Category: Thailand Golf Holidays and Vacations

Golf In Korea Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Korea Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%):
Korea (7):  Korea is a mountainous country with around 200 golf courses scattered from North to South. However the best golf courses are located on Cheju Island, sometimes called Korea’s Hawaii due to the year round temperate climate. My two favorite Korean golf courses are Nine Bridges and Sky 72, both of which have hosted numerous professional golf tournaments.

Thailand (7): There are many excellent golf courses in Thailand. Thai Country Club (site of Tiger Woods 1997 win) and Siam Country Club (home of the Honda LPGA) are two stand-outs. The best golf courses are all part of Golf In A Kingdom.

Service (25%)
Korea (6): Golf in Korea is a long but smooth process. Tee-times and pace of play are strictly adhered to as most of the better courses are full from sunrise to sunset. A round of golf can include a break for lunch too, which is good if you like Korea food.

Thailand (10):  Service on the golf course in Thailand is all about smiles. You meet friendly locals and caddies which are standard at all Thai golf courses. Try playing without a caddie after you get back from a Thailand golf holiday to really appreciate the Thai service!

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Golf In Japan Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Japan Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Japan (7): The country has over 2,400 golf courses from North to South. Unfortunately, the best clubs are private, so make sure you call ahead to see if unaccompanied visitors are allowed. Some of my favorites that do allow visitors are the Fuji Course at Kawana Hotel and Taiheiyo Club Gotemba Course.

Thailand (7): The vast majority of golf courses in Thailand are open for daily fee play. Some of the best in this category include Siam Country Club (home of the Honda LPGA) and Riverdale Golf Club. The best golf courses are all part of Golf In A Kingdom.

Service (25%)
Japan (7): If you want to golf in less than 8 hours, then golf in Japan is not for you. Of course this includes 18 holes of golf with a 2+ hour break in between for lunch, sauna, and a change of clothes. Not bad actually if you want to experience real Japan.

Thailand (10): You meet friendly locals all over Thailand. A good example is the caddies which are standard at all Thai golf courses. Try playing without a caddie after you get back from a Thailand golf holiday and you will see what I mean.

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Golf In Ireland Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Ireland Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Ireland (9): The country is home to some of the world's best golf courses. Most all are pure links courses. The best Irish golf courses include K Club (Ryder Cup), and the incredible Druids Glen.

Thailand (7): Of the 250 Thai golf courses, 60 are standouts. Thailand’s best golf course is Black Mountain in Hua Hin. Other notable favorites are the spectacular Red Mountain in Phuket and Banyan in Hua Hin.

Service (25%)
Ireland (8):  Ireland has a good reputation for warm hospitality. Most resorts offer nice spas and excellent food and beverage choices. Many of the more popular golf courses also have caddie services available for visiting golfers.

Thailand (10): Thailand sets the standard for friendly hospitality by locals. Golf clubs welcome visitors from all over the world. Caddies are among Thailand’s secret weapons and make anyone’s game enjoyable.

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Golf In Hong Kong Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Hong Kong Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Hong Kong (6): There are some excellent golf courses in Hong Kong; many with great views over the surrounding South China Sea. The only public golf course is also one of the islands best. The 36-hole Gary player designed Kau Sai Chau Golf Course is set on an island just off the coast. Other standouts, albeit private, include the Hong Kong Golf Club’s Fanling Course; home of many professional PGA events.

Thailand (7): Golf in Thailand can be played across the country and of the 250 or so courses, 60 are worthy of visitors. The number one Thai golf course and only course in the 100 best courses outside the USA is Black Mountain in Hua Hin.
 

Service (25%)
Hong Kong (4): The island state is better known for shopping bargains than service and the same carries over to the golf clubs. Notably missing are caddies, which makes Hong Kong one of the few places to golf in Asia where one can carry his/her own bag.

Thailand (10): Thailand on the other hand is all about service excellence. Golf clubs are as visitor friendly as any place on earth. How hard could it be to play with a smiling caddie by your side through the whole round?

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Golf In Germany Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Germany Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Germany (6):  Since the 1980’s many new golf courses have been built and the golf in Germany has flourished. There are now more than 600 German golf courses across the country including hundreds of excellent ones and a handful of outstanding resorts. The Sport & Spa Resort A-Rosa set among pine forests is one of the best examples with the Nick Faldo 18 being the best of the 4-course (63 hole) lineup.

Thailand (7): Thailand has 250 courses spread out across the country. Every major designer is represented and the Jack Nicklaus courses at Laem Chabang in Pattaya, Springfield in Hua Hin, and Mission Hills Phuket are among the most popular. Other excellent courses include Siam Country Club in Pattaya and Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.

