It is very rare these days that I get to play a new course in my own backyard. Therefore, when my golfing buddies suggested playing at Pattana Golf Resort in Pattaya, I jumped at the change with much excitement.
Pattana is a bit out of the way as getting to the course involved around a 1 hour drive from Pattaya or 2 hour ride from Bangkok. Either way the drive is pleasant enough as the road are good and there is little traffic along the way. Upon arrival I immediately saw the large club house, golf resort, and collection of golf villas. With this kind of infrastructure Pattana must be catering for long staying golfers and those looking for intensive stay and play packages. …
Thailand has 5 main golf destinations, two are cities (Bangkok and Chiang Mai) and three are beach resorts (Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket).
Bangkok is home to over 10 million residents. However, it’s safe to say that Bangkok has the most golf courses of any destination in Thailand. There are 60 golf courses located within 1 hour from the center of Bangkok; of which 20 or so are well-suited for visitor play. Bangkok also has world-class hotels, the best restaurants in Thailand, and a wide range of cultural attractions, shopping and nightlife. The downside is that travel time getting to and from the golf courses can be a bit longer than other destinations due to city traffic. I often recommend a few days in Bangkok at the beginning and/or end of any Thailand golf trip and also recommend weekday golf if possible (when the courses are less crowded and green fees are lower). …
Why golf in Thailand? Thailand is probably the most spectacular golfing destination in the world, the beauty of her golf courses expresses it all. We have lush greenery year round with palm trees and every other type of tropical flora and flowers creating a feast for the eyes. Beautiful lakes and waterways, birds you’ve never seen before become a breathtaking walk in the park. Churchill was so wrong when he said “golf is a good walk spoiled” – he never played in Thailand!
The challenge of golfing in Thailand is also an important aspect and I promise that you can never get bored. Many of the courses are designed by the world’s most famous golf architects creating challenges that even the best golfers dream about. For all levels of golfers from their respective tee boxes the challenges abound. Even for the beginner it’s game on, but set up with wide enough fairways and safe passages around water.
Also great planning, as you get a refreshment kiosk twice every nine holes unlike other places where if you didn’t load up before the first tee you get one chance at the turn. Cold drinks, chicken legs, sticky rice, fresh tropical fruit, and sandwiches – a quick bite before you move on. Even a cold beer if you are so inclined. Some of the courses even have a cold moist towel right out of the fridge at each stop (now that is refreshing)! After your round the clubhouse restaurants provide some of the best Thai, Japanese and Western cuisine at reasonable prices.
A great part of the golfing experience in Thailand is the caddies. Honestly, how many golfers have had a caddie along with them during their round of golf. They are all women and speak a decent amount of English to make for good golf communication. They know the golf courses like the backs of their hands, reading your putt lines (even lining up the ball), telling you distances, which club to use, sometimes even a little coaching – but always full of positive encouragement. This makes for a great social golf day out with your added gallery and applause after your good shots.
Thailand has numerous courses that offer night golf with decent lighting, as many Thai’s prefer to stay out of the sun. It is a challenge in and of itself, but adding golf and romance to the mix. It is the perfect time to play with your partner on holiday. With warm weather, the stars above and perhaps a bottle of wine in your golf cart surely becomes a relaxed and romantic evening out. Definitely let this be one of your experiences when golfing in Thailand.
On a final note; Thailand enjoys the best weather regardless the time of year. Mid November thru March is optimal, where we have cooler and rain free days. Green fee and caddy fees are very economical for the quality of the courses you can enjoy. Come and experience the friendly hospitality of the Thai people and their superb golf courses. Hope to see you out here for one of your most memorable golfing holidays ever!
Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.
Turkey (8): Golf in Turkey is well-developed, especially the area around Belek (Antalya). There are some 15 golf courses to choose from here, all being located only 30 minutes from the main resorts. Most modern golf course architects are represented including Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Thailand (7): Thailand has 280 courses open for play. The best of these courses are located in one of five major golf tourist golf destinations. Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket are the main sea side resort areas. Chiang Mai is northern Thailand, and the capital of Bangkok has 60 courses within a one hour’s drive from the city center.
Turkey (4): There are all-inclusive 5* resorts near the Belek golf courses. However, while the standard of rooms and facilities are high, the services levels are not. Be prepared for long queues and mediocre service. At the golf courses there is an absence of caddies and limited facilities or food/beverages.
