Tag: Hua Hin

Hua Hin: The ‘Other’ Golf Courses

Hua Hin: The ‘Other’ Golf Courses

Hua Hin StationJust about all golfers in Hua Hin want to play the two area 5 star courses; Black Mountain and Banyan Golf Club. Next on the list and a notch below for most golfers are Springfield Royal and Palm Hills.

Then there are the ‘Other’ courses. Some golfers skip them altogether, and if you are one who demands pristine country club conditions, luxurious clubhouses with lots of niceties and amenities and only modern designs, perhaps you should too.  For the rest of us though these courses all have something to offer and can make for an enjoyable round of golf.

Royal Hua Hin
Thailand’s first course, dating back to the 1920s when it was constructed next to the Hua Hin train station by a Scottish railroad engineer working on the ‘Orient Express’ route. The rough is rough, the fairways are patchy, and the bunkers are true hazards. However, the Royal Hua Hin Golf Club is a wonderful old style design and the greens and collar areas are usually kept in good condition. The large mature trees lining the fairways make this course at a minimum a great days ‘walk in the park’. The monkeys roaming the course and the surrounding temples further add to the experience and the Hua Hin golf course is so close to central Hua Hin you can walk to the course.

Imperial Lake View
You can expect a warm welcome and easy smile from all the staff at the 36-hole Imperial Lake View Golf Club. The course design is good (particularly the A-B courses) and the greens are well maintained, though fairway conditions were inconsistent on a recent visit. The rolling property is quite large and the course has a park land layout that provides a feeling of isolation with nature on several holes. 

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Caddie Championship in Thailand

Caddie Championship in Thailand

Thailand is well known as a hot golfing destination with over 260 great golf courses and those ever smiling Thai Caddies.

Thailand Golf Caddies Come rain or shine they read the greens, give you the yardage, hold your umbrella and if you are lucky even give your shoulders a quick massage too.

After putting up with us holiday hackers, you would have thought they would have had enough of the golf course, but a large number actually like to play a round themselves.

Smart thinking General Managers encourage them to play on Monday’s or late in the evening, as it improves their knowledge and understanding of their course and the game overall.

Taking this a step further they now hold a series of Caddie Championships in various regions around Thailand sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Singha.

The hunt is on to find Thailand’s best lady caddy golfer.

The TAT – Singha Caddy Championship 2011 consists of six qualifying rounds leading to a grand final at Siam Old Course on September 26th.

All the rounds take place on a Monday rotating across six venues- Putalong Navy in Pattaya, Singha Park in Kong Kaen, Narai Hills in Lopburi, Majestic Creek in Hua Hin, Royal Hills in Nakon Nayok and Burapha in Pattaya.

There are 144 places at each venue and the top 24 golfers will qualify for the grand final. The sponsors’ support allows the caddies to play for a small entry fee that includes green fee, dinner and a lucky draw.

The Grand Final at Siam Old Course will see 144 qualifiers battling for the title of Thailand Caddy Champion, with a first prize of Baht 55,000.

What started out as a simple idea seems to be catching on as a team of Korean Caddies will fly to Thailand later in the year to play a team of Thai Caddies. Later on the will hold the International Caddy Championship in 2012 with teams from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand competing.

Maybe we can expect to find the future Michelle Wie or Yany Seng from these events.

Bottom line is the golf vacationers will now be getting some expert tips which has to be good!

All of this is great news for golfers and caddies alike. Next time you see that smiling face on the first tee, stop and think whether she might be a future LPGA champion as a result of this special opportunity.

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.’

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo Manassero’s been in Asia, the Middle East, off to the States, then to Europe and now back in Asia all since January.

I caught up with him this week at the Maybank Malaysian Open where he had arrived on Monday to really taken in playing back on the slower greens.IMG_1467

I first asked Matteo what were his recollections of playing in his first Royal Trophy?

‘It was amazing. Nobody expected us to win and we as a team were on a high and felt we could win. Everything went right from the beginning actually, and we were up after three holes right to the end. It was fantastic really!’

That was Matteo’s first time in Thailand and he told me he really enjoyed the trip.

‘I enjoyed staying in Hua Hin and I liked Thailand. Everyone there does not have any problems, and you don’t see anger in Thailand. Everyone is smiling and that’s what makes Thailand such a great place.’

I then asked him what he thought about playing at Black Mountain.

‘I think it is a good course. It was fantastic. It was always in good condition and is a well shaped course and the greens are pure. The shape of a course is what makes a great course. It’s quite a long course but I enjoyed that week. The par 3 hole 11 is fantastic with the lake and it is one of the tough holes there. I know Johan Edfors and a few of the other guys actual practice there in the winter and it is definitely a good idea.’

Compared with us weekend golfers and even the Asian Tour players, you guys at the Royal Trophy were getting onto the greens on a few of the par 4’s.

‘Yes we were able to get close with the following wind, so it was worth the go,’ he told me.

Finally I asked him if he plans to keep Asia on his schedule in the future.

