Tag: Thailand golf

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Thailand Golf, Off the Beaten Track – A Golf Group’s Tale

Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel
Gary with Golfasian MD Mark Siegel

Hi, my name is Gary. I am an Australian, originally from New South Wales, but now very comfortably domiciled in Perth, Western Australia with a wife of 35 years marriage and two grown up kids!

I have played golf since my father stuck a golf club in my hands when I was about 10 years old. At 61 years old now, I guess you could say I have been a long-term golfer. I have been a member of private golf clubs since a junior, and a member of my current golf club, Melville Glades for the last 22 years. My current handicap is 4 … hard earned at my age! I also happen to be the President of the club and have been on the Club’s Board for the last 5 years.  Melville Glades is a parkland golf course in the Perth metropolitan area and will celebrate 50 years of operations in 2017. We have in excess of 1,100 members with member competitions every day of the week.  Oh, we also have a mob of around 200 kangaroos that live on the golf course which is a very special experience for our members and visitors.

I have been to Thailand around half a dozen times, and have played golf in Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok and now Kanchanaburi. Thailand is renowned as the best and most enjoyable golf tourism experience in Asia, and the combination of well-conditioned courses, excellent caddy services and comfortable, luxurious Clubhouses, makes for a unique golfing experience for visiting Australian golfers.

Gary with Golfasian's Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan at Black Mountain
Gary at Black Mountain with Golfasian’s Hua Hin Manager Ian Morgan 

My most recent golf tour included Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Hua Hin. We played 5 great golf courses, including Black Mountain, Thai Country Club and Grand Prix … all different with individual challenges. Royal Ratchaburi was a unique and most enjoyable golf experience playing in the countryside and through the mountains bordering Myanmar.

With golf tours in Asia, you need to consider the time of the year and the prevailing weather conditions. There are obviously peak season times where prices increase, however I like to schedule my tours around the “shoulder” seasons where I can access some lower rates and then build some “value-add” into the tour price with things such as trophies, prizes, complimentary polo shirts etc.

My most recent tour had 22 guests and most were golfing couples. Being a 10-night golf tour, we only arranged a couple of team dinners … this allowed the guests to “do their own thing”! Some couples teamed up with others for dinner and drinks, and others went out for massages and shopping … things Thailand are famous for!

group-photoAll in all everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would like to sample another Asian destination, perhaps Vietnam. Let’s see what Golfasian can do for us!!

2014 New Thailand Golf Courses

2014 New Thailand Golf Courses

Oftentimes I get asked about the supply and demand of the Thai golf courses. While I am no expert about the economics of golf courses and the Thai golf industry is some 20-30 years old, new golf courses are still coming online at a rate of around 5 per year. Some of these projects are completely new construction like Nikanti Golf Club in Bangkok and Katathong Golf club in Phang Nha. Others, such as Chiang Mai Highlands, are expansions, and lastly there are renovations. Laguna Phuket Golf Club and Gassan Lake City are two examples of the later that are being undertaken in 2014.

Nikanti Golf Club is located west of Bangkok and other than Royal Gems Golf City is probably the most unique Thailand golf course. Three six hole loops, each with two par-3, two par-4, and two par-5 holes make it play a par-72, but in a rather unconventional way. Also, the all-inclusive one price fits all is a new concept here. Green fee, caddie fee, golf cart, caddie tip, and food and beverages are included in the admission price for all golfers. It will be interesting to see how this price structure is accepted by locals and visitors.

Katathong Golf Club is also newly constructed in Phang Nha province.  The surrounding scenery is as nice as Red Mountain in Phuket, though the course design and conditions leave allot to be desired. Also, the location is a bit out of the way, however for Krabi golf visitors, it is the best option around.

The original 18 at Chiang Mai Highlands are already the best track in Northern Thailand. Now with an additional 9 under construction by the same architect, Lee Schmidt, who has also built Amata Spring Country Club, the Highlands new nine is sure to be a hit.