Thailand (10): Golf in Thailand equals service. Thai hospitality is some of the world’s best and the Thai golf courses are no exception. Caddies are compulsory at all Thai golf courses for every golfer whether or not golf carts are used, thus ensuring excellent service is available at all times.
Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.
Russia (5): There are only 20 golf courses in Russia and most are located in and around Moscow. The best golf club is the Jack Nicklaus designed Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club. The inaugural Russian Open and first ever European Tour event played in Russia was held at Tseleevo in 2013
Thailand (7): Thailand has 280 golf courses and many have won numerous “best of” awards including Black Mountain Golf Club (100 Best Courses Outside the USA, Golf Digest 2012) and Thai Country Club (Best clubhouse in Asia, Asian Golf Monthly, numerous years Ina row).
Russia (4): Service is missing when golfing in Russia. Caddies are notably absent and to date golf is considered an elitist game. Hardly any Russians know the proper golf rules or golf etiquette.
Thailand (10): Service with a smile is standard all over Thailand and the golf courses are no exception. You should plan on meeting friendly locals during your round and making many new friends on a Thailand golf holiday. Just don’t be surprised if you miss your Thai caddie when you return home and play without one.
Qatar (7): There is only 1 golf course in Qatar and since 1998 Doha Golf Club has hosted a European and Asian Tour event; the Qatar Masters. The quality of Doha Golf Club somewhat makes up for the lack of other courses.
Thailand (7): The best courses in Thailand are located in the major cities and resorts. Pattaya sports over 20 courses and in 2012 was voted the best golf destination in Asia by the Association of International Golf Tour Operators.
Qatar (7): Service is one of the strong points at Doha Golf Club. From manicured fairways to greens, from the pro shop to the restaurant, everything about the club is first class.
Thailand (10): Service, hospitality, and Thailand are synonymous with each other and golf is no exception. Friendly locals golf side by side with golf visitors which is a nice touch. All Thailand golf courses include individual caddies as standard. Tour caddies will be missed most when you return home and play without one.
Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.
Portugal (9): Even though there are only 70 golf courses Portugal is one of Europe’s best golf destinations. The Algarve region is the most famous golfing area and the best course there is Victoria Golf Vilamoura, home of the 2013 Portugal Golf Masters and tour stop for the European Tour. However, my course in Portugal is the Seve Ballesteros designed Porto Santo. This traditional links course plays along the Atlantic Ocean and is as good as golf gets!
Thailand (7): There is good golf cross the country with most of best courses in Thailand in and around Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin. Thai Country Club has hosted more professional golf events than any other Thai golf course. Black Mountain Golf Club is the only golf course in Thailand to be rated in the top 100 courses outside the USA by Golf Digest.
Portugal (6): The golf in Portugal is good, but don’t expect much in the way of service on the golf course. There are no caddies, hardly any Portuguese play golf, and it is very difficult to find Portuguese workers who have a service mindset. However, the golf resorts in Portugal can be excellent. My most memorable experience was at the Four Seasons Country Club, Quinta do Lago.
Thailand (10): Service, hospitality, and Thailand are synonymous with each other and golf is no exception. Thais golf as much as the visitors and you can always meet friendly locals on the golf course. Caddies are standard at all Thailand golf courses and will be missed by every visiting golfer on their first round back home.
New Zealand (10): With over 400 golf courses, New Zealand is a golfer’s paradise. My 2 favorite New Zealand golf courses are Cape Kidnappers and Paraparaumu Beach, both of which rival any of the best golf courses in the world. Many other great golf courses in New Zealand can be found around the big cities of Auckland and Christchurch and also among the smallest country towns.
Thailand (7): There is good golf available in Thailand, with the best courses mostly located around Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin. Riverdale Golf Club in Bangkok is a good example of one of the newer top courses while Laem Chabang International Country Club is a time tested Jack Nicklaus design in Pattaya.
New Zealand (8): Golf in New Zealand is well developed and Kiwis are noted for being friendly and casual people. This leads to generally a good service standard wherever you travel to, albeit with more do-it-yourself approach than is found in Asia.
Thailand (10): The golf in Thailand is all about service. Friendly locals and caddies greet golfers from around the world at every golf course across the country. 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.
Laos (5): Laos is behind other neighboring countries with only 7 golf courses open for play. Most Laos golf courses are in the capital Vientiane and are only average in quality. However, Luang Prabang Golf Club, in Luang Prabang is the country’s best having hosted 2 Asian Tour events, with spectacular scenery, and excellent playing conditions.
