THAI COUNTRY CLUB
WHERE IS IT? 30km southeast of the city centre, 15km from the airport
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Bangkok’s premier club was the scene of Tiger Woods’s 1997 Asian Honda Classic triumph, and regularly hosts the Asian Volvo Masters. Owned and managed by Über-prestigious Peninsular Hotels, which guarantees exemplary service, the soigné clubhouse acts as a meeting place for members of Bangkok’s heavy hitting business community. With good variation in design from hole to hole, the relatively flat course features plenty of water, immaculate conditioning and aggressive greenside bunkering. Paspalum grass makes for rolling fairways but strangely treacherous rough, so from the back tees this championship set-up is a real challenge. The vast undulating greens offer a variety of pin placements, so the caddies, almost always female and mandatory in Thailand, have plenty of scope to demonstrate their judgment of line and length. Many members like to walk the course in the early morning, but in the midday heat, a buggy probably makes sense. There are terrific food and drink kiosks every three holes or so.
CONTACT Bangpakong District, 15 minutes from the airport, 45 minutes from downtown; +66 38 570 234; thaicountryclub.com. Bangkok based Golfasian.com are the experts when it comes to booking all Thai courses.
PRICE From 3,607 THB on low season weekdays, to 6,012 THB for weekend rounds in high season (Nov to March); buggy 856 THB, caddie 350 THB. Peninsular Hotel guests play at a sizeable discount.
CLUB HIRE 1,070 THB for Nike, Titleist or King Cobras. Rental shoes, 161 THB.
CLUB HOURS The first tee time is at 6.20am, with play finishing at dusk. Weekend and public holiday mornings are reserved for members. Closed on Mondays.
MINIMUM HANDICAP No handicap certificate is required.
FACILITIES The 18-hole championship course is 7,157 yards from the tips; from the generous ladies’ tees, holes are on average 100 yards shorter. A British PGA Pro, driving range with grass tees, two practice greens, as well as valet parking, well stocked pro-shop and palatial locker rooms.
AFTER THE GOLF The Clubhouse is regularly voted one of the best in Asia. The Gallery Bar and Restaurant, open from 6am up to 8pm, serve stylish Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Western cuisine, while the Tournament Verandah, with good views over the course, is perfect for a post-game Singha beer and maybe a cigar from the well-stocked humidor. There are also several private function rooms.
SUMMIT WINDMILL GOLF CLUB
WHERE IS IT? 15km southeast of the city centre, close to the airport
WHAT’S IT LIKE? A ten-minute drive from Suvarnaphumi international airport, 30 minutes from downtown, this Nick Faldo-designed course is ideal for the first or last day of a trip, with the added bonus of splendid floodlighting for night-time golf. Vast quantities of earth have been moved to create undulating fairways, quite severely contoured greens, and artificial lakes in play on almost every hole. The dog-leg 618-yard 1st, hugging water all the way down the left, is a tough opener; the short 12th to an island green the best of the par-3s. The condition of what is a relatively short palm-tree lined course is mainly good, with risk reward drives over or around water a real feature – a tough test, day or night.
CONTACT At 10.5 km on the Bang Na-Trat road, Samut Prakan; +662 750 2112; summitwindmillgolfclub.com, or golfasian.com
PRICE Weekdays 2,000 THB, weekends 3,000 THB, night golf Tue-Sun 1,200 THB, buggy rental 600 THB, caddy 250 THB.
CLUB HIRE 1,000 to 1,500 THB for various makes
CLUB HOURS From 6.30am to about 10.30pm depending on numbers on the course
MINIMUM HANDICAP None
FACILITIES A 6,964-yard 18-hole par 72 course with limited practice facilities.
AFTER THE GOLF The castle-like clubhouse has a fine restaurant serving both Thai and European food, better enjoyed after a post-game sauna and massage. With an eye to slow-moving Bangkok traffic, many visiting players stay at the adjoining fully serviced four-star Golf Residences, priced from 5,750 THB for a one-bedroom unit per night, to include breakfast and 18 holes.
SUWAN GOLF CLUB
WHERE IS IT? 25kms west of the city centre
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The venue of the 2011 Thai Open is a hidden gem amongst the 30-odd courses in and around Bangkok. Created in 2005, with greens substantially rebuilt using the latest ultra-dwarf Bermuda in 2009, this is a real shot-maker’s set-up featuring water on 15 holes, several tricky risk-reward doglegs, and over 100 deadly bunkers. There are many outstanding holes of which the 381-yard 17th, a par-4 to a green surrounded on three sides by lily ponds, is probably the signature challenge.
CONTACT Nakornnchaisri is a 45-minute drive from downtown; +66 343 39333; suwangolf.com
PRICE Open to the public 7 days a week, with 1,800 THB green fees at weekends, 1,100 on weekdays; caddies 250 THB, buggies 650
THB CLUB HIRE 1,000 THB for a set of Nikes CLUB HOURS 6am to 6pm
MINIMUM HANDICAP Not required FACILITIES A 7,125-yard 18-hole par-72 course, with a driving range, excellent short game area, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
AFTER THE GOLF The relatively informal Suwan Nava Thai restaurant serves breakfast and lunch either inside or on the terrace overlooking the 9th and 18th greens. Overall, clubhouse service is quite excellent, with accommodation also available on site.
ALPINE GOLF AND SPORTS CLUB
WHERE IS IT? 30km north of downtown Bangkok
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The American Ronald M. Garl created the relatively hilly, 7,100-yard course out of paddy fields in 1996. Now one of the city’s premier clubs, it hosted the Johnnie Walker in 2000, won by Tiger Woods. Arguably the toughest 18 holes in Bangkok, many of the undulating fairways are jungle-lined, while back-to-front sloping, lightening fast greens are challenging even for the pros. There is a choice of six tees on every hole – from the Blacks, the Course rating is 75.3, the Slope Rating, 148, so both length and accuracy are needed for good scoring. The par-3s are all over 200 yards from the tips, but only 140 yards or so from the ladies’ tees.
CONTACT Pathum Thani; +66 2577 3333; alpinegolfclub.com
PRICE This is a private and very exclusive club but can be booked through golfasian.com for 5,000 THB per round. Caddies 300 THB, optional buggy 750 THB
CLUB HIRE 1,000 THB, various brands
CLUB HOURS 6.30am to sunset, closed on Mondays.
MINIMUM HANDICAP Not required
FACILITIES The championship 18-hole par-72 course measures 7,100 yards. There are 5 kiosks around the course, an excellent driving range and practice area, pro shop, Jacuzzi, sauna and swimming pool.
AFTER THE GOLF The informal Coffee Corner serves food and drinks from 6am to 7pm; the air-conditioned Chalet Restaurant, with Thai, Chinese, Japanese and European cuisine, is open from 10am to 8pm. Both are closed on Mondays.
- The impeccable new five-star Siam Kempinski Hotel is close to the Siam Paragon Shopping Mall, in the heart of downtown, with the BTS Skytrain stopping right next door. The luxury spa does a great post-game Thai massage, while the swimming pools, Thai and European restaurants are all first class. kempinski.com/en/Bangkok, +66 2162 9000. Use golfasian.com for tee bookings.
- London Bangkok flights with one stop are about £550, on a variety of airlines. On BA and Thai Airways, direct flights from Heathrow start at £810, ba.com, thaiairways.com