‘Yes definitely. I am a great fan of a worldwide tour, as you want to play in Europe, the States, the Middle East and here in Asia. If there is a chance of playing a Worldwide Tour that would be good. It is just a great experience.’

He’s currently ranked 57 in the World and with a good showing in KL where he lead the first round Matteo could be soon in the top 50 at the age of 17 years old.

 

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Most countries are lucky if they can attract one major golf tournament a year. Thailand on the other hand seems to be able to host more than its fair share of major golf events.

In November a certain Mr Tiger Woods made an emotional return to his mother country along with Casey and co. Then along came the Asian Tours Masters in December followed in early January by the Royal Trophy both hosted at Black Mountain in Hua Hin.

Honda-lpga Now the 2011 season is about to start with most of the top 50 woman in the World competing in the Honda LPGA at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya in mid February.

Paula Creamer, Michelle Wei, Shin Jiyai and defending champion Ai Miyazato will all be there along with a few Thai girls trying to earn some big bucks.

Also in February Amata Spring Country Club will become the first Thai venue to host Open Championship International Final Qualifying Asia from February 24-25, 2011.

The Club will welcome a field of a maximum of 78 players, who will compete for four places in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's.

  Royal-trophy-2011-monty "Amata Spring is a fitting venue for IFQ's first visit to Thailand," said R&A Director, Michael Tate. "In its short history, it has proven itself a stern test for some of the world's best players, and it will undoubtedly give us four qualifiers worthy of their place at Royal St George's."

The closing date for entries is 14 February. Last year, Asian Tour members Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, Malaysia's Danny Chia and newly-crowned Order of Merit champion Noh Seung-yul of Korea qualified for the Open.

Later on in June the Queens Cup, part of the Asian Tour, returns to Santiburi Country Club on the beautiful island of Koi Samui.

Thailand is now recognised as the perfect destination to host major golf championships, and the players enjoy their time in the Kingdom of smiles as well.

Mike Bridge   Editor Thai Golf News

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Interest in the Royal Trophy is already extremely high, with over 250 journalists from Europe and Asia keen to get their pictures and stories, at yesterday’s press conference.

Although Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie OBE is here in Thailand, along with a host of top stars, the media’s attention was focused on super star Rio Ishikawa, the Japanese pin up boy.IMG_6826

In 2010 Rio made a World record closing round of 12 under par 58 and is returning to represent Asia at the Royal Trophy for a third successive time, and he is still only 19 years old.

Europe not to be out done, have invited their very own super kid, Italy’s Matteo Manassero. Matteo won his first European Tour title at just 17 years old, claiming the Castello Masters last October. He was also recently named European Tour’s Rookie of the Year 2010.

Latest team news is that Eduardo Molinari has had to pull out of the European Team due to injury and Fredrik Andersson Hed has flown in last night to take his place.

Peter Hanson, Thomas Bjorn, Johan Edfors, Matteo Manassero, Henrik Stenson, Pablo Martin and Rhys Davies make up the rest of Monty’s team.

Asia has ten of their players in Thailand to choose from, as Jeev Milka Singh is still recovering from a back injury. He told the media yesterday that he would eventually decide if he was fit to join the team after today’s pro am at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who is the only player to have taken part in every Royal Trophy match said’ He felt that the Hua Hin course was tougher than last year’s host Amatar Spring Golf Club, and that everyone will need to be aware of some of the greens.’

European team member Rhys Davies from Wales, who is known as the World’s Best Putter, maybe has an advantage, but everyone is predicting a very close fight to the finish on Sunday January 9th at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

The enormous media interest in this event is great for sponsors Tourist Authority of Thailand, as it is promoting golf in Thailand to the masses of fans around the World.

Just Aim For The Coconut Tree!

Just Aim For The Coconut Tree!

Banyan Golf Club 05 How many of us love to leave our local club for change of location in a different setting for a few days golf with a few mates? If you live in a cold climate, then going to a warm climate makes for a great for a golf holiday. Or if you live in the middle of a city playing, then alongside the ocean is certainly an experience not to be missed.

As Thongchai Jaidee, Asia’s No 1 golfer says, ‘What Thailand can offer is great courses, wonderful locations and endless smiles!!!’ Well Thailand with it superb locations, fantastic courses to challenge all levels, good prices and those smiling caddies certainly tick all the boxes for a great golf destination.

Amazing Thailand is the Tourism Authorities slogan, and to be honest for a golfer, that really is the case at the moment.  Many of us seasoned travellers to Thailand for golf, may have experienced the famous courses such as the Thai Country Club in Bangkok, or the Blue Canyon in Pucket.

But we all enjoy a new challenge and certainly the Banyan Golf Club in Hau Hin, is a great addition to the list, and worthy of a visit. Banyan Club, which had a soft opening in October 2008 has already become the favavorite course of the Thai Prime Minister, and many local and overseas players.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How I Avoided Three-Putting Golfing In Thailand?

How I Avoided Three-Putting Golfing In Thailand?

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin Thailand

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

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

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

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