Golf Swings Strong in Thailand
By Jules Kay
With Thai golf now firmly on the world competition map and stars like Thongchai Jaidee, Taworn Wirachant and Prayad Marksaeng consistently featuring in the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, the game has become one of the Kingdom's major passions for international visitors and domestic players alike.
Thai golf has come a long way in the last few years and international tournaments are now regularly held at courses around the country. The 4th Edition of the Royal Trophy back in January saw major stars from Europe and Asia battling it out Ryder Cup style the immaculate Amata Spring Country Club. Asian Team Captain’s Naomichi ‘Joe’ Ozaki’s team included superstars like Ryo Ishikawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, while Colin Montgomerie prepared for his recent Ryder Cup victory by picking top class players like Henrik Stenson and Simon Dyson. The event drew record-breaking galleries, saw highly competitive golf and spectators and players enjoyed a great atmosphere all around.
In 2011, the Asian Tour Qualifying School will be staged over three courses in Hua Hin. Presented by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the First Qualifying Stage will be played at the Imperial Lakeview Golf Club and Majestic Creek Golf and Resort, while the highly competitive Final Qualifying Stage will take place at the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal Country Club. Players from around the globe will arrive to stake their claim at the Qualifying School where the top-40 finishers and ties at the Final Qualifying Stage will earn playing rights for the 2011 season and go on to compete with the big name players.
With so much top level golf now being played in Thailand, the amateur golf scene is also gaining momentum across the country. This month, from 15- 28 October, The Pattaya Amateur Golf Week will draw golfers from Thailand and around the globe to compete on 7 different courses, including the prestigious Siam Country Club, which has previously hosted several international golf tournaments including the 2008 and 2010 Honda LPGA Classic and Thai Country Club, the site of Asian Tour wins by Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Thongchai Jaidee. Following closely on October 28, Chiang Mai Amateur Golf Week will see players challenging their skills amid beautiful mountain scenery at courses like the Summit Green Valley Chiang Mai Country Club, designed by renowned golf course designer Dennis Griffiths.
These amateur events are marketed and sold via Golfasian's global network of golf tour operator partners. With Phuket and Hua Hin also hosting major tournaments, international golfers can combine a holiday with some competitive play, visiting the country's finest locations and enjoying Thailand's rich cuisine, natural beauty and world class hospitality at the same time.
Thailand is increasingly recognised as a top golf destination by golf holidaymakers from Europe, Australia, North America, and Asia. Last year, the country was awarded IAGTO Golf Destination of the Year for Asia & Australasia and was also voted as the 2008 and 2009 Europe-Asia PGA #1 Choice Golf Vacation Destination. Around 600,000 golf tourists visit every year and around 60% of these are repeat visitors who return year after year to enjoy the quality golf courses, value-for-money, and open hospitality afforded golfers from around the globe.