Tag: bangkok

Night Golf In Thailand Is Over!

Night Golf In Thailand Is Over!

Laem CHabang Night Golf 2June marks the end for night golf in Thailand as courses such Panya Indra in Bangkok, Laem Chabang in Pattaya, and Summit Green Valley in Chiang Mai shut off their lights in exchange for low priced summer golf days.

The night Thai golf season typically runs from November to May, where you can tee-off anywhere from 3-7 PM and finish by midnight! That’s right golf in Thailand until midnight is not only possible, it is fun and affordable.  Green fees run around $30-40 US Dollars.

My favorite time to play night golf is during the hot months of March & April where I get out around 3PM, get nine holes in the daylight and the back nine under the lights.

However, I don’t take night golf to seriously though; it’s more about having a fun time with my friends and the caddies.

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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.

After the 18th hole in Bangkok

After the 18th hole in Bangkok

Bangkok At Night A round of golf usually finishes at the 18th hole at most golf clubs. Then it’s off home for a cup of tea or a hot chocolate before bed. Well one of the pleasures of taking a Bangkok golf holiday is the fun just does not stop at the Bangkok golf course.

Bangkok not only has over 60 golf courses, but it is also known globally for its excellent shopping, great cultural attractions, great spa and massage, and of course a wide variety of restaurants and night life.

The great thing about Bangkok is it is all there out in the open. Shopping malls and local markets dot every station along the sky train making then super accessible at any time of day. A spa or Thai massage store can be found on practically every street corner. A Thai or foot massage can be a daily après golf ritual for every Thai golfer as prices are only $10 USD an hour.

Bangkok being the Thai capital has so much infrastructure, that the choices for dining and entertainment are limitless. Whether it is an authentic Thai meal, formal French meal with imported wines, or you prefer something more casual like a British pub, Bangkok has it all. After dinner, you can take in the Bangkok skyline with a cocktail at any number of bars located high above town in the city’s skyscrapers.

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What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

What Makes a Great Golfing Experience in Thailand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young Guns in Thailand

Young Guns in Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Golf Gem of Thailand

New Golf Gem of Thailand

Royal Gems Golf City Bangkok With over 280 golf courses across Thailand, the Kingdom is already spoilt for choice, so it is a very pleasant surprise, when a new club opens that really does have something different to offer.

The Royal Gems Golf City located just 35 minutes from the centre of Bangkok, has just finished the first phase of the proposed largest golf complex in Thailand. Known as the Dream Arena, it is the first replica golf course in Asia.

Designed by  Ron Garl who was also responsible for Alpine Golf in Bangkok and Alpine Chiang Mai, the Royal Gems City course combines nine of the best holes in golf with the back nine from Augusta National, home of the Masters.

Holes one to nine cover famous holes in America and in Great Britain including the well-known Church Pew bunkers from the 3rd hole at Oakmont, 6th hole from Bay Hill Orlando, the island green from the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, the Doral Blue Monster, the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon, the Road Hole from St Andrews in Scotland,  the 15th from Bethpage Black in New York, the famous par 3 from Winged Foot in the States, and the 10th hole from the Belfry in England, home of the 1985 Ryder Cup.

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Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

Masteritist at Fever Pitch Here in Bangkok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Major Winners in Asia

Major Winners in Asia

Sometimes everything just falls into place and as a journalist, all the travelling and waiting around just pays off.

Being based here in Bangkok, the big names on the professional circuit tend to side step playing in our local tournaments, perhaps with the exception of the popular Royal Trophy.

Therefore twice a year I need to stock up with pictures and stories by covering the bigger events here in Asia. On Tuesday I therefore flew to Kuala Lumpur.

This week was very unusual, as the 50th running of the Maybank Malaysian Open could almost be termed as the Asian Major, having attracted three out of this year’s Major winners to participate.

World number 1 Martin Kaymer and British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, were invited some time ago by the sponsors, along with a certain Rory McIlroy.

Then much to the delight of the tournament organisers, Charl Schwartzel, who had actually been scheduled to play anyway, won last weekend the coveted green jacket, and the Maybank’s global TV audience had now skyrocketed. Great for the sponsors, even better for Asian golf!

In the space of 20 minutes last Wednesday at the KLGCC, I managed to grab all three Major winners for a quick interview. As they had all flown from Augusta, they were naturally all jet lagged, but were genuinely keen to get out on the course.

Both Charl and Rory travel over together from Augusta, and the airline had managed to lose their clubs; therefore both were starting their first rounds without even seeing the course before. Reminds me of all us weekend golfers who turn up and play at the 280 Thai golf courses without even having the yardage books or even a reliable caddie!

