WHY Thailand … A Bucket List Destination – GOLF & MORE

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Grand Prix Golf Club Overview

So many reasons, here are just a few from recent first-hand experiences. Currently it is one of the safest places in the world.

When we could travel, not all that long ago, 4 North American Golf Media guys, 2 from the USA and 2, including me, from Canada were invited on a 2-week adventure in Amazing Thailand. Golf there was a plenty, but there was so much more.

Starting with your arrival which if coming from North America will likely be into Bangkok. It won’t take long before you understand why Bangkok is the #1 most visited city in the world.

Our journey although compact geographically took us to 4 major centers, conveniently, all within a few hours of Bangkok, and, with the services of Asia’s #1 golf tour operator Golfasian, it was smooth and slick.

With that and keeping in mind the current pandemic situation that we are facing worldwide perhaps one of the things that you should be thinking of for when we can travel is safety. Thailand is very proud of the COVID controls and the cooperation shown by its residents to control the virus. That has not gone unnoticed. Recently World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “Thailand is an excellent example that, with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society, comprehensive approach, this virus can be contained — even without a vaccine.”

Many are feeling that things are getting closer to normal everyday.

Recently announced “The Amazing Thailand Plus” program, an initiative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand along with Thai Airways International, and the Thai Hotels Association that will allow foreign visitors to enter Thailand. There is a mandatory

14-day quarantine period but the added value and benefits in the over 400 packages available might just be worth it!

Without further ado, why we loved our Thailand Golf Experience:

  • Destination Diversity: It is more than just golf! Be it world famous beaches, to the mountainous golf courses, exotic culinary delights to exotic night life or history and culture Thailand touches all the bases. We did it all.
  • Bang for Your Buck: Tell me if you know of a place where you can get a T-Bone Steak full dinner with a side of prawns the size of your hand for $13. A 90-minute Thai massage for $20, very knowledgeable caddy for $10 or a tuk tuk (form of taxi for virtually nothing compared to America).
  • Great Weather: Over the 2 weeks we had rain twice, and both times overnight! November to February is most ideal for golfers, plenty of sunshine with coolest temperatures in the 80 – 90 range. There is a rainy season as Thailand is a tropical country – best check before you book.
  • Thai Massage: It started here and nobody does it better. If you have never had one you don’t know what you are missing. Take it from someone who has one monthly, (from a Thai Osteopath) even here in America. Working you from head to toe, a therapist utilizes deep-pressure point techniques while assisting you in a series of yoga like stretches and contortions. Even you will be able to make a full turn on your next golf swing.
  • Food: Be it Thai food or International Cuisine you will find it all. But when in Thailand you would be remiss if you did not indulge in the flavours of the land. If you like it hot, you are in the right place. Just a warning – don’t jump into the heat all at once. This is one time where sticking your toe in the water could be a good thing.   If one word could describe the tastes of Thailand – FLAVORGAZAMS! ……and take a Thai Cooking Class. We did!
  • Night Life Beyond Compare: Dining and drinks usually kick off most nightlife scenarios. On this trip Bangkok by Rooftop highlighted a series of evening adventures. With Thai and International Cuisine to suite any pallet it was only the beginning. You have no doubt heard about the infamous Red-Light District’s which garner a great deal of attention, Vegas on steroids or the Asian version of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
  • The People: Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and it is that for a reason. Maybe the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. We don’t make much of an effort to learn the Thai language or about the culture but they certainly go out of their way to learn ours.

There is a reason as to why Golf has yet to be mention, but we are getting there! There is just too much, might say that we are saving the best for last.

  • Getting There / One Stop Shopping: One company stands out above the rest, Golfasian has been a leader in booking golf into all of Asia, and here too is an example of starting in Thailand. Golfasian will take the guesswork out of your Thai experience from the moment you arrive everything that you need can be taken care of. Even finding that cooking class. Safety Note: below. ** Also if you would like to utilize the services of a US Based Golf Tour Operator a number are listed below.
  • The Caddie Experience: Yup, this too started here, female caddies are the norm, and again, nobody does it better. Do not underestimate the knowledge of these young ladies. They have been well trained and love what they do for a living. Professional and friendly and it won’t be more than 3 holes in before they know how far you hit very club in your bag. It is an experience like no other, about $10 – $15 is the standard fee. Please tip generously – they deserve it!
  • Golf-Golf-Golf: I have been fortunate enough to visit Thailand on 3 other occasions visiting other regions but coming nowhere close to touching the 260 courses in Thailand……..

