Tag: Thai Country Club

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (10 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (10 of 10)

Thai Country Club EntranceHere is the final one of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Thai Country Club, Bangkok

Owned and operated by Peninsula Hotels and the only golf course in the Peninsula portfolio, Thai Country Club on Bangkok’s outskirts opened in 1996 and has hosted six Asian tour events including the Asian Honda Classic in 1997 (won by Tiger Woods), the Johnnie Walker Championship in 1998 (won by Vijay Singh) and four Volvo Masters Championships between 2005 and 2008. Tiger’s 1997 win was especially memorable as it was his first professional win in his mother’s home country.

The Peninsula brand's influence can be seen in the high level of customer service. Rated the number one course in Thailand for seven of the past eight years, Thai Country Club is best characterized as a palm tree lined championship course. The Bangkok golf course has many intricate design features including plenty of water, strategic mounds on the side of many fairways, and undulating and very fast greens. Thai Country Club also has the best clubhouse facilities in Thailand, if not all Asia.

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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!

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!

Thai Golf Balls Launched

Thai Golf Balls Launched

Well do you have a favourite golf ball, or do you just tee off with any old brand?

Of course if you are lucky to be a professional on the PGA, European or Asian Tours, the manufactures are keen to give you loads of their balls for free. Maybe that's why they theatrically like to throw a brand new golf ball into the lake after a double bogie.

Thailand-golf-bals However for us happy weekend hackers here in Thailand, golf balls can be a very personal purchase. Maybe you get sucked in by the manufactures marketing, or perhaps you like the actual design, or maybe you really do get more spin…or like most of us, you are governed by price.

Across Thailand there are approximately over 250 golf clubs, ranging from the top Championship courses like Bangkok's Suwan Golf Club and Thai Country Club, to the flat field style public courses out in the countryside.

In fact the other day I played a round at Thai Country Club, and my caddie took out an old ball for me to tee off at the treacherous par three, their 3rd hole. She knew that with the wind blowing, that it was pretty likely that my ball would end up in the lake. True to form, yes it did go down to meet the fish, and luckily she kept my new Titleist dry in my bag!

I then began to wonder exactly how many balls like mine, end up lost on the busiest day of the week, Saturday, at all 250 Thai golf clubs?

Let's assume that the average number of Thai golfers playing 18 holes on Saturday would be say 100. Therefore 250 clubs x 100 players = 25,000 rounds of golf.

Then assume that the average handicap is 26, that it is fair to predict we loose on average of two balls per round (if you are honest probably a lot more!) which means 50,000 golf balls are lost every Saturday. That equates to staggering 2.6million golf balls every Saturday in a year.

Therefore including seven days a week, we are likely to lose between 12-15million balls a year. Maybe the casual tourist in Phuket or Hua Hin's courses this rate could be a lot higher!

No wonder the golf ball manufacturers  spend big bucks on TV and in the press, encouraging you and me to pop down to our friendly golf store, to hand over our hard earnt cash.

Luckily help is at hand, as many golf courses in Thailand  employ golf ball fishermen to collect all these 12 million balls, lost in the water.

In fact, it is a sobering thought that you may therefore find you are actually buying back your own original golf ball, from the friendly chap outside the club entrance or even at the club's pros shop.

Maybe it's worth putting one of those extractable golf ball catchers in your bag in future.

 

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