Golfnutter: Thailand’s golfing newbie – part 2

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This, part two of the definitive guide for golf newbies – golfers new to Pattaya – covers course-related topics, post-round matters and costs.  It is not about how to hit a golf ball.  Rather, it’s about all those things you need to have in place before, during and after your first game in Pattaya, or Thailand for that matter.  The contents apply more to those playing in organised golf groups. 

Last week’s article left our intrepid newbie ensconced in a mini-van, on his way to the golf course complete with appropriate gear, including soft-spike golf shoes, sun protection and a change of clothing.  Note; courses may prohibit play in jeans and insist on polo-shirts with collar.

New to our golfing scene?New to our golfing scene?

Upon arrival the mini-van will stop at the bag-drop, which invariably is just outside the main entrance to reception.  After the caddie-master allocates a caddie to your golf bag you should note two important points; the number of the caddie that took your clubs, and the make and number of the vehicle that brought you to the course.  You will need to find both, one in approximately 20 minutes time and the other in about five hours.  If your intention is to hire a motorised cart, this is the time to advise the caddie master.  Your caddie will love you for that.

Next you proceed to reception and the cashier.  This is where the true value of belonging to a full-service provider, such as IPGC, PSC, or Traveller’s Rest bears fruit.  Newbies playing their golf out of these venues will receive maximum discount.

When paying, simply state which group you are with and whether you are walking or carting. “IPGC, walking, khrup,” will normally do it, providing you have your membership card to back it up.

You will be given dockets which confirm payment of green-fee, caddie-fee and if required, golf cart.  Some courses issue their scorecards at this point, whilst others have the caddies collect them.  Realise that the cashier is the last place you can change large notes into 100s (caddie tip) and 20s for use on the course.

In the locker room you will be asked to sign for a locker key.  Lose that key and your day will turn into an unpleasant and costly experience.  Whilst there, check out the bathroom for niceties such as sun-cream.

Prior to leaving the clubhouse, ensure you know how far it is to the first refreshment stop, and whether it’s open.  If far, then buy sufficient drink before leaving.  As stated in the previous article, playing golf in the tropics is different than simply playing in hot weather.  You will need more liquid refreshment than you realise.

Now to locate your clubs and your caddie.  She will be amongst a horde of similar-looking shapes, all dressed in identical outfits, all with hats.  But that won’t worry you because her number, which you remembered, is prominently displayed on her back.

Thailand’s caddies provide a unique and fun golfing experience.Thailand’s caddies provide a unique and fun golfing experience.

As soon as you locate her, she will require those dockets.  One she will retain herself, the other she will give to the starter confirming you have paid your green-fee.  Docket for your cart, if applicable, is also handed over here, whereby she will smile with gratitude and go fetch your motorised buggy, if she hasn’t got it already.  A note of caution here – damage to the cart will cost you money, irrespective of blame or who was driving.

About your golf bag, if walking – it’s no longer yours to organise.  Inside or hanging off the sides will be your caddie’s “necessities of office”.  These are things she needs to keep her sustained for the next four hours plus.  Best not to try to re-organise it, rather, just go with the flow; when in Rome…..

For more advice on how to get the best out of your caddie, go to: https://golfnutter. wordpress.com/2013/01/04/caddies-some-hints-on-how-best-to-manage/.

Having accepted that the job of getting your clubs around the course has nothing to do with you, your next job is to locate your golf organiser, to confirm you are present and correct.  You need to know your start time, the number of your playing group, and who you are playing with.  Your caddie would also like to know the number of your playing group, as that will inform her who her fellow caddies will be – they often share items, such as food, drink etc.

This can be a testing time for your organiser, so don’t go AWOL without first letting him know you’re there.  Oftentimes, the starter will tell the organiser to go early, so don’t take the tee-off time given on the sign-up sheet as gospel.  Having done all that, you are now free to use the practise facilities, if time permits.  And please, ensure your phone is turned off.

The time to arrive at the teeing ground is not later than when the preceding group have the honour.  If you are playing competition golf, you will be required to swap cards prior to teeing off.  You will mark your playing partner’s card, and he yours.  You have a responsibility to the rest of the group to ensure his score is correct and that he plays by the Rules of Golf.  If unsure, ask.

During the course of the round there may be references to as many as four different sources of rules.  Do not be alarmed.  Pattaya golf needs them.  Allow me to explain:

  • The Rules of Golf – as you would expect.
  • Local Rules – IPGC/PSC – refer websites.
  • Local Course Rules – refer scorecard.
  • Local venue rules – refer golf organiser.