Laguna Phuket is set to reopen in January 2015. The same architect who designed the Laguna Lang Co course in Vietnam was brought in for the job and judging from the first 9-holes that were already remodeled last year; the course will come online as one of Phuket’s best.

Gassan Lake City will be renamed Gassan Legacy once re-opened later this month. Once again, Schmidt-Curley was brought in for the remodeling job. From what I hear the course will be more playable with better grass and bunkers. Let’s see!

Well that’s it for the new Thailand golf course roundup this year. With the new additions Thailand will continue to lead the rest of Asia as the prime choice for golf holidays in 2015 and beyond.

Siam Country Club, Waterside – Comparison With Old and Plantation Courses

Siam Country Club, Waterside – Comparison With Old and Plantation Courses

Most golfers in Pattaya agree that the Siam Country Club Old Course and Siam Country Club Plantation Course are the two best golf courses in Pattaya. However, if there are any complaints about the two courses, it is that they are both quite difficult for high handicap golfers. Around the greens it is not uncommon for weekend golfers to take five or more shots to get up-and-down as the slopes, elevated greens, and bunker complexes require accuracy and precision in chipping and putting. Perch yourself one afternoon above the Old Course’s 18th and you will see what I mean!

With this in mind, the owners of Siam Country Club have given the design brief to IMG to develop a new golf course that is friendlier and accommodates a wider variety of golfers.

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Is Koh Samui Golf For Real?

Is Koh Samui Golf For Real?

Major golf destinations share several things in common. They include,

1.    Three or more golf courses of international standard
2.    A range of golf resorts to accommodate all levels of price and luxury
3.    Easy to get to/from
4.    Reasonable prices
5.    Non-golf activities such as cultural, gastronomic, spa, and/or beaches

Koh Samui has technically three golf courses, However, only Santiburi Samui Country Club is 18-holes and of international standard. The course is a spectacular example of a tropical island layout, perhaps even Thailand’s best. However without any comparable courses on the island one would have to play multiple rounds at Santiburi Samui to have anything more than an isolated holiday round of golf.

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Pattana Golf Resort

Pattana Golf Resort

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.

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Where To Golf In Thailand – A City Or A Resort?

Where To Golf In Thailand – A City Or A Resort?

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).

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Golf Holiday Destination Thailand

Golf Holiday Destination Thailand

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!

Thailand Golf Resorts Offer Unlimited Golf Packages

Thailand Golf Resorts Offer Unlimited Golf Packages

Thailand Golf Resorts
Mission Hills Phuket

Nowadays golf resorts like Mission Hills Phuket and Bangkok Golf Club are offering unlimited golf holiday packages. These golf vacations are nothing new, but in fact they may be only a ploy to lure visitors to less than ideal courses.

Think about it, there are only 12 hours of daylight in Thailand and the weather is generally hot and humid all year long. Therefore, how many round of golf can you play in a day?
For most of us it is only two, and this is waking up very early and pushing it. So an unlimited golf package is in reality a 36-hole a day deal.

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Thailand Golf Fried Eggs (Kai Dao)

Thailand Golf Fried Eggs (Kai Dao)

Thailand golf courses are notorious for having soft sand. Many of the budget courses here use normal beach sand to fill their bunkers. This powdery and fluffy sand tends to promote many fried eggs or as the caddies call them in Thai “kai dao” because of the circular splash pattern created around the ball in the sand. When you look at it from the top, it looks like a yolk sitting in the middle of a fried egg.

Don’t panic if you find yourself with a fried egg at a Thailand golf course. The shot is difficult for sure, but easier to hit than you might think. With soft sand behind as well as under the ball, you can power the ball out of the sand to escape in one. Make some key adjustments to your stance and swing and you’ll get out.

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Golf’s Great Legends In Thailand

Golf’s Great Legends In Thailand

Wherever and whenever you play golf in Thailand, you’ll find courses designed by some of the best golfers, including Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, and Arnold Palmer.