Thailand (7): There are many championship golf courses in Thailand including Siam Country Club (home of the Honda LPGA) and Black Mountain Golf Club (Royal Trophy and Black Mountain Masters). Golf In A Kingdom includes all of Thailand’s best golf courses.
Laos (4): Golf in Laos is a relatively new and as such finding trained service personnel at the golf clubs is difficult. Most staff and caddies hardly speak any English and are not familiar with the rules golf. This detracts from the otherwise good overall golfing experience.
Thailand (10): The land of smiles carries on its name onto the golf course as well. Friendly locals and caddies are everywhere at all Thai golf courses. Try playing when you get back from a Thailand golf holiday to really appreciate the Thai service!
Korea (7): Korea is a mountainous country with around 200 golf courses scattered from North to South. However the best golf courses are located on Cheju Island, sometimes called Korea’s Hawaii due to the year round temperate climate. My two favorite Korean golf courses are Nine Bridges and Sky 72, both of which have hosted numerous professional golf tournaments.
Thailand (7): There are many excellent golf courses in Thailand. Thai Country Club (site of Tiger Woods 1997 win) and Siam Country Club (home of the Honda LPGA) are two stand-outs. The best golf courses are all part of Golf In A Kingdom.
Korea (6): Golf in Korea is a long but smooth process. Tee-times and pace of play are strictly adhered to as most of the better courses are full from sunrise to sunset. A round of golf can include a break for lunch too, which is good if you like Korea food.
Thailand (10): Service on the golf course in Thailand is all about smiles. You meet friendly locals and caddies which are standard at all Thai golf courses. Try playing without a caddie after you get back from a Thailand golf holiday to really appreciate the Thai service!
Japan (7): The country has over 2,400 golf courses from North to South. Unfortunately, the best clubs are private, so make sure you call ahead to see if unaccompanied visitors are allowed. Some of my favorites that do allow visitors are the Fuji Course at Kawana Hotel and Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course.
Thailand (7): The vast majority of golf courses in Thailand are open for daily fee play. Some of the best in this category include Siam Country Club (home of the Honda LPGA) and Riverdale Golf Club. The best golf courses are all part of Golf In A Kingdom.
Japan (7): If you want to golf in less than 8 hours, then golf in Japan is not for you. Of course this includes 18 holes of golf with a 2+ hour break in between for lunch, sauna, and a change of clothes. Not bad actually if you want to experience real Japan.
Thailand (10): You meet friendly locals all over Thailand. A good example is the caddies which are standard at all Thai golf courses. Try playing without a caddie after you get back from a Thailand golf holiday and you will see what I mean.
Ireland (9): The country is home to some of the world's best golf courses. Most all are pure links courses. The best Irish golf courses include K Club (Ryder Cup), and the incredible Druids Glen.
Thailand (7): Of the 250 Thai golf courses, 60 are standouts. Thailand’s best golf course is Black Mountain in Hua Hin. Other notable favorites are the spectacular Red Mountain in Phuket and Banyan in Hua Hin.
Ireland (8): Ireland has a good reputation for warm hospitality. Most resorts offer nice spas and excellent food and beverage choices. Many of the more popular golf courses also have caddie services available for visiting golfers.
Thailand (10): Thailand sets the standard for friendly hospitality by locals. Golf clubs welcome visitors from all over the world. Caddies are among Thailand’s secret weapons and make anyone’s game enjoyable.
Hong Kong (6): There are some excellent golf courses in Hong Kong; many with great views over the surrounding South China Sea. The only public golf course is also one of the islands best. The 36-hole Gary player designed Kau Sai Chau Golf Course is set on an island just off the coast. Other standouts, albeit private, include the Hong Kong Golf Club’s Fanling Course; home of many professional PGA events.
Thailand (7): Golf in Thailand can be played across the country and of the 250 or so courses, 60 are worthy of visitors. The number one Thai golf course and only course in the 100 best courses outside the USA is Black Mountain in Hua Hin.
Hong Kong (4): The island state is better known for shopping bargains than service and the same carries over to the golf clubs. Notably missing are caddies, which makes Hong Kong one of the few places to golf in Asia where one can carry his/her own bag.
Thailand (10): Thailand on the other hand is all about service excellence. Golf clubs are as visitor friendly as any place on earth. How hard could it be to play with a smiling caddie by your side through the whole round?
Germany (6): Since the 1980’s many new golf courses have been built and the golf in Germany has flourished. There are now more than 600 German golf courses across the country including hundreds of excellent ones and a handful of outstanding resorts. The Sport & Spa Resort A-Rosa set among pine forests is one of the best examples with the Nick Faldo 18 being the best of the 4-course (63 hole) lineup.
