Golf is one of the most popular sports in Thailand. The game arrived in the county a century ago and was quickly taken up by the elite and the fashionable. Among the first sponsors of the game were the armed forces and government institutions, which built and continue to own some of the finest courses in the county.
About 350,000 visitors are believed to have played golf in Thailand in 2002, generating an expenditure of nearly 6.2 billion baht. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is planning to raise these figures to one million golfers, generating an estimated 18.45 billion baht by 2007. In 2004 alone, the plan is to attract 400,000 golfers. Who will generate an estimated 7.1 billion baht, an increase of 14.29% over 2002.
There are over 200 high standard golf courses nationwide, many of them championship standards. The worldâ€™s top designers have made a significant contribution. Jack Nicklaus, Roboert Trent Jones Jr, Pete De Gar Player and many others have perfected modern layouts, using the best grasses and latest techniques.
The result is some of the most attractive courses in Asia, with excellent facilities, memorable signature holes and regular maintenance to keep them in top-class condition. Every course has its caddies; it’s mandatory to empoly one caddie for your round. They are Thailandâ€™s secret weapon in making golf such good fun. These brightly clad ladies, in smart uniforms and straw hats, know lots about the course, smile almost all the time, and very good at reading putts.
There are at least a few courses in or within easy reach of all major cites. Most of the newer courses offer accommodation on site or nearby, plus recreational facilities for the whole family.
For the more adventurous, there are older, natural courses in remote areas around the courses in remote areas around the country owned by the Royal Irrigation Department, the Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand, all offering good value. So for golfers who not only appreciate a challenging course, but an exotically different one too, there is an extraordinary choice.
The best time to plan a golfing trip is the cool season, from November to March. From April to October it is hot and wet, but even in the rainy months the downfall usually comes in the afternoon, and for only a few minutes. Most courses have good drainage systems, and the rains should not interrupt your game for long. At some facilities you may need to book ahead, through your club or your hotel, and advance booking is recommended for weekends. Greens fees continue to be very reasonable, as are the fees for caddies.
As most of the golf courses are located in the provinces, promoting golf also furthers the TAT policy of ensuring that throughout the provinces.