Jack Nicklaus is the great who left his mark the most in Thailand. Six Thailand courses are Jack Nicklaus designed. The two best by far are Laem Chabang International Country Club in Pattaya and Springfield Royal Country Club in Hua Hin. Coincidentally, both opened for play in 1993. Laem Chabang, a 27-hole complex, offers three 9-hole Courses, each challenging in their own right and all well-maintained throughout the year.

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Let These Asian Golf Courses Be the Judge Off Your Skills

Let These Asian Golf Courses Be the Judge Off Your Skills

Blue Canyon Country Club, Phuket

Blue-canyon-phuket-golfAs the name suggests, Blue Canyon Country Club is built on the edge of the canyon. The club features two courses; both carefully blend in the natural surroundings to give the courses their unique character. A feature of the course is its tough and stubborn nature, surrounded by freshwater lakes and natural hazards accompanied by slick Bermuda Tiffdwarf greens. This Course is both a pleasure and grief blended in together. Challenging your wit and technique, this course is a joy to behold and after finishing a round, the sense of accomplishment is unparalleled. Definitely the highlight of the course the 17th par 3 hole that has famously troubled even the legendary Tiger Woods, so if you get to finish the course you will join the elite club.

Montgomerie Links, Danang City


Montgomerie-links-danang-nlVietnam’s Montgomerie Links
is a world-class, partially private and perhaps the swankiest course you’ll find around the Asian golfing circuits. With its close proximity to the country’s Central Coast and Da Nang International Airport, Montgomerie Links is ideally situated alongside the East Sea and the picturesque Marble Mountains. The view alone is worth a trip, and also provides a good outlet to regroup mentally as the course is a definite brain teaser for amateurs and Pro’s alike.  The 18-hole, golf course was designed by the renowned, Colin Montgomerie.

The Saujana Palm Course

Saujana-gc-palm-klAlso known by its nickname "The Cobra" and many have tried to doge its bite but, the golfers are the ones who keep biting the dust. The Saujana Palm golf course has had the privilege of hosting the last 13 Malaysian opens and is a mainstay of the Asian golfing circuit. With thick forestation on either side of the course, and the many fairways, water, and sand hazards in sizeable proportions, just getting to the green might prompt you to high five your caddie. Past winners of the Malaysian open include the former world number one, Fijian, Vijay Singh. The Cobra's with its oober fast putting surface is probably the hardest to putt on in the world, including those at Augusta. Only the best survive the course, others simply lie.

If you think the local courses around you don’t challenge you enough may want to consider an Asian golfing vacation to these tough and exotic courses. They will challenge you to improve every aspect of your game, and if you ever get frustrated with yourself, there is enough beauty around to calm yourself down so that you can conquer the course.

Will Thailand Become The World´s Biggest Golf Destination?

Will Thailand Become The World´s Biggest Golf Destination?

Lately Thailand golf tourism has skyrocketed to an estimated 750,000 arrivals in 2012, up 50% over the past three years. This is worth an estimated US$2 billion in revenue to the Kingdom. There is no doubt that Thai golf tourism is riding on the back of a general tourism explosion, with total foreign arrivals doubling over the last seven years to more than 22 million in 2012.

While I personally would like Thailand golf to become the biggest golf destination in the world, I doubt that this will ever happen. Here is why.

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Golf In Singapore Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Singapore Versus Golf In Thailand

Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.

Quality (30%)
Singapore (8): For a small island state Singapore has allocated land for close to 30 golf courses. The quality ranges from good at course like Orchid and Raffles to world-class at Laguna National and Sentosa Island.

Thailand (7): Of the 280 golf courses in Thailand, 60 are up to international standards. Thailand’s best courses include Siam Country Club in Pattaya and Black Mountain in Hua Hin. Both have played host to major professional golf tournaments and have been heavily honored by major golf journalists.

Service (25%)
Singapore (6): Singapore is a well-developed international tourist destination and as such the service is generally good from those working in the service sector. The main thing missing from golf in Singapore are caddies as labor costs are prohibitively expensive to enable this.

