Constant upgrading continues at Muang Kaew Golf Club and it will be interesting to see how the course copes with the addition of the new motorway which cuts right through the course. Scheduled to open in 2008, the freeway will complete the western out ring road around Bangkok allowing for through traffic to bypass the city. Hopefully, for those of us golfing in Bangkok, this will reduce the traffic in the city center. However, I am not holding my breath.
Muang Kaew Golf Club is one of the closest courses to Bangkok city, thus getting heavy local play. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Muang Kaew from any hotel in downtown Bangkok so the course is popular with tourists as well.
Schmidt Curley Golf Design from the USA was called in a few years back to take over course redesign work and the result from this previously flat and boring rice patty (see photo) type course is a quite playable layout with many strategically placed fairway bunkers and well guarded elevated greens. In fact it is the greens, which almost all tend to be surrounded by deep bunkers and crowned at the top, that make the current course design particularly challenging.
Of all the holes, I like the 8th, a superb Par 4 of 414 yards in length. It doglegs right, around an intimidating lake. Hitting over the lake will considerably shorten the hole, but it’s not really necessary unless you are striking the ball well that day and are supremely confident in your driving. A safe play is to aim for the 150 yard marker on the left side of the fairway. The challenge is that if you hit too far left you’ll be out of bounds, or at best blocked by trees. From the white tees, it is possible to take a real tiger line over the water. This will leave you with a wedge into the green but again, it’s not really the play, especially with so much room on the left side. The green is raised, so any shot that flirts with the side of the green, will most likely run down into the collection areas and leave you and very difficult chip shot back up to the green.
If you happen to get in one of the deep green side bunkers on this particular hole, you won’t be able to see the putting surface. What makes it even more difficult, is the green is hard and almost 4 clubs from back to front. If the pin is at the front, it’s difficult to get the ball close, even if you’ve got a wedge in your hand.
Another hole that I particularly fancy at Muang Kaew is the par 5, 570 yard, 13th. This monster is a double dogleg, which has you first hitting right over the fenced in driveway to the course and then left over a large lake guarding the front of the green. The other back nine par 5 is also a favorite and one of Bangkok’s best finishing golf holes. At 541 yards in length the 18th hole at Muang Kaew ends with another elevated green fronted by a man made pond which is invisible from the fairway thus blemishing many otherwise good scores, with a watery ending!
Après golf , the clubhouse is one of the more modest ones in terms of sizes, but the service and design is first class. Try out the clubhouse restaurant, which boasts delicious western food, the toasted Panini sandwiches being my personal favorites!
If anyone has any Muang Kaew golf tales, please feel free to comment here or if you prefer you can contact me at my Thailand golf vacation company.