favourite course. Gassan Khuntan in Chiang Mai is in a truly exquisite setting located in the northern mountains of Thailand. The extensive water hazards will challenge most golfers so bring your best game to this course. It is shameless and can strip away your dignity, but Some of Grahams friends on a caddie's motorbikewhat a pleasure. You cannot talk golf in Thailand without recognising the delightful Caddies. Those gentle people who give intuitive advice, moral support, best club selection and playing strategies to suit the course and your game. My experience tells me to listen and follow their wisdom.

From the mountains to the sea there is a golf course in Thailand for every golfer. It is such a relaxing experience, it is beautiful and such fun. Golfasian cannot improve your golf but they can give you a golfing experience you will never forget. I have recommended 60-70 golfers and friends who have also enjoyed the Golfasian experience and all returned with the same praise. Thanks for providing such outstanding service.

Thailand Golf Fried Eggs (Kai Dao)

Thailand Golf Fried Eggs (Kai Dao)

Thailand golf courses are notorious for having soft sand. Many of the budget courses here use normal beach sand to fill their bunkers. This powdery and fluffy sand tends to promote many fried eggs or as the caddies call them in Thai “kai dao” because of the circular splash pattern created around the ball in the sand. When you look at it from the top, it looks like a yolk sitting in the middle of a fried egg.

Don’t panic if you find yourself with a fried egg at a Thailand golf course. The shot is difficult for sure, but easier to hit than you might think. With soft sand behind as well as under the ball, you can power the ball out of the sand to escape in one. Make some key adjustments to your stance and swing and you’ll get out.

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Golf In Malaysia Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Malaysia Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Malaysia (5):  Golf in Malaysia ranges from merely average to PGA quality. The best Malaysia golf courses are all located in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. Access is mostly private, but some weekday visitors are allowed at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club and Saujana Golf & Country Club; both of which have hosted PGA and LPGA events, respectively.

Thailand (7): Thailand golf courses have hosted many professional events such as the Royal Trophy (Black Mountain) and Honda LPGA (Siam Country Club), Volvo Masters (Thai Country Club), and Thailand Golf Championship (Amata Spring Country Club).  The collection of Thailand’s best golf courses can be found at Golf In A Kingdom.

Service (25%)
Malaysia (5): Golf in Malaysia is well developed. However, the service aspect is generally lacking as there are very few locals who want to work in hospitality service roles. On the other hand English is widely spoken and getting to/from the golf courses is very easy. Also, most golf courses have nice clubhouses which make for good 19th holes.

Thailand (10): The golf in Thailand is all about smiles. Friendly locals and caddies are all over Thai golf courses. Even if you hit a bad shot, your caddie will smile graciously and make you feel OK. Try playing on your own when you get back from a Thailand golf holiday! It will be then when you really miss the Thai service.

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Perfect Swing Asia At Thana City Golf & Sports Club

Perfect Swing Asia At Thana City Golf & Sports Club

Andrew KnottThana City is a longtime favorite of mine and Greg Norman’s only Thailand golf course. Over the last 2 years this Bangkok golf course has been on a massive upgrade campaign under the management of Absolute Golf Services.

This regeneration is continuing and the latest project is the renovation of the former Ledbetter Academy at the driving range and practice facilities. Nowadays, PGA Member and Bangkok resident Andrew Knott moved-in and  his Golf Performance Coaching academy, Perfect Swing Asia has been in place since November. Previously, Andrew was based at the Bangkok Golf Club, which unfortunately got destroyed in last November’s floods.

I spoke with Andrew the other day and Andrew says, “Perfect Swing Asia is based on the idea of finding your perfect swing”, with the focus being on golf performance” He offers packages for Bangkok residents and visiting Thailand golfers looking for intensive training He says, “The key is to identify the areas where performance and enjoyment can be improved, then focus on how do it using facts, not feelings”.

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Thai Golf After The Meeting

Thai Golf After The Meeting

Dusit Thani Bangkok Driving Range With positive signs that the global economy is at last showing signs of improvement, many companies are now scheduling overseas trips again, which means sending their staff back on the road and the Thai capital is again flooded with businessmen.