Thailand (10): The Thai people are renowned for their friendliness and this shows on the golf course as well. Locals golf side by side with golf visitors and all Thailand golf courses include individual caddies as standard.

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Golf In Cambodia Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Cambodia Versus Golf In Thailand

CambodiaHere are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.

Quality (30%)
Cambodia (6): Golf in Cambodia has been introduced only in the last 10 years and as such there are only 6 courses, 3 in Phnom Penh and 3 in Siem Reap. Although Phnom Penh is the capital the courses here are either private (Phnom Penh Grand) or in serious need of maintenance (Cambodia Country Club and Royal Cambodia). On the other hand the three Siem Reap golf courses welcome visitors and are in good condition.

Thailand (7): Golf in Thailand has been played since the early 1900’s. There are now over 250 golf courses in Thailand and the standard varies from average (Pinehurst) to world-class (Black Mountain, Siam CC, Thai CC). 

Service (25%)
Cambodia (8): Service levels at Cambodia golf courses are quite good especially considering how new golf in Cambodia is. Caddies are supplied at all courses and they help visitors navigating the courses for the first time.

Thailand (10): The best thing about golf in Thailand is the service. From the moment you land to the time you leave Thai hospitality is first class all the way. Some people say other countries might catch up to Thailand in the future. However, it is hard for me to believe as service is not learned in Thailand; it is a way of life.

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Airlines For A Thailand Golf Holiday

Airlines For A Thailand Golf Holiday

Etihad Golf In ThailandNot a day goes by where Thailand golf travelers ask me the best way to get to their Thailand golf destination.

These days for international flights into and out of Thailand, I am partial to the carries from the Middle East for several reasons. 

  1. Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar all have convenient flight schedules from practically every major European, American, and Australian hub city.
  2. Luggage allowances are generally more than the Asian national carriers and golf bags may even be carried for free, depending on your class of service.
  3. The airfares via the Middle East to Thailand are some of the lowest in the world.
  4. On board food, entertainment, and service are all world class.

For domestic connections for golf in Phuket or golf in Chiang Mai, Thai Airlines is by far the best choice. Regardless of advertised price, the low cost airlines like Air Asia are terrible, especially when travelling with golf bags. Moreover, when trying to change flight or if you have a missed connection, good luck in getting any money back. You will be stuck with your originally “low cost” ticket as a costly souvenir!

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Know Your Thailand Golf Tour Driver

Know Your Thailand Golf Tour Driver

Golfasian TransportEveryone knows that great golf, fantastic culture, and a comfortable resort are all key ingredients of a successful Thailand golf trip. However, the importance of a qualified driver who doubles as a friendly tour guide is often overlooked. I’ve had the opportunity to meet several godsends as well as some more goofy type drivers during my Thailand golf travels.

On the positive side, golf tour operators who employ their own salaried drivers usually can make a Thailand golf holidaymaker’s trip very rewarding. The drivers who work for these companies have superior English language skills and can discuss everything from Thailand’s historic past to the state of Thailand’s economy. Also, what a relief one gets from not having to stress about navigating to/from the golf courses each day. It is so smooth that the kilometers on the road just melt away and some even wish that their journeys golfing in Thailand were longer than the typical 30 minute transfer time from hotel to golf course.

On the other hand, drivers with little (or no) English ability are often the norm when driving is outsourced or subcontracted out to a local transportation company. Not only does this lead to frequent miscommunications between Thailand golfers and their driver, it also defeats one of the main benefits of golfing in Thailand in the first place. That is to enjoy cultural interaction with the locals. Finally, drivers who are not specialized in Thailand golf tours may not even know the way to get to the golf courses as many courses have very similar sounding names, even for Thais (e.g. Royal Gems and Royal Gems City).

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Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

Pattaya Golf Named Best in Asia/Pacific for 2012

The memory of the brutality of a course landscaped by burrowing
animals makes playing a well-maintained course that much more spiritually
uplifting. And this is why Thailand’s golf establishment has once again been
honored by the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (or the
IAGTO) as they have named the coastal city of Pattaya Asia/Pacific’s number 1
golf destination for 2012. The whole country actually received the award in
2010.