Service (25%)
Germany (5): Outstanding hospitality is far from synonymous with Germany. However, the unique character of each region makes for memorable golf trips nevertheless.

Thailand (10): Thailand sets the standard for service excellence and this extends to the golf courses as well. From the well-trained caddies to the bell boy at the hotels, outstanding service with a smile can be counted on. It is no wonder Thailand is nicknamed “Land of Smiles”.

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Golf In France Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In France Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
France (8): Excellent golf courses are found in almost every area of France. The most popular areas for golf holidays are Le Touquet in the north, Paris and its surroundings, and Biarritz and Bordeaux in the south. The best golf courses in France include Golf National near Paris and the Evian Masters Golf Club in the Alps.

Thailand (7): Golf courses in Thailand are spread out across the country. From the Trent Jones designed Santiburi Chiang Rai Country Club the far north to the spectacular Red Mountain Golf Club on Phuket Island in the south, tracks for every taste can be played all over Thailand.

Service (25%)
France (4): Unless you are French, forget about anything close to first class service. Most locals prefer to speak only French and hardly go out of their way to make a golf holidaymakers time in country easy or convenient. However, at some of the better resorts, well-trained overseas workers can make up for some of lacking French hospitality.

Thailand (10): Thailand is world renown for service, and golf in Thailand is no exception. Just ask any Thai person for help and you might have a friend for life! This service mindset is prevalent at every golf course and resort, irrespective of the service ranking or price.

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Golf In the Dominican Republic Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In the Dominican Republic Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Dominican Republic (9): Golf in the Dominican Republic is well-developed. The areas around Punta Cana and Casa de Campo are worth travelling to as they have some incredible golf courses thanks to the work of golf-course designers like Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Thailand (7): Thailand boasts over 250 courses and the best courses are located in one of five major golf destinations. Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket are all resort areas near the sea. Chiang Mai is in the northern mountains, and some 60 courses are available to those golfing in Bangkok.

Service (25%)
Dominican Republic (7): The golf courses located in Punta Cana and Casa de Campo are affiliated with a 5* beach resort, which practically guarantees high service levels before and after each round. However, on course there is an apparent absence of caddies and limited facilities or refreshments.

Thailand (10):  Golf in Thailand is all about the service. Thai hospitality is some of the world’s best and golf in Thailand is no exception. Caddies are compulsory at all Thai golf courses for every golfer whether or not golf carts are used, thus ensuring excellent service is available at all times.

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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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Golf In Bulgaria Versus Golf In Thailand

Golf In Bulgaria Versus Golf In Thailand

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

Quality (30%)
Bulgaria (6): While a relatively new sport and hardly played by locals, Bulgaria golf courses range from best in the world to rather ordinary. The best Bulgarian golf courses by a long shot are Thracian Cliffs and BlackSeaRama, both of which are Gary Player Signature courses. If there were a few more courses in this category, then Bulgaria would score even higher.

Thailand (7): There are over 250 golf courses in Thailand, where golf is played by 600,000 locals and 700,000 visitors each year. Thai golf courses include well-known championship venues like Siam CC (2013 LPGA) and Suwan (2012 Thailand Open) and undiscovered tracks that are perfect for visitors like Riverdale and Red Mountain.

Service (25%)
Bulgaria (6): Service in Bulgaria can be perfect, especially in the 5* resorts along the Black Sea. However, for inland destinations like Sofia, more of a big city can be expected. Overall though, the service in Bulgaria is better than Western Europe as golf tourists are well-liked and looked after.

Thailand (10): Thailand is all about service stemming from the fact that the Thai people are some of the kindest in the world. The only expression that visitors see while golfing in Thailand are the smiles on the faces of the Thai people they meet. It is no wonder Thailand is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles”.

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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.

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The biggest hassle about golf in Thailand…and how to overcome it.

The biggest hassle about golf in Thailand…and how to overcome it.

Thailand GolfFor many golfers, relaxing on the couch for a weekend of watching sports is one of life’s simple pleasures. Most gladly sit for hours, replenished with suitable liquids and sustenance (beer and chips), watching their favorite teams or players duel it out.

Yet I bet when you tell your golfing buddies that you want to travel to golf in Thailand, one of the first questions you get is, “how long is the flying time”?   Irrespective on where you are coming, the answer is more than likely “it’s long” – anywhere from 10 to 20 hours in the air.  On the other hand, considering how long you watch sports each weekend, it’s not that long. More importantly, once you land I can bet you the hassle of the flight is more than worth it.