Don’t let these numerous references to rules give the impression of a litigious or over-judicious golfing environment, as that is certainly not the case.  The focus of 90% of Pattaya golfers is on fun.  But we do need to recognise that golf in Thailand can involve events that the Rules of Golf do not cover.

An example would be your caddie picking up your ball after it had come to rest, a mere four inches from the cup.  Why, because she assumed your playing partners would treat it as a gimmie, just like her Thai or Korean customers would.  Oh, I forgot to mention, your caddie definitely doesn’t understand stableford, probably doesn’t know English, and can’t comprehend why on earth she shouldn’t seek or accept advice from other caddies about your putting line.

So yes, we need to allow for what is fair and equitable.  Many playing groups would not be overly familiar with the Rules of Golf, and simply “go with the flow”.  So don’t think you must be fully conversant with the Rules, as that is not the case.  If unsure ask amongst your group or your organiser, before you tee-off.

When your round is complete, your caddie will take your clubs to the car park where you will need to locate the appropriate vehicle.  If you have travelled in other than a minivan, and the vehicle is locked, ask your caddie to leave your clubs at the bag-drop, for you to pick up later.  Otherwise, your mini-van driver will be standing by to take care of your clubs.

This is now the time you tip your caddie.  But you’ve already paid a caddie-fee when paying your green-fee, you ask?  Well, yes you have, but the caddie will not receive the full fee paid, perhaps 80% depending on the course’s policy.  Tipping caddies in Thailand, post round, is mandatory.  Most venues will recommend a standard amount, probably 300 baht.

If you feel your caddie’s attitude or service was outstanding, then a larger amount is fine.  Some golfer’s pay their caddie extra for “twos”.  Beware; over-tipping is not popular as it can lead to increased expectations from caddies – not a desirable situation for regular golfers on limited income, who live in Pattaya and play several times a week.

If you haven’t already done so, agree scores with your marker, sign and swap cards.  Before heading off for that most sought after shower, don’t forget that locker key – the one that’s probably in the bottom of your golf bag, stored away in the mini-van on the far side of the car park.

After ablutions, most will make their way to the on-course restaurant.  Your first job is to return your card, correctly completed and signed by both you and your marker, to the golf organiser.  Whilst most on-course restaurants offer very good value for money, check the ETD with your transport provider before ordering.

Post-round

There are, broadly speaking, three categories of golfers post-round:

  • Those who will attend the presentation and travel back directly.
  • Those who will attend the presentation after, say, an hour’s detour.
  • Those who will not attend the presentation.

A further category would be venues that choose to conduct a presentation ceremony at the golf course immediately post round.  Not common.

Golfers travelling in mini-vans will belong to the first category.  Golfers taking a detour prior to returning will be in private transport.  The detour will commonly involve a stop, or two, at a bar along the way.  Many bars in Pattaya’s outer environs are set up expressly to cater for the “returning” golfer, and as such, prove a popular diversion.  The onus is on the driver to get his passengers back to the clubhouse by presentation time.  If such an experience appeals, you need to arrange transport accordingly, with the organiser, when first signing up.

It is hoped that golfers in the third category have given the organiser their apologies.

Most outlets will wait until both categories one and two, above, arrive back prior to making the presentation.  Here the organiser announces the day’s podium place-getters, along with any other relevant news including up-coming events.

For the newbie this really is the place and time to get to know your fellow golfers.  Some will stay for dinner, others just for a few drinks.  The assembled will, in all likelihood, represent a range of nationalities and cultures, as well as an assortment of golfing skills.  This is a huge part of what makes Pattaya’s après-golf so special.

Costs

Course costs vary depending upon the course played.  Most courses played will charge circa 1,000-1,800 baht green-fee caddie-fee (low season-high season).  A reasonable high-season budget for a day’s golf, walking, would be:

  • Competition fee: – 300
  • Transport: – 300
  • Green-fee caddie-fee: – 1,350
  • Caddie tip: – 300
  • Total: – 2,250 baht

Cart costs vary. Some courses allow two golfers per cart.  Say circa 500 baht.

Conclusion

A day’s golf in Pattaya can start with breakfast at the golf bar and end with dinner at the same place.  The time between these two events can provide the best experience golf has to offer – anywhere.

Enjoy!

Happy golfing,

Golfnutter