Thailand might not be the first country that springs to mind when you think of golfing destinations. But the fact is if you like golf and have never played in Thailand you are really missing out. There are over 30 Thai professional golfers playing on tour at the moment and though the sport is growing, it remains something of an elite/upper-class sport. However, this is what makes golfing in Thailand so much fun. You really are treated like royalty and often will not even touch your golf bag from when you arrive at the club until you get back to your hotel afterwards!
Here’s what you need to know about playing Golf in Thailand!
The courses are PERFECT
In a country where the minimum wage is only $10 per day, it might not be a surprise to learn each course often have a little army of greenkeepers. They ensure every blade of grass is the exact length it’s designed to be and every bunker is perfectly raked throughout the day. It’s as close as most of us will get to playing on a tour prepared course.
The locker rooms would put many 5* hotels to shame
Expect to see marble shower cubicles, hardwood dressing, Egyptian cotton towels. And the best toiletries on the market!
The bars & restaurants in the clubhouses are always top-drawer
Fantastic food, drinks and excellent service.Though comes at a price (relative to your average Thai bar/restaurant).
You have to take a caddie & the caddies are always ladies
There’s around a $10 charge when you pay your green fee for the caddie. And you’re also expected to tip. 300-400 baht is a polite amount to give.
The caddies are usually hired for their looks (and usually look pretty good I have to say), not their golfing knowledge. So only about 1 in 5 might be able to give you usable advice during your round. Though most should be able to give yardages and putting surface break tips.
You probably won’t get to drive the buggy
The golf buggies are only insured if the caddy drives them. So sit back, relax and sip your beer as she drives you around the course.
There’s a lot of other stuff you probably won’t do either
As part of the ‘royal experience,’ the caddies will typically tee your ball up for you and remove the tee after you’ve played your shot. Replace any divots you take. Rake the bunkers after your bunker shots. And they will even hold your beer while you take your shot! When you hit the green they will repair any pitch marks. They will mark your ball, clean and replace it. They will line it up with your required putting line, take the flag out and replace it. And finally, when you hole out they’ll pick the ball up out of the cup and take it to the next tee. And then the whole process starts all over again!
Now, obviously, if you prefer to do some of these things yourself then just let them know and they’ll take a step back. I much prefer to tee it up for myself and to line up my own putts. But I will happily let them replace divots and rake bunkers!
5 & 6 balls are not uncommon
This is probably the only bad thing about playing in Thailand, especially during the weekend. It would not be uncommon to see 6 golf carts on the fairway ahead of you. And sometimes with 6 fore caddies – meaning 18 people in the group!
Also, note that playing through is not a thing. So if you’re stuck behind a 12 – 18 person group just expect to be out there for +5 hours and chill. Crack a few jokes with your caddies, have a few beers and relax.
Bring extra golf balls!
Expect to see A LOT of water hazards on the course. There is on average at least 9 holes where you need to ensure you don’t end up in the drink.
There are many courses to choose from in Thailand but we can help narrow it down for you – here are our top three courses for each of our main travel locations.
Golfing in Bangkok
Alpine Golf Club Bangkok
You’ll find the Alpine Golf club at or near the top of almost any Thai golf review and it’s clear to see why. It gets its name from the undulating landscape (Bangkok, on the whole, is a fairly flat basin). Though the term Alpine is perhaps an overstatement!
Not the longest course you’ll play but the challenge comes from the many water hazards and bunkering along the fairways and surrounding the greens designed to entrap you. The course sits on a generous plot of land meaning most of the holes feel completely separate from the rest of the course. This gives the sensation that you could have the course to yourself (bar groups ahead of you of course).
The island green on the par 5 7th hole is a memorable one. And the way some of the bunkers slowly slope into the water like beaches is also very cool. The course, on the whole, would be most enjoyed by lower handicap players. But the landscape and facilities mean that even higher handicappers will enjoy the trip (just bring extra golf balls).
The clubhouse is also fantastic with a great restaurant and bar to relax in after your round.
Thai Country Club Bangkok
One of Thailand’s most famous courses, partly due to a certain Tiger Woods winning the Honda Classic here in ’97 by 10. The course is still a regular on the Asian tour. That being said, the course is set up such that it can be enjoyed by golfers of all levels, not just low handicappers. If you miss the fairway into the rough you can usually recover the ball with a chip out of the scrub.
The undulating landscape and palm tree ringed water-hazards make this a beautiful course to spend some time on. However, it’s the clubhouse – that has won numerous awards over the years including the ‘Best in Asia’ that is perhaps the unique draw here. Facilities include a sauna, steam rooms and jacuzzies to enjoy and unwind after your round. This is then followed by one of the best bars and restaurants in Thailand.
