Golf Courses In Pattaya
Golf is to Pattaya what football is to the English –Golfing in Thailand is an utterly essential component of the economic and social fabric, where it seems that just about everyone – regardless of age, nationality or natural talent – loves golfing in Thailand. Throw in a beach setting, a vibrant and often raunchy nightlife, an abundance of cheap hotels, and many great courses offering cheaper than cheap green fees, and you have what adds up to one of the most unique golfing destinations in the world.
There are enough golfers in Pattaya to support many local golfing societies, generally centred around the pubs, and supported by both the print media and the local cable television network. The big dog in the pack, however, is the Pattaya Sports Club, which has over 9,000 members and uses its clout to negotiate even further discounts from the clubs. If you are going to be in Pattaya for a week or more, join. It’s cheap and you get your money back in savings generally after one or two rounds.
If you are down midweek and are looking for a game, check in the Pattaya Mail newspaper to find out where Lewinskiis, The Haven, Café Kronborg, Three Sisters or any one of the other groups is running an event – there is literally something taking place every day of the week. There are also many charity events that attract over 100 golfers each time.
What makes the Pattaya area courses great are the layouts, many of which are situated on hillsides and offer challenging and panoramic terrain. However, the cheap green fees are often a double-edged sword, with maintenance budgets suffering during low season. The result is that a course can be great today and lousy next month, and as a result, the locals at the various golf societies and the PSC can give you the most current updates on where are the best places to play.
Once you get outside of Bangkok and cross the Bangpakong River, you hit a virtual non-stop continuum of golf courses starting with Shadow Mountain and Bangpoo, past the on-again/off-again Sri Racha and the steady, award-winning Laem Chabang, through Pattaya’s Siam CC and Phoenix GC and down past Ban Chang’s Eastern Star and Century GC. Take your Pattaya Sports Club card or call to check current promotion prices, and be sure to use the word “Promotion”, since they won’t offer it up freely.
Here’s a list from GolfBreaks.com of Thailand’s Best Courses for Golfing In Thailand
Golf Courses in Bangkok – Golfing In Thailand
Without a doubt, Bangkok is a great golfing town by anybody’s standards. There are many courses within a one-hour drive from the city centre in literally every direction, and if you live down the Bangna-Trad corridor you will find yourself spoiled for choice.
Expect to find yourself playing on fairly wide, flat terrain, as Bangkok is built on a delta, with many dips and bumps in the terrain having been deliberately put there by the designer. The courses have been built with the weekend warrior in mind and as a result, the fairways are fairly forgiving on many courses, and water is often a design item rather than a hazard.
Rather than rattling off the praises of the same top 10 courses that the TAT and other websites espouse, here are a few “sleepers” that we love for various reasons.
Bangsai: don’t look at the map – this course is 45 minutes from downtown Bangkok on a highway that gets very little traffic. It is a magnificent little track, lovingly built and operated by the family that owns the land. Great layout and very testing, with lots of dips and rises, every one of them deliberately put there. Always in great condition.
Unico: This used to be a goat track, and is still not up to the standards of other Bangkok courses. However, with narrow tree and water-lined fairways, small greens and nasty little bunkers this course is a real test of accuracy and patience for the weekend warrior. Management seems to be paying more attention and renovations to upgrade the course are underway. It is centrally located and fairly cheap, with a great caddy crew.
Krung Kavee: This course is easily accessible and is a pleasant surprise with a small, cosy clubhouse and laid-back attitude. The course is adequate and has a number of very pleasant holes. Although it is a bit over-forgiving in spots, there are enough teeth to make for a reasonable challenge.
In Bangkok, the nexus of golf has to be Thaniya Plaza, a 4-floor smorgasbord of equipment and golf accessories located just off Silom Road. One of our favourite places here is Macdonald Golf on the 3rd Floor, where Khun Ae and her team will custom-build you a set of clubs in an hour, and fix up just about anything you can break. Heartland Golf School also has its offices here and it may be worth checking yourself and your kids into one of the many programs they offer.
