Category: Thailand Golf Courses and Playing Conditions

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.

Read More Read More

Golf In Australia Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Australia Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
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.

Service (25%)
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.

Read More Read More

Golf In Thailand Versus Golf In The Rest Of The World

Golf In Thailand Versus Golf In The Rest Of The World

Thailand World Map

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!

Santiburi Samui Country Club Review

Santiburi Samui Country Club Review

Santiburi Samui Golf Club ThailandThe 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. 

Read More Read More

Tips On Playing Thai Country Club

Tips On Playing Thai Country Club

Thai Country Club BangkokMost of you know that my home course is Thai Country Club. Having played this excellent Bangkok golf course more-or-less one time per week for the past 3 years, my scores have ranged from a few over par to over 90. Looking back on my rounds I can see a few things in common that led to good scores.

1.    Stay out of the rough. Hitting fairways in regulation is the single biggest key to scoring well at Thai Country Club. The rough at Thai Country Club is formed by thick Zoysia grass that is next to impossible to hit from. The best solution when in the rough is to hit sideways back onto the fairway. Trying to advance the ball often leads to the same shot all over again.

2.    Play for less break when putting.  Most of the greens at Thai Country Club are flattish. If you think the ball will break two cups; then putt for a one cup break. If it looks like a one grip break; play half of a grip. The only exceptions are on holes 15, 16, and 17 which do have a lot of movement due to the greens gradually sinking into the adjacent ponds.

Read More Read More

Siam Country Club Playing Tips

Siam Country Club Playing Tips

Siam Country Club Plantation Course Hole 7I 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!

Read More Read More

Happy City Golf Resort Update

Happy City Golf Resort Update

Happy City Golf Resort Chiang RaiHappy 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.

Read More Read More

Jack Nicklaus In Thailand

Jack Nicklaus In Thailand

Laem Chabang Golf PattayaAs 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.

Six of these courses are in Thailand and while they may be just a sprinkling of his work, Nicklaus and his fellow designers have left an indelible mark on the Thailand golf scene.

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.

Read More Read More

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.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (9 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (9 of 10)

Siam Country Club Plantation Course 1Here is the ninth (actually 2) of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Siam Country Club, Pattaya

In 2007, Schmidt-Curley redesigned Siam Country Club’s Old Course that was designed by Isao Mazumi and originally laid out in 1970. It was the first privately owned course in Thailand was the first Thai course to ever host an LPGA event, the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. The same event has since returned 4 times since and will take place once again in February 2013.

The Old Course at Siam Country Club is set in the low hills just a few kilometers from Pattaya. This 7162-yard stunner shares terrain with fruit trees, creeks, lakes and 101 sand traps. The immaculate greens are huge, elevated and contoured, meaning even the best putters will need the guidance of a well-trained caddie.


The course has an out and back layout. Making the turn up the 9th fairway, there is a large golden Buddha watching over the green. Dotted with many bunkers and water hazards, the course also boasts several dramatic holes, particularly the last four. The 15th through 18th holes taken together could arguably be the best finishing holes of any Pattaya golf course.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (8 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (8 of 10)

Santiburi Chiang Rai

Here is the eighth of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club, Chiang Rai

One of the world’s great golf designers, Robert Trent Jones Jr, designed Santiburi Country Club, 7km from Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. One of five courses in his Thai portfolio, it is also his best.

Established in 1992, Santiburi Chiang Rai presents a memorable golf experience. As Chiang Rai’s first golf course, it is the top course in the region known as The Golden Triangle. The cool morning air in winter makes an idea time to experience the course when the first few holes are often shrouded in a light fog that seems to form a blanket of white.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (7 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (7 of 10)

Red Mountain Golf Club Phuket Thailand (2)Here is the seventh of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Red Mountain Golf Club, Phuket

Red Mountain, near Phuket’s main tourist location of Patong, is one of the most dramatic courses in Thailand. Opened in 2008, the 6900-yard sister property to nearby Loch Palm Golf Club winds its way through a stunning former tin mine in the heart of Phuket's central highlands.