But with a close eye on the bottom line costs, travel budgets are tight and gone are the chances of grabbing a few extra nights in Bangkok to fit in a couple of rounds of golf with the local VP or sales agents! In Thailand golf and business however are still a great way of clinching that business deal or renewing contacts.

So with this in mind I was curious to find out exactly what were the options of conducting a bit of social business around golf while travelling in Bangkok on a tight schedule.

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Smiling Caddies, Sunshine, and Thailand Golf

Smiling Caddies, Sunshine, and Thailand Golf

Thai CaddiesLiving in Thailand perhaps we take for granted the pleasures of playing a round of golf.

In most of Europe and the USA, snow has put a damper on all hopes for that post New Year round with your golf buddies. Can’t get the car out of the deep drifts!!! Here in Thailand we are experiencing our own winter weather…. a beautiful 25 degrees centigrade with a cool breeze!

How about those dreaded rush our traffic jams or clogged city roads? No panic with the traffic to get to the course on time in Thailand though. Just relax in the back of your limo, while your driver takes you directly to the course.

Upon arrival at any Thailand golf course, open the car door and immediately a smiling caddie says ‘Sawadee Ka ‘ and will take your clubs from you, and may even offer you a welcome drink and a cold towel. Once you have registered, changed and found your golf buggy, it’s off to the practice range to hit some balls. Here your caddie will hand you your clubs and even pick up your balls from the pitching area after you hit. When it’s time to go, the starter will check your ticket, and then you are all ready to golf.

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Three Wacky Rules Of Golf In Thailand

Three Wacky Rules Of Golf In Thailand

Golf Thaland Rule When golfing in Thailand either for holiday, sport or pleasure playing by the rules can be a beautiful thing.  Here are three of the craziest rules that I have ever heard of (surely nobody obeys them when golfing in Thailand).

1. Ball Overhanging the Hole
When was the last time you putted and found your ball lying halfway in the hole, or just at the lip? When any part of the ball overhangs the hole, you allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay (no wonder Thai golfers walk so slowly when on the green) and then an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. (Slower yet?)  If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, it deemed that you  have holed out with your last stroke and you must add a penalty stroke (the stupidest penalty in all golf if you ask me)  to your score. In other words, the same outcome as if you had walked up to the ball and immediately tapped in.

2. Tending the Flagstick
Does your Thai golf caddie normally tend the flag for you? If not, you better think about asking her to. You may request to have the flagstick attended or removed while making a stroke from anywhere on the course (on or off the green).  If your Thai caddie does not attend or remove the flag before you make your stroke, don’t ask her too. The flag  can not be attended or removed during your stroke or while the ball is in motion because the rule says that if doing it might influence the movement of your ball. (Can you believe that?)  If the flagstick is in the hole and your Thai caddie stands near it while the stroke is made, that is OK. The caddie is deemed to be attending the flagstick even if she is not actually holding it.

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Thailand Tee Off Experiment

Thailand Tee Off Experiment

Amata Spring Country Club Bangkok Despite my driver being a new Cobra ZL equipped with modern technological advancements, I kept it in my bag for my last 3 rounds played at Thai Country (Bangkok), Black Mountain (Hua Hin), and Amata Spring (Bangkok). Instead I used my 3-wood off the tee even though my 3-wood is four inches shorter than my driver and has four degrees more loft.

What do you think the results were?

With a distance advantage of 30 yards with my driver you would think that my long game would have been pressured and my score would have suffered, well this was not the case. In fact, I was able to hit an average of 12 fairways a round with my 3-wood and avoided all penalties (lost, OB, water) with my 3-wood off the tee. In the scoring department, I cut an average of 2 shots off my score, lowering my handicap to a respectable 12.

Now I wonder what will happen if I keep up this up?

Once upon a time, I used to see many Thailand golfers automatically turn to the 3-wood on tight holes. Nowadays though, this is rarely the case, Thanks to modern technology and big egos Thailand golfers almost always use the driver off the tee. They go for maximum distance and forget the game is about control. Of course, the case favoring the driver over the 3-wood isn't foolish as the extra distance does help with the second shots into the green. For golfers in Thailand who want to shoot well on their holidays there is food for thought; driver versus 3-wood.