Subhapruek Golf Club Bangkok
This is a great course to play if you are new to golf or a slightly higher handicapper. It’s a fairly flat course and the total yardage (6,514yds) is shorter than many of the top courses around BK. So you don’t need to hit it like McIlroy to enjoy your time. Again, water is the main hazard to get around. And though several of the par 4s are short enough to yield birdie opportunities, if you’re not hitting the ball on line there’s a good chance it will end up wet.
This course gets particularly busy at the weekend so we advise playing during the week if at all possible. It also has a cool driving range surrounded by skyscrapers!
Golfing in Pattaya
Siam Country Club (old course) Pattaya
Siam CC has 3 courses with a 4th due soon. But the jewel in the crown is the Old Course. As the name suggests it is one of the oldest golf courses in Thailand and is also one of the best. The course is a regular home for the Thai LPGA tournament and at 6,553 yards par 72 it’s not the longest track around. But don’t let that deceive you into thinking it’s a walk in the park. Lots of water of course! And strategically placed bunkers and bunker complexes mean you need to use sound course management to get to the green in regulation. Then the greens themselves are undulating with multiple breaks and varying shapes allowing for tricky pin positions to aim at.
The course and clubhouse were both totally renovated in 2006, so despite the ‘Old’ in the name expect a modern luxurious experience. A must for any golfing in Thailand fan visiting Pattaya.
Siam Country Club (plantation course) Pattaya
You don’t have to go much further to get to our next recommendation. Siam CC’s Plantation course is its second oldest course and gets its name from the pineapple and tapioca plantation upon which it was built.
A 27 hole course with 3 looped 9 holes named pineapple, tapioca and sugar cane. The par 72 plays at around 7,500 yards (depending on the combination of 9 holes you take). So it is fairly long track. Interestingly the course features a massive triple hole green complex (tapioca 7th and pineapple 4th and 9th) which is something many of us won’t get the chance to play on too often.
The Plantation course has also hosted several LPGA events and is a real challenge that will probably suit better golfers. And it also shares the excellent practice facilities with the other Siam CC courses so is a must-visit for serious golfers.
One of the hillier golf courses in the area so golf carts are compulsory to ensure speed of play. The signature hole (in our opinion) is the Sugar Cane 5th, a 596-yard par 5 playing uphill with more bunkers than you could shake a stick at, with an elevated two-tier green to finish it off – a real challenge.
St Andrews 2000 Pattaya
This is another course designed to test the better golfer, a par 74 playing at over 7,700 yards it is the longest course in the area. The signature holes here are the two +800 yard par 6’s (4th & 13th). Designed in the Scottish links-style (though not an actual links course obviously). With undulating fairways, elevated tees and greens. And with small landing areas to aim for this course demands both power and accuracy.
Golf carts are mandatory and at +7,700 yards you’ll be glad of them. Bring plenty of golf balls and enjoy the experience. Even if the course beats you you’ll still have a great time!
p.s. the clubhouse is shared with Rayong Green Valley which is another great little course. But it is more suited to higher handicapper golfers for golfing in Thailand.
Golfing in Phuket
Red Mountain Golf Club Phuket
Our favourite course in Phuket. It is in the middle of the island so it is easy to get to regardless of where you are staying. The course is built in a disused tin mine giving fantastic cliff edged fairways and deep gullies. This guarantees some of the most beautiful views in all of golf.
The layout means the distance between holes can be quite far so golf carts are mandatory and are included in your green fee. So there are no nasty surprises when you sign in. Par 72 and 6,781 yards from the back it’s not the longest but sound course management is definitely required. Narrow fairways, lots of elevation changes, water (of course!) and bunkering meaning you need to be accurate. In fact, the course will probably favour the shorter hitter unless you have laser accuracy on your long shots.
The course was designed with drainage in mind and plays well even during the wet season. If you’re into golf and in Phuket, you must play here regardless of your handicap.
Mission Hills Phuket
Set next to the mangrove forests in the North-East of the Island, Mission Hills offers gorgeous Andaman Sea views on almost every hole. Being on the coast means sea breezes come into play and will be needed to be accounted for when deciding your next shot.
This Jack Nicklaus designed course is a par 72, 6,800-yard course. This is a good challenge for golfing in Thailand and golfers of all levels. The signature holes are the 4th – a medium length par 3 towards the sea into an island green within a sea of white sand. Then the index 1 12th hole, a long par 4 with sand and water hazards all the way down the right-hand side. This leaves you a long 2nd shot into the green. You’ll be happy to walk away with a bogey in this one!
Part of a 4* golf resort, the facilities here are top-notch. So enjoy your beer on the 19th looking at the beautiful turquoise waters!