At the top of the list this year is Pattaya’s own Siam
Country Club
, which was named the best maintained course in the region. But
that isn’t all. Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin was named the best
championship course in the region and Thai Country Club right here in Bangkok
was named the second best layout in the region.

Green~57But ratings and accolades aside, there are a lot of beautiful
unsung courses in Thailand. Some part of me believes that there is an effort on
the part of local golfers to keep a few courses to ourselves. Of course it is
my business to let the cat out of the bag about this sort of thing, so here it
goes…

Khao Yai is a good place to start, as it doesn’t see as much
traffic as Pattaya or Bangkok. First let’s look at Mountain Creek Golf Resort
and Residence. The 27 hole course designed by Seve Ballesteros is laid out over
3 9 hole loops, each designed to take the best advantage of their natural
setting – highland, creek, and valley (also the names of the loop). The courses
layout is so harmonious with the natural landscape that the experience is truly
transcendental, it’s also a great course for a very short, or a very long
round, if you don’t have much time or have too much of it.

There are more there in the Khao Yai National Forest area,
and lots of great golf in Thailand (obviously Pattaya is a good spot to hit and
Bangkok’s golf offerings aint to shabby either) but you’ll have to wait for the
next article or check out the Golf
Thailand
site to learn more about those!

 

Thailand Golf Gloves

Thailand Golf Gloves

Use Thailand Golf GloveOne of the most important but overlooked pieces of golf equipment in Thailand is the glove.  With hot and oftentimes sweaty tropical weather conditions the only thing stopping a golf club from flying out of a Thailand golfers hand is the glove. If the glove is wet or slick, it will not grip the club and a mishit is very likely.

Moreover, one of the most important parts of a good Thailand golf swing is the grip. That comes as no surprise. If a Thai golfers grip is off, then the swing will probably be off.  I see many golfers in Thailand slice, hook, and otherwise mishit the ball. That's because their hands are the prime mover of the shaft and the controller of the clubface. If the hands aren't doing their job, a poor shot will always result.

How can you tell if your glove is correct? I recommend an all-weather type that does not get slippery when wet, or at least holds some of its tackiness.  Sometimes I use 3-4 gloves during a round alternating between gloves to keep them dry and fresh. Moreover,  I always check the wear patterns on my golf glove.
Here are three common wear patterns and what it means to my golf swing.

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Panya Indra Excels on Several Counts

Panya Indra Excels on Several Counts

Panya Indra CaddiesPlaying golf in Thailand is an experience every time you tee off, and certainly that is what you get when you step up to the tee box at Panya Indra Golf Club.

Not far from the center of Bangkok, this 27-hole golf club is open for both day time and night golf. The course was designed back in 1989 by U.S. designer Ronald Fream. Fream used only 800 rai of land just outside Bangkok to make you forget that you are on the outskirts of a major city. There are three separate 9-hole courses, with their own individual design aptly named the Lagoon Course, Palm Course or Garden Course.

The Bangkok golf course was so clever that they constructed a man-made dyke around the course to protect it from last year’s floods. It worked and in spite of water in the roads outside the course, the course was kept dry and is now in pristine condition.

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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.

Are You A Thai Golf Swinger Or Hitter?

Are You A Thai Golf Swinger Or Hitter?

Swinger Thailand Golf_resize Here is something to think about from Mike “Spike” Collier, Director of Golf at Three Generation Golf Academy (TGGA).

When golfing in Thailand what is the difference between being a swinger and a hitter? The number one difference is in the concept/mind-set and physical action between the two.That is to say, for a Thai golf swinger the club is pulled and thrown utilizing the feel of the weight of the swinging club head.

A Thai golf hitter pushes against the club stressing the shaft using the right arm, shoulder and back muscles. These are two very different Thai golf swing patterns that require different components to perform the action.

