Thai golf course designers create fair, but challenging courses. However, the Thai superintendents sometimes play tricks on you, especially with tee boxes. I have seen at least one and in most cases up to 50% of tee boxes on golf courses in Thailand be aligned to the out-of-bounds or hazard rather than the fairway.
Take for example the Canyon Course at Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket. Look at where the tees point on hole 11, straight into the woods on the left side. Then take hole 14. Yes that is the par 3 that is in practically every advertisement about golf in Thailand. On that hole it is hard enough hitting onto the island green. Why does the course superintendent insist on placing the tee markers so that a straight shot will fly well left of the green and right into the lake?
This is not the only example. I was playing at Phoenix Golf Club in Pattaya last week and no sooner did my foursome get to the first tee of the Mountain Course then I found the tee markers aimed way to the right and into the fairway of the ninth hole. This was a poor start indeed.
There's nothing in the rules of golf that says course superintendents must help you. The way a superintendent mows the grass doesn't always give you a true aim down the course for example, so why should the tee markers? Take some time to study the hole before teeing off to assess the situation and select the true target line.
Also, pick out a specific target on the fairway. Align your feet, hips, and shoulders to the target. Then, align your clubface to it. Visualize the flight path needed to hit the target before swinging.
In addition, stay within yourself when teeing off. Golfers in Thailand often overswing trying to hit a bomb from the tee. It's nice to belt out a deep drive, but it's more important to be accurate than long, especially if deep Zoysia grass rough borders the fairway like at Thai Country Club in Bangkok.
Aim and alignment are most important in Thailand. A bomb off the tee can cost you strokes if you're not aligned properly. Take a few extra seconds to determine the best line for your shot. Don't be fooled by things like the angle or the shape of the tee boxes or the mowing pattern on the fairway.
In summary, here are five tips on overcoming a Thai golf course superintendent’s tee box tricks:
1. Assess the situation carefully. Do the tees point into the fairway?
2. Pick out a specific target in the fairway: not necessarily where the tees point.
3. Align feet, hips, and shoulders to the target.
4. Align your clubface to the target line
5. Stay within yourself. Don’t worry if your feet are not square with the tees.