It’s not difficult to see why this golf course was named Red Mountain. It is harder, however, to imagine how such a dramatically undulating landscape, where soft red rock and dense jungle were the principal ingredients, could be transformed into a challenging, yet playable layout.

The course cleverly takes advantage of a huge variety of landforms and dizzying elevation changes. Scars left from the tin mine era have been imaginatively incorporated into the overall scheme, creating a unique character, while establishing an indelible link with an important era in the Island's past.



Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (6 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (6 of 10)

Laem Chabang Golf Club (2)Here is the sixth of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Laem Chabang International Country Club, Pattaya

Laem Chabang is the best of the six courses that golf legend Jack Nicklaus has designed in Thailand. This 27-hole complex offers three 9-hole courses (Lake, Valley and Mountain), each a close-to-nature experience that is visually appealing and, at times, quite challenging. The Pattaya golf course layout is a rewarding and challenging one with plenty of hazards, bunkers, sand traps and water hazards, along with the natural hazards, lakes, ponds creeks and rock formations.

The Mountain Course begins as a jungle-like experience, before opening up to wider fairways and excellent fast greens. It is the most requested of the three nines, albeit my favorite is the Lake and Valley combination.

The Valley Course in particular, which at 3619 yards is 200 yards longer than the Lake and Mountain Courses, features water on many holes and demands requires precision shot making off the tee and into greens that are well guarded by water and sand.

Laem Chabang has hosted numerous championship events, including the 2001 Volvo Classic, the 2002 Thai Senior Open and more recently the 2010 Thailand Open. Laem Chabang is a member of Golf In A Kingdom.

Insiders Tip: Try the night golf at Laem Chabang for a special Pattaya golf outing. Playing floodlight fairways has a appeal to many Pattaya golfers as it is generally cooler and less crowded. As an added bonus and for those on a limited budget night golf, which actually starts at 4:00 PM, is 500 baht less expensive weekdays and 1000 baht less expensive on weekends as compared to the price of day golf. So you play the first nine watching the sun set and then the second nine under the stars and save some baht for entertainment after your round!

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (5 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (5 of 10)

Blue Canyon Country Club.jpgHere is the fifth of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Blue Canyon Country Club, Phuket

The island of Phuket, one of the world’s top tourism destinations, also has a worthy reputation for golf. For the past 20 years Blue Canyon has been a highly sought-after golf destination for visitors.

Located near Phuket’s international airport, Blue Canyon Country Club’s Canyon Course was the original 18 hole layout and leaped to fame when it was selected as the venue for the 1994 Johnnie Walker Classic. Since then the same tournament has returned 2 times with Tiger Woods winning in 1998 with a comeback from behind victory to beat Ernie Els in the final round.

On that day Tiger drove the par-4 13th Canyon hole for eagle and achieved a feat that amazes me and every other Phuket golfer I know. Tiger then went on to birdie the following par-3 14th, which is also the signature hole. Playing from the elevated tee to its island green this hole one of the most beautiful, while also challenging par 3's in all Thailand.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (4 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (4 of 10)

Golf Chiang Mai 1Here is the fourth of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Highlands Golf & Spa Resort is one of Thailand’s golfing gems.  Built on a “power spot”, the hermitage of the revered Kuba Sivicha monk who founded the famous temple on Doi Suthep, the site is breathtaking in every direction and literally tingles with an energetic aliveness.

Few courses anywhere in Asia have the scenic beauty, combined with challenging golf as this layout. Magnificent sweeping downhill holes to lakeside greens, valleys and hillsides provide a unique experience.

