Pattaya’s best kept secret is undoubtedly the quality and value of its golf courses.
There are over 20 championship standard courses within 60 minutes of Pattaya, designed by the very best golf architects and designers. The clubhouse facilities are generally excellent with everything you might need and more, including great restaurants, swimming pools, massage facilities as well as superb shower and locker rooms. All courses provide caddies to guide you through your round with words of advice and encouragement.
Golf is extremely popular in Thailand with players coming from across Asia and beyond to enjoy the local courses. The green fees are, on the whole, quite reasonable especially if you play with one of the many golf societies in the city. Naturally, the rates at weekends are higher and also during the traditional high season (November to February) but they are still cheaper than playing a similar standard course in the west – and you have the excellent weather! Booking in advance is definitely recommended.
The golfers of Pattaya tend to debate which is the best course in the area with the courses at Siam Country Club coming often coming out on top, perhaps not surprisingly as The Old Course, hosts the Honda LPGA Thailand event each year. However, Laem Chabang often gets a mention in dispatches but all of these options tend to be on the pricier side. This makes other courses more attractive as they are considerably cheaper such as Pattaya Country Club, or Eastern Star and Emerald if the event is more of a social gathering rather than focusing purely on the golf.
Playing golf in Thailand is quite different to what you may be used to back in the west. Firstly, you have the excellent year round climate but you also have to, in most cases at least, take a caddie with you and often use a golf cart – especially at weekends. This can add quite a bit on to the cost of your round although an increasing number of courses do show the ‘all-inclusive’ price. Golf societies are nearly always very transparent with their charges and the price you see is what you pay.
As with nearly every pastime in Pattaya, tipping the caddies is the norm. Usually, this will be upwards of 300 Thai Baht and if you have had a good round, the caddie has been helpful or you have recorded a few birdies, more will be expected. In addition, most courses will have drinks kiosks scattered around serving soft drinks, snacks and of course, beer. Buying the caddie a drink is not only polite, it is pretty much customary. The caddies can really add enjoyment to your round, even when you are playing badly, so it is well worth looking after them. If you get a good, get their name and book them for next time!
As we mentioned, Pattaya has some excellent golf societies that are a great way to meet new people and play a variety of courses. Some of the best include O’Gara’s who are based on the Pratamnak Hill and The Sportsman on Soi 13. They will get beneficial rates and in most cases will organise some form of transport to and from the course. Après Golf also plays a major role in the day so expect to leave early in the morning and return in the evening with Ban Chang being a particularly popular stop-off on the way home.
Quite simply, golfing in Pattaya is a match for anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost with each course offering a fantastic experience for golfers of all abilities (with no course requiring a handicap card). So, whether you are a low handicap golfer, one who enjoys a challenge or a complete novice there is no better place to play than the courses around Pattaya.