The kingdom is right on course to becoming a go-to golf destination for Indian players
With its abundance of beaches, spectacular scenery, zesty nightlife and mouth-watering cuisine, the Kingdom of Thailand is already a tourist’s darling. But now, another segment is steadily inching up on the popularity scale – golf tourism. Golf has been played in Thailand for almost a century, with games recorded at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club as early as 1905. Over the years, Thailand has greeted millions of golfers from around the world to tee-off on its 250-plus courses nationwide, dotted by the sea, mountains, lakes, inside the cities and even besides the airports.
With this in mind, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has introduced the Amazing Thailand Golf Pass, offering matchless facilities for tourists. The Indian golf tourism circuit is very excited about the initiative, which offers superb individual and group benefits to players.
“A number of quality service providers like Thai Airways, Cox & Kings, Callaway and a number of golf courses, resorts and hotels have come together to partner with this initiative,” says Anil Dev, managing director, SLW.
“Golf has long been the game of corporate and business people who are also avid travellers. Thai Golf Passport creates a membership that shares common values and interests, and at the same time provides an engaging golfing and networking platform for stake holder-members and sponsors alike,” says Shashank Chaudhary, sales & marketing director, Callaway Golf India.
Chitranjan Bakhshi, business head, Golf Holidays, Cox & Kings adds, “We believe in providing quality service to our customers and this programme will help in validating our claim. It would be our endeavour to work towards a successful implementation of the project.”
Thai Golf Pass has the support of Thai Airways as its Airline Partner. “It was natural that we would be a part of the initiative being the national carrier, we look forward to a successful season 2 and we will do everything that is possible at our end to make it a success,” says Sunil Kumar, head of sales, Thai Airways.
“Our association welcomes this programme, which is unique to India. While hotels and airlines have loyalty programmes, this will be a first of its kind where a country has created such a programme. We support all golf tourism initiatives and are sure that this will hugely encourage golf travel in India,” says Rajan Sehgal, president of the Indian Golf Travel Association.
A Successful Season One
The inaugural season of the initiative saw the website launch, promotional events in India and one gala event in Bangkok, with 83 loyalty partners, 2,307 membership registrations and a whopping 522 participating golfers. Preparations for Season 2 started in December 2018. “I would like to congratulate all the partners of Thai Golf Pass for the success of this project,” says Isra Stapanaseth, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi. “At Amazing Thailand Golf Paradise with more than 250 international standard golf courses, professional caddies, warm hospitality, wellness, food and entertainment, we look forward to welcoming more Indian golfers to a be part of this loyalty programme and experience our services.”
Each golf destination in the country has local companies with websites like ‘Hua Hin golf package,’ Golfasia and such. You need to decide if you want a local expert to handle your hotels and all transfers or just the bits related to golf. Thailand is very tourist-friendly, so making your own arrangements for a golf trip is fairly easy to do.
“Thailand excels at delivering a complete golf experience. Not only the diversity of courses and standardised amenities but also unique local experiences makes Thailand competitive on both a regional and global level,” says Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communications at the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Pattaya is one of the most popular destinations for golf lovers. It offers 20 golf courses with five-star accommodation. The Lanna Sports Club in Chiang Mai is a 27-hole course, with panoramic views of the Doi Suthep temple, which is a great attraction for the golfers. It is also right next to a race track so that you can combine a round of golf with a day at the races.
At events like the ‘Chiang Mai Golf Festival’ (May – June), you can experience customised Thailand golf packages with plenty of activities and attractions. The ‘Hua Hin Golf Festival’ (August– September) hosts golf tour operators and buyers from key international markets while the Thailand Golf Travel (July) welcomes local suppliers and golf course owners from around Thailand. Women golfers can sign up for the Lady Golf Challenge that takes place in the month of August.
“With many courses being developed by leading professionals such as Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman, Thailand is the ideal place for a great game of golf. The amazing Thai food, getting pampered in the spas and great shopping options, is just a cherry on the cake when I visit Thailand,” says Vani Kapoor, Thailand’s golf ambassador in India.
Seasoned golfer, avid traveller and journalist Shekhar Niyogi finds playing golf in Thailand a great aesthetic experience. “They have beautifully manicured courses, a good mix of par-3 and par-5 holes and reasonably serious hazards and narrow fairways. I have played a few courses on the outskirts of Bangkok and Phuket and some of them are championship signature courses comparable with the best in Europe but offering a degree of difficulty that can be handled by mid-handicap golfers too. Weather is mostly sunny through the year and the green fees, cart and caddy charges are less expensive than Singapore and a few courses in Malaysia,” says Niyogi, who has been playing golf in Thailand for years.
TOP 5 REASONS THAILAND IS A GREAT GOLF DESTINATION
Affordable: Thailand provides value for money in all the areas that really matter to the visiting golfers.
Weather: In the cool season from November to February, the Thai climate with light breeze and constant sunshine provides great conditions for a golfing holiday.
Caddies: Predominantly female Thai caddies provide top-level service that stuns many first-time visitors.
Hospitality: The fusion of Asian, Indian and Western influences and varieties of Thai food, professional and welcoming hospitality staff make the experience comfortable.
Attractions: There is so much to do besides golf. You’re spoilt for choices that include magnificent temples, beaches, and experiencing the worldclass Thai spas.