Far too often I see Thailand golfers struggling with their swings because their swing components are not compatible with each other. Most players will start out as a hitter because it feels natural to them. But 99.9% of the golf instruction out there is for swingers, so when these Thai golfers go for golf lessons they are told to do something that to them does not feel natural…confusion sets in and Thai handicaps go up.

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Fun Bangkok Golf Course And Great Value Too

Fun Bangkok Golf Course And Great Value Too

Bangsai Country Club Hole 4 Many golf course designers forget that 90% of the players who will try to conquer their golf course are likely to be weekend or holiday amateurs, not golf professionals.

Jack Nicklaus for example is incensed when he sees owners trying to extend the tee boxes to make holes as long as possible. ‘Why go for 250 yard carries when your average Thai golfer probably only hits his drive 170-190 yards. It also adds to the maintenance costs and watering bill.’

It was therefore refreshing to meet and speak with one of Thailand’s leading course architects Pirapon Namatra, famed for creating Santiburi Samui, Banyan Golf Club and the subject of this post; Bangsai Country Club. Pirapon who designs, creates and builds golf courses said ‘I try to create a fun golf course, with a variety of holes, making it not too easy and not too difficult to play.’

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To Bring Or Not To Bring Golf Balls For A Thailand Golf Holiday?

To Bring Or Not To Bring Golf Balls For A Thailand Golf Holiday?

Titliest Pro V1 Thailand Golf Balls If you are planning Thailand golf holiday and want to stock up with some golf balls prior to your trip; DONT!

Packing golf balls with your golf clubs or in your luggage will not only encroach on your free weight allowance (if you are not overweight already), it is also less costly than you might think to buy golf balls after you arrive in Thailand.

 If you have ever been golfing in Thailand before, I am sure you may have seen locals stripping off at the end of the day and swimming around the lakes and canals that line the fairways of most Thailand golf courses. They are not doing it for fun, but are gathering all those lost balls we love to hit into the water. Some call these guys crocodiles, fish, or other such name. However, the true technical tem is “golf ball diver”, a legitimate and respected, not to mention lucrative, profession in Thailand.

As you can imagine there is a thriving gently used golf ball resale market in Thailand. With over 200 golf clubs with on an average weekend 150 golfers per course losing an average of 4 balls a round means we giveaway 120,000 balls just on one day. That’s a lot of Thai golf balls!

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It’s Not Only Thailand Golf

It’s Not Only Thailand Golf


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

Come rain or shine, family vacations, or business meetings, we all make all the excuses needed to arrange that very crucial meeting which just happens to clash with golf. That is our ‘speak’ for sod it I am going to play golf anyway.

Here golfing in Thailand, a lot of business is conducted on the golf course. Golfers in Thailand often travel with their so-called business associates and in some companies; it is seen as an asset if you play golf.

There are amateur tournaments, club tournaments, Pro Ams, weekday shotguns, and social expat clubs, all where you can join do some serious networking. In fact, I am running a couple of events myself. They are the 2011 Phuket Amateur Week, 1st Team Amateur Championship, and the 2011 Chiang Mai Amateur Week. All three are good examples of how you can make your Thailand golf tour around a  competitive golf events and ‘legitimize’ your Thailand golf holiday to the missus at the same time.

The Asian Tour and One Asia visit Thailand several times a year along with the LPGA. In fact the next event is the Thailand Open at Bangkok’s Suwan Country Club in August. These events are good for Thailand golf visitors to play in the pro-am and rub shoulders with some of the world’s best golfers.

It’s amazing how many slots on the tournament’s Pro Am’s are not taken up by the main sponsors. Case in point, last year’s European Seniors Open at Royal Gems did not have enough amateurs to fill its field. Moreover, 2 years back I managed to get slots for 12 Phuket golf visitors at the Thailand Open at Laguna Phuket Golf Club and this was undoubtedly the highlight of their Thailand golf holiday.  Pro Ams are an experience golfers in Thailand are unlikely to forget.

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Burpaha Golf Pattaya

Burpaha Golf Pattaya

Burapha Golf Pattaya (2) Playing golf in Thailand is not just a sport, but can be a lot of entertainment too. There are none of those stuffy club secretaries wanting to see your accredited handicap card here. No, just turn up, give your clubs to the smiling door man and you are off.