Golf Courses in Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai
Going to the north of Thailand is always special, as the air is often cooler, and the courses are generally wound in through the hills, offering great layouts, challenging holes and spectacular scenery. The area these are spread over is pretty wide, so plan on staying for a while and plan on playing a couple of courses a few times, unless you are prepared to do a lot of driving.
This is also a very interesting part of the world culturally, so you may wish to make it a region-wide trip, staying in a few different places and maybe even crossing into Burma near Tak.
Some of the places up here are simply spectacular golf courses – such as Green Valley, Waterford and Santiburi, which combine great layouts and design with excellent maintenance and superb service to provide a complete, all-around experience. There are also a few new courses that have been developed – Gassan and Mae Jo among them.
The biggest trend in the northern region of Thailand is the development of spas, which are packaged together and aimed at the non-golfing partner – newer properties such as Gassan are clearly targeted on this, and provide a full resort and spa facility.
As for golf, one of our personal fun game favourites is the Bhumibol Dam course, which is a municipal course near Tak that was developed and is maintained by the Electrical Generating Authority of Thailand, one of the largest golf course owners in the country. Like many of the other EGAT courses, the Bhumibol Dam layout is situated on expropriated floodplain land downstream from a hydro dam.
With green fees set at about Baht 400 (US$10) on weekends, this has got to be one of the most fun rounds of golf you can have. The course is way down the scale on conditioning, but with an even balance of six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s it makes for a whole lot of fun on a track that takes you up, down, sideways, and around. Make no mistake – this is a tough track, and if it was owned by the private sector it would be championship calibre.
Golf Courses in Phuket & Krabi & Samui
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, situated 850 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, has for many years been considered a golfer’s paradise. Its lovely beaches, beautiful scenery, exotic nightlife and more than a few golf courses in and around the island make it an ideal holiday for golfers and non-golfers alike.
The latest addition to Phuket’s golfing scene is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, situated some 30 kilometres N.E. from Patong Beach ( which is the most popular resort town on the island) on the East coast.
The only drawback to this course, apart from cost – 4,500 Baht – green fees, buggy and caddie) is its newness; it will need a few years to mature. Having said that it is a lovely course to play with its generally wide fairways (thus pretty forgiving for us not-so-straight hitters !!!) and moderately benign greens. The major hazard on the course is sand (either bunkers or “waste” land) with water in play, in only about a third of the holes.
I can attest to this as the last time I played it only three balls were lost in the wet stuff !!!. Being right on the coast, the wind plays an important role especially on the long, par 4, 12th (HS1) which plays like a par 5 on a good day.
Another great course to play, aside from Blue Canyon, Loch Palm and Banyan Tree, is Phuket Country Club (P.C.C.) Old course, about 10 kilometres East from Patong. This is a fairly tight course with some tricky greens. Water, bunkers, trees and OB are hazards on most of the holes!!!!!. Uniquely (as far as I know) this course offers the possibility of a double albatross on the par 5, 10th hole.
This is by virtue of the hole following clockwise around a lake in a large arc. With an elevated teeing area all you have to do is aim 90 degrees right of the fairway, wind up the big dog, carry over 200 plus yards of water avoiding slung power lines and land it on the green (or ace it for your double albatross) – easy game this golf! One of the best value for money courses in the P.C.C. New course. This lovely 9-hole course has water in play for every hole as it meanders around a lake, and a round of 18 holes is only 990 Baht in green fees (750 Baht for 9 holes).
Just north of Phuket on the 4 is the Thai Muang G.C., a pleasant 18-hole links course and even further up the coast is the newly renovated (it was severely damaged in the 2004 Tsunami) Royal Thai Navy G.C. at Tublamu. As with all military courses in Thailand (majority open to the public), they offer cheap and cheerful golf, with some very good courses amongst the average. I played pre-Tsunami and it was quite a tricky 18-hole links course.
Golf Courses On Koh Samui
The island of Koh Samui is situated in the Gulf of Thailand about 20 kilometres off the East coast of Suratthani province and is 700 kilometres south of Bangkok. The one and only (to date) course on the island, which is reflected in its cost, is the Santiburi Country Club. This course opened in late 2003. To paraphrase Dickens, this is “a tale of two nines”.