I know I will give it a second thought more often and not be shy to tee off in Thailand with my 3-wood, especially on golf holes that have trouble along side the fairway.

Thailand Golfers Undeterred By Thai Political Unrest

Thailand Golfers Undeterred By Thai Political Unrest

Bangkok Golf Club.jpg Thailand golfers and golf holidaymakers continue to play despite political turbulence, an Icelandic Volcano shutting down most flights from Europe, a brace of canceled travel plans and worries from skittish Asian golfers alike.

Contrary to BBC, CNN, and other news reports, which tend to sensationalize events, the real fact is 99 percent of the country and 100% of the Thailand golf courses are operating as normal. Even more important, my own company, Golfasian has some 100 golfers in Thailand at the moment and not a single one has been affected in anyway. Of course, I still look out for their welfare, or at least assure them that their safety isn’t an issue, because, in my view, it isn’t.

There can be no minimizing the fact that the areas of the demonstrations are unsafe. But the reality is, I was all over Bangkok this week, out to the airport and around downtown, and if I weren’t surfing the Net or watching TV, I would not have known anything was amiss. The demonstrations and ultimately the violence have been restricted to very small, very specific areas of this enormous city.

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Thai Golf after the meeting!

Thai Golf after the meeting!

Business Golf With positive signs that the global economy is at last showing signs of improvement, many companies are now scheduling overseas trips to Thailand again

But with a close eye on the bottom line costs, Thailand travel budgets are tight and gone are the chances of grabbing a few extra nights at the Oriental in Bangkok to fit in a couple of rounds with the local VP or Sales agents!

Golf and business in Thailand however are still a great way of clinching that business deal or renewing contacts and Thailand as the world’s lowest cost premium golf destination is again factoring high on the golfing executive’s radar screens.

So with this in mind I was curious to find out exactly what were the options of conducting a bit of social business around golf while traveling in Thailand and on a tight schedule.

Flying around Asia is now almost as cheap and as easy as catching a train, so trying to fit in some Thailand golfing activities is still feasible with some creative scheduling.

Floodlit golf availability in Bangkok means a different slant on the business dinner. Certainly it is a known fact that the many Asian businessmen love to fit in 9 or 18 holes at night in Bangkok before grabbing a plane back home overnight. Night golf options in Bangkok include Summit Windmill, Bangkok Golf Club, Pinehurst, Panya Indra, and Cascata. Of these I personally prefer Panya Indra as it is the nicest facility. Others also enjoy Pinehurst which is known to have the “best” night shift caddies in the Kingdom.

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Stick It Close From The Rough Around The Thailand Greens

Stick It Close From The Rough Around The Thailand Greens

Thailand Rough Golf Every Thailand golfer lands in the rough sooner or late, especially on courses with narrow fairways such as Amata Spring in Bangkok or Santiburi in Samui or courses with rough between the fairway and green such as Bangpra in Pattaya.

If the ball is near the green, the shot is very important, as a good chip will save par and a poor one will almost seal a bogey, or worse. To score low, I always try to knock it close from the really deep stuff. Knocking it close from there chops one or two strokes from my score and often saves par.

Here are a few ways I found that work to hit it close from the deep rough in Thailand:

1. Use a less lofted club and choke up
2. Keep my hands in front of the ball
3. Put the ball slightly forward in my stance
4. Lean forward with most of my weight on my left foot
5. Use a fast swing to offset the club slowing down from the grass behind the ball.

Some Thailand golf professionals recommend using short irons from the deep rough. But that's very hard for the average golfer. It requires a very strong grip, a steeply descending blow, and strength. Plus, you can't release the club. Otherwise, you'll end up hitting a lot of grass and no ball.

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How I Avoided Three-Putting Golfing In Thailand?

How I Avoided Three-Putting Golfing In Thailand?

