Here is the first in a series about famous golf course architects and their activities in Thailand.
Pete Dye, through Dye Designs Inc., is associated with three golf courses in Thailand: Subhapruek Golf Club in Bangkok, Khao Kheow Country Club in Pattaya, and Thai Muang Beach Resort in Phuket.
All three feature Pete Dye trademarks: tough par 4’s (especially the closing holes) where you need to hit straight, tricky par 3’s, the subtle use of water hazards and, of course, the railway sleepers (tires) in and around the bunkers.
Pete Dye is reputed to have never finished a golf course. His courses may be open to play, they may host major championships, but he continually returns to these famous designs to fine-tune them – improving the playability for the typical resort player while ratcheting them up for the tour professional.
For example, Pete Dye has returned three times since 1991 to "tweak" the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Ocean Course, the site of the Ryder Cup’s "War by the Shore", and of this year’s Senior US PGA Championship.
This is also the case for two of his three Thailand golf courses. Subhapruek opened in 1993 and was formerly known as Bangna Country Club. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 1995 graciously bestowed the name Subhapruek which literally means beautiful plants. The course and clubhouse became a little shabby, but have both been very much improved in the past year or so. Further developments are in hand, including the building of new tees.
Considerable work in recent times has also gone into making the 27-hole Khao Kheow a very fine, championship standard course with the A-B courses likely to be the venue in the future for an Asian PGA event. These developments have not altered the nature of the courses. They have just fine-tuned them to make them better. While they are eminently playable to the average resort guest, they remain extremely challenging to even the most seasoned pro.
It only remains for Thai Muang to have an uplift, which I hope will happen sooner rather than later, as it is very fine design, one of my golf favorite courses in Phuket.
On your next golfing holiday in Thailand, try to play at least one of these Pete Dye masterpieces – you will be glad you did.