Thailand (7): Thailand has 250 courses spread out across the country. Every major designer is represented and the Jack Nicklaus courses at Laem Chabang in Pattaya, Springfield in Hua Hin, and Mission Hills Phuket are among the most popular. Other excellent courses include Siam Country Club in Pattaya and Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.
Germany (5): Outstanding hospitality is far from synonymous with Germany. However, the unique character of each region makes for memorable golf trips nevertheless.
Thailand (10): Thailand sets the standard for service excellence and this extends to the golf courses as well. From the well-trained caddies to the bell boy at the hotels, outstanding service with a smile can be counted on. It is no wonder Thailand is nicknamed “Land of Smiles”.
France (8): Excellent golf courses are found in almost every area of France. The most popular areas for golf holidays are Le Touquet in the north, Paris and its surroundings, and Biarritz and Bordeaux in the south. The best golf courses in France include Golf National near Paris and the Evian Masters Golf Club in the Alps.
Thailand (7): Golf courses in Thailand are spread out across the country. From the Trent Jones designed Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club the far north to the spectacular Red Mountain Golf Club on Phuket Island in the south, tracks for every taste can be played all over Thailand.
France (4): Unless you are French, forget about anything close to first class service. Most locals prefer to speak only French and hardly go out of their way to make a golf holidaymakers time in country easy or convenient. However, at some of the better resorts, well-trained overseas workers can make up for some of lacking French hospitality.
Thailand (10): Thailand is world renown for service, and golf in Thailand is no exception. Just ask any Thai person for help and you might have a friend for life! This service mindset is prevalent at every golf course and resort, irrespective of the service ranking or price.
Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.
Egypt (6): Golf in the Egypt is widespread, especially in the resort areas such as Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh. Additionally, the Gary Player course at Soma Bay Resort is a sure standout. A high concentration of golf courses can also be found are in and around Cairo with the 27-hole Katameya Heights leading the pack.
Thailand (7): Over 250 golf courses in Thailand are spread out across the country. The best courses include Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin, and Red Mountain in Phuket. Chiang Mai in the north also has some top courses including Chiang Mai Highlands.
Egypt (5): The golf courses in Egypt are generally self-serve with limited on-course service and no caddies. The resort courses attached to 5* beach resorts have better facilities, albeit Egyptian service is not the main reason why people travel to golf in Egypt.
Thailand (10): Golf in Thailand sets the standard for service. All Thai golf courses have caddies to assist visiting golfs in every task imaginable, except hitting the ball of course. Expect service excellence at all courses, whether the course itself is 5* or not.
Dominican Republic (9): Golf in the Dominican Republic is well-developed. The areas around Punta Cana and Casa de Campo are worth travelling to as they have some incredible golf courses thanks to the work of golf-course designers like Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Thailand (7): Thailand boasts over 250 courses and the best courses are located in one of five major golf destinations. Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket are all resort areas near the sea. Chiang Mai is in the northern mountains, and some 60 courses are available to those golfing in Bangkok.
Dominican Republic (7): The golf courses located in Punta Cana and Casa de Campo are affiliated with a 5* beach resort, which practically guarantees high service levels before and after each round. However, on course there is an apparent absence of caddies and limited facilities or refreshments.
Thailand (10): Golf in Thailand is all about the service. Thai hospitality is some of the world’s best and golf in Thailand is no exception. Caddies are compulsory at all Thai golf courses for every golfer whether or not golf carts are used, thus ensuring excellent service is available at all times.
Bulgaria (6): While a relatively new sport and hardly played by locals, Bulgaria golf courses range from best in the world to rather ordinary. The best Bulgarian golf courses by a long shot are Thracian Cliffs and BlackSeaRama, both of which are Gary Player Signature courses. If there were a few more courses in this category, then Bulgaria would score even higher.
Thailand (7): There are over 250 golf courses in Thailand, where golf is played by 600,000 locals and 700,000 visitors each year. Thai golf courses include well-known championship venues like Siam CC (2013 LPGA) and Suwan (2012 Thailand Open) and undiscovered tracks that are perfect for visitors like Riverdale and Red Mountain.
Bulgaria (6): Service in Bulgaria can be perfect, especially in the 5* resorts along the Black Sea. However, for inland destinations like Sofia, more of a big city can be expected. Overall though, the service in Bulgaria is better than Western Europe as golf tourists are well-liked and looked after.