Here are a few simple measures that you can take t make the journey comfortable and even enjoyable.

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After Hours Thailand Golf

After Hours Thailand Golf

Thailand Night GolfHere is a new story from Davy, previously the number one golf retailer in Southern California and now a converted Thai golf addict.

When the phone rang it was a Thailand golf buddy all excited to tell me he had a game set up with some movers and shakers that were coming to town; and after a great lunch he had planned we would entertain them with a round of golf.

Lunch was indeed great; authentic Thai delicacies rolled out by smiling courteous servers. Thailand hospitality may be the greatest in the world. But it was getting late so I called him aside and said, “We’re only playing nine holes, right?”

“Eighteen holes,” he smiled.

“Hate to break the news to you but it’ll be dark in a couple of hours. Had no idea lunch would be so extravagant.”

“No problem,” he said, “they have lights.”

Not night golf, I thought. Previous encounters with nocturnal golf had me believing that you had to be 11 Titleist’s short of a dozen to play golf at night. If the almighty had wanted golf played at night we’d have been born with bat vision or golf balls would have headlights.

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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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Which Golf Ball Is Right for YOU When Golfing In Thailand?

Which Golf Ball Is Right for YOU When Golfing In Thailand?

Thailand Golf BallsFor the regular Thai golfer, the news on the modern golf ball is all good. The ball doesn’t slice or hook anywhere near as much as it did 15 years ago and it goes a lot further. But why hasn’t the average Thailand golf visitor’s handicap dropped? The answer is almost certainly in the golf ball they are teeing up when golfing in Thailand.

Today a solidly hit golf ball doesn’t move. The manufacturer’s designers have worked the long night hours to make it so. But for most playing the Thai golf fairways the percentage of solidly hit shots hasn’t improved that much and the ball, when hit poorly, will deviate from the straight and narrow, no matter how solidly it is constructed.

Some balls will deviate more than others. Would you believe that the Titleist Pro VI’s most of the Thai golf professionals play will deviate MORE than many of the less costly ones available for sale in Thailand!

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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.

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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.

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Are Phuket’s 5-star Hotels & Golf Resorts Worth It?

Are Phuket’s 5-star Hotels & Golf Resorts Worth It?

Mission Hills Phuket Golf ResortI have been thinking about this for quite some time and the short answer is yes and no.

Considering the glamorous location that Phuket is perceived to be, I have often though the quality of the 5* hotels are not up standard they should be. Many of the so-called luxury resorts are quite old and in serious need of renovation.

There are exceptions with hotels like the Andara, Paresa and Trisara resorts, but generally the hotels seem to be more geared for large corporate groups and lacking the intimacy of a genuine five star product. A common complaint is that the hotel rooms are small and in need of some care, Unfortunately the recession took care of the new Grand Hyatt and Shangri La projects, but the good news for Phuket is that a number of new top quality hotels are about to open in the next year including a Park Hyatt and the Kalima Resort & Spa which hopefully will raise the standard of the top end of the market. 

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Thailand Golf Holiday: Think More Than Hangover 2

Thailand Golf Holiday: Think More Than Hangover 2

Hangover 2Here is a great Thailand golf piece written by freelance journalist Jack Mairoo.

Great weather, good food, glittering temples, bargain-filled markets, stunning beaches and verdant golf courses…. A dream! For an increasing number of visitors, Thailand is the ideal recession-friendly golf holiday destination, down to a tee.

If you were one of the millions who saw "The Hangover Part 2", then you probably know this raunchy sequel takes place in Thailand. If you've seen the first one, you pretty much know what happens in part 2. Instead of Las Vegas, they're in Bangkok…. And there starts the problems!

Like the first one, memory loss is involved, and the characters try to reconstruct what happened to them the night before, revealing layers of insane and embarrassing incidents. The cool part, though, is that it's in Thailand, and the movie depicts many of this great country's treasures, such as its architecture and traditions. Of course, Thailand also has some mighty fine resorts and pretty fair golf courses. Being there all year round, I can attest to the golf and hotel scene, which is outstanding. The one thing that really sets apart golf in Thailand, however, are the caddies – they're all women.

And if you're thinking along the Hangover lines, think again: these ladies are actually very well trained for the most part, are professional and know their way around a golf course. And they are mandatory, which means you can't go ultra-cheap and decide not to take one. The mandatory part is actually pretty cool because it puts people to work in respectable jobs.

