What can be like playing golf in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar?

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I have heard so many good things about playing golf in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar.

So I thought to ask you about:

  • How to best organize my golf trip to these Southeast Asian countries? Direct booking vs. tour operator vs. other solutions?
  • Direct booking vs. tour operator vs. other solutions?
  • What shall I bring with me?

  • Where are the best golf clubs/courses in these countries? (e.g. Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar)

  • Are these golf courses different from the European ones?

  • Will I have to play with a different technique?

  • What are the local customs on golf courses?
  • Can I pay with credit card for my tee-time or only in cash?

Thank you for your help!! :)

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Hi, Im a resident of Thailand so might be able to help

* Organisation here for golf is tricky. You can organise the holiday yourself, hotels are set up for it, but the golf I would use a tour operator. Firstly, you need to speak Thai for most clubs. Secondly, getting there is difficult, as they are not on the main road, and taxis dont know where they are, so you need to organise transport. Thirdly, booking online is nearly impossible, and Thai style organisation somewhat less efficient and straightforward than in the West. 

There are a number of tour operators, Ive not used any, but its something I am planning to set up very shortly so will add my email at the end.

* Clubs, technical fabric clothes, lightweight shoes, suntan cream, light coloured hats

* The best courses aren't necessarily the big and famous courses. There are a large number of courses that are excellent, but don't promote themselves as they have been built for members / vanity projects / Japanese & Korean market. You can pay a lot to play an average course with a nice clubhouse, and nothing to play an amazing course in slightly off condition and a tatty clubhouse.  Some courses are very, very difficult, some are more pleasant. Also, some courses are very busy, some are popular with large Korean / Japanese tour groups, and some are empty. Speed of play is a factor.

So everywhere has good courses, the skill is knowing which ones are best for you. Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket, Chiang Mai being the best centres, The Bluffs course in Vietnam looks good too if you wanted to go there. Golfasian.com has the most comprehensive list and information but is nice about every course so you have to take it for what it is.

Personal favourites are

Wangjuntr Golf Park  (wangjuntrgolf.com, need to telephone to book and speak Thai)

Sea Pine Hua Hin (The Army course, doesn't advertise)

Royal Gems Dream Arena (Copy of Augusta back 9, very difficult to get on)

No one in the West has heard of any of these courses, but all are fantastic

* The courses are more Florida in style with a lot more water than Europe. Celtic Manor 2010 the only similar course Ive played in UK. Most are built of rice fields, so elevate the fairways and greens, and create lakes to do so. Every course will have an Island green.

* Golf is golf, so not really, but you have to factor in

1 - there is little wind and the fairways / greens have little if no run. A high ball flight is better here

2 - the grass is stronger, so no running the ball up to the green. Also, you need to be a bit steeper on your wedges, as the ball sits up a bit more than UK. Also, you need to make sure your chipping is perfect, so I'd recommend buying a ChippingPro at www.chippingpro.com (apologies for the plug)

3 - it is hot. Managing the heat and sun is as important as managing the course.

4 - you have a caddy, which can take some getting used to. She will line up your putts, which you might not be used to.

* Local customs.

1 Caddys are compulsory, and normally female. Most dont speak English, but a good operator would arrange the ones that do in advance. You pay 300-400Baht for them as part of the green fee, and then tip around 300B after the round. Some are young and pretty, some are old, some are men. You can flirt, but dont expect too much.

2 Dress code is not a big issue for foreigners. Thais understand it is hot and you need to wear shorts.

3 Using an umbrella, or Sunbrella, is very common. You should buy one here as they have silvered inners to reflect the sun.

4 Slow play is an unfortunate custom. 5 balls are common, 5 hour rounds the norm, 6 hours on busy days. Playing through isnt allowed sadly.

Payment is with cash normally. The club will add 3% to any card (they aren't accepting the visa fee), and your Western card will charge you too. Best to get cash out with a card that works well for that, then pay cash. There are ATMs in every golf club.

The final points is that as it is hot, and humid, so playing every day isn't something you want to do. 2 days out of 3 would be maximum, maybe 1 day play, 1 day rest. The heat really will drain you, especially as you aren't acclimatised. Thankfully,  Thailand and the other countries are amazing places with lots of things to see and do, so to come here and just play golf every day would be a waste.

If you would like me to organise the golf side for you based on your golf game, then get in touch at [email protected], and I can use my knowledge to put something together for you.

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Thank you ChippingPro for the rich insights. Are you organizing golf holidays as a travel agency? If yes then which one? It seems like it is better to take a golf travel agency to manage golf holiday planning...although I also heard that language and transport are not an issue in Thailand...

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Golf Asian have an excellent website but Ive never dealt with them or anyone else.

Language and Transport aren't an issue if you know what you are doing. However, if you are on holiday, then you could spend a lot of time getting lost in taxis, or arriving at courses that are closed. I have done both.


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