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Nine reasons to play golf in Thailand

Nine reasons to play golf in Thailand

Paul Myers

May 23rd, 2014

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Nine, or gao in the Thai language, is considered a lucky number in Thailand. Which is also auspicious for golfers, since nine holes constitute half a round.

Golf is one of the fastest-growing participation sports in the kingdom, with many young people, men and women taking up the game.

Thailand is also a favourite destination for foreign golfers. Indeed, if current trends continue, Thailand will become the world’s most popular golf tourism destination by 2020.

With the kingdom’s inbound golf tourism growing at double digit levels for the past five years, Thailand now welcomes more than 750,000 golfers a year. Only Spain and the United States receive more foreign golf travellers.

Why is Thailand so appealing?

Mark Siegel, the owner of Golfasian – a leading inbound golf tourism company based in Bangkok – says there is no single reason.

“It’s a combination of many factors, led by the friendliness of the Thai people,” he explains. “Parents in Thailand teach their children to be warm and friendly and this comes through wherever you go in the kingdom and especially playing golf. People go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.

“There are destinations with more golf courses, even with better golf. You can play more cheaply in other countries, too. But nowhere matches Thailand’s overall appeal as a destination to play golf and enjoy everything the kingdom has to offer.”

So, what are the nine best reasons why foreign golfers should come to Thailand?

Choice of Courses

There are more than 250 courses throughout Thailand, with an excellent choice in all leading tourism destinations: Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai, Khao Yai, Kho Samui and Kanchanaburi. You can choose between mountains, the ocean, rustic rural settings or large cities with plenty of after-golf entertainment. There is something for everyone.

Accessibility

Thailand is ideally located for visitors from all over the world. It is approximately midway between Australia and Europe, within two hours’ flight from most cities in south-east Asia and 4-5 hours’ flight from North Asia. Moreover, visitors can fly internationally direct to Phuket and Chiang Mai or secure excellent connections to other destinations from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Moreover, a visa isn’t required to enter Thailand for a tourism visit of less than 30 days.

Affordability

Although the cost of playing golf in Thailand has risen in recent years, the cost of a golf holiday remains lower than most other countries. Hotels are well priced, especially in Bangkok, which has one of the best selections of four and five-star hotels at reasonable prices, while food is cheap and getting around in taxis (or the Skytrain in Bangkok) is simple and inexpensive. Less than $US200/day will buy golf, accommodation and transfers in most locations.

Amateur Tournaments

Thailand has more amateur tournaments to choose from than other golf destinations in Asia. A series of amateur weeks is held throughout the kingdom each year. These tournaments provide a unique opportunity for players from all around the world to meet, mix, play golf together and become friends. This June, the inaugural Centara World Masters is being played in Hua Hin. This tournament, which will welcome almost 500 amateur golfers from 20countries, is modeled on the highly successful Mitsubishi World Masters played for the past 18 years on the Gold Coast, Australia. Visit www.ThailandWorldMasters.com for details.

Asia Week amateur tournaments are played in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket. Visit www.AsiaGolfWeek.com for details.

 

Climate

Thailand has a year-round climate that is conducive to highly enjoyable golf at any time of year. The high season, from December to March, is the coolest time of year, but it is also the busiest and most expensive and courses can be crowded. The low season, from June through October, is less crowded and less expensive. While there may be rain during this period, it usually is brief and rarely prevents golf being played for a full day. Indeed, Hua Hin – the home of two of Thailand’s most popular courses – hasn’t lost a day of golf to rain in the past five years.

After-Golf Activities

No other country offers as much after-golf fun than Thailand. Wherever you go in the kingdom there is a plentiful supply of restaurants, bars and places to meet people. Any day of the week you will find ample opportunity to go out and mix freely with locals and other foreigners. You are welcome is a common expression that is offered sincerely in places where tourists gather to enjoy themselves.

Caddies

Thailand’s caddies are the country’s secret golf weapon. They provide an element to golf enjoyment not evident anywhere else in the world. The caddies are well trained and serious about their job, but they also ensure golfers have fun. Most are proficient in English and, occasionally, other languages. Many play golf in their spare time and all will be able to help with club selection, lining up putts and are experts in advising distance to the pin. Always take the advice of your caddie over your own judgement – they are almost always right!

Culture

Thailand has a unique culture that is intriguing and colourful. A strong Buddhist philosophy means people are kind and gentle. In everyday life in Thailand, there is a strong emphasis on the concept of sanuk, the idea that life should be fun. Hence, people invariably smile when they greet you, leading to Thailand being widely known as The Land of Smiles.

Safety

Thailand is a safe country to visit, with little crime. Visitors rarely encounter safety issues in going about their daily activities. If you are sensible and exercise normal precautions, you should never encounter problems in Thailand. Indeed, even during political protests earlier this year there was never any adverse impact on tourism.

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