Perhaps surprisingly, Nick Faldo’s contribution to golfing in Thailand is relatively sparse and, maybe like his career, somewhat controversial. So far he has been associated with only three golf courses in Thailand.
Century Rayong , Banchang to the locals, was designed by Faldo on a piece of property which makes every hole spectacular from the tee. Although not long on the score card, 6,048 off the white tees, the elevation changes add to the difficulty in club selection. You never seem to have a flat lie. The four par three holes will make you think and challenge you on both short and long shots. Century Golf Club was one of the premier golf courses in the Pattaya area when it came on line in 1992 and it still remains a favorite among locals. While green fees are among the least expensive in the area (probably why locals like it so much), poor management have led to steadily declining conditions at Century Rayong. With so many modern Pattaya golf courses in top form, the Century Rayong golf course is hardly worth playing anymore.
Situated on Dok Krai reservoir’s banks, also near Pattaya is the Great Lake Golf & Country Club. Although the club could have easily relied on Dok Krai’s water for its natural hazards, Faldo has also incorporated an astonishing 120 bunkers into its design — eleven of which can be found along the par-four 18th, the course’s most famous hole. Lakes, ponds and streams still feature throughout and plenty of shade to be found among the natural foliage.
Suffering a similar fate as it’s sister course in Rayong, the originally splendid course does not belong to the top range of Pattaya golf courses anymore. The fairways and rough areas are quite dry and the greens are not in best condition, The club house, which used to be a top draw is also in a state of disrepair.
The Summit Windmill Golf Club is easily the best Faldo Design in Thailand . The golf course one of the most challenging layouts in Bangkok, yet, despite its difficulty, it continues to remain an attraction for all types of golfers. The 1st and 18th Par 5’s are two signature holes where the course challenge is well exemplified. The 1st hole is a long 624 yards, even by today’s standards, and the 18th is an exciting finishing hole that can provide some dramatic endings to any round. The layout is split into six different parts by lakes and there are sixteen water holes on the course.
Make sure you play from the set of tees most suited to your level of play or you’ll be in for a rough day. The black championship tees in particular are set on their own island teeing areas and are placed at very different and more difficult angles than the other tees. Although Summit Windmill was designed by Faldo, apparently, he demanded that his name be removed from all references to the course. As I understand it, this was after the owners made substantial changes to the course after it opened – including planting trees and bushes in the long waste areas which Faldo had designed as they were not pleasing to Thai golfers’ eyes! If any body knows anything different from this, please let me know.
Now for today’s secret, which was impressively guessed in advance by Bangkok Jack? Interestingly enough, none of the Thailand golf courses described above feature on the official Faldo Design website and it is rumored that Faldo himself took his name off the courses after getting into specific disagreements with the owners of each project. TIT!