I was invited to play at Burapha Golf Club with some tourists enjoying their golf vacation in Pattaya. When I arrived at Burapha I was surprised to see so few people on the Pattaya golf course. Of course every day in Thailand is a holiday, and so there are not too many Thai golfers during the slow golf season from April to October.

Shorts seemed to be the relaxed dress code of the day, both for men and women. Most of the golfers at Burapha were expatriates of golfers from overseas!  I was joined up with 2 other golfers on their first Pattaya golf holiday.

Burapha has 36 holes and you can play a combination of nine holes. Better players cover course B and D which was the venue used for the Thailand Open. We played course C and finished on course D.
I have to be honest that there are lot more ‘Wow’ factor golf courses in Thailand, however the course still offers a fair game for all levels. There are flat holes with wide fairways, and long par 4’s climbing up to the mountains with incredible views across the region.

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Smiling Caddies, Sunshine, and Thailand Golf

Smiling Caddies, Sunshine, and Thailand Golf

Thai CaddiesLiving in Thailand perhaps we take for granted the pleasures of playing a round of golf.

In most of Europe and the USA, snow has put a damper on all hopes for that post New Year round with your golf buddies. Can’t get the car out of the deep drifts!!! Here in Thailand we are experiencing our own winter weather…. a beautiful 25 degrees centigrade with a cool breeze!

How about those dreaded rush our traffic jams or clogged city roads? No panic with the traffic to get to the course on time in Thailand though. Just relax in the back of your limo, while your driver takes you directly to the course.

Upon arrival at any Thailand golf course, open the car door and immediately a smiling caddie says ‘Sawadee Ka ‘ and will take your clubs from you, and may even offer you a welcome drink and a cold towel. Once you have registered, changed and found your golf buggy, it’s off to the practice range to hit some balls. Here your caddie will hand you your clubs and even pick up your balls from the pitching area after you hit. When it’s time to go, the starter will check your ticket, and then you are all ready to golf.

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Thailand Really Is A Golfer’s Paradise

Thailand Really Is A Golfer’s Paradise

Royal Trophy 2011 We all get bombarded by travel agents jargon or see the Tourist Boards latest TV adverts extolling their countries fantastic features. One such feature here in Thailand is golf!

Well I can safely say that Thailand golf is in a very healthy state here in the Kingdom of smiles with thousand of overseas players playing here every year. But it’s not just the tourists who love it here, so do the professionals who make their living out of the game.

Thailand recently hosted the 5th edition of the Royal Trophy, Seve Ballesteros’s version of the Ryder Cup, with Europe playing the best of Asia. This year’s edition moved down to Hua Hin’s Black Mountain, one of my favourite Thai golf courses. It seems that several of Captain Colin Montgomerie’s team also agree with me too.

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Royal Trophy Cliffhanger Ending!

Royal Trophy Cliffhanger Ending!

After the amazing scenes at the 2010 Ryder Cup with Greame MacDowell putting to win, I thought I'd seen it all!

Obviously not!!!

Black_Mountain_091115685 The Royal Trophy looked like a gimme for Asia, after Europe failed to win one of the four matches on day two at Thailand's Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.  Asia were needing only two and half points from the eight single matches to clinch victory. Team captain Colin Montgomerie was shell shocked!

Monty bravely put on a good front at that evenings press conference, and said that they had been soundly beaten, but he still had faith in his European players.

The Asian team had most of their top players in Hua Hin, with the exception of Y E Yang and KJ  Choi, whereas Monty had decided to give some of his younger players a chance.

He made a very wise decision to send out his number one ranked player Peter Hanson the only member of the victorious Ryder Cup team at Black Mountain to play in the first rubber against China's number one Liang Wen-chong.

Joe Ozaki the Asia captain then announced his 4th player would be Ryo Ishikawa, and after a minutes pause while he looked at his notes, Monty paired Ryo with Rhys Davies , known as the World's best putter.