All three told me that they had played before in Asia, and in fact Martin had made his first cut here IMG_1513 in Asia in 2007, earning him his first pay check. Fond memories!

So far Thailand was still to be tested by them, but Martin certainly was keen to play and jokingly said ‘send me an invitation.’ He knew all about the end of season Asian Tour Masters and the Royal Trophy, and his manager admitted it would make a good end of season break for the World No 1. Maybe Black Mountain or Colin Montgomerie should take note?

The media circus then moved on and they were back on duty playing in the Pro Am.

This is a great time for me to grab those relaxed photos of the stars, so I managed to get a Media Golf Cart and waited at the start.

One of the organisers ran up and said would I mind taking a caddie and his player to the first tee, as they were late. Yes I said, and who should sit down next to me but Craig, Martin Kaymer’s Scottish caddie along with the great man’s golf bag. Martin hung onto the back and off we went for the four minute ride.

If only I had someone free to take a picture!

Not to miss an opportunity, when we got to the first tee, instead of a tip, I cheekily asked if I could have a picture with Martin. Craig the caddie turned photographer and duly obliged. Result was me the Editor with Number 1 …my own personal scoop!

As I say some days it all just falls into place. If Martin does fly over to play in Black Mountain in the next few years then I will have done the job and Thailand can experience why he is World Number One.

Masteritist… a Very Serious Golfers Disease

Masteritist… a Very Serious Golfers Disease

I thought I was really suffering big time over the past five days, with what I thought might have been the dreaded Asian flu.

Blame it on the changeable weather we have been having over here in Thailand, but I had the mother of all coughs, a cold and just lost all my energy.

Swallowing all antibiotics under the sun, it just would not go away, and I was really getting concerned.

One of the problems that goes with flu and a bad cough, is you really don't get into a deep sleeping pattern, so I was up most of the nights.

By day three I was getting desperate, so turned on the TV at 02.45hrs and caught the first round of the Masters live from Augusta.

Yes while they are having tea in Augusta, we are just enjoying breakfast in Thailand, so the TV schedules are designed for insomniacs.

On the screen, was Rory shooting a fabulous opening round, and my personal favourite Ross Fisher getting – 3 for 5th position.

IMG_0318Having recently played the Royal Gems Golf Cityhere in Bangkok, where they have replicated the back nine at Augusta, it was even more special to see these guys coping with Amen corner and that crazy par 3, the famous 16th.

Not all the big stars shone with Westwood playing average, which World No 1 looked like he was really out of sorts. Henrik was just not in the zone and finished a dismal last at +8.

Woods and Mickelson were still there fine tuning their game. Not a classic round but a great start for Europe with Quiros making a late charge to tie with McIlroy.

By Round Two I was starting to get my energy back and actually managed to sleep until I woke with a start, to switch on the TV at 04.45hrs. Rory was now -10, Jason Day had shot a great 64 and wait a minute, isn't that Tiger, 'Son of Thailand', on -7. Yes Tiger was in the zone and you could hear the TV commentators getting excited, anticipating that ESPN would be getting some huge ratings if he made a charge.

I would assume that having paid a shed load of Dollars to persuade Martin Kaymer to tee off in next's week's Malaysian Open, Maybank the sponsors, must have been wondering if they had made the correct decision as the German missed the cut.

Wow with all this excitement, I seem to be feeling better and the flu had definitely disappeared at last. Now I had another illness, and it might mean a few more sleepless nights. Masteritist had taken over!

Still at this rate I only hope I have enough energy left to cover the Maybank Malaysian Open next week in KL. Hey the tournament organisers may have hit their own jackpot if Rory wins in Augusta, as he will be walking around the KLGCC with maybe a green jacket!

Masters Means Armchair Golf This Week

Masters Means Armchair Golf This Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bangkok Weaves It’s Magic Spell

Bangkok Weaves It’s Magic Spell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not all golf you know…..well almost

It’s not all golf you know…..well almost

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

Come rain or shine, business meetings or trade exhibitions, we will make all the excuses needed to arrange that very crucial meeting which just happens to clash.

That is our ‘speak’ for sod it I am going to play a round of golf anyway.

Golfasian-Thailand-Super-Golf-Fam-Trip-2010-Pattaya-008 Here in Thailand a lot of business is conducted on the golf course and in some companies, it is seen as an actual asset if you can play golf.

There are corporate tournaments, amateur tournaments, club tournaments, Pro Ams, weekday shotguns, expat clubs and night golf, all where you can do some serious networking.

Expat golf is huge particularly here in Asia, and in Bangkok they have several clubs. Perhaps the biggest is called the Wanderers, who have over 300 members and play shotguns every weekend.

