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).
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.
Golfing Experience (25%)
Cambodia (6): Golfing in Cambodia is best from November to March when the weather is drier. Other times of the year can be wet, although showers last only 1 hour and mainly occur late in the afternoon. Experiences on the courses are good with many drink stations and well-marked signage.
Thailand (10): The Thai Golf Experience is hard to describe. Take my word for it and give it a try. I guarantee you have not experienced anything like it. Anything and everything is possible when you golf in the Kingdom of Thailand.
Value For Money (20%)
Cambodia (6): Golf in Cambodia is fairly pricey. Green fees run around $100 US Dollars a round. Caddie and cart fees, transportation to/from the courses, and tips also need to be factored into the costs. Hotel costs range from $20 US Dollar guest houses to $300 US Dollar a night 5-star resorts.
Thailand (8): An overall Thailand golf vacation is affordable as hotels, entertainment, and food are all reasonably priced. Green fees start at $20 US Dollars a round at countryside courses (Khao Yai and Kanchanaburi) and go up to $200 US Dollars (Red Mountain). To get the best deals buy a package with golf, hotel, and transfers from a licensed golf tour operator.
Overall Verdict (100%)
Cambodia (6.5): Golf in Cambodia is still in its infancy. As such Cambodia is not a golf destination in itself, but best combined with a golf trip to a nearby country like Vietnam.
Thailand (8.7): Thailand wins over Cambodia as it is a mature golf destination, offers good value-for-money, and has service that is cannot be beaten.
Stay tuned for the next world golf challenge to see how Thailand stacks up against other golf destinations. Let me know if you want to see your country included in my survey.