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin Thailand

Can you believe it? Over the past 2 weeks I played Thai Country Club twice, and Banyan Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf Club once each without a single three-putt. Here are the two steps how I did it.

1. Three years ago I took some lessons form an Australian golf professional in Bangkok. At that time he insisted that I go for every green every chance I had, as a lay-up shot would never get the ball in the hole. After following his advice ever since and thinking about it some more, I decided that this approach is better left to the professional golfers and not for me.

In my latest 4 rounds of golf in Thailand, instead of going for every green I decided to lay-up anytime I had more than 175 yards to the green. Then, instead of having very long putts, or worse terrible lies in those high lipped greenside bunkers at Black Mountain and Banyan, I was able to position my ball 50 yards or so safely in the fairway and on the “easy approach” side of the green. This all but assured me of a simple chip close to the hole and a one or at worst two-putt.

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6 Thailand Golf Picks That Are “Twice As Nice” (Part 2 of 2)

6 Thailand Golf Picks That Are “Twice As Nice” (Part 2 of 2)

Siam Country Club, Old Course Here are the final 3 picks for playing the best “Twice As Nice” Thailand golf courses. Two are Pattaya golf courses and the final one is a Phuket golf course.

4. Siam Country Club is situated just 10 minutes from Pattaya.  The original Siam Country Club, built in 1971, is now called Siam Country Club Old Course, after a two- year renovation.  A traditional shot-makers layout, this is one of the more well known tracks in Thailand and hosted the 2007 LPGA Honda Thailand upon re-opening.  The new Siam Country Club Plantation Course boasts a more challenging design with 27 holes of tremendous views toward Pattaya and the Gulf of Thailand.  The course recently hosted the 2009 LPGA Honda Invitational and received high praise from the world’s best lady pros. The same event is planned for February 2010. Both have very modern clubhouse facilities perfect for relaxing after the round.

5. Burapha Country Club is located about 30 minutes outside of the tourist friendly city of Pattaya.  The four nine holes are referred are Augusta, Belfry, Cypress and Dunes, referred to as A, B, C, and D.  The designers are famed architect Gary Panks and Australian touring professional and former US Open Champion David Graham.  All four nines offer scenic views, elevation changes, challenging greens and a mix of long and short holes.  Located just outside Pattaya I suggest staying at the Woodlands Resort, which provides an excellent choice for overnight fun in between playing all 36 holes.

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Asian PGA Tour a Frequent Visitor to Thailand in 2009 (part 2 of 2)

Asian PGA Tour a Frequent Visitor to Thailand in 2009 (part 2 of 2)

Thongchai Royal Trophy
Here are the Thailand professional golf events scheduled for 2009.

Increasing parity between golfers from Asian and Europe was quite evident as well during The Royal Trophy held Jan 09 – 11 at Bangkok’s Amata Spring Country Club.  In a format very similar to The Ryder Cup, The Royal Trophy matches Asia against Europe.  The event was the brainchild of Seve Ballesteros with the perpetual trophy graciously donated by His Majesty The King of Thailand. 

During the first two editions the Europeans cruised to easy lopsided wins under Ballesteros, though things changed dramatically this year with the Asian team captained by Joe Osaki delivering a royal butt kicking (karate chop?) to Jose Maria Olazabal’s Euro squad.  Thailand’s popular duo of Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng led the way with impressive wins of 5&4 in Friday’s Foursomes and 4&2 in Saturday’s Fourballs, before ‘sealing the deal’ with Singles knockout wins of 5&4 and 5&4 on Sunday. Though the final score was Asia 10 Europe 6, it was all but over after Saturday when Asia took an almost insurmountable 6½ to 1½ lead.  Some are saying this may do for Asian golf and The Royal Trophy what the end of US dominance did a couple of decades ago for The Ryder Cup and European golf.  And with rising young stars such as Japan’s 17 year old sensation Ryo ‘The Shy Prince’ Ishikawa, who could argue?

Next stop:  Bangkok again (‘One Night in Bangkok’ is not enough!) with the Asian Tour Invitational at Suwan Golf and Country Club February 05 -08.

