Beaches, spas, nightlife and poolside lazing are the visions that come to mind when thinking about a holiday in Pattaya.
However, the best kept secrets of this Thai Paradise are its golf courses. The city is a treat for golf enthusiasts and even if you have a 15-day golf holiday in Pattaya you would not be able to play all the courses. Moreover, all the courses are worth a visit as the quality of the courses are on par with world championship standards, designed by well known golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and other world-class golf course architects.
Tropical landscapes make Pattya’s golf courses amongst the most picturesque in the world and each of the thirty courses is within a 60 minute drive from the city. A few prominent ones are highlighted here:
Siam Country Club
Siam Country Club has two courses, one 18-hole and one 27-hole. The original “Old Course” is the first privately owned golf club in Thailand, founded by the late Dr. Thaworn Phornprapha, whose vision was to see Thailand with a golf course that will proudly stand among international courses. This year the golf course was proud to be a host to many golfing events such as the Thailand Open, many Asian Golf Circuits and the “Honda LPGA Thailand 2007”.
The new Siam Country Club golf course is known as “Plantation,” a name given in the honor of the historic Sugar Cane, Tapioca, and Pineapple plantations. Both golf courses are designed by a well known Arizona based Schmidt & Curley Design Inc. The Siam Country Club Plantation Course has the reputation of being one of the toughest courses in Thailand. This 27-hole layout is routed through rolling terrain with distant panoramic views of beautiful Pattaya Beach and the Gulf of Thailand.
The course features one difficult hole after another. Long carries, blind shots, giant high-lipped bunkers, and most of all shaved fringes on every hole are in play to challenge even the professional golfer. The distance from the tips is a long 7404 and 7495 yards, which makes the Siam Country Club Plantation Course the longest Pattaya golf course.
Each of the courses has its own distinctive style. The lush green Old Course is a traditional classic tree-lined golf course. The Plantation, on the other hand, is uniquely different, contemporary, and refreshing from any other golf courses in the region. An architectural “Bird Wing” clubhouse sits high on the hills with a view of the golf course overlooking the Pattaya Ocean.
St. Andrews 2000
St. Andrews 2000, named in honour of Scotland’s famous St. Andrews golf course is located in the picturesque hilly countryside of the South Eastern Thai province of Rayong, just over half and hour’s drive from Pattaya city. Designed by English-born and Cambridge-educated architect Desmond Muirhead, the sprawling par 74 course adjoins the layout of its neighbour, the older, par 72 layout of the Rayong Green Valley Country Club.
St. Andrews 2000 is a difficult and challenging golf course that will test even the best of golfers to their limits. With its undulating natural topography, St. Andrews 2000 was built to replicate the wind-swept Scottish courses, offering a challenge aimed at players with handicaps of 18 or lower.
The Course demands a combination of both power and accuracy as the strategic positioning of obstacles forcing the player to remain focused on every shot. This is a demanding course that that will test you and leave you with a golf high bringing you back for more.
Laem Chabang Golf Club
Laem Chabang Golf Club, a picturesque Jack Nicklaus designed championship course is reputed as having the best layout in Pattaya and to be truly one of Thailand’s finest. Laem Chabang consists of 27 holes on 700 acres and making use of three types of features, which characterize each of the nine holes.
Hazards to stop you reaching greens are in abundance with a lot of bunkers, sand traps and water hazards. In addition, there are also many natural hazards in the shape of exposed rock formations, lakes, ponds and creeks.
With many scenic views from the course, it all blends pleasantly into a great golfing experience and one that is uniquely Thai due to the native vegetation.
This creation is widely hailed by critics for the unique usage of the land’s mixed terrain of mountains, lakes and river valleys that are attractive as well as functional. Mountain, Lake and Valley are the names of the each 9- hole course aptly as each compromises the distinctive terrain.
The Khao Kheow Club
The Khao Kheow 27-hole golf course is located in the heart of the Pattaya “golf strip” between Bangkok and Pattaya. Careful shot making is required to overcome not only the windy conditions but also to take into account the numerous large ponds, bunkers and hills that surround the well manicured fairways which is typical of Pete Dye design. Greens are heavily undulating which makes precise putting necessary to scoring well.
The course really has something for everyone. In particular, the signature par-three seventeen, which plays to an island green is a challenge for both amateurs and professionals. The first 18 have been designed as a championship course, while the final nine holes are easier, more like a resort course.
Excellent clubhouse facilities and accommodation perfectly complement most all the courses. The restaurant at the Khao Kheow serves all Thai golfer’s favorites like spring rolls, minced pork with basil, phad thai, and a wide selection of noodle soups. There are ample amenities such as spas and other sports facilities for rest and relaxation.Many Thai tours specialize in golfing holidays and sampling several courses is an option. If you need to practice your stroke there are quite a few driving ranges within the city as well as some of the clubs.
With excellent designs, pristine views, stylish clubhouses of modern comforts, and well maintained properties Pattaya has proven to be a golfer’s dream holiday. For exclusive golf holiday planning there are sites such as golfasian.com and golforient.com to take care of all your travel and golfing needs.
Published in Jetwings Feb. 2009