Well coming off the back of a great experience of playing at Dancoon Golf Club, golfing around the Khon Kaen area just got even better when I was introduced to the lovely Ubolratana Dam Golf Course. Again meeting some great guys here in Khon Kaen Province a friend of a friend called Trevor Edge had arranged for a guy called Sam to pick me up for a round of golf about 50km north west of Khon Kaen. Funnily enough as coincidences happen Sam picked me up and we had already met playing golf in Pattaya a mere 525km away and as it went on Sam became a good friend and we had arranged to play Dancoon, Singha Park, Si Borirak and Ubolratana together. Sam another great down to earth guy from Carlisle was reaping the weather and cultural benefits of becoming an expat here in Khon Kaen proceeded to tell me that he played every Monday, Wednesday and Friday switching between the 4 best courses up here in Khon Kaen (oh what a life). The drive from Khon Kaen city to Ubolratana Dam GC is about 45 minutes but if you want to add 20 minutes on your drive through Nam Phong National Park and along the side of the waters of Ubolratana then it’s definitely worth it, Sam being the gent he was took me this way and it was awesome, some of the best views I have come across here in Issan so far.
After arriving at the course to a more down to earth setting than that of the courses in the more touristic parts we got changed and proceeded to get on with the game. Fortunately I was lucky enough to be grouped with Trevor Edge, Trevor Sherman (the bloody nice Aussie guy from Pattaya who was up here visiting Trevor Edge) and Sam. What a fourball, full of Thai stories and what was to be a completely relaxing round of golf. The first hole was a picture of beauty with the morning dew rising and two absolutely cracking big trees on the fairway and with the sun rising from behind the green on this particularly hole it was a picture of complete serenity. The hole itself was a really tough opening par 5 with water before the green so no chance of being close with the addition of the two trees on the fairway made it even more difficult.
The beautiful looking opening tee shot with the early morning dew.
The rest of the course did not disappoint, with no two similar holes and so much more beautiful than Dancoon but with the beauty became the difficulty, as a big hitter I couldn’t get away with the wayward shot, anywhere of line meant you were in a hard place or behind tree life therefore a few times I became unstuck. To add to the beauty of this course there was also a lovely positioned Buddha statue in the hills that always cast an eye down on you.
Although again I must apologise for my awful photography you can understand the feeling you get with this beautiful looking Buddha watching your game.
The front 9 slightly easier than the back followed up with a slightly simple hole 2 par 4 with a dog leg right hitting the second over the water onto a slightly raised green and then followed up by a 170 yard par 3. The highlight of the front 9 is the 6th par 3 although not difficult this is where you get the best view of the Buddha and adds to the tension as you try to hit your drive straight, and a good straight drive should leave you with a fairly simple 100 yard chip in.
The back 9 therefore starts with quite a simple dogleg left par 4 and like the caddies here they are very keen on just pulling the driver out for you on every hole and this is where I came unstuck flying the ball straight through the dogleg to leave me a difficult chip out of the rough to get near the green. Then comes your signature par 3 on the 14th although this course doesn’t posses the island green it does posses this par 3 with plenty of water in front of a very tricky uphill green. Once completing the par 3 14th you then have arguably one of the toughest finishes in golf I have come across here in Thailand, luckily I can hit a reasonable drive therefore getting the length needed on the long par 5 15th but most guys aim to get there in 4, similarly the 16th is a good par 5 although slightly shorter than that of the 15th, the 17th again a nice par 4 with water in front of the green, by this time the caddy was understanding I can hit quite big and sensibly made me play my hybrid to leave me a nice 100 yards into a difficult green. The 18th then becomes the hardest hole on the course it’s a long straight narrow fairway some guys happy to be on in 3 but the difficulty comes on the green with slopes that make you hate golf especially as by time you’ve reached this green the sun has baked it to its quickest, on in two I made a 6 hahah that’s golf for you.
The 14th par 3, 17th par 4 and another from the approach shot of the second.