….. MORE – Golf-Golf-Golf: Hua Hin is a must stop for the Bucket List golfer, home to 2 of the best. Black Mountain Golf Club is Top 100 in the World by Golf Digest (59). Best New course in Thailand in 2008, #1 Course in Thailand by Golf Digest in 2016 and to top it off IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) 2020 Golf Experience of the Year for Thailand. A great layout and meticulously maintained, it is WOW factor to the nines. Rock walls and waterfalls enhance the elevation changes and lily ponds, captivate your attention throughout the round. Hop on our cart and enjoy the sites and sounds as much as we did.

Black Mountain Golf Club

Banyan Golf Club, another “Best in Asia,” multi award winning course in Hua Hin, in addition to the Order of Zenith, which is the highest and most prestigious golf award in Asia Pacific by Asian Golf in 2018. This tropical layout has two distinct nines with the front meandering through the lower and flatter terrain while the back nine takes you up and down the mountainside offering up a view of the Gulf of Siam on the signature 15th with all day panoramic views of the Myanmar Mountains in the distance.

In and around Bangkok we were treated to a couple of very unique tracks, Royal Gems Golf City Dream Arena created by the master of replica golf courses Ron Garl. Step on to the first tee and you are transported onto some of the best golf holes in the world. From TPC Sawgrass to Bethpage Black and the Road Hole at St. Andrews to a back nine that includes Amen Corner, for that matter the entire back nine replicates Augusta National. The course has only been open for a couple of years and is in great shape and will only get better with age! That was fun!

Royal Gems Golf City Dream Arena
Doral Blue Monster Hole

Nikanti Golf Club: the very first hole gives you an indication of the style and quality of golf that you are in for. A tough par five with an intimidating yet exciting shot into the green no matter where you are. The only one of its kind in Thailand with three sets of 6 holes and an equal number of par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s. A five-star experience from start to finish and I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the exceptional dining experience as it is included in your green fee!

The Town of Kanchanaburi,128kms to the west of Bangkok is home to one of the most infamous bridges in time! The Bridge over the River Kwai.

The name, Grand Prix Golf Club says it all, or does it?! As you drive in past automobiles and Formula 1 sponsor signs, if you asked anyone you will learn that all 18 holes have been sponsored by leading automobile companies with signage delicately placed throughout. The high standards of F1 have been implemented in the look and maintenance of the course. Perched high above the course, from the clubhouse and first tee you have a bird’s eye view of the course with panoramic views of the nearby Burmese Mountains.

Grand Prix Golf Club Overview

A truly unique experience for anyone from North America. Monkeys here are a-plenty Royal Ratchaburi Golf Club, as we stood on the first tee of the and must have seen a couple of hundred traverse the fairway. All going in the same direction, Monkey’s on a mission. You’ve got to keep an eye on your ball and other things when they are around. They are very inquisitive. Once they grab something you are not likely to get it back!

The course itself is carved from a lush jungle setting (1994), flanked by both the Ratchaburi and Burmese Mountains and is relatively flat, fairways and greens are rolling and greens are undulating. You would expect nothing less but nothing too crazy.

Amazing Thailand should be on your bucket list for any number of reasons.

For more information on Amazing Thailand in general:  www.thailandinsider.com

Golfasian, a specialist golf tour inbound operator based in Thailand, they organized our trip and knows the destination inside and out – see www.golfasian.com

If you are looking at making arrangements through a US based tour operator, consider reaching out to one of the members of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) that promote and sell golf packages in Thailand such as:

Pure Golf Adventureswww.puregolfadventures.com

Women’s Golf & Travel Conciergewww.womensgolfandtravel.com

Mana Luxury Golf Vacationswww.manaluxury.com

Kalos Golfwww.kalosgolf.com

MBA Global Excursionswww.mbaglobalexcursions.com

** Safety Note – Golfasian, has been SHA (Safety & Health Administration) accredited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in September 2020. As Thailand is slowly preparing to re-open its borders for international golf travelers, an initiative by the Tourism Authority of Thailand has provided a selected number of tour operators and DMCs who underwent stringent safety & health checks with the SHA accreditation. The stringent measures include frequent deep cleaning of Golfasian vans before each service, drivers wearing masks and frequent washing of hands. All customers will be provided with masks and free hand sanitizer upon arrival. Temperature checks before entering the vans and before golf and sightseeing activities are now standard. We are also making use of QR codes for digital in-van golf guide brochures and provide touchless payment. Drivers and the operations team are well trained on standardized safely protocols required by the government’s strict guidelines.

 

 

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Claudio DeMarchi is a golfer who loves to travel to play golf. Publisher and editor of the Traveling Golfer www.travelinggolfer.net established in 2006. Claudio is also the North American representative for IAGTO the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, considered the global tourism organization for the golf industry with over 2,700 members in 100+ countries. In any given year IAGTO is responsible for conducting up 6 golf tourism conventions around the world.