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A Dozen Reasons For A Golf Holiday In Thailand (Part 4 of 4)

A Dozen Reasons For A Golf Holiday In Thailand (Part 4 of 4)

Golf Boys In Thailand_1
Here is the final segment of the 12 reasons for a Thailand golf holiday article.

10. Accommodation. I know of no other place, be it for golf or not, that has a better selection and offers a better value of accommodations than Thailand, Even 3-star hotels are generally clean and comfortable with good facilities and represent great values. You have a wide choice according to your budget, from stunning 5 star resorts to small Thai style beach bungalows, and everything in between.

11. Tuition and Practice. Many of the golf courses in Thailand have excellent practice facilities, and there are also plenty of driving ranges in the main city centres. Numerous teaching golf pro’s are available and it is relatively easy to book tuition, or even a practice round with the pro, at a fraction of the cost in most western countries. Many Thailand golfing visitors take the opportunity whilst they have time on their holiday to hone their games.

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A Dozen Reasons For A Golf Holiday In Thailand (Part 3 of 4)

A Dozen Reasons For A Golf Holiday In Thailand (Part 3 of 4)

Thai Golf Restaurant
Continuing my 12 Reasons for a Golfing Holiday in Thailand, the first six of which were in the last 2 posts, here are the next three:

7.    Food. These days most people know how delicious Thai food can be and for many golfers in Thailand, enjoying local food is an important feature of their holiday. Nor need the food be highly spiced – it is surprising how many Thais do not eat very hot food. It is said that Thais live to eat, not eat to live and, in addition to local food, you can find a wide variety of other cuisines readily available, from specialities from around the region, to the best of western food. Surprisingly, the golf clubs often boast very fine restaurants. On most golf courses, at every third hole there is a shaded kiosk or gazebo. These charming little oases serve a wide variety of refreshments ranging from fresh fruit, soft drinks and beer, to hot dogs and fried chicken.

8.    Culture and Customs. Thailand is a unique country with its own identity. Very different from other parts of Asia, Thailand has never been colonized and thus retains a strong indigenous culture Feng Shui is the Chinese art of harmonizing the natural as well as man-made environment to bring good health, fortune and happiness to people around it. In Thailand, golf courses are designed using Feng Shui principles and other Thai religious beliefs. Thus, it is not unusual to see on a Thai golf course special "spirit" trees wrapped in brightly-coloured cloth, flower leis lining the fairways, and immaculately kept shrines, all combining to give an elusive mystical quality.

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Beginners Golf in Bangkok

Beginners Golf in Bangkok

Golf
Golf can be a daunting game for even the most experienced (not necessarily good) golfers in Thailand.  Luckily Bangkok is an ideal place for beginning golfers in Thailand to tee it up.

With the helpful caddies at all Thailand golf courses, beginning golfers are able to play with experienced assistance at their side for the whole round.  For example, golfers in Thailand sometimes forget the basic things that a new golfer struggles with, for example finding the next hole, observing basic golf etiquette and knowing distances to the hole.  The caddies in Thailand can help with all these things and more.

Another reason why Bangkok is a good place for beginning golfers is that most of the golf courses do not require you to have a handicap card or be able to play the game to any level.  This can be quite frustrating if you happen to be caught behind a group of new golfers, who might not even know the etiquette for letting people through.  For the beginning golfer, you can show up at most courses in Bangkok and it doesn’t matter if you shoot 160!  Alpine Golf Club is one of the few courses in Thailand that does not allow beginning golfers to play and requires a 24 handicap for golfers to be able to tee it up.

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How To Golf At Amata Spring Country Club?

How To Golf At Amata Spring Country Club?

Amata Spring Golf Club.jpg
I often get asked about golf at Amata Spring Country Club. Located halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya, Amata Spring is currently closed to visitors. However, there are 2 ways to get on for those on a Thailand golf holiday and wanting to play.
First a little history and update about the golf course. Amata Spring Country Club was opened in 2005 and up until now kept as a private member’s only golf club.  The course was designed by Schmidt-Curley Golf Design from the USA and was initially a good layout, and had the makings of a great golf club.