Thailand (10): Thailand is all about service stemming from the fact that the Thai people are some of the kindest in the world. The only expression that visitors see while golfing in Thailand are the smiles on the faces of the Thai people they meet. It is no wonder Thailand is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles”.
Australia (10): Most courses are set up for serious Australian golfers, who comprise some 10% of the overall population. The average Australian golf course is by far better than most other countries top courses. The top Australian courses include Royal Melbourne, Barnbougle Dunes, and New South Wales, all of which have hosted major PGA events.
Thailand (7): Thai golf courses vary from average municipal courses to better ones that cater mainly to golf tourists. The best courses like Thai CC, Siam CC, and Red Mountain all can hold their own when it comes to international golf courses. One Thai course, Black Mountain has even made it to the “100 Best Golf Courses Outside The USA” 2012 list by Golf Digest.
Australia (3): Service is not something that is synonymous with golfing in Australia. The last time I played there I paid my green fee and was given my scorecard. The staff said to see you back in 4 hours. They were right, I did not see even a greens keeper on the course, forget about beverage cart or halfway house.
Thailand (10): If anything stands out about golfing in Thailand it is the service. From the pro shop to the 19th hole there is someone and something around to insure your golf experience is not lacking in any aspect. This includes in-round drinks, snacks, massages, and playing advice.
In the next 20 or so posts I will compare and contrast golfing in
Thailand to golfing in other countries around the world. Using golf course
quality, service, scenery, value for money, and overall experience as the five equally
weighed factors I will rank each destination to see how it compares with golf
in Thailand and to determine whether or not Thailand is really the best golf
destination in the world.
Let’s get golfing!
If you can do only one thing to improve your enjoyment when golfing in Thailand, the making more putts would be what I suggest. Thailand golfers face more putts than any other shot. I have taken the time to master putting in Thailand and I was able to cut 3-4 stokes off my score in the process. Here is how I did it.
1. I think more about the speed than line on my putts. For example, when my caddie tells me inside right or inside left, I just putt to the center of the hole and make sure my speed is enough that the ball will reach the back of the cup. This takes most of the break out of the putt and simplifies the stroke. I putt aggressively, but not too aggressively so as to avoid a nasty lip out.
2. For all putts standing with my eyes over the ball I found to be critical. This simplifies things enormously and makes it easier to sink straight putts.
The course designers have done a wonderful job integrating Santiburi Samui Golf Club into the jungle and mountains that are synonymous with the region.
The Samui golf course plays through an elevation change of over 100 meters – yes 100, which makes Santiburi Samui one of Thailand’s hilliest golf courses! As golf course it really tricked out and really a better creation of panoramic views than easy pars.
There are many aspects to this course that will frustrate, as lost balls can be expected for even the most accomplished golfers. However, accuracy will be rewarded for those who can be humble. Most golfers should only use the driver on only a few holes as distance is not the key, finding the fairway is.
Choose the tee box wisely. If your handicap is over 10, then play from the whites, otherwise you are in for a seriously long round of golf.
I had the good fortune of playing at Siam Country Club Plantation Course in Pattaya this week. A usual the course was in excellent condition and in fact just two weeks prior Siam Country Club Plantation Course was awarded the best conditioned course in Asia by the readers of Asia’s largest golf publication.
In order to get maximum enjoyment and a good score at Siam Country Club Plantation Course I realized 4 very important points.
1. Use your B-game: Why this sounds counterintuitive I found that playing to my weaknesses improved my score. For example, when driving I usually fade the ball off the tee. Rather than trying to fight my fade, and trying to draw the ball, I just aimed down the left side of the fairway and with my fade my drives wound up in the center ever time. This set up reasonable approach shots to virtually every green.
2. Trust your caddie: The greens at Siam Country Club have many subtle breaks. Unless you play this Pattaya golf course regularly, it pays to ask your caddy to read the line and more importantly; listen to her!
For many golfers, relaxing on the couch for a weekend of watching sports is one of life’s simple pleasures. Most gladly sit for hours, replenished with suitable liquids and sustenance (beer and chips), watching their favorite teams or players duel it out.
Yet I bet when you tell your golfing buddies that you want to travel to golf in Thailand, one of the first questions you get is, “how long is the flying time”? Irrespective on where you are coming, the answer is more than likely “it’s long” – anywhere from 10 to 20 hours in the air. On the other hand, considering how long you watch sports each weekend, it’s not that long. More importantly, once you land I can bet you the hassle of the flight is more than worth it.