The Asian Tour visits Thailand several times a year along with the LPGA. It’s amazing how many places on the tournament’s Pro Am are not taken up by the local prime minister or the CEO of the main sponsors. One enterprising travel agent managed to arrange for 20 of his clients to play in a recent Pro Am, an experience they are unlikely to forget.

Eithad Airways recently ran a very successful Corporate Golf Tournament in several countries, with all the individual winners flying business class to Abu Dhabi to play in the grand final at the Yas Links course. Surprisingly the eventual winners for 2010 came from the Bangkok round.

Many of the hospitality industry also use golf to act as networking events. You have a chance for four of you to mix work with pleasure over 4-5 hours on the course, followed by a slap up meal a few beers and some speeches and awards thrown in too. The Hyatt group had their own get together recently down at the Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin and the winner flew to Dubai and stayed at the Park Hyatt and played the wonderful Dubai Creek and Golf Club as well.

I would much rather spend a day at the golf course assisted by a smiling Thai Caddie, than stuck in a ballroom listening to the CFO of some company telling us how brilliant they are.

Perhaps instead of that company outing to the next big horse race, why not suggest to your CEO, that you should take some clients over to Thailand for a week’s worth of golf and networking.

But one tip to remember.

It is better to let your clients win, just by a whisker, and then you stand a chance of winning that new order. You may also get a pat on the back from your Managing Director who may even utter those immortal words…’Jones, we’ve got those Korean buyers in town and all they want to do is play golf. I don’t suppose you could….’

Hole in one – Thailand Golf

Hole in one – Thailand Golf

Thailand Golf Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it is possible to do it more than once !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Old Age Pensioner Breaks Golf Record In Bangkok

Old Age Pensioner Breaks Golf Record In Bangkok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am still smiling!

What Makes A Great Golf Vacation In Asia Even Better

What Makes A Great Golf Vacation In Asia Even Better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy and happy golf vacation to you all!

Playing Golf in Thailand

Playing Golf in Thailand

We all like to experience playing a round of golf in a different part of the world, so if you are used to playing in the cold regions of Europe or the States, then you are in for a treat when you arrive here in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Greg1 Their tourist adverts promote Thailand as the Land of Smiles and they are very proud to promote vacations in their country, especially golf holidays. It’s not surprising as there are over 250 golf course scattered across the country.

You cannot beat playing a round in the tropical sun of Thailand, when back home the local club is two feet under snow!

Now according to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the world's hottest city, being located just 14 degrees north of the Equator, However Bangkok is sunny at any time of the year with temperatures over 30°C (86°F).

Thailand is a fairly large country so you can experience cooler weather in the north in places such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, while there are cool sea breezes on the islands such as Koi Samui or Phuket.

The most pleasant time for example to visit Bangkok is the cool season that lasts from November till February. It is both the coolest and driest period. Even the Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Phra Kaew even wears a scarf during this period! Don't think that's necessary though — daytime temperatures still hover around 30°C (86°F), but it does cool down into the lower 20s as it gets dark (lower 70s in Fahrenheit).

March and April represent the hot season, and hot it is — 35°C (95°F) on average, but don't be surprised to see temperatures rising into the 40s °C (around 100 °F+). So plan in a lot of air-conditioned shopping mall visits and get a hotel with a swimming pool.

Then there's the wet season that runs from May till October. Expect massive downpours resulting in floods all over the city, and spells of thunder at times. It's not all bad though — the afternoon showers are actually a pleasant way to cool down from the heat, and while they may last all day, usually they're over within an hour. Extreme rainfall happens in September and October, so these months are normally to be best avoided.

Your travel agent such as Golfasian will be happy to advise you on the best area to enjoy the favourable climate. Whatever season you're visiting, so long as you well prepared it is no big deal.

In fact many locals like to head for their favourite golf course for an early morning round. Therefore you may find that playing a round starting at around 13.00hrs will be fine. The course will be a lot quieter, and you can still play up to 18.00hrs in the cooler afternoon temperatures.

Dress lightly for the weather, as shorts are the norm on the golf course. But remember that even on cloudy days you can get sunburnt, so bring plenty of factor 30, plus mosquito repellent is also useful.

Once you have asked your travel agent to select your hotels and golf clubs, all you need to do is get ready to enjoy some of this Thai magic. Have a great golf vacation.

Why We Like to Play Golf in Thailand?

Why We Like to Play Golf in Thailand?

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

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

Thailand is luckily different!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Are Never Too Old to Play a Competitive Game of Golf in Thailand

You Are Never Too Old to Play a Competitive Game of Golf in Thailand

For the majority of sports, age definitely does become a handicap.