Opened in 2005 Chiang Mai Highlands was immediately awarded one of the 3 best new courses in Asia Pacific. The course was designed by Schmidt-Curley, the same team responsible for Mission Hills China and Thailand’s Amata Spring and Siam Country Club.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (3 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (3 of 10)

Black Mountain (2)Here is the third of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Black Mountain Golf Club, Hua Hin

Black Mountain, named as the best Thailand golf course and best championship layout in Asia Pacific in 2011 by Asian Golf Monthly, opened in 2007 and quickly picked up awards including best new course in Asia (2007) and second best course in Thailand (2008). In 2012 it the only Thailand golf course to make it to Golf Digest’s 100 Best Courses Outside the USA list.

Playing a whopping 7550 yards of the championship tees, you had better bring your best game with you even to play the third set or “low handicap” tees, which measure almost 7000 yards. The host of the 2009 Black Mountain Masters, an Asian Tour event won by Swedish star Johan Edfors, uses natural features to great advantage, including creeks that run through the course and stunning mountain backdrops.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (2 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (2 of 10)

Banyan Golf Club Hua Hin 2AHere is the second of my top 10 Thailand golf courses.

Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin

The seaside town of Hua Hin, on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand, 200 kilometers south of Bangkok, has become a popular destination for both Thai and international visitors. The preferred holiday destination of the Thai Royal family for more than a century, the region boasts eight excellent golf courses, of which Banyan Golf Club is one of the standouts. Opened in 2008, Banyan Golf Club leaped to fame when it was selected as the Best New Couse in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly one year later.

Pineapple patches, bougainvillea beds and, of course, Banyan trees come into play on this hillside course, which is nestled in a mostly-enclosed, bucolic bowl without a home or resort in sight. The clubhouse, situated on the highest part of the property, offers stunning vistas, especially at sunset, of the Burmese Mountains, while the layout itself provides an undulating journey through some of the best 18 holes of golf in Hua Hin.

Read More Read More

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (1 of 10)

10 Best Thailand Golf Courses (1 of 10)

Alpine Golf Club Bangkok Thailand Hole 4Foreign golf tourists who come to Thailand never fail to experience the unique package of attractions that make the Land of Smiles one of the top three golf tourism destinations in the world. There are many reasons why a golf holiday in Thailand is so enjoyable and why visitors come back again and again – including the quality of Thailand’s 260 courses, all but a few of which are open to visitors. As everywhere, the top courses stand out from the rest and rank among Asia’s great layouts. 

In each of the next 10 posts I will focus on one of the top 10 Thailand golf courses. Here they are in alphabetical order.

Alpine Golf & Sports Club, Bangkok
As the designer of more than 100 courses in the southern USA, Ron Garl understands the needs of the tropics and was engaged to create Alpine’s Bangkok layout. It has all the elements that have made Garl a sought-after designer in many countries, especially in hot climates.

Read More Read More

Hua Hin Golf Gets Even Better and Offers Better Values Too!

Hua Hin Golf Gets Even Better and Offers Better Values Too!

Hua-Hin-Golf-Club.jpgRecently I have been spending more and more time golfing in Hua Hin. It seems that this seaside resort is living up to its billing as the “home of golf in Thailand” as the eight area courses put efforts to continually better themselves.

Here is a case in point. Earlier this year Black Mountain was voted 98th best golf course outside the USA by Golf Digest. This was the first time any Thai golf course has made it to the list and you would think that Black Mountain would pause to celebrate and rest on its laurels. No however, immediately following the award Black Mountain embarked on an upgrading program. Improved landing on holes #1 and #9, new tee boxes on holes #4 and #9 and elimination of blind shots on holes #9 and #18 are all being added to the golf course. At the same time Black Mountain lowered their prices by 50% until September. This is great example of an award winning course putting their golfer’s satisfaction ahead of short-term profits. 

Play Black Mountain now to see what all the buzz is about and while you are there give the new par-3 a run to top off a great 27-hole day. The latter is the only Thai golf course where caddies are NOT compulsory, saving even more money for golfers who prefers to carry.

