Here is a trip report from Graham Sampson, one of only a few professional PGA golf instructors in Northern Thailand.
Santiburi Country Club in Chiang Rai recently hosted the Singha Thailand PGA Championship. The new Asian Tour event was presented by the Sports Authority of Thailand. Most golfers that have played Santiburi consider it one of the best golf courses in Asia, both in condition and challenge. For the event Santiburi grew the rough to U.S. Open type length and narrowed the fairways. It’s remarkable that the winning 72 hole score was 21 under par, by Korea’s Mo Joong-Kyung. It snapped a 12 year winning drought for the 36 year old. The sweet swinging Philippines rising star Juvic Pagunsan finished second at 18 under.
The great aspect of attending an Asian Tour event in Thailand compared to a U.S. or European event is the lack of large crowds and the ability to watch the players close up. Santiburi not only offered free admission, but also complimentary Singha bottled water and beer throughout the course every day. The intimate setting and the quality of the players makes attending one of these events very enjoyable.
In sharp contrast to an event I’ve attended for many years in Arizona, the Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale. At the TPC you park miles away from the clubhouse, wait in line for a bus and then walk hundreds of yards just to get through the gate for the privilege of paying $2.50 for bottled water.
I’m asked all the time why I relocated to Thailand to teach golf? Great food at reasonable prices, friendly people, incredible weather and overall quality of life are just a few examples that I give. Whether you’re planning a golf vacation or considering a golf retirement location, Thailand, the land of smiles is hard to beat.