If you are living in Bangkok or stopping off for a while on your round the world adventure, picking up a new skill during your stay in the city is a great idea. Due to the relatively low cost of living in Thailand, which often results in more disposable income, taking up a new sport or hobby you might not have been able to afford back home is a perfect way to leverage the economic disparity between your new home and your old.
Golf is one such activity that back home, you might not have had the time, the money or the opportunity to indulge in but out in Thailand, and especially Bangkok, getting involved in this sport is very easy, with few barriers to entry for beginners.
At most golf clubs and nearly all driving ranges in Bangkok, it is possible to just turn up and play. There is no need to be a member for all but the most selective clubs and courses, although booking a tee time is advised. Visiting a driving range is a great way to hit a few balls for hardly any money at all; you can also hire clubs at most of them so there is no need to invest in any equipment just yet. However, before you turn up at a full sized golf course for the first time it is worth considering some tutelage.
If you are completely new to the sport then you are the perfect candidate for some instruction. You won’t have had time to develop bad habits and incorrect technique. This will allow your instructor to mould you into the perfect golfing machine, in theory…
Golf instructors can be found at most driving ranges and busy ones will have a golf pro in residence with at least enough English to get the job done. Prices usually start from around 1000 baht ($33 / £22) an hour so it is well worth investing in a few lessons. You might even be able to share the hour with a friend to make it more affordable and less demanding.
You can also have more high-tech lessons, indoors at one of the Wilding Golf Centres that are located around the city.
Picking up the Gear
You can hire clubs at most driving ranges and golf courses so there is no need to go crazy and splash out on all the gear before you’ve decided if golf is really for you or not. While new golf clubs aren’t going to be cheaper than back home for most people, you can pick up an entry level full set including the bag for about 5000 baht ($170 / £110) from your local shopping mall.
Second hand clubs are a good option and give you the opportunity to add a few quality branded clubs to your set for a reduced rate. Most driving ranges usually have a shop that deals in second hand clubs but the biggest selection of used golf clubs in Bangkok can probably be found at the Thaniya Plaza golf mall.
Whatever clubs you decide to buy though, make sure they are matched to your height by a professional. Choosing clubs that aren’t the right length can really hamper your progress!
When it comes to what to wear, most courses in Bangkok aren’t too strict, and certainly not as much as those in the West. You won’t need golf shoes to begin with as the ground is mostly hard and regular trainers should suffice. It can get very hot out there on the course so make sure you bring a hat or an umbrella, use sun cream and wear some breathable materials such as the Nike Dri Fit golf shirts to avoid looking like a drowned rat by the 18th hole.
Best Driving Ranges in Bangkok
Driving ranges are a great place to start, for a 100 baht or so you can get a couple of trays of balls and while away a few hours. Most have kitchens and serve up fresh Thai food and have waitress on hand to keep you supplied with cold beers. Some of the more central driving ranges in Bangkok use distance controlled balls due to their shortened ranges but if you go a bit outside the main areas of Sukhumvit and downtown Bangkok you can find 350 yard ranges and more.
Here are some popular driving ranges in the city where you can spend a few hours hitting balls:
- 42 Tee-Off Driving Range, Sukhumvit
- Bangkok Golf Club Driving Range, Nonthaburi
- All Star Golf Complex, Ramkhamhaeng
- Royal Gems Driving Range, Nakhonpathom
- Nonsri Driving Range, Chong Nonsi
- Nonthree Golf Driving Range, Yannawa
Or view the full list here at ThaiGolfer.com
Nine Hole Par Three Courses in Bangkok
These 9 hole golf courses usually consist of par 3 holes which means they are pretty short and are ideal for beginners. There can be nothing worse than the first time you are let loose on a full sized, 18 hole course, hacking around a ball in the blazing sun with no idea what you are doing and why you can’t hit it like you do at the driving range, wondering where the ball you just hit went while knowing you’ve got another five hours of this ahead of you.
A smaller, shorter 9 hole, par 3 course is the perfect way to put your driving range skills to the test without paying expensive green fees and wasting a whole day losing all your balls. If you’ve been to the range of a few times and had a couple of lessons, you should be able to do ok on one of the nine hole courses in Bangkok which should encourage you to keep on with the lessons, rather than being demoralised by hitting over 150 on a full sized 18 hole course.
There are a few nine hole par three golf courses in Bangkok so give one a try:
- Bangkok Golf Club Par 3, Nonthaburi
- Gassan Par 3 & Driving Range, Rama II
- Bangplee Par 3 & Driving Range, Bangplee, Bangna
- Paradise Driving Range & Par 3, Ladkrabang
- Rajapruk Sport Club (North Park), Laksi
- Par 3 Golf Srinakarin, Srinakarin
- Lakewood Country Club (9, 18 & 27 holes), Bangna
Best Golf Clubs in Bangkok
Once you are dominating the driving range, or can at least hit a few good balls in a row and have enjoyed your time on the smaller 9 hole courses, it’s time to try out the real deal. There are countless golf courses in Bangkok so for most people it’s just a case of finding one near them and booking a tee time. As the sun goes down at around 6pm nearly all your round in Bangkok, there are even floodlit courses for a spot of night golf. Night golf costs a bit more but it’s a good way to play if you want to avoid the heat of the day in Thailand. Here are some popular golf courses to try in Bangkok:
- Pinehurst (Night Golf), Pathumtani
- Summit Windmill Golf Club (Night Golf), Bangna
- Rajpruek, Laksi
- Riverdale Golf Club, Pathumthani
Pros and Cons of Playing Golf in Thailand
Learning golf while in Thailand is a great way to sidestep the expense and limited opportunities for trying out the sport in most Western countries. With so many affordable golfing spots on your doorstep it is entirely possible to develop a good game in a short amount of time which you can then go on to build upon wherever you end up next in the world. Some good reasons why you should take up golf while in Bangkok, as well as some of the downsides of doing so include:
Courses: there are courses everywhere in Bangkok ranging from cheap and cheerful to exclusive and high class. While some courses aren’t the best in the world, most are perfectly fine for players of all abilities.
Caddies: back home you might not be used to using a caddy but in Thailand it is de rigueur. While they are cheap, they are pretty much mandatory at golf courses and even some driving ranges. As well as carrying your clubs, holding your umbrella and advising you on shots, they will also go on beer runs should you run out while in-between holes. Remember to tip them when you’re done though!
Affordability: the relatively low cost of playing in Thailand and the increased disposable income for most people out here means that what is usually an expensive hobby back home is now something that is quite affordable.
Heat: while playing in the sunshine is great, the intense heat and humidity can make a bad round even more intolerable. Try to book an early tee to avoid the worst of the heat or give night golf a try.
Addictiveness: once you get going it can be hard to stop playing golf. The ease of access and the amount of time it takes to play around can soon see you loosing whole days to the game on a regular basis. However, it is a great social activity and even an evening at the driving range can become a fun night out.
Hopefully this article has shown that if you want to pick up a new skill while in Thailand, golf is one activity that is wide open to you, no matter if you’ve never hit a ball before.