Read More Read More

Chiang Mai Golf Magic

Chiang Mai Golf Magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheap Thailand Golf

Cheap Thailand Golf

Rajjaprabha Dam Golf 5Thailand golf rivals the world’s greatest golf destinations with challenging layouts by ‘A’ list designers. If there is a difference in Thailand, it is the value. Thailand golfers enjoy championship golf at greens fees of around $100 – $150 USD which is typically less than you’d pay in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Scotland, South Africa, and other premium golf destinations around the world.

But world-class aside, here is a novel idea for the adventurous. Thailand also has many off-the-beaten-path, local muni types of courses, where you meet John Q. Public (e.g. local Thai golfers and expatriates) who know where to go for the best value-for-money and some real local fun. Now, this is not for everyone, to be sure. The greens can be tricky; fairways might use local grasses; and tee boxes are probably not perfectly flat or closely mowed. You don’t play these courses for their modern clubhouses and stately locker rooms and the dining room is likely to be a large covered patio rather than a posh air-conditioned restaurant.

You play these tracks for the cultural experience of encountering people living their daily lives, not catering to the every whim of tourists. You will be treated like a local. You’ll pay $12-$16 USD for eighteen holes with a caddy, not including tip. You’ll feel just like everybody else and that is part of the charm. Well, it is if you find it charming to be paired with community Thai folks and local expatriates that engage you in pleasant conversation and become new friends after 18 holes; or probably 19.

Read More Read More

Night Golf In Thailand Is Over!

Night Golf In Thailand Is Over!

Laem CHabang Night Golf 2June marks the end for night golf in Thailand as courses such Panya Indra in Bangkok, Laem Chabang in Pattaya, and Summit Green Valley in Chiang Mai shut off their lights in exchange for low priced summer golf days.

The night Thai golf season typically runs from November to May, where you can tee-off anywhere from 3-7 PM and finish by midnight! That’s right golf in Thailand until midnight is not only possible, it is fun and affordable.  Green fees run around $30-40 US Dollars.

My favorite time to play night golf is during the hot months of March & April where I get out around 3PM, get nine holes in the daylight and the back nine under the lights.

However, I don’t take night golf to seriously though; it’s more about having a fun time with my friends and the caddies.

Read More Read More

Bangkok’s New Replica Golf Course

Bangkok’s New Replica Golf Course

Postage Stamp Hole Bangkok ThailandDamaged by the great floods in December 2011, Asia’s first and only replica course, The Royal Gems Golf City, is now reopened in Bangkok’s outskirts. Imagine playing famous holes as the ‘church pew bunkers” at Oakmont Country Club, the “Island Green” at TPC Sawgrass, Royal Troon’s “Postage Stamp”, and the “Road Hole” of St. Andrews Old Course?

If they are not enough to tantalize your appetitive for great golf holes, then maybe the back nine of Augusta National including “Amen Corner” will.

Last week, when playing Royal Gems Golf City with some friends, I had a laugh and I placed a ball in the exact spot off the right of the #10 fairway that Bubba Watson hit to win the playoff in The Masters. Not only is it difficult to get the ball back to the fairway, but I have no idea how Bubba could possibly make the green to get up and down in two. This is really impossible and goes to show you what an amazing shot Bubba hit.

Then two holes later I tried to hit the green on the short par-3 12th. As Tom Watson once said “this hole was made for suckers who insist in going for it.” Add me to this list as after 5 attempts I could only manage either getting stuck in the bunker over the green or worse short and wet.

Here is the complete hole-by-hole rundown of the new Royal Gems Golf City.

1- Oakmont #3 (Church pew bunkers)
2- Bay Hill #16
3- TPC Sawgrass #17
4- Doral #18
5- Royal Troon #8 (postage stamp)
6- St Andrews #17 (road hole)
7- Bethpage Black #7
8- Winged Foot #10
9- The Belfry #10
10-18- Augusta Natonal #10-18

Anyone golfing in Bangkok should have a go at The Royal Gems Golf City. The real holes might be better, but I bet you will have a blast playing these 18 replicas.

