Want to hop on the golf craze? Here’s some advice from Thai-Indian fans of the game.
By Nafisa Singhsachathet
During and after the lockdown period, it seems like more and more Thai-Indians have started embracing golf as a pastime. As Thailand is recognised as a leading destination for golf, boasting plenty of courses for all levels and places to train your swing, we’ve putt together a helpful guide to getting started if you’re hoping to join your friends on the green anytime soon!
THE BENEFITS OF GOLF:
Exercise: An average golf course requires a person to walk over eight kilometres, sometimes carrying or pushing a bag, or up and down different undulations. In total, this can burn up to 2,000 calories depending on how flat or hilly the course is. Just as an idea, a golf season requires someone to walk an average of 513 kilometres. That’s equivalent to 12 marathons, 10,268 laps of an Olympic swimming pool (also known as a warm-up for Michael Phelps), or 14.7 per cent of the entire Tour de France.
Good for the Mind: As physical as golf can be, 90 per cent of the game is mental. An 18-hole round acts like one long mental exercise as it makes you think about strategy and forces you to stay focused on the task at hand. Golf can also help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
New Connections: Golf is played by people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Often, if you show up at a course with less than a foursome, you’ll be paired with others, giving you the chance to make new friends.
WHERE TO TEE-OFF AND WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR PACK
42 Tee-Off Driving Range
42 Tee-Off is located right in central Bangkok and is easily accessible by car or Skytrain. The range holds 44 bays, all equipped with automatic machines. The range boasts natural grass with markers at 50, 75, 100, 160, 200 and 230 yards respectively. Next to the driving range, there’s a green and a bunker perfect for putting practice. Their minimum membership top-up is THB 1,000 and is valid for 60 days.
The Vintage Club
Another option is The Vintage Club located about 45 minutes from the city. The course is a 6,720 yard-long standard course with 18 holes and 72 pars, while the club itself is styled after a Tudor-style building on a 6,000sqm area. The experience at the club goes beyond just golf as they have many amenities on offer including steam rooms, Jacuzzis, and massage rooms. Keep updated on their promotions via their website.
Bangkok Golf Club
Another good course for beginners is the Par 3 course at Bangkok Golf Club. Once you get the hang of it, that club will let you level up to their 18-hole course that’ll really challenge your abilities. Located 20 minutes from Don Mueang International Airport and around 40 minutes from downtown Bangkok, the club offers night golf so you can go after work, and the clubhouse is a spacious three-storey building fitted with an impressive pro-shop.
Bangpakong Riverside Country Club
Often overlooked, Bangpakong Riverside Country Club is located a short distance from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Great for beginners, the 18-hole, 72-par course has a flat layout, wide-open fairways and has become famous for its extensive local flora and fauna. The clubhouse facilities at the country club are fully-fitted with amenities you’d need and there’s a practice area behind the clubhouse where players can warm up.
INDOOR FACILITIES TO PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS
Although playing a round of golf is arguably the best way to become familiar with the sport, there are also plenty of indoor places where you can hone specific skills like driving, iron play, and putting.
Bangkok Golf Center
Bangkok Golf Center is the go-to for golfers like Unyamanee Wongaroon and TK Rachanon. Providing a unique coaching system that focuses on the four defining factors of a great golfer: mental, physical, technical and strategic, the professionals who run the centre can generate a customised programme for each student with full scale video analysis and swing analysis. For those looking to play golf at a competitive level, the centre is a great place to train.
Golf Swing Bangkok
Golf Swing Bangkok is an indoor golf course and practice facility that leverages the latest technology to ensure players train to receive optimal results. They offer several types of services: indoor golf, indoor driving range (comprising of four standard bays with golf simulators), and one premium bay with complete club data. Instructors have been accredited by the Thai Professional Golf Association and can help you hone your skills.
THE COMMUNITY WEIGHS IN
“I didn’t learn golf in Thailand but I do know that it’s a great place for beginners because there are many facilities and courses that cater to people who want to start playing the game. I think the best route is to start with lessons at one of the city’s many driving ranges, which usually have affiliations to coaches and learning centres.”
“For beginners who want to get into golf, Thailand is probably one of the best places to get started. Long time ago when I started, there were lots of driving ranges around which made access to the game quite easy. These days, driving ranges in big cities have made way for condos so driving ranges are less available, but opportunities for learning the game are still plentiful.
“The driving ranges I know of not too far from downtown Bangkok are Tee Off 42 and a couple more towards On Nut, RCA and Rama 3. In all these ranges, you can find golf pros who help beginners, or golfers at any level, select clubs, and they also offer golf lessons.
“New age technologies have also come about, such as many of the Wilding Golf Centers. These golf centres use machines and videos to help record and teach the golf swing and there you can find a lot of certified professionals as well. In these centres, each person has an individual station with a machine you align with the ball and when you hit into a screen, it shows the ball flight, swing speed, and takes a video of your swing. These new age technologies make the game much more accessible as you can find them in office buildings, but for me personally, it doesn’t beat the feeling of being out at an open driving range. But to get started, it is a great option.
“Once you make the commitment to the game, you need to get over the initial hump of the frustrating 3-6 months where nothing goes right. From what I’ve seen, you need to have a minimum of 10 lessons with a certified professional just to learn the basics. Everything from hand grip, to long shots, short shots, and putting need to be taught as this isn’t a game, like soccer or basketball, where you can just pick up a ball and start playing.
“If you make it through the initial period and still enjoy golf, you will become addicted to the game, and you will embark on the most difficult conquest of all, which is to try to perfect a game that cannot be perfected. Without a time commitment to the game, it is hard to enjoy and I notice many people step away from golf within the first few months because the time it takes to learn is tedious. Once you advance to a certain level, your golf pro can also take to the golf course with you and advise you how to play and manage the actual game of golf, not just smashing the ball as hard as you can.
“Another tip which I’ve seen help beginners is to start with a friend. Similar to going to the gym, it always helps to have someone to push you and to have fun with learning this game with.
“Golf isn’t an easy game to learn, but once you do, you will be glad you made the commitment and as frustrating as it can be, it can also be the most rewarding.”