However, I was surprised to see the conditions so run down the 2 times I played recently. Rough areas seeded with native red-grass have never grown in and are now just barren open waste areas. The greens, while undulating and well-bunkered roll a slow 8 on the stimpmeter with obvious signs of graininess from the strain of Paspalum grass used. A better choice would have been to go with the Eagle Turf found on the areas other premier courses like Alpine Golf Club in Bangkok and Siam Country Club in Pattaya.

On the other hand, the golf course plays to a length of over 7,400 yards from the tips, ensuring challenging play for golf championships. Speaking of professional events, Amata Spring Country Club hosted the Royal Trophy in 2006 and 2007. The Royal Trophy is a unique competition played between the continents of Europe and Asia in a team match play format. The best players from Europe play against the best players from Asia to compete in a series of matches for stewardship over the perpetual Royal Trophy – graciously donated by His Majesty the King of Thailand.

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Clubhouses of Thailand Golf Courses

Clubhouses of Thailand Golf Courses

Thailand_golf_club_house_2The next few posts will feature my favorite Thailand golf clubhouses, which go a long way towards making your Thailand golfing holiday so memorable.

First, my opinion on what makes up a great Thailand golf clubhouse:

–    Friendly reception and efficient check-in
–    Well stocked and fairly priced Pro Shop
–    Spacious, air-conditioned locker rooms
–    Golf shoe cleaning service
–    Clean, modern showers, with freshly laundered towels, and bathroom accessories
–    In-house traditional Thai massage
–    Spa, steam bath, sauna
–    Quality Thai and Western restaurant, economically priced
–    A range of ice-cold Thai and international beers
–    Fast and friendly service
–    Air-conditioned inside rooms, plus outside terracing
–    Views back out over the golf course
–    Wide screen cable tv showing international sports events
–    Secured bag drop area
–    Drivers waiting room and/or PA system for finding drivers after the round

Actually, demanding though this list may appear a surprisingly large number of golf clubhouses in Thailand meet most, if not all, of these criteria.

The next article will highlight my favorite Bangkok clubhouses, and this will be followed by Phuket, Hua Hin, and then Chiang Mai. If you have any personal favorites, let me know and I will be sure to mention them. Stay tuned!

Most Spectacular Thailand Golf Course

Most Spectacular Thailand Golf Course

Santiburi_golf_club_samui_2
Planning a golf Thailand holiday often involves deciding on the best type of courses to include. As part of the golf package planning I often get to discuss with those interested in a golf Thailand vacation about each course. So it is no coincidence when recently a Phuket golf tour operator and I sat down for a few Singha’s to discuss our views on the golf courses in Thailand.

We went round and around debating which is the best or most difficult Thailand golf course and ultimately could not decide whether it was Blue Canyon in Phuket (where he was from)  or Alpine in Bangkok (where I am from). However one thing we did agree on is the most spectacular Thailand golf course.

When you think about golf in a tropical and exotic land, what image comes to mind? How about a palm tree lined course carved out of the jungle on an island set high over  white sand beaches and clear blue sea waters?

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Hua Hin Golf Update

Hua Hin Golf Update

Black_mountain_golf_hole_2This week I had the pleasure of playing the Hua Hin golf courses. In general, Hua Hin is seeing less golf visitors due to the resurgence of Phuket as the number one Thailand golf destination. Hua Hin golf clubs, resorts, and golf travel operators have all experienced a slowdown this past season. This week despite the Hua Hin Jazz Festival being in town, Hua Hin was relatively quiet.

That being said, the golf courses, costs, and weather conditions are all favor some excellent golf. Specifially,

Black Mountain Golf Club: After replacing 10 “sinking” greens, the course is back to excellent playing conditions, Currently there are only 2 temporary greens (#10 and #11) due to hole #11 being re-laid out. Management continue to invest heavily in maintenance and this is evidenced by the new internal waste areas, improved tee areas with wider variety of difficultly levels,  and the aforementioned greens upgrading. Black Mountain  is being readied for the Asian PGA event to be held March 2009.

