If you’ve never thought of Thailand as a golf destination, perhaps you should. Your experience will be unlike anywhere else you’ve visited thanks to the country’s beliefs and customs. Surely it will be something you’ll never forget.
There are over 260 golf courses in Thailand, scattered throughout major destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket, to name a few. And all of the courses are designed by such famous architects as Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones Jr or golf pros like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. More importantly, all courses are impeccably maintained. Unlike most countries where golf facilities are hit and miss, with some beautifully landscaped and others just barely sustained, Thailand will impress you by the way every single course is impeccably maintained.
This is a place that prides itself on its golf facilities, tourism industry, and general cleanliness, so you can be assured of outstanding course layouts, views, and resources that include among other things, upscale restaurants and bars. Additionally, you’ll find superior locker rooms, many of which offer spa services including massage. You’ll even receive a plush towel and a locker in which you will find a grocery list of toiletries to use in the shower, including soap, deodorant, and a toothbrush.
Typically, green fees in Thailand range from $50 to $200 USD depending on the location. Obviously, well-known tourist destinations, such as Phuket, tend to lean toward higher fees. But no matter where you go, all clubs keep the golfer’s comfort in mind with doting caddies and several refreshment outlets peppered throughout the course. No doubt the abundance is to help golfers combat the tropical climate of extremely hot and humid weather creating a situation where rehydration is an absolute must. A word of warning though, if you plan on drinking water, be sure that it’s bottled. Like many places throughout the world, it is not advised to drink tap water in Thailand.
With golf regarded as an upper-class sport where players are deserving of the best, Thailand has you covered when it comes to making you feel like a king… or a queen… the second you arrive.
So, to ensure your experience is the best it can be, they have a few rules to abide by. For example:
Caddies are a MUST
In Canada, the US, and the Caribbean, only certain courses require the player to use a caddie. In Thailand, it’s mandatory for every course. However, it’s actually cheap and payable with your green fee, and possibly also your cart fee if the course is one that requires a cart. Either way, you won’t be driving it – your female caddie will. That’s right, all caddies are female, between the ages of 18 and mid-50s, and, due to licensing, it’s compulsory that they take the wheel. If after 9 holes you’re not happy with the caddie assigned to you, it’s acceptable to ask for another. Just remember that tipping is expected so you would be tipping 2 ladies instead of just one if you decide to make a switch.
Don’t Touch the Ball
In addition to your caddie driving the cart, it’s also up to her to deal with your ball and tee – you likely will not touch either for the duration of your game. For golfers that prefer to control their experience, this aspect of playing in Thailand might be a little too much for you to handle. But if you give it a chance you just might discover that its a nice change of pace to have someone else tee up your ball, collect the tee afterward, mark the ball on the green, remove the pin, and remove the ball from the hole and take it to the next tee. Certainly, this is a great way to play if you suffer from back issues because you can avoid constant bending. But just in case you do develop some stiffness, the caddie will even massage your back and shoulders. Yes, these ladies are in a position of complete servitude, all with the goal of giving you the best golf experience of your life.
Be Prepared to Wait
Golf courses in Thailand tend to get quite backed up, such that it’s normal to have to wait for 12 to 18 people in front of you, all packed into 2 or 3 carts with a forecaddie overseeing everyone. If you find yourself in a situation such as this, try to remain calm and patient. It’s just the way it is and playing through is not an option.
Practice for hazards of water, water, and more water
Amidst all the beautiful landscaping is an abundance of water — ponds, rivers, streams, or lakes, all of which are hazards and will anxiously swallow your ball. Although the caddies are known to assist in finding balls along tree lines, it’s much more difficult, if not impossible to locate balls underwater, obviously. So it’s best to take plenty of golf balls with you to avoid running out.
If you go, be sure to hit up the very best courses. We suggest:
- Black Mountain – Hua Hin
- Siam Country Club – Pattaya
- Thai Country Club – Bangkok
All 3 of these courses are shown within the article, plus Black Mountain is featured in the lead photo.