Note as of May 2012 a temporary clubhouse is in use. While adequate for Thailand golf visitors, the permanent facility will only be fully operational towards the later part of the year.

Hua Hin’s Hidden Golf Gem: Kaeng Krachan Country Club

Hua Hin’s Hidden Golf Gem: Kaeng Krachan Country Club

Kaeng-krachanEveryone knows the best regarded Hua Hin golf courses are Banyan Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf Club.  How about other Hua Hin golf courses for the more adventurous?

Located an hour north and 40km inland from Hua Hin in the Thai Kaeng Krachan Estate lies what might just be Hua Hin’s least known, most under rated and best valued golf course? The 27 hole Kaeng Krachan Country Club is hardly known by the locals, no less Thailand golf holidaymakers.

After travelling due north from Hua Hin and leaving the main highway, the road to Kaeng Krachan deteriorates into virtually a dust path. Don’t be put off by this or worry you have taken a wrong turn, just keep following the signs to the Kaeng Krachan Estate. Sure enough fifteen minutes later the Kaeng Krachan golf course can be seen and first impressions of a natural parkland course are excellent.

Read More Read More

How To Judge Green Speed Of Thailand Golf Courses

How To Judge Green Speed Of Thailand Golf Courses

Alpine Golf Bangkok GreenRecently I have seen green speeds on Thailand golf courses run from a slow 7 on the stimpmeter at Majestic Creek Country Cub in Hua Hin to a speedy 10 at Red Mountain Golf Club in Phuket.  At other times, like after a professional event, green speeds can run as high as 11 or 12. Siam Country Club Old Course was like this in February after the Honda LPGA.

With such a great variation in green speed and importance on distance in lag putting, how can the visiting golfer in Thailand be successful in judging the green speed at each Thai golf course?

Well fortunately all of the golf courses in Thailand have practice putting greens and I find that hitting some long pouts just before starting my round helps allot to be successful on the golf course.

Read More Read More

The Best 18 Phuket Golf Holes

The Best 18 Phuket Golf Holes

Blue Canyon Lakes Course #18Golfing in Phuket is great from May until July as the courses are not crowded, accommodations very reasonably priced, and the weather is generally overcast with little other than a late afternoon shower to cool things off. Therefore it is timely that Ian, our semi-pro Phuket resident, has for a bit of fun put together his Phuket “Dream 18”, which when you take time to think about the golf options, it’s not that easy

Hole 1, Blue Canyon, Canyon Course – Not the easiest opening hole and a fairly tight tee-shot. Hitting the fairway is a must if you want to get your second close on this severe undulating green.

Hole 2, Loch Palm – Good par 5 winding its way round Crystal Lake. Water in play all the way to the green, but reachable in two for the long brave hitters

Hole 3, Red Mountain – Spectacular par 3 where the designer had made the very best of the rocks and the natural surrounds

Read More Read More

Sea Pine Golf Course: Nice But Be Aware Of….

Sea Pine Golf Course: Nice But Be Aware Of….

Sea Pine Golf CourseThe newest Hua Hin golf course is the Sea Pine Golf Course (also known as the Army Golf Club II).  This golf course opened is the pride of the Royal Thai Army and much better than any Thai municpal course I have seen.

Designed by active Major General Weerayudth Phetbuasak (same designer as Suwan Country Club in Bangkok and Phokeethra Coutry Club in Siem Reap), Sea Pine is a good track with 4 holes longing the beach that play like a links-styled course.  The majority of the other Sea Pine area is comprised of bracken pine trees and is enriched by the beauty of oceans and mountains.

My favorite hole is the 16th, a long Par 5 with an exciting 2nd or 3rd shot. The hole is facing the sea which means depending on the direction of the wind it can be extremely long and very challenging especially for the design of the hole.  In front of the green there is a huge lake to cross and just behind it the ocean. The difficulty is that the green is not deep so you must get the distance right! The view is absolutely astonishing.