You can also get a massage right after golf, and it's very affordable. (I call Thailand the land of the eternal massage, which might be better than golf but isn’t because I simply love golfing and I do enjoy a good massage). A foot massage for around $10 isn't uncommon, and if you're walking the green, there's nothing better. Or you can go for a full-fledged Thai massage, which is more like chiropractic session than a massage, but totally feels good after golf. The bottom line is if you're looking for an exotic golf vacation, Thailand should be high on your destination list. The water's clean, the food's good, the cities and the sights are interesting. And the best part of all: the people are really friendly and respectful.

Enjoy golf in Thailand to its fullest!

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.

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4 Golf Holiday Destinations To Combine With Thailand

4 Golf Holiday Destinations To Combine With Thailand

South East Asia Golf MapMany people ask me to suggest non-Thai golf destinations that can be combined together with a Thailand golf holiday. Here are a few of the most common locations outside Thailand that can easily be part of a two or three centered Thailand golf holiday.

1. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam: Low cost hourly non-stop flights between Bangkok and Saigon and numerous international connections make Saigon an easy destination to combine with any Thailand golf holiday. I suggest 4 days in Saigon including 2 golf outings and 1 or 2 days sightseeing. Be sure to schedule golf on weekdays though as the Saigon golf courses are very crowded and mostly for local members on weekends.

2. Siem Reap, Cambodia: Home to the Angkor Wat Temples (one of the world’s seven wonders), Siem Reap now boasts 3 international standard golf courses. There are 4 daily flights between Bangkok and Siem Reap and I suggest 4 days golfing in Cambodia as a perfect add-on extension to any Thailand golf holiday. The combination of golf and history will make you glad you took time to visit this fascinating country, albeit an unheard of golf destination.

3. Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia: In stark contrast to Thailand’s “Sabai Sabai” (relaxed) approach to life, KL is a fast-paced and modern city. The golf in Kuala Lumpur is excellent and you can play courses which regularly stage USPGA, European Tour, and Asian Tour events. Also, KL is easy to get to with direct flights from Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket. Onward connections to most major cities of the world are easy to arrange and sometimes even less expensive than flights into/out of Thailand. Hotels are very reasonably priced and a wide range available to suit any budget and style of travel.

4. Bali, Indonesia: This might be stretching it a bit as the flying time between Thailand and Bali around 4.5 hours. Anyway, I thought I would mention Bali as the courses at the New Kuta Golf Resort and Nirwana Bali Golf Club taken together are the most spectacular duo in all of South East Asia. Add to this that Bali is an amazing tourist destination in its own right and you have what might just be the best island golf experience anywhere.

If you are looking for a Thailand golf holiday and wanting to try something different this year, check-out one of these destinations at the beginning or end of your Thailand trip; you might just be surprised how good the golf is and gaining an appreciation for 2 cultures in one vacation is always a good thing!

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.

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.

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3-4-5 Star Hotel Or Villa For A Thailand Golf Holiday

3-4-5 Star Hotel Or Villa For A Thailand Golf Holiday

Banyan Golf VillaIt’s not always easy to recommend the right accommodation for a golf holiday. For example, there are many excellent value-for-money hotels that can make a Thailand golf package very affordable. Great deals can often found from May to October on the beach resorts of Phuket and Hua Hin where hotels sell at less than half their normal cost during the high season.

However, for some, luxury is more important than price. At the other end of the spectrum there are some 6-star properties that are truly luxurious luxury and will create an once-in-a-lifetime Thailand golf holiday memory. These properties can be found mostly in Phuket and Hua Hin.

For golf buddy groups and families, staying together is more important than anything else. In this case, a large villa or multi-bedroom suite can be a great option. My friend Ian recently visited some new Phuket golf villas near Blue Canyon. The villa owner lives on site, cooks breakfast, takes orders from the fresh market to cook in the evening after golf, arranges for in-villa massages, and practically everything else imaginable. This really comes across as a very relaxing way to enjoy a golfing trip with total privacy away from the main tourist areas.

Personally I favor, and often stay at, 4-star properties, as I cannot get the full value of a 5-star hotel when I am out golfing each day. Moreover, when I travel with friends I like that I can get a large 60 sq meter room in 4-star hotel for less than half the price of a similar size room in a 5-star hotel. This makes it easy for those who like to share rooms or use one room as the central gathering/partying place when traveling with friends. Excellent 4-star golf properties can be found in Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Chiang Mai.

Whatever one’s preference, it can most likely be found as there are over 1000 hotels scattered throughout all of the main Thailand golf destinations.

Après Golf Fine Dining in Hua Hin

Après Golf Fine Dining in Hua Hin

Thai Food 2Here are a few fine dining do’s and don’ts for Hua Hin golfers that were complied by long time area resident, gastronomical expert, and Swiss Amateur Golf Team captain Marco Scopetta.