The outward 9 holes are, in a relative sense, medium to hard and the homeward nine are just as hard, mainly because you are going up then down the mountain, where you feel it’s not soft spikes and a loft wedge you need, but crampons and an alpenstock !. As you might have gathered this is a tight course where the main hazards are the rough, the slopes of the mountain and some well-sited greenside bunkers. Water doesn’t really come into play except I’ve lost a few balls with a wayward hook in the reservoir bordering the par 5, 9th.
Local rules allow distance with penalty drop for wayward shots, this is mainly to stop you looking for your ball up or down the steep slopes avoiding injury and maybe a brush with the local long and skinny legless wildlife! Once you’re on the green, then the troubles start. Some of the greens are 2- or 3-tiered and all are extremely hard to read, optical illusions abound. You can be convinced it’s a downhill left to right but it plays uphill right to left; this is when a good caddy is worth her weight in Singha.
The general rule of thumb is into the mountain uphill and vice versa. After the slog, the 19th hole, after a suitably relaxing hot shower, offers glorious views of the sea and over to the island of Koh Phangan, as of course do many of the holes, as you sip your cold beer and count the cost of all those lost balls. Do not be put off, if you play golf, you have got to play this course, with its magnificent views, vast altitude changes and nasty greens it’s one of the most challenging courses in Thailand, if not the Far East.
Both these courses can be played on a day trip from Samui, the military course is about an hours drive from Donsak (the mainland ferry terminal) and the EGAT course is about a one and a half hour’s drive. Or why not play both with an overnight in Suratthani? Or even play Rajjaprabha Dam twice with an overnight at the course, though it is in the middle of nowhere, so don’t expect too much nightlife!
Golf Courses in Southern Thailand
In Suratthani province, around the principal city of Suratthani, 650 kilometres South of Bangkok, there are two courses (not counting the Santiburi G.C. on Samui), the Vipavadee – Rangsit G.C., a military 9-hole course of the Suratthani ring road and Rajjaprahba Dam G.C., an 18-hole course run by EGAT (Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand). The military course is c&c; (cheap and cheerful) and can be very testing, especially when the wind gets up in the afternoon, fairways are more like weekdays but at the cost of 300 Baht green fees, it’s hard to complain.
The best value for money is the EGAT course about 70 kilometres West of Suratthani in Khao Sok National park. It is set in a valley with a dam as a backdrop and has some great holes, especially the par 3, 15th with its island green and elevation drop from the tee. This is a very challenging course and great value for money at 500 Baht green fees. The quality of the course can vary, but this is true in most courses. Don’t be surprised if you get stuck behind an eight ball !.
Further South, 900 kilometres South of Bangkok, lies Songkhla province, which is rich in courses, mainly around the city of Hat Yai. The best one in the area, and my personal favourite, is Southern Hills Golf and Country Club which I play every time I do a border run to Malaysia, as it lies 15 kilometres from Hat Yai on the road to Sadao (border town). Be prepared to lose a few balls in the water, as there is a lot of it, especially on the back nine.
The par 3, 17th has swallowed more than one ball, as it’s a long carry over water to what seems like a postage stamp island green, what a gorgeous hole! Green fees are about 1,000 Baht, but on sports days, Tuesdays (18 holes) and Wednesdays (unlimited) the green fees are 500B. Go early as it can get very busy.
The Hat Yai Resort and G.C., about 30 kilometres West of Hat Yai is worth a visit and again can get quite crowded. Another course, though strictly not in Thailand is the Black Forest, in no-man’s land at Sadao, this is a bog-standard 18 hole course with generous fairways. In Hat Yai, itself is another military course, though I’ve never played it. In Songkhla city, 30 kilometres East of Hat Yai, a fishing port and small oilfield town, is the Thong Yai G.C, at Simila Beach.
This 9 hole course is c&c; (2-300 Baht green fees for 18 holes) and is quite a tight wee course. It makes a pleasant afternoon stroll, especially with the afternoon breeze. Songkhla itself has some good hotels, and plenty of western-style bars, unlike Hat Yai, which only has a few, along with an interesting “dark side”. As it is off the main tourist path, it has a nice relaxed atmosphere, at times almost a sleepy backwater, which does make a change in Thailand.
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