The maintenance of the golf course is generally good. If you want to play this Hua Hin golf course I recommend you to play weekdays. If there is a group of Thai army officials in front of you it can take more than 5 hours to play a round!.

Otherwise, if you do encounter slow play, as they say in Thailand, never mind!  You are on a Thai golf holiday, so enjoy the nice pine tree lined environment, ocean views, and a Singha or two!

Just prepare yourself to this kind of eventuality and you will greatly enjoy your round at the new Hua Hin Sea Pine Golf Club.

Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club

Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club

Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club.jpgChiang Rai in far northern Thailand is a bit off the beaten path for most foreign tourists golfing in Thailand. However the Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club is a name that often comes up when Thai residents talk about their favorite Thai golf courses. 

While there is no one single outstanding quality to the course, it is instead a combination of factors that all come together in creating a thoroughly enjoyable playing experience: the scenery with rolling terrain and tree lined fairways, challenge, playability, diversity, maintenance and service.

Jack Nicklaus once said that “Golf is a better game played downhill”, and Santiburi uses this concept to great effect with several elevated tees and downhill holes which invite golfers to ‘tee it up and have a go’.  The clubhouse itself sits on one of the highest points of the property, providing excellent vantage points for viewing the action on #9 and #18 as well as creating elevated tees for #1 and #10.

Donald Ross preached that the first hole of any golf course should be designed to allow golfers an encouraging start without too much trouble.  The opening hole at Santiburi does this with a medium length par five that has enough elbow room both left and right that mishit shots can at least be found and played.  However miss the fairway and you will quickly learn what gives Santiburi its primary line of defense:  the Rough.

Read More Read More

Pattaya Golf Update

Pattaya Golf Update

Honda LPGAThis past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the Honda LPGA at Siam Country Club as well as play two of my favorite Pattaya golf courses. The ladies second event of the 2012 season was won once again by the world’s #1 Yani Tseng. It was a good finish as she and AI Miyazato were in the race until the last hole.

In spite of IMG missing my ticket delivery, the ladies professional golf tournament went off without a hitch and I still managed to get admission to watch the ladies on their final day. The Old Course at Siam Country Club was in excellent condition and golfers who plan to play at this Pattaya golf course over the next few weeks are in for a real treat. Expect course course-up to be tournament-style with fast greens and close-cut rough. Signage will also be left in place giving visiting Pattaya golfers the feeling of being right in the event themselves. The only thing missing will be the ladies, who all travel to Singapore to play this week to play in the HSBC Woman’s Championship.

Read More Read More

LPGA Shines In Thailand

LPGA Shines In Thailand

LPGA Pattaya Thailand 2012Thailand knows how to put on a show, and the top LPGA players will be at the Honda LPGA Thailand this month.

With the worlds 59 best lady golfers in attendance, the Siam Country Club in Pattaya will be the perfect backdrop to kick off the LPGA tour season in style.
This popular tournament was launched in 2006 when a certain Miss Hee-Won Han from South Korea won the inaugural event. Since then the likes of Suzann Petersen from Norway, Lorena Ochoa from Mexico , Ai Miyazato from Japan, Yanni Tseng from Taiwan have all held the coveted trophy.

Add star names such as Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and crowd favourite Michelle Wie, and you can understand why the sponsors are prepared to offer a massive US$1.8million in prize money.

Held at the Siam Country Club’s famous Old Course, a par 72 playing 6,477 yards for the girls, the players all commented on how perfect the fairways and greens were playing.

With most sports suffering during the recent economy down, the golf industry has turned to Asia for its future.  The exposure that the event brings to Thailand is truly global. Meanwhile perhaps the biggest winner will once again be one of Thailand’s number one courses, Siam Country Club in Pattaya.

If you want to follow in the stars footsteps, why not plan to attend the event and then play the Pattaya golf club’s two championship courses? The Old Course and Plantation courses are the 2 best Pattaya golf courses, and by a wide margin.