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Golf Links Partner (Page2)

Golf Links Partner (Page2)

Interesting reads and useful sites

More Interesting reads and useful sites

More Interesting reads and useful sites

Over the years the amount of enthusiastic golfers wanting to sample a golf in thailand have grown astoundingly in number. With the
top quality destinations and range of Thailand golfing holidays
it is easy to see the reasons behind these high in demand golf packages.
Today golf enthusiasts fly the world over looking for a round of golf, however,
once they have experienced the superb luxury of our golf holidays
Thailand
, they want to return continually as many do! In that case, one could consider buying Thailand Timeshares to ensure excellent accommodation on every trip.

Fall in Love With Thailand’s Many Courses With a Timeshare

Fall in Love With Thailand’s Many Courses With a Timeshare

With its varied landscape, ideal climate and lush natural
surroundings, Thailand is home to some of the world’s most beautiful, and
challenging golf courses. As such, it’s become an increasingly popular vacation
destination for the avid golfer who’s looking for a change of scenery.

Many vacationers to the area find they love golfing in
Thailand so much that they’d like to return year after year.

Unfortunately, securing accommodation in such a coveted
vacation destination, especially during high-season (which also happens to be
prime golfing season) can be expensive. One way to ensure that you’re never at
the whim of the frequently changing lodging market is to explore the option of timeshares.

These vacation properties make it possible for you and
your family to secure prepaid, weeklong accommodations at the Thailand
timeshare of your choice. Once you own your property outright, the only thing
you’ll ever have to pay is an annual or biennial maintenance fee respective to
your usage. You’ll have one rate that you can confidently budget for and you’ll
generally spread your payments out throughout the year so that when it comes
time to vacation, you won’t bear the brunt of your accommodation costs all at
once.

One of the things you’ll find when golfing in Thailand is
that there are so many beautiful courses peppered throughout the country’s many
islands. While in Phuket you’ll hear stories of golfing on Koh Samui. In Chiang
Mai golfers will tell tales of their outings in Bangkok. These stories will
certainly whet your appetite to travel around the country, experiencing
world-class golf wherever you go.

You might be concerned that your timeshare will have tied
you down to one location, but the opposite is actually true. Provided that you
buy timeshare that is affiliated with an exchange company like RCI or Interval
International, you can trade your time at your Thailand timeshare for time at
any other affiliated resorts in the country, or even the world.

Ready to buy timeshare and secure a lifetime of
golfing vacations in Thailand? Consider purchasing your timeshare resale to
save thousands. When you buy from a previous owner, rather than from the resort
itself, you won’t be paying any salesmen’s commissions, nor will you have to
sit through any long-winded sales pitches. Instead you can shop for your timeshare from the comfort of your own
home, working within your own budget.

Thailand Golf Zone Goes To Mauritius

Thailand Golf Zone Goes To Mauritius

Mauritius_golf_classicFor those of you who have been following this blog, you know that I having been posting Thailand golf articles around 3 times a week for the past one and one half year. Well this past week , as you must have noticed, I was totally silent and I bet you wonder what happened to the Thailand Golf Zone and it’s author, me.

Well last week and for the first time in years my family and I took a real vacation. Not one of those to visit family or a long weekend, but a real holiday. Not only that, it was a golf vacation, my first in over 5 years and since moving to Thailand. You see when I had the good fortune to get invited to the Air Mauritius Golf Classic 2007 by Scott Edkins at Greenside Golf in South Africa; I jumped at the opportunity and made it a family affair to boot.

The golf tournament took place over 4 rounds and included some of the most spectacular golf courses in Mauritius. Golf quality at Golf du Chateau and Tamarina was comparable to Thailand’s best, such as Thai Country Club and Blue Canyon. Even the grasses used were the same latest Sea Isle Paspalum varieties imported from Australia that are found at Thailand’s new courses like Red Mountain in Phuket and Black Mountain in Hua Hin.

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A Bangkok Golf Tournament Story

A Bangkok Golf Tournament Story

Hua_hin_golf_tours_2 In a recent posting I referred to the perennial Thailand Golf Society, the Mainly Unquenchable Golf Society (MUGS). Today I want to go into more detail by recalling a story told to me by Niftee, one of their members who occasionally join its Wednesday afternoon outings. First some background.