The battle commenced at 10.35hrs on Sunday morning, and Hanson went 6 up to eventually show everyone that the European challenge had teeth.

Ryo hit his drive on the second hole into the water, and Rhys putted in to go one up after two.

Much to everyones amazment the scoreboards around the Black Mountaincourse were turning blue for Europe who were up in 4 matches, all square in two with only Jeev Milka Singh and Thongchai Jaidee one up.

Rhys then won his match on the 15th and soon after was joined by Stenson who squared his match on the 18th green against Asian Tour No 1 Noh Seung-yul. Monty soon followed by winning at the 17th green, but with Asia still up in two, it was anyones title.

They were golf buggies flying all over the final four holes as both team captains and their players went to support the final pairings.

Matteo Mannassero, the Italian 17 year old, made an astonishing 2nd shot from 140 yrds straight to within two feet of the pin to clinch his match on the 17th, to the cheers of his team mates.

But still Pablo Martin from Spain, had to go to the last hole with Jeev one up. Jeev had a horrible second shot from the edge of the grass by the fairway bunker, which meant he could not reach the green. Pablo also laid up on this long par 5. However his third shot into the green was magnifcent under enormous pressure. He got to within three feet of the hole to go one up. The crowd errupted and Europe had won the 5th edition of the Royal Trophy.

Coming up behind was Johan Edfors against Thongchai who managed to square his match again on the 18th hole.

Seve Ballesteros set up the Royal Trophy to promote the game of golf and to encourage youngsters to take up the game. With so many of the World's top youngsters playing this week at Thailand's top golf tournament, I think Seve would have been very proud and pleased with a fantastic advert for golf.

I am sure that viewers in 250 countries who watch the tournament live would have been glued to their seats.

Well done everyone especially Captain Montgomerie OBE.

 

Smiling Caddies, Sunshine & Great Golf!

Smiling Caddies, Sunshine & Great Golf!

Living here in Thailand perhaps we take for granted the pleasures of playing a round of golf.

Back home in Europe, the snow has put paid to the pre Christmas round with your golf buddies. Can’t get the car out of the deep drifts!!!

Here we are experiencing our own milder weather… still a beautiful 25c with a cool breeze!

No panic with the traffic to get to the course on time here though. Just relax in the back of your limo, while your driver takes you directly to a Thailand golf course.

Open the car door and immediately a smiling caddie says ‘Sawadee Ka ‘ and will take your clubs from you, and will even offer you a welcome drink and a cold towel.

DSC01281 Once you have registered, changed and found your buggy, it’s off to the practice range to hit some balls. Here the caddie will hand you your clubs, and even pick up your balls from the pitching area.

When it’s time to go, the starter will check your ticket, and then you are all ready to go.

If you have never played with a caddie before, the experience can be a bit daunting to begin with, however you soon realise that they are there to make your round that bit more enjoyable.

Most of the caddies at Thailand's golf courses are girls aged between 18-25yrs old and they make their living by caddying maybe 4-5 times a week. The club normally charges the golfer a caddie fee of around Baht300 and then it’s up to you to give them a tip at the end.

If you ask them how much, the normal response is ‘It is up to you.’ Probably Baht300-500 tip for 18 holes is the norm, although if you go round in a low score or get a hole in one, then their tip can increase.

Not only are the often very pretty and fun to be with, they know each hole as they see everyone play the course all year round. So they can give you the best advice on where to aim from the tee box, and how to read the greens.

They will also hold your umbrella and fan you to keep you cool. If you stop at one of the drink stops, its often nice to offer them a drink too.

Most caddies have nick names like Beer, Oil or Chop. Easy to remember!

At the end of the round, your caddie will ask you to count your clubs before taking them back to your car. They will often give you a card with their name and number on. You then slot it into the box marked poor up to excellent! 

If you liked your caddie, make a note of her number, in case you return and want the club to book her for your second round there.

Here’s just another reason why playing golf in Thailand is such a great experience.