Here are a few simple measures that you can take t make the journey comfortable and even enjoyable.
Lately I have been taking some golf lessons and I have gone from a controlled fade to a pull hook off the tee. I have begun pulling the ball off the tee. What I want is a straight ball flight so yesterday I went out to Thai Country Club and hit two bags of balls on the range with my driver.
To stop pulling my drives I found that I must swing the club on an in-to-out swing path and/or change the clubface’s position at impact. I was able to do both by implementing one, all, or a combination of the three tips. It was a case of trial and error for me, but these ball straightening cures work wonders.
1. Strengthen the grip: This was my first change. To do that, I moved both hands to the right until I was able to see all the knuckles on the back of my left hand.
2. Roate the body: Next, I moved the overall alignment of my body a little by aiming my feet, hips, and shoulders to the right of the target and by moving the ball back a little in my stance.
Happy City Golf Resort now provides Northern Thailand golfers 3 international standard Chiang Rai golf courses; the other two being Santiburi Chiang Rai and Waterford Valley. Happy City boasts a total of 29 holes, with 2 of those closed as ‘maintenance holes’ on any given day. Five sets of tees offer challenges for every level of golfer. I recommend picking your tees carefully and maybe moving up a set from where you normally play as the course is quite long.
The master project includes 5 large condominium buildings that are nearing completion, and long range plans call for adding a 5 star hotel, retirement community and water park. Actually the course itself is a bit of a water park, with H2O in play on almost every hole.
One thing that separates Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai is that Chiang Rai gets a lot more air movement due to its’ geography. That makes it feel cooler even in the hottest months, though it also means golfers need to factor the wind into their shots at Happy City more so than most Thailand golf courses.
Here is a new story from Davy, previously the number one golf retailer in Southern California and now a converted Thai golf addict.
When the phone rang it was a Thailand golf buddy all excited to tell me he had a game set up with some movers and shakers that were coming to town; and after a great lunch he had planned we would entertain them with a round of golf.
Lunch was indeed great; authentic Thai delicacies rolled out by smiling courteous servers. Thailand hospitality may be the greatest in the world. But it was getting late so I called him aside and said, “We’re only playing nine holes, right?”
“Eighteen holes,” he smiled.
“Hate to break the news to you but it’ll be dark in a couple of hours. Had no idea lunch would be so extravagant.”
“No problem,” he said, “they have lights.”
Not night golf, I thought. Previous encounters with nocturnal golf had me believing that you had to be 11 Titleist’s short of a dozen to play golf at night. If the almighty had wanted golf played at night we’d have been born with bat vision or golf balls would have headlights.
As with everything Jack has done in golf, one name stands out among them all: the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest player of all time and now one of golf’s design gurus. Nicklaus’s 18 Major victories remains unchallenged, as does his name on more than 300 courses around the world that were designed personally by the Golden Bear or by his company, Nicklaus Design.
Nicklaus’s best work in Thailand is at Laem Chabang International Country Club near Pattaya. Laem Chabang opened in 1993, seven years after the last of Nicklaus’s Majors victories at the 1996 US Masters. Laem Chabang, a 27-hole complex, offers three Lake, Valley and Mountain nine-hole layouts, each a close-to-nature experience that is visually appealing and often challenging. The Valley nine in particular, at 3619 yards, is 200 yards longer than the Lake and Mountain nines, and features water on many holes that demands precision shot making off the tee and into greens, which are well guarded by water and sand. The Mountain course begins as a jungle-like experience, before opening up to wider fairways and excellent fast greens. Laem Chabang is a member of Golf In A Kingdom, the collection of Thailand’s best golf courses.
When you golf in Thailand you can complain about slow greens, grainy surfaces, poor caddies, and whatever you can think of to blame for poor putting. However, none of these are likely to be the cause for Thailand golf putting woes.
Where you putt from is the key to how well you putt. The closer you are to the hole the better your putting – PERIOD!
Average Thai golfers probably face 4 foot putts 10-15 times a round. Many golfers simply call these a Gimmie, but this is cheating (Gimmie’s are only allowed in Thailand from 3 feet and closer.) Master putting from this range and you’ll dramatically cut your scores when golfing in Thailand, and do it legally!
Making 4 footers isn’t as easy as it sounds. Confidence is a big factor. So is practice. Here are 5 tips on sinking 4 foot putts:
1. Think speed more than line. Thailand golfers tend to focus on line with short putts. But speed is more important. Putt aggressively, but not too aggressively so that your ball goes to the back of the cup.