For example it is highly unlikely that a 58 year old can easily have a fair chance of beating a 20 year old at tennis. The youngster will most likely run circles around the older guy.

Although an older player maybe able to score a great goal in soccer, he is most likely to run out of steam and will ask the manager to take him off after half an hour for a breather.

Whereas Golf is one of the sports that is truly a game for all ages.

Certainly with the handicap system in place, Granddad can really enjoy a fair competitive game with his 16 year old grandson.

Even on the professional circuit, the old guys are still up there winning trophies.

Look at Spain's Miguel Ángel Jiménez, the oldest player on the European Tour. At the age of 47years he is still a regular with the Ryder Cup squad, and won three tournaments last year.

Also 40 year old Dane Thomas Bjorn beat the World's number one and two Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, to win last week's Qatar Masters.

Tom Watson's round at the British Open is proof that the oldies are not out of it by any means.

In fact someone asked me last week if their 65 year old uncle was too old to take up the sport, now he was retired and living in Bangkok?

Bottom line is it is never too late to pick up a club, you just need to hook up with a friendly club professional who can quickly give you the basics.

Thailand Golf Recently two 50 year old mates of ours decided they were fed up with hearing another golf story, of how we had all birdied the 17th at Red Mountain (down an old disused mine shaft!) or how we had broken our best record at Thai Country Club's treacherous 18 holes.

So they both said they wanted to see what all the fuss was about and give golf a go too.

Being impatient they wanted to start straight away. However first we took them to the driving range for an hour's worth of practice at Bangkok's La Luk Ka Golf Club. Driving, irons, chipping and a bit of putting followed.

They then said they were up for a game, so they just both jumped into a buggie and drove over to the 10th hole on the club's East Course.

We had already explained to the caddies that they really were very green, and starting on the 10th green on a Tuesday afternoon, meant the course was fairly quiet and we would not be pressurised by other golfers following us.

Amazing both teed off and there balls went around 100 yards in the right direction and they were off on their new adventure.

We told them to use their tees on the fairways to help their driving, and they moved their balls away from any obstacles when needed. Also the caddies were very patient, and entered into the spirit, by sneakily moving their balls nearer to the pin on several greens.

Overall both new recruits did remarkably well and afterwards we had to sit there in the club's bar, listening to how they nearly shot a birdie at the 3rd hole. The boot was on the other shoe now, and so we had to put up with their boring golf stories now!

If you feel you want to get out and get some fresh air, then a walk around an 18 hole golf course is definitely great exercise, but it's also a lot more fun than running about in the gym.

Most clubs will have a friendly and patient club professional who will take you through all the shots.

Red Mountain 13 Golfasian the leading golf vacation specialists, now have several European pros who like to escape the chilly winters by flying over with their students for a week's worth of lessons. The only difference is that they can teach you by taking you to play on some of Thailand's wonderful courses, and you are playing in the sun.

Golf in Thailand is for locals, expats and tourists alike, so you don't have to be a member at most clubs.

If you want to just sneak out on your own to hit some balls on the back nine, then that's no problem. Maybe the caddie will give you a tip or two as well.

By playing golf you also get to see a bit of the wonderful countryside around Thailand, from seaside to mountain courses, it's got the lot. And let's not forget golf is also a great way to meet new friends.

So maybe now you are ready to take on your son, grandson and even your granddaughter too!

 

Mike Bridge   Editor Thai Golf News       Golf blog No 5   Feb 2011

Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You

Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You

Amazing Thailand Those who have visited Thailand agree that it is almost impossible to explain for those who haven’t.  Different.  Even just plan weird.  The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s official slogan of ‘Amazing Thailand’ sums it up fairly well though comes off as just another cheeky marketing slogan until you’ve actually experienced it. Even among Asian cultures it stands out as unique.

Thailand is one of the few places in Asia that has never been under the rule or dominance of a western country, which may explain some of its’ uniqueness. Also the country has little war history other than long ago border conflicts with Burmese, Khmers and Laotians. The rulers of Thailand have long been able to avoid war and outside rule by deftly playing off leading world powers against one another to remain on good terms with all.

The weirdness begins from the moment you land in Bangkok, whose airport name is written Suvanabhumi but pronounced “Sue wanna boom’“. Even pilots and flight attendants frequently get it wrong during in flight announcements.

Fly up to Chiang Mai.  Or is it Chiangmai?  Or Chang My?  As there is no official transliteration from Thai script to the Roman alphabet you can spell it anyway you want. Street names get really weird as different maps spell the same roads differently while the actual signs on the road may vary from any of them.

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