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Clubhouse Tells Everything About A Golf Course

Clubhouse Tells Everything About A Golf Course

Paul Myers

July 24th, 2013


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Banyan GC GM Stacey Walton outside the Banyan clubhouse.

Banyan GC GM Stacey Walton outside the Banyan clubhouse.

By Paul Myers

What does a clubhouse tell you about a golf course? A lot? Something? Or not much at all?

There are probably as many views on this question as there are clubs in a golf bag. But I would argue strongly for the former; in fact, not just a lot, but everything.

Why? Well, a clubhouse is the heart and soul of every golf club. What you see there – at bag drop-off, entrance, reception, locker rooms, restaurant, pro shop is invariably reflected on the course itself.

I liken it to the old computer terminology, WYSYWG – What You See is What You Get.
Every time I arrive at a course, especially one I haven’t played before, I apply the WYSWYG test. And 90 percent of the time those first impressions remain after the game is over.

If you take a tour of golf courses in Thailand and Vietnam as an example, you’ll find the best courses invariably have the best clubhouses. The clubhouse is, after all, a reflection of each owner’s commitment to the whole golf experience. If he is prepared to spend money on his clubhouse, he’s almost always equally prepared to spend it on greens, fairways, gardens and general maintenance.

Last year at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit in Brunei, two of Thailand’s best courses received the two top accolades for best clubhouse in Asia Pacific. Banyan Golf Club near Hua Hin received the top honour ahead of Thai Country Club in Bangkok.

Thai Country Club clubhouse, Bangkok.

Thai Country Club clubhouse, Bangkok.

These two very different, but both wonderful, courses share one thing in common: a memorable clubhouse experience that tempts you to stay and soak up the atmosphere rather than simply arrive, play golf and leave.

Banyan’s traditional Thai-style clubhouse is striking from all angles. You don’t quite get the sense of its architecture at the entrance, but from the course and at the front of the building there’s no mistaking you’re in a Thai clubhouse in Thailand.

Set in several linked “pods”, Bangkok-based architect Smith Abayawat created a design that Banyan Golf Club general manager, Stacey Walton, says will never age.

“The design gives visitors a true Thai golf, leisure and dining experience,” he says. “Banyan is a resort course, not a members’ facility, so it’s important visitors can relax and enjoy themselves. Trip Advisor lists Banyan as the number one tourist attraction in Hua Hin. A lot of people come out for food and beverage and for the total experience.”

A large L-shaped outdoor/indoor bar restaurant area provides wonderful views over the course to the Burmese Mountains, and set in another pod, Mulligan’s is an Irish bar with direct access from the course itself.

As modern and appealing as is Banyan with its distinctive Thai-ness, Thai Country Club’s fortress-like terracotta clubhouse, partly surrounded by water, is different altogether. Catering mainly for members, the Peninsula Hotel-owned property is meticulously maintained, with a distinctive “club” feel in the clubhouse.

Here, in the men’s locker room, Tiger Woods has his name on the number one locker in recognition of his win in the 1997 Asian Honda Classic, the first tournament held at the facility.

If food is your fancy, Thai CC’s buffet is hard to beat, while service and attention is what you would expect in a top hotel. With modern Asian-influenced furnishings, comfortable lounge areas and an outdoor patio overlooking the course, this is a clubhouse experience of the highest quality.

Elsewhere in Thailand and Vietnam, other outstanding courses with great clubhouses include:

• Black Mountain, Hua Hin. It’s perhaps not surprising that the top-ranked course in Thailand would also have one of the best clubhouses.

• Riverdale, Bangkok. This new course in Bangkok rates as one of the best public facilities in the city. Its low-slung modern clubhouse provides commanding views over the course.

• Danang Golf Club, Vietnam. Another modern clubhouse that interacts seamlessly with the course. The open restaurant at the front of the clubhouse is the perfect place to relax after a game.

• Montgomerie Links, Vietnam. Also a modern design, the clubhouse is set on a high point a few hundred metres from the entrance, ensuring great views over the course. A café/restaurant at the front provides excellent interaction with the course.

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