By: Claudio DeMarchi
How can one not fall in love or for some in lust with such a simple yet modern and oh so inexpensive destination. In fact, things are so inexpensive that I have promised myself that when I come back to Thailand, I will not have a suitcase full of clothes for the journey over, but I will certainly have one for the journey back. This Traveling Golfer will be going on a shopping rampage.
If you read Part 1 of Anita’s and my Thai adventure, you will know that part of our group (Including Anita and our fellow Canadian Jim Deeks from Fairways Magazine) have ventured off to Phuket and Chan Mai. As for me, I was on my way to Bangkok, the steamy hot capital of Thailand and the resort town of Hua Hin.
If you are thinking about a visit to Thailand be prepared for some heat. Temperatures for the most part during the days can range from mid-80s to mid-90s, but of course there were many days where the temperatures went well over 100 degrees. Speaking of heat, if you think that some of the foods we call hot here in North America pack a punch, well you are in for a whole new degree of hot. I kind of found out the hard way, but I have to admit I did enjoy it. And yes, there is a hot night life, but then you have heard that all before so let’s move on!
There is something magical and compelling about water and Bangkok. Maybe it’s because so much of city’s everyday life is revolved around the Chao Phraya River and the many lively canals that crisscross it.
We had the opportunity to travel the River on route to the Grand Palace – a must visit for all. Afterwards we explored the canal system and you will be amazed by what you will find. A number of aquatic supermarkets float by and you can pick up a roasted chicken for that night’s dinner among other Thai delicacies. Tourists and industry float by each other in the world’s most visited city where children play in the canals, while the mailman delivers, and tourists are feeding the fish. Homes and businesses are built on stilts that line the canals you can even pick up a coffin – yes a coffin!
I could go on and on about Bangkok but we do need to get to the golf so if this clip does not sell you on visiting Bangkok nothing will. Please have a look…
There was no Tiger at the Thai Country Club, although we did see his locker at the club he calls home. On the other hand, I had my own tigresses to contend with that day, five of them in fact. My two playing partners Yasuko from Golf Digest Japan and Catherine from Golf Digest China and of course our three female caddies. Poor me!
Fon was my favorite caddy of the trip by far, we had a lot of fun with the three of them and they know their way around the course too! She fixed my divots, raked the bunkers, and gave me excellent advice. I was amazed at how quickly she picked up on my club selection. She was also my #1 cheerleader for the day. Fon was tiny enough to fit in my suitcase, but her husband who also worked at the course was not willing to go along with that.
Thai Country Club is a very prestigious club. In the past, it has played host to the 1997 Asian Honda Classic and the Volvo Masters – Asia from 2005 to 08. In the Best of Thailand Golf Guide it is written… “The members contend that golf here is a religious experience and they genuflect at the opportunity to putt at the altar of expectation.”
Conditioning as you might expect is immaculate from tee to green and the clubhouse is nothing short of palatial. Memorable par 3’s, plenty of water, an abundance of white sand bunkers, and lots of palm trees will make you think that you are in the Caribbean.
Make sure you have at least one meal at the clubhouse, you will not regret it, and you will be made to feel like you are king or queen of the castle. www.thaicountryclub.com
Suwan Golf & Country Club was a stopping point for us and located just about an hour west of Bangkok. The regal Oceanside resort town of Hua Hin is considered the resort capital of Thailand. Two things immediately stand out about the Suwan setting, the mountain vistas in the distance and that you have to contend with water on pretty much every hole.
The course itself is one tough track. From the white tees, it is rated at 70.9 and sloped at 132 with a yardage of 6,400. Nothing much in the way of elevation change, but there are several doglegs to contend with along with strategically placed bunkers and water, lots and lots of water! Meticulously maintained as we found with all the courses we played in Thailand, the par 3’s standout. www.suwangolf.com
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If you are looking to hang out with the rich and famous in Thailand, Hua Hin might just be the spot. After all, Thai Royalty has been using this place as an ideal getaway from the sultry metropolis of Bangkok since the 1920’s. It was here that I would say I found my favorite Thai Golf Course – the Black Mountain Golf Club. I guess I must have some taste in golf courses, in 2007 it was named “Best New Course in Asia Pacific” and in 2009, it was crowned “Best Championship Golf Course in Thailand” by Asian Golf Monthly Magazine. Black Mountain is also the first course in Thailand to make the Golf Digest list of “Top 100 Courses outside of the USA.”
Needless to say, the Black Mountain Golf Club is the most demanding course in Thailand. With six sets of tees, golfers of all skill levels will find the course quite enjoyable. As with all the Thai courses, Black Mountain was in immaculate condition featuring spectacular vistas courtesy of the beautiful mountain setting. This is a must stop for any avid golfer visiting Thailand. www.blackmountainhuahin.com
Another of Thailand’s finest is the Banyan Golf Club Resort, just minutes outside of Hua Hi. The all-encompassing Resort is an ideal setting for golfers and their families. Set in a beautifully landscaped environment, the resort offers luxurious one and two bedroom villas, tropical gardens, infinite swimming pools, recreational activities, a Spa and five-star dining opportunities.
A most challenging course is set in the backdrop of Burmese Mountains and the Gulf of Siam. Elevation changes, undulations, side hill, uphill and downhill lies pretty much on every shot. A couple of holes feature double dog legs and an array of creeks ponds and bunkers are temptations for your every shot! Four sets of tees this course stretches back to 7,300 yards with a masculine slope rating of 137. Picking the right set of tees here is most important in enjoying your day. www.banyanthailand.com
Thailand is ready to welcome you, are you ready for Thailand? For more information on visiting Thailand www.tourismthailand.org
There are a number of flight options to get you to Bangkok. We were guests of EVA Air www.evaair.com on our junket. The return trip is about $1,600.00 for economy class seats, but for another $800,00 you can upgrade to first class which will make the journey much more rewarding – believe me!
You can also check out Expedia and be amazed at the air and hotel combo packages that you will find.