Here are my rankings on the golfing in these 2 countries on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best.
Portugal (9): Even though there are only 70 golf courses Portugal is one of Europe’s best golf destinations. The Algarve region is the most famous golfing area and the best course there is Victoria Golf Vilamoura, home of the 2013 Portugal Golf Masters and tour stop for the European Tour. However, my course in Portugal is the Seve Ballesteros designed Porto Santo. This traditional links course plays along the Atlantic Ocean and is as good as golf gets!
Thailand (7): There is good golf cross the country with most of best courses in Thailand in and around Bangkok, Pattaya, and Hua Hin. Thai Country Club has hosted more professional golf events than any other Thai golf course. Black Mountain Golf Club is the only golf course in Thailand to be rated in the top 100 courses outside the USA by Golf Digest.
Portugal (6): The golf in Portugal is good, but don’t expect much in the way of service on the golf course. There are no caddies, hardly any Portuguese play golf, and it is very difficult to find Portuguese workers who have a service mindset. However, the golf resorts in Portugal can be excellent. My most memorable experience was at the Four Seasons Country Club, Quinta do Lago.
Thailand (10): Service, hospitality, and Thailand are synonymous with each other and golf is no exception. Thais golf as much as the visitors and you can always meet friendly locals on the golf course. Caddies are standard at all Thailand golf courses and will be missed by every visiting golfer on their first round back home.
Golfing Experience (25%)
Portugal (8): Portugal enjoys a pleasant climate that makes most of the year good for a golf holiday. Sunny days prevail from March to mid-December. The main golf areas are good for relaxing on the beach, while the cities, especially Lisbon, provide for good culture and entertainment options.
Thailand (10): Interesting Thai culture, excellent attractions, and world renowned nightlife ensure a great time off the course. Golf in A Kingdom is all about the Thai golf experience. For example, try a foot massage after golf. After all, it is only $10 US and can be found on practically every street corner.
Value For Money (20%)
Portugal (6): Golf in Portugal can be expensive with green fees at the better courses commonly over $150 US a round. Nowadays however, many golf tour operators offer stay-and-play packages at very affordable prices as the market is quite competitive and golfers have so many destinations to select from.
Thailand (8): It is true that green fees at Thailand golf courses are higher than they used to be. One round of golf at a top Thailand golf course such as Siam Country Club in Pattaya can set you back $175 US including caddie fees and tips. Fortunately everything else in Thailand is reasonably priced. Resorts, transportation, food and drink are priced less than most other premium golf destinations.
Overall Verdict (100%)
Portugal (7.40): Portugal is a top golf destination and in fact it is my favorite place to golf in all of continental Europe. The weather is excellent, courses are varied and for the most part of high quality, and the cities are packed with things to do and see.
Thailand (8.70): Thailand and Portugal are both high quality, albeit very different golf destinations. For shirt trips Portugal cannot be beat. For a unique golf experience with world-class service and enjoyment, Thailand is the undisputed leader.
Stay tuned for the next world golf challenge to see how Thailand stacks up against other golf destinations. Let me know if you want to see your country included in my survey.
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