If you plan to spend few days golfing in Hua Hin, these are the best restaurants you can experience after your round.

The well-established Sofitel Centara Grand Resort and Villas has become the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Hua Hin. While the Hua Hin resort has been rebranded, the incredible Saturday night buffet at Railway Restaurant has not changed a bit! It is a MUST if you really want to experience a great dinner.

Insiders Tip: Bring your own wine and save a fortune. Corkage charges are only a fraction of the wine cost and the local wine shops in town have some great bargains.

Baan Itsara, beach front Thai restaurant not far from the center is well-known by the locals and Hi So of Bangkok. A little expensive compared to other local restaurants but excellent. The best grilled Lobster in town.

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Buying Golf Equipment On A Thailand Golf Holiday

Buying Golf Equipment On A Thailand Golf Holiday

Golf ClubsMany people ask me if it is a good idea to buy new clubs on their Thailand golf holiday. My short answer is NO and here is why not.

1.    Cost: Golf equipment prices are generally lower in the USA, Europe, and Australia as compared to Thailand. This is due largely to the import duties on sports equipment. However, golf consumables and apparel like gloves, hats, bags, shirts, and towels are all very reasonably priced in Thailand. These all make great presents for yourself or your friends at home, so stock up during your Thailand golf trip.

2.    Selection: There are around 1 Million Thai golfers which makes the local market only a fraction of the size of the USA (20 Million), Europe (10 Million), or even Australia (2 Million). The selection of makes and models on offer here are more limited than you will find at home. Unless it is a special Asian brand that is not sold in your home country, then I suggest selecting the exact make and model you prefer at a golf store near where you live.

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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.

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How To Organize A Successful Group Thailand Golf Trip (Part 3 of 3)

How To Organize A Successful Group Thailand Golf Trip (Part 3 of 3)

Thialand GolfersIn my last 2 articles I covered the first 4 steps towards a successful group Thailand golf trip. They were group leader and date and location selection along with requesting quotations. Here are the final 2 steps.

5. Communicate and Build Consensus

After you’ve gotten the Thailand golf package quote(s), distribute the information to your group and call a meeting to discuss (maybe over a beer after next Saturday’s round).  Then it’s time to build consensus – sometimes easy / sometimes difficult.  The consensus may be ‘let’s go with it’, or it may be ‘we need to request some changes/options, get another quote and have another meeting’.  This is a KEY time.  The importance of giving everyone a chance to share opinions, and directing the group toward building a consensus cannot be overstated.

Also be sure everyone is aware of any terms relating to the Thailand golf tour offer validity, payments and cancellation terms.  If unclear ask your tour operator to provide more information.

Once the itinerary is more or less set, you’ll need to get into details regarding the flights if you have not already done so.   For international flights I find it is almost always best to arrange then in your country of origin for the best prices and options. Don’t be fooled by a local golf tour operator who states differently as he maybe just wanting to make more money from you and not have your best interests in mind.

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How To Organize A Successful Group Thailand Golf Trip (Part 2 of 3)

How To Organize A Successful Group Thailand Golf Trip (Part 2 of 3)

Chiang Rai Golf GroupIn my last article I covered the first 2 steps towards a successful group Thailand golf trip. They were group leader and date selection. Here are the next 2 steps.

3. Pick the Location

Sometimes the group is already set on a particular Thailand golf destination.  Other times the group will be interested in considering alternatives – in that case a discussion is necessary to let everyone view their thoughts in an effort to narrow down the list to a few workable candidates.  Then an ‘assignment’ is made to get more general information on the prime candidate Thai golf destinations – sometimes the group leader does all that himself, though a shared approach also works whereby different members research different locations, perhaps the Thailand golf locations ones they are already familiar with.  Another meeting or two is held to discuss and debate, then make a final decision on Thailand golf holiday location, after which you start working on the itinerary and getting quotes.

Here are four things to consider when choosing location:

a. Accessibility (how far are you willing to travel and how easy is it for the group to get there?)

b. Golf Quality and Quantity within reasonable travel time of hotel(s), typically 1 hour or less for most groups

c. Golf & Thailand Golf Resort Price Ranges (note: price can reflect land and construction costs as much or even more than quality, so don’t mistakenly assume more expensive means better.)

d. Off course preferences (beaches, nightlife, spas, shopping, culture and sightseeing, peace and relaxation, … different groups obviously have different preferences … this aspect can have a big impact on the overall success of the Thailand golf trip and should not be overlooked)

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