PATTAYA GEMS: WHERE TO GOLF IN THAILAND

05 Mar 2024

Siam Country Club’s Old Course and Chee Chan Golf Resort signify what’s great about golf in this popular Thai seaside town.

Thailand offers many regions that have courses of high standards, but it will be hard to beat the Chonburi area, about two hours from Bangkok, for what it has to offer.

Chonburi is home to Siam Country Club, one of the most prestigious and well-known golf clubs in the country.

Siam Country Club is the grand dame of courses in this country, and one that has held its own since its opening in 1971. Japanese designer I. Izumi’s work stood the test of time and put Siam Country Club – the first privately owned golf club in Thailand – on the face of the golf world map. The course was renovated in 2006 by Lee Schmidt of Schmidt- Curley Design Inc. and has hosted the LPGA Thailand tournament since it reopened in 2007.

Stretching to 7162 yards from the tips, the Old Course is by no means only for professionals or better players. The way the views from each tee box opens up the holes is most welcoming, letting golfers see what he or she is up against.

The parkland golf course doesn’t have much water for golfers to deal with, and when they’re present, it’s usually fronting the tee box and not really interfering with play. The biggest defences the course have are the trees on wayward shots, and clever bunkering along fairways and around the greens.

That said, players are well advised to manage their games when facing the 15th. At 424 yards, it’s the second longest par 4 on the course (second to the 449 yard third). Longer hitters will have to decide if they’d like to take the stream that cuts across the fairway at around 250 yards on.

Putting surfaces are typically raised and protected on both sides by sand hazards. Albeit not particularly deep, they do influence where to aim. Fortunately, Izumi gives openings to the greens in front of which you can lay up if you prefer a more conservative approach to the hole.

Par 3s are as pretty to behold as they are difficult to manage. Of the four, the shortest one is the 189-yard fourth, and the longest, the 231-yard 16th. The tough 220-yard eighth is arguably the best one, with the lotus-filled pond in front, and its backdrop of neatly cropped trees.

The top-notched conditioning at the Old Course comes despite the club’s stringent adherence to sustainable efforts. Over the years our group has contributed to many CSR and environmental projects like tree-planting to waste recycling.

One of their latest project is the in-house processing of the green waste to produce our own fertilizer. The project will generate a few metric tons per day and can replace the chemical produced fertilizer used at our existing four course. The club also offer farmers who are surrounding the golf course, to sell their waste to us so not only will we benefit, also the local community is supported.

Siam Country Club is a private club, but like most clubs in Thailand, is open to visitors if prior arrangement is made. The club has three other courses in the area – Waterside, Plantation, and Rolling Hills, the latest one – and a variety of memberships are available depending on how many courses members would like to play.

“We have over a thousand annual and long-term members and they come from various countries,” the club says. “You could say that the majority
of our members comes from Japan but we also see growth in memberships from more western countries and Oceania in general. At the moment our main focus is on Oceania.

The founders believe that all players should have access to the best courses in Thailand. That said, if you do decide to become a member you will get a range of benefits including course access at thebusiest times. The membership format they offer allows the choice of between two, three and four- course options, and at a variety of durations.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Chee Chan Golf Resort in Chonburi is the newest course in the Pattaya area. Opened in 2018, the 7345-yard course was designed by David Dale of Golfplan and is currently managed by IMG Golf Services.

Needless to say that not two years since it opened its doors to the public, the pandemic threw a spanner in its works. But through the lock down, the resort did not lay off any of its workers, and continued to improve on what was already a challenging and enjoyable layout.

Now that the pandemic seems like just a memory, the course is back to its true glory. Conditions here are typically impeccable. The Zemet Zoysia fairways feel like carpet, and the Bermuda Tifeagle greens a joy to putt on.

There is no denying that Chee Chan is noticeably a resort course with little or no trees surrounding the holes. But Dale added contouring from tee to green that while not overly onerous, provided ample undulation to make approaches interesting. The course is very open in nature, which means that difficulty is heightened when the wind blows. Six ponds serve as water catchment areas, and also vortexes to suck in balls from badly hit shots. Thankfully, Dale provided wide landing areas for golfers to aim away from the watery hazards.

The resort is the brainchild of Narit Chia-Apar, founder of Chee Chan and also of Chartered Square Holding Company, a property development firm. As a keen golfer, he has put what he feels players want and need into a golf resort that easily ranks at the top of what the country has to offer.

From the moment you drive up to the modern and elegantly designed clubhouse, through the well-appointed locker rooms, and to the restaurant overlooking the golf course, everything seems to ooze luxury. There is no detail too small not to be taken into account. The reception foyer just inside the entrance opens up a panoramic view of the golf course, and easily sets visitors in the right frame of mind for an enjoyable game at hand.

What you can’t ignore when playing here is the view of the gigantic etching of Gautama Buddha on the side of Chee Chan Mountain overlooking the course. The calming stare of the divine one looks upon you on nearly every hole, encouraging you to stay in the moment, and let go of all possessions of angst and disappointment.

 


Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course

50 Moo 9, Phornprapha Road, T. Pong, A. Banglamung Chonburi 20150

Tel: +66 38 909 700

Email: rsvn@siamcountryclub.com

Chee Chan Golf Resort

108/18 Moo 6, Na Jomtien, Sattahip Chonburi 20250

Tel: +66 38 196 555

Email: info@cheechangolf.com

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