Teeing It Up In Thailand

This Downhill Par 3 Over Water Is Just One Of The Quality Holes You'll Find At The Laem Chabang International Country Club Between Pattaya And Chonburi In Thailand - Image Credit Bryan Outram

By Ian Fabian

Those of you who’ve followed golf over the past decade or so have been witness to the “World Player” phenomenon. Golfers from North America travelling to Europe and Asia with regularity; Australian players travelling to the U.S. and Europe and players from Asia travelling to North America and Europe.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s time you broadened your horizons as far as golf destinations go and emulated some of the world class players that we watch on TV. 

My friend and I recently decided to do just that. We packed up our clubs and headed to southeast Asia, specifically - Thailand. 

The two of us have each done the “usual suspects” trips; Palm Springs, Arizona, Mexico and have enjoyed all those destinations. What we both agree on is that you lose a day going and you lose a day coming back regardless of where you’re going.

While the flight out of Vancouver International (YVR) was longer than those destinations, it was no different with travelling to Thailand as far as spending a day each way.

We booked our golf excursion through Golfasian and I’ve honestly never had a more stress-free golf experience. We were initially asked for a “wish list” of courses we might want to play. As I had been to Thailand and played golf there before, I made up the list. All of the courses on our “wish list” were there along with several others of similar quality.

image credit Golfasian/Thai CC

Challenge, Beauty And Pristine Conditions Were Evident At The Thai Country Club And All The Courses We Visited In Thailand

All of our tee-times and transportation were looked after. Our driver showed up at our hotel whether in Bangkok or Pattaya ten to fifteen minutes before our scheduled pick-up time and we always arrived at the course with plenty of time to warm-up.

We met up with Praew Phol-Uayporn, Golfasian's Marketing & Business Development Manager and Sales Manager AJ Easton for a round at Thai Country Club. Praew previously played on the Symetra tour and Canadian Ladies Tour as well as attending university in Florida.

Keeping with the Canadian connection AJ is a Calgary lad who now speaks fluent Thai and hits the ball like a hockey player (which he was) - powerful, long and with a purpose. And he’s left-handed - can’t get much more ‘Canadian’ than that.

 Thai Country Club and indeed all the courses we played were in excellent condition and the facilities were second to none. In Thailand when you book a round of golf you become a ‘member' for the day, including being provided with lockers, showers, shoe cleaning and in some cases saunas; all included in the price of the round.

 Image Credit Bryan Outram

The Female Caddies In Thailand Truly Add To The Experience With Their Attention To Detail, Knowledge, Work Ethic And Often Great Sense Of Humour. Her Shirt Says Her Name Is Joy And She Certainly Was. Kind Of Makes 'Fluff' Cowan Pale In Comparison As A Caddie, Don’t You Think?

I should also mention that the price of your round includes a motorized cart driven by a friendly, female Thai  caddy who not only drives the cart but cleans your clubs, reads your putts for you and rakes the bunkers.

image credit Bryan Outram

The Buddha Mountain Vista Is Part Of The Horizon View Found At Phoenix Gold Golf Course Just Outside Pattaya. It’s Always Best To Pay Homage To The Buddha And His Mountain Before Hitting Any Shot On This Hole.

And before you start imagining that the price of a round of golf must cost a month’s salary, let me assure you that all that I’ve mentioned above is provided for at a cost similar to what you would pay locally in the lower mainland or as a visitor to one of the many top-quality facilities to be found in B.C.

image credit Bryan Outram

The Royal Gems Golf Course Features Replicas Of Many Of The World's Most Famous Holes, Including The Island Green 17th From TPC Sawgrass. Of Course The Real Reason You’re Seeing This Picture Is Because My Friend And I Both Managed To Hit The Green With The Foursome Playing Behind Us As An Audience.

Shopping in Thailand is as simple as it comes. While having a coffee and waiting for the mall to open my friend (first time in Thailand, remember) bought 2 prints, a wallet, a belt he couldn’t figure out how to work and a pair of sunglasses that he never wears. 

All of this courtesy of street vendors who just happened to drop by. Thankfully the mall opened before he purchased a car and a boat. He was, however, ultimately quite pleased with his purchases as were the vendors, to be sure.

image credit Bryan Outram

A Trip To Bangkok In Thailand Just Wouldn't Be Complete Without A Visit To The Grand Palace, One Of The Most Spectacular Sites You Will Ever Encounter

Apart from the golf, the opportunity to experience another culture in its home setting is one that is not to be missed. Both my friend and I have been fortunate enough to have done a fair amount of travelling and we both came to the conclusion that the Thai people are among the most pleasant people we’ve encountered anywhere.

Of course a trip to Thailand is going to come with some questions regarding communication, local customs, where to eat, stay and much more as it does differ to a degree from typical North American destinations.

image credit Bryan Outram

The Waterfront Scene On Beach Road In Pattaya City

If you can take the time to learn even a few simple Thai phrases you'll find it is greatly appreciated and as is the case in many world travel destinations, generally some English is spoken and with some polite and respectful interaction you can get or find what you need. As far as food goes, there are many fine restaurants, we never had one poor experience in that regard. 

You can choose from virtually every style of food you like, be it typical North American favourites, Italian, Indian - almost anything. But if you like Thai food in B.C. you're going to love it here - for obvious reasons, and also it is very inexpensive. 

One observation we made that proved useful was to watch when local hotel or shop staff would rush out of their lobby or store to buy food from a particular street vendor, we knew it had to be good. For what amounted to only a couple of dollars Canadian or not much more, the quality of food and flavours were outstanding. And believe me there is no shortage of street vendors when it comes to food.

image credit Bryan Outram

The Streets In Major Centres In Thailand Are Alive With People, Cars, Motorscooters, Vendors And Much More

Bangkok is truly a massive city and the crowded streets and traffic, which seemed to be going in every direction all the time, certainly drove that point home. But at the same time it became evident to my friend very quickly that nobody appeared to get angry with other drivers or the scooters and motorcyclists, and there were scads of those weaving in and out and around cars and buses like a veritable swarm of bees heading back to their nest. 

It all looked to take place with a minimum of stress, clearly aided by the fact that everybody lets everybody else in all the time. Nobody speeds up to not let the other vehicle into a lane they are trying to get into. It has to be that way or nothing would move. My friend found it fascinating to watch and actually calming to be around once you understood how things operated here.

All in all, as long as one uses a modicum of common sense, this southeast Asian country is a safe and friendly place that offers a multitude of things to experience. One merely needs to decide what they're looking for and chances are you'll find it in Thailand.

In other words, the next time you’re planning to escape the winter doldrums, we highly recommend that you take the “world” rather than “local” view and expand your horizons; you won’t regret it.

Links to information on courses played:

Laem Chabang International Country Club

Royal Gems Golf City - Dream Arena

Thana City Golf & Sports Club

Siam Country Club (Old Course)

Burapha GC

Thai Country Clublub

Phoenix Gold Golf Clublub