Tag: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Golf Magic

Chiang Mai Golf Magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Thailand Golf in the Summer

Thailand Golf in the Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

Why is Golf Different in Thailand?

Thailand’s leading golf course designer and builder, Pirapon Nimatra, is responsible for designing and renovating numerous courses in Thailand.

Therefore who better to explain why playing golf here in Thailand different from the rest of the World?

‘First of all we have great weather and you can pretty much play golf all year around. Secondly the caddies do make the experience playing here just that much friendlier and fun,’ said Pirapon.

Saturday Play 116 ‘However from my perspective as a golf course designer, what makes Thailand different is the variety. For example you can play on a 100 year old course like Royal Hua Him, where the greens and bunkers have that old style, or you can go to the other end of the scale to Siam Country Club which is very modern looking with new grasses and flashy bunkers. ‘

‘Then of course you have the variety of locations from sea side courses in Phuket and Hua Hin to mountain courses in Chiang Mai, similar to what you might play on in Hawaii. So the overall mix is what I think is special about playing in Thailand.’

Recently several international golf professionals found the greens were totally different at the Maybank Open in KL compared with the Masters at Augusta. How would you describe the actual playing surfaces here compared with US or European courses?

Pirapon explained,’ Well in America especially North of Florida you have cool season grass similar to Europe, where as we have warm season grass and they are two totally different animals. Warm season grass is a lot grainier, and it also grows a lot faster, but it also adds another dimension. When you are reading the putts here, you don’t just need to look at the slopes, but also which way the grass is actually growing. Also if it is hot and windy and depending on the time of day they could be playing to a difference of a foot on the stimp metre.’

Thailand has nearly 280 golf clubs. Is that a lot for the number of regular golfers?

‘Well they say that there are over 1 million players, but it is still good news for us golfers. There is a lot of competition to attract the players, so the rates are quite reasonable.’

You earlier mentioned caddies adding to the fun. As a golf course owner yourself, what do you think are some of the most important things the caddies need to know, especially as they meet lots of golf vacationers?

‘Well the caddies are expected to know our golf course and all the yardages, and as the grasses are likely to be a lot different from back home, so they can help by reading the lines too. Also it can be quite hot here sometimes, so one thing we train all our caddies is to keep your bosses cool! They will carry the umbrella and they also have little fans, so when you are waiting on the tee, they will keep you cool.’

They don’t do that at St Andrews in Scotland?

‘No they have a slightly different attitude, and they are not nearly as pretty too!’

Finally as a Thai based designer and builder of golf courses, what would you sum up is Thailand’s number one asset?

‘Apart from the huge variety, it is the people that make it so special. You are in touch with the caddies, the people at the club house and in the locker room, and it is their friendliness that brings back foreigners here to play golf again and again.’

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.

Gold Mountain Golf Club, Chiang Mai

Gold Mountain Golf Club, Chiang Mai

 
Golf Mountain Golf Club.jpg Gold Mountain Golf Club is the latest addition to the northern Thai golf scene.  Currently it is in a ‘soft opening’ phase and conditions are a bit rough, though all 18 holes are open for play.  The front nine opened in 2009 and the back nine earlier this year.  The clubhouse won’t be finished until 2010.  For now the caddie shack serves as a limited service clubhouse and serves up a bit of Thai food along with an assortment of beverages.

Gold Mountain is located near Lamphun, just over an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai.  The location is a bit remote, and in fact they don’t even have a landline phone yet.  Finding it is not easy, as the entrance road at this time is a small and almost hidden dirt track over a hill with no indication of a golf course from the main road other than a small hand painted sign, in Thai, lying on the ground next to the dirt road.

From the very first tee you get a good indication of what is to come, as the most noticeable design element is a tree 100 yards directly in front of the men’s tee box smack in the middle of the fairway.  The fairway is otherwise fairly wide, in fact one of the widest on the course.  But you have to decide what to do about that damn tree.  Loft a shot over it.  Fade or draw your ball around it.  Hit a low liner under the overhanging branches.  Or go straight at it on the gamble that trees are 90% air plus your swing also has a high error percentage, then your chances of actually hitting it are rather low.

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