The MUGS “clubhouse” (actually a pub in the Silom area) is like the statuesque member’s only area in a long-established golf club: with leather seats, golfing prints, tournament trophies, and past champion boards on the walls. The club staff have nearly all been there for as long as I can remember, well over twenty years. A recent innovation was the installation of a TV, now set to watch the many golf tournaments televised on satellite in Bangkok.

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Sex, Lies and English Gentlemen’s Clubs

Sex, Lies and English Gentlemen’s Clubs

Having established myself in my earlier postings as firmly sexist, the subject of today’s post, and the next is …………………sex! “What has sex to do with golf?” I hear you cry. Well, read on:

Gorgeousgirlgolfer4_2 I have been golfing in the UK recently and the main topic of conversation in pubs and golf clubs up and down the British Isles just now is the news that plans for a Single Equality Act are being drawn up by the Government. The proposals will spell an end to the “sexist” practice of women being stopped from using certain dining rooms or bars, or only being allowed to play golf on a certain day – common practices in golf clubs in the UK . One golf club I know of has a white line painted along the middle of its bar marking where women can and cannot stand. When the proposed law changes appeared in the newspapers, it caused many blazered, striped-tied, gentlemen golf club denizens to choke over their gin and tonics. Here are two typical headlines: “No more ladies’ day at the golf club under sex laws shake-up”. “Ladies’ days at the golf club could be bunkered”.

At my own home club in Wales , ladies are classed as associates, not members, are only allowed to play on Saturdays after 4 pm, and there is a men only bar. The standard reaction to the planned law change from most members was that the club should go back to a male only enclave. Under the proposed overhaul of equality laws women will also get the legal right to breast-feed in public places, and there has been speculation as to whether this would interfere unduly with their golf swing. A couple of old chestnuts, probably apocryphal, have been doing the rounds. The first concerns Margaret Thatcher who, when Prime Minister, went in her official car to pick up her husband, Denis, who had been golfing at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Kent. However, she was asked to wait outside as females were not allowed in the clubhouse. Then there was the occasion when Her Majesty The Queen was to be the official guest at a long-established golf club. As a special exception, she would be allowed to enter the front door, a privilege not normally allowed to females. One ancient stalwart was heard to remark: “I don’t think I will be in the Club that evening”.

Gorgeousgirlgolfer6_2That gentleman would no doubt be apoplectic at last week’s historic breakthrough when the British Women’s Open was held for the first time at the home of golf, St. Andrews, and the ladies were to be allowed to enter the R & A clubhouse, normally men-only. Although the men’s Open has been held there 27 times, this is the first professional event for women ever to be held on the grand Old Course. For two centuries the home of golf has barred the fair sex from membership and the clubhouse. The fuddy duddies would no doubt be doubly appalled by the fact that among those teeing off in the tournament were at least two temptresses who feature in their own raunchy calendars. Sophie Sandolo, the one left, above in the basque, stockings and stilettos, is a 30-year-old described as ‘French-born Italian’ who lives among the millionaires of Monaco. She began playing golf at 14, turned professional in 1999 and finished 15th in the order of merit in 2005. She has career earnings of more than £500,000 and lists her interests as sport, shopping, dancing and cinema. Of her skimpy outfits she says: “My first sexy calendar is intended to represent my love for golf, my desire for freedom and a touch of coquetry.” Michellewie3

Natalie Gulbis, the one in the white bikini, is a blonde 24-year-old from Sacramento,  California. She turned professional when she was 18 won her first LPGA Tour title at the Evian Masters in July, and has career earnings of more than £1.25million.

Happily, here in Thailand , these matters are not an issue. Ladies are very welcome. Clubhouses have changing facilities for ladies, spas and beauty salons, and pleasant 19th hole refreshment areas, open to all.

One last politically incorrect footnote: Why is Michelle Wie, pictured left, the one more decorously clad, having trouble with her driving? Answer: Because she is a women, of course!

Play fast, swing slow