Golfnutter: Where to play from?

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Golfers coming to Pattaya are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding from where they will play their golf.  Whether it’s competition golf or simply a friendly hit with some mates, the number of golfing outlets to choose from is indeed numerous.  Here is a quick look at some of the options.

Broadly speaking, Pattaya’s golf societies, venues or outlets can be described as one of the following:

  • An affiliated golf society.
  • A non-affiliated golf society.
  • Golf tour organisers, whether based in Pattaya or elsewhere.
  • Golf course membership.
  • Any bar with a sign claiming they are a golf-bar.

Golf societies tend to align themselves with a bar, which in turn provides that society with what amounts to club-house facilities.  Good for the bar, good for the society, providing most players make the effort to return to the bar for the post-round presentation.

Rabbi’s Elephant Bar in Soi Buakhao – home to the Pattaya Golf Society (IPGC).Rabbi’s Elephant Bar in Soi Buakhao – home to the Pattaya Golf Society (IPGC).

Most of Pattaya’s golf societies are affiliated with one of two organisations that provide administration and management needed to run competition golf.  These are the International Pattaya Golf Club (IPGC), and the Pattaya Sports Club (PSC).  Both these organisations have been around for ten-years plus.  Both run recognised handicap systems and update them on a weekly basis.  Both maintain Local Rules – a pre-requisite for competition golf in LOS.  Both negotiate with the various golf courses for green-fee discounts on behalf of their members.

The cost of joining either the IPGC or PSG is minimal.  In fact the cost (between 500-1000 THB) can be offset by the discount received after one or two rounds.

The average size field with IPGC or PSC societies will vary between 20–60 (high season) and 10–30 (low season).  Play will be in four-balls.  The standard competition will tend to be individual stableford and split into two or more flights depending upon handicap.

Non-affiliated societies tend to offer non-competitive golf.  These venues do not provide for handicap administration nor do they publish Local Rules.  Those that want a competition are encouraged to arrange it amongst themselves.

One non-affiliated society that does offer handicap admin and Local Rules is the Traveller’s Rest.  Apart from this venue, I’m not aware of any other non-affiliated society offering golfers the full-service package similar to that provided by IPGC/PSC.

Both affiliated and non-affiliated societies offer transport to/from the courses.

Golf tour organisers offer daily, weekly or monthly golf packages to inbound tourists.  Whether based here in Pattaya or offshore, they will arrange to pick the punter up from their hotel, deliver them to the course, and transport them back when finished.

Golf tour companies do not offer handicap/local rule services.  What they offer is basically a green-fee booking service and transport.  Some tour operators claim to obtain substantial green-fee discounts from local courses, but I was not able to confirm this.  Nor was I able to confirm that these discounts are passed on to the golfer.  Whatever the case, the green-fee discounts negotiated are not likely to match IPGC/PSC rates.  The exception would be Japanese and Korean tour groups, due to the huge numbers involved.  Farang numbers are a lot smaller.

Golf course membership represents the “top end” of Pattaya’s golfing fraternity.  For an amount ranging from THB100,000 to 300,000 and up, one can buy a “lifetime” membership to an “exclusive” golf course.  After becoming a member, all one pays for when having a round will be an amount for maintenance and the caddie fee.  This is as close to what Farang know as private golf-club membership, but unlike their club back home, here they have little or no say over how the club is run.

Courses where Farang have bought membership in some number include Eastern Star, Green Valley, Phoenix and Siam Country Club.  Phoenix has been in the news lately for treating its members with apparent disdain, and the word is that Siam Country Club is about to.  More on this story in the coming weeks.

That leaves the last category; any bar with a sign that states it runs golf.  It doesn’t take much for some bars to claim they are a golf bar.  Having a few golfers start their golfing day from a bar will suffice.  Having them return for a few drinks post-round will confirm it.  The truth of the matter is a golf bar is one which hosts a reasonable number of golfers twice or three times per week.  It also has a section of its wall devoted to golf notices, upcoming events, transport times, golfing matters of interest etc.

All affiliated and some non-affiliated societies list their weekly playing schedules in the golfing section of the Pattaya Mail.

So, to any golfer or group of golfers wanting to play golf in Pattaya, simply refer to this paper’s weekly golf schedule and choose your golf society accordingly.

Happy golfing

Golfnutter