Friday, May 31, 2013

Thais that Bind (or a wonderful golf trip to Thailand

Travelling to Scotland, the home of golf, is certainly a wonderful experience but if you love this game,  and you like visiting new cultures then a golf trip to Thailand is an experience you should put on your bucket list. Without a doubt there is wonderfully spicy cuisine, warm sunny weather and tropical rainforest to feast all of your senses.

Thailand is half way around the world from Minneapolis MN. Its a full day in transit, not to mention what happens  crossing the international date line.
This writer started in Phoenix AZ.  First I had to get to Los Angeles then its 14 hours in the air to Taipai  on EVA air and another 3 hours in the air to Bangkok. Add the layovers and its suddenly 24 hours.  However from Minneapolis you can make it in one stop, on Delta to Tokyo and then Bangkok.
That is about as easy as it gets for flying to  Southeast Asia from the U.S.  Most people on my trip had two or three stops.

We were invited to the International press launch of “Golf in a Kingdom.” Thailand boast over 260 golf courses and growing and the Golf in a Kingdom experience is composed of twelve of the top courses in Thailand, or in all of Southeast Asia, for that matter, and 9 of the best resorts. Learn more at 
Thailand has become the third largest golf destination in the world.  Most of the 200,000-300,000 golf visitors to Thailand come from Asia, Europe and Australia but even though its a long flight from the U.S.-- its well worth it.  These are not only wonderful golf courses but this is a fantastic culture to visit and learn about.

 If you want your every need taken care of while you are there, book your trip through 


 The greater Metro area of Bangkok has over 15 million people.  It’s hot, humid and crowded with more than its share of traffic.  I felt like I was taking my life in my hands as I stepped off the curb to cross the street.  If the busses and trucks aren’t coming your way, the scooters and motorcycles are.  And the scooters just keep appearing from everywhere.

I am in Pattaya, about an hour from the Bangkok airport. Our hotel, Cantara  Pattaya Hotel, is just a few blocks from the ocean.  Tonight was a beautiful sunset over the water as we dined in a restaurant overlooking the beach.  If it’s golf you want, you will find plenty here with 21 golf courses in the Bangkok area alone and growing.

If you like night life, you are going to love it here because the party never stops and there seem to be more people out at night than in the daytime.

Last night we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant on a deck over the beach  called Cabbages and Condoms (no mispelling there)  They serve wonderful food  (I had the pork spare ribs) and they named it because they promote family planning, and  HIV prevention. What a great concept.

Siam Country Club 
is located in Pattaya. There are two courses here: The Old Course and the Plantation Course.  We played the Plantation.  This is the home to an LPGA stop that you may have seen  on TV  (The Honda Classic)
They are in the process of building another golf course, so Siam will have 63 holes of golf in 2014.
The fairways and greens are in wonderful condition-- and the service at this club is on quite a different level than I have experienced in the U.S. Every player has a caddie (females only) who drive the carts,  and the caddies not only club you, but read putts,  fix every ball mark, and fill every divot.  I am sure that is why its in such superb condition.    The grass choice here is Zoysia which is a very heat resistant grass with strong blades that make your ball sit right up.
A good golf course is one thing, but this places differentiates itself with a beautiful clubhouse and locker room  ( fully tiled showers)  The female caddies know their stuff and are a true help from beginning to end. My caddie carried an umbrella to shield me from the sun and a fan to create my own personal breeze.


What else do you want to do and see in Thailand?

If you want to learn about the culture  there is plenty to see and do. Much more than I had time for. 
I wish had extended my trip to visit the royal palace in Bangkok and several other interesting places.
Today we visited The Sanctuary of Truth.  It is a completely wood carved structure, with no nails, that looks like a spectacular Buddhist monastery. The Sanctuary shows us the relationship between human beings and the universe.--for more information  visit 

At Nonggnooch Tropical Garden we were treated to a performance of Thai history and culture, with re-enactments of historical events,  depicting the kingdoms of the past  and Thai martial arts.There was also a very entertaining Elephant show,  the audience fed the elephants and they did elephant bowling, spun hula hoops, played basketball and  kicked soccer balls into a goal.

One of the great pleasures of this culture is massage-- after our first round of golf  I went across the street from the hotel, just before bedtime, and got a 1 hour foot massage for $6.00--  slept like a baby.   They have Swedish and Thai massage as well and I recommend them both but the foot massage is truly wonderful, especially after a hot day on the golf course.  They work on your feet, legs and end up with 15 minutes on your back and shoulders.  After that I went and found a foot massage after almost every round of golf.



Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand. The island is mostly mountainous with a mountain range in the west of the island running from north to south.  
On December 26, 2004, Phuket and other nearby areas on Thailand's western coast suffered extensive damage when they were struck by the  tsunami, caused by the  Indian Ocean earthquake. The waves destroyed several highly populated areas in the region, killing over 5,000 people nationwide, Now, 9 years later, following strenuous recovery programs, no tsunami damage can be seen except in the most remote beaches.

Pullman Phuket Arcadia hotel and resort
I stayed at the Pullman in Phuket and if you like luxurious contemporary surroundings at non luxury prices, this is the place for you.   They just opened in mid 2012 and the rooms are large and beautiful, with overhead rain showers and a private balcony and mine had a partial ocean view.  The negative edge pool overlooking the beach and ocean is fabulous and the breakfast buffet, served every morning, has everything you could possibly want and then some.

Red Mountain Golf Club in Phuket promotes itself as “The most exciting golf course in Phuket”.  Imagine playing golf surrounded by lush rainforest, spectacular views and red rock cliffs framing the twisting, turning fairways. That   describes Red Mountain Golf Club.  Number 17 for example is a 140 yard par three with a tee box that sits on a cliff  over  100 feet above the green.  Its a spectacular shot.
 Red Mountain was designed by Jon Morrow, whom I never heard of and I later learned that he lives on Phuket.  It is the site of an old Tin mine. It takes quite an imagination to put a golf course on this land and do so as successfully has he did here. And I can’t remember an uphill hole. It’s amazing how he routed this couse to do that. I wonder if he ever designed any other golf courses
Did I mention the caddies.  You will experience caddies like you have never experienced in the U.S.  We had 4 females dressed in jackets and slacks like  hotel bellmen (and it was sweltering hot) and they were outstanding. Reading putts, knowing yardages fixing divots and ball marks-- and they were just a pleasure to be with. One of the caddies was so much fun she just added a great deal of joy to todays round.  They also carried an umbrella to shade me from the sun and a fan in their pocket to fan me and keep me cool. How wonderful is that?

                                                                     Our caddies

Chaing Mai elephant camp and Hills tribe village.  Make no mistake about it, this is a tourist attraction, but a fun one-- there is an hour long elephant show where they show off their many tricks and 3 of them even create a painting right before your eyes. (see painting here)  Then we took a half hour ride on an elephant to visit the Hill tribes people.  Yes there are still people in the world that live in a tribal culture and have no exposure to civilization as we know it.  It is quite an experience and will make you appreciate the many things you have at home.

                                                             PAINTED BY AN ELEPHANT (ARTISTS NAME UNKNOWN)

Chedi Chaing Mai
This is a five star hotel with a flash of contemporary and splashes of the orient.  We were there for 2 nights.  There is an abundance of  four star resorts in Chaing Mai but only one Five star and this is it.  If you like contemporary with an asian twist to it-- then this is the place for you.  The rooms are extremely well appointed and the buffet breakfast is more than you could possibly eat all day.  And if you love shopping, this is just around the corner from the famed night bizarre of Chaing Mai.

Alpine Golf Resort in Chaing Mai is just a fun enjoyable course to play. it even has a 600 yard par 5  (a bit much for me)   aside from that bear of a par five this was a beautiful course and a joy to play
ChiangMai Highlands was a treat also, set in amoung the rolling hills, streams and ponds.  South East Asian Globe Magazine recently named Chiangmai Highlands the Number One Course in Thailand .  I liked Red Mountain much better  but you will certainly have a wonderful time here.  With 5 sets of tees it ranges in length from 7227 yards down to 5056 yards so every skill level can enjoy it

The Night Bizarre
 The Night Bizarre in Chaing Mai  is certainly popular with tourists and understandably so.  It was just around the corner from our hotel.  Anything you want to buy in Thailand is here and then some. Silks, leather items, soaps spices and even a free ladyboy show if you want that kind of entertainment.

I didn’t come here to layup

As part of this trip we were invited to the inaugural press launch for Golf in a Kindgom, This is a consortium of the 12 best golf courses, hotels and resorts of Thailand.  If you are coming half way around the world for this vacation, don’t lay up!!!! 
 Mark Siegel, said “The world has discovered Thailand golf tourism and Golf In A Kingdom is now reaching out to the world to highlight the unbeatable values of the Thai golf experience. Invariably, golfers who come to play in Thailand keep coming back.”
 Visit Golf in a Kingdom  or  to get economically priced access to the very best golf that Thailand has to offfer.

Larry Berle is a golf travel writer who has played the top 100 golf courses in the U.S. and wrote a book about his quest  A GOLFERS DREAM.  visit