Wednesday, 20 January 2010
A story doing the rounds of expat circles goes along the lines of the married gent who wanted to duck off for a naughty weekend with the lads. Told his missus he was off on a golfing trip to Koh Samui. Her suspicions aroused, given he wasn't that keen a golfer, she did a quick search and found that Samui actually was the proud host of exactly -- let's count them together -- none, zero, zilch, nada, nil golf courses at the time. I believe he's still trying to surgically remove his #1 Big Bertha inserted in a strategic orifice by his wife!
You see, Koh Samui was possibly the very last place in Asia to resist the invasion of that insidious epidemic known by its scientific name of 'golf'. It was only in 2003 that she finally laid down her arms and surrendered.
Santiburi Samui Country Club was a grand introduction to the sport, and two more courses shortly followed. Resident golfers on the island number about 500 now, but it's obviously the tourists that keep the greenkeepers busy.
Santiburi I read somewhere laid some sort of claim to being 'a top 5 ranking golf course in Asia 2008'. As voted by the owner's mum, I believe. But it has hosted several Asian Tour opens and numbers Vijay Singh (no, not the Bangkok tailor, the pro golfer) among its fans. So it is a bona fide championship course.
Like Samui Football Golf, the signature hole here is the17th with panoramic views over Mae Nam and Phangan and conservatively 20,000,000 coconut trees. It's a par 5 (the course itself is a 6930 yard par 72).
Given Samui's mountainous hinterland terrain, it would be generous to call any of its courses merely 'undulating'. Steep is the word, and I didn't realise how steep until I saw my caddy packing abseiling ropes and rock-climbing pitons. Even the golf buggy was a four wheel drive.
At 3350 baht green fees (or 4350 once you've costed in the cart and caddy), Santiburi is considered, er, steep by Thai standards. But, just like Mr Singh's tailor shop in Sukhumvit Road, ve are having some cheaper options, sir ...
Royal Samui Golf and Country Club overlooks Chaweng and Lamai. Watch out for mountain goats, and do send my regards to Sir Edmund Hillary if you see him up there. Green fees 1150 baht specially for you, sir.
There's also Bo Phut Hills Golf Club which -- I trust this will not come as a surprise to any readers -- is located in the hills above Bo Phut. The green fees are only 825 baht but there's a catch: it's a par 27 pitch-and-putt. Perfect for those who need more irons in their diet.
Feeling a bit more adventurous? Head across to Suratthani on the mainland and play the Rajjaprabha Golf Course.
There's also Mini Golf International at Choeng Mon, and Frisbee Golf at Bo Phut (not forgetting Football Golf of course).
But whatever you play, and wherever you play it, just remember this golfing tip: take two pairs of trousers in case you get a hole in one. I happen to know a very good tailor ...