Si Bourirak (The Agriculture) Golf Club, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

As mentioned in previous blogs Sam the guy who had become my Khon Kaen golfing bezzie (I had probably forced this upon him) had took me under his wing and in the brief time I had left here he was gonna make sure I played all the courses around this lovely city, the ones worth playing anyway. Every Monday and Friday there were a lovely group of gentlemen who called themselves Issan Golf who met up at Si Bourirak also known as “The Agg”. Sam admittedly said it wasn’t the top notch course like Ubolratana Dam and no way near like the standard of Singha Park (yet to blog about) but he said it would be a nice relaxed round of golf at a local golf course with some good chilled out guys and that’s exactly what it was. As you drove into the car park of The Agg it had a similar feel to the underwhelming Sri Thani Forest in Udon Thani, the caddies all gathered in a mere shed the clubhouse was on open sided shack and the shop was also a less than overwhelming building. My first thoughts were “oh no not another Sri Thani Forest”, but first thoughts were to be quite deceiving. This course albeit  9 hole was full of charm, personality and funnily enough greens to die for, so much better than Dancoon, the only down side really were the horrific bunkers, and if only they smartened the bunkers up this little 9 holer would be quite the charmer.

The first hole was a fairly simple dogleg right over water quite uninspiring really if you hit a good drive you would have a very short chip into the green, but after the first this charming little 9 hole course really came to life, the second being a good testing long straight par 4 with a couple of trees down the left hand side of the fairway and if you were prone to a fade or slice you must be careful of the water to the right (for right handed golfers). Then for me came the most charming par 3 I had played in a long time, whether it was the rather ugly looking lake in front of the green, or the rickety bridge over to the green that looked as if anytime soon it could collapse there was something about this par 3 that you had to love. The green would be one of the hardest I have ever come to putt on, with a severe down slope back towards the water and especially second time round after the sun had baked this green it became a very testing par 3.

The quite uninspiring 1st hole, then the charms of this course came to life with the bridge to walk over to the par 3 3rd, the par 3 3rd green and the approach shot into the 2nd.

The fourth would then become a really testing but quite open par 5 with a selection of tall trees down the left hand side of the fairway that guides you to the green, after this you had to take a slight walk past the first tee, around the shop to the lovely quite short par 4 with plenty of traps including a tall yet narrow lovely looking tree that bears down on your tee shot, pick left or right of this tree, left for safety, right for the greedier golfer, if you go right beware of the water trap down to the right. The 6th again is a tricky yet shortish par 4 with a dog leg to the left and if you hit a good 200 yards you’d be at the corner of the dogleg with a mere 130 in. For me though the conclusion to this par 9 course is fantastic the 8th was a stunning quirky par 5, but you got to keep it straight, go left and you are not finding the ball and if you go right you’ll probably end up in some water, and perfectly positioned about 150 from the green is the tail of the water so you’ve either gotta be brave and clear it or if your game is a bit shorter be a wimp and and lay up. The 9th is the signature hole, although for me the 3rd is  ore interesting, like the third it had water to the front of the green, but this par 3 9th looked more man made and crafted to be nicer on the eye, which is probably the reason I preferred the more natural setting of the 3rd. It’s a bigger hit in and the green is generous in size. All I can say about this course (barring the bunkers) is if you are in the Khon Kaen area you must play this course, it costs about £10 and for me was the best course in terms of being so charmingly quirky, but if you want the picture perfect standard 18 hole courses you generally get here in Thailand don’t be expecting too much. If you also fancy joining some lovely guys here look up and they will greet you with open arms.

The lovely approach shot into the 5th green par 4 and the testing par 5 8th.

Looking back from the large 9th green towards the tee box.

ag 9th green

Ubolratana Dam Golf Course, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

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.

Dancoon Golf Club, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

At last a blog worth writing, a course worth playing and a completely relaxing day worth remembering. My progress through Issan had been a bit dismal to say the least, I had been completely fobbed off by Victory Park, and although I was glad for the game at Sri Thani Forest in Udon it was completely underwhelming, so I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful chap called Pete Hartley, a down to earth Yorkshire-man who was the owner of two lovely resorts in Khon Kaen (ChaiSiri Resort and Sara’s Boutique Resort). Peter himself was a keen golfer although very relaxed in it’s approach, every Thursday he participated in a round with his friends at Dancoon Golf Course, about 10 km outside Khon Kaen, he invited me along.

The morning of Thursday 11th January we proceeded to Dancoon Golf Club, it was a very cold morning, something I was not accustomed to here in Thailand, I even had to fork out £20 on buying myself a sweater (travelling lightly I had limited clothes). The approach to the clubhouse was something I was used too although a little less grand than the courses down in Chonburi, Bangkok or Rayong, but nevertheless a lovely clubhouse backed up by very comfortable changing rooms. I was introduced to my caddy by Peter who being a expat chose me an absolute cracker, this caddy was enough to put anybody off there golf, although extremely pretty she was to be one of the best caddies I had here in Thailand, only after a couple of holes I didn’t need to speak to her much she already had the correct club out for me just giving me the vital information of yardage and green slopes.

The beautifully comfortable changing rooms at Dancoon.


My playing partners Peter and Lawrence, I’ll tell you something this was to be the most relaxed round I had for a long time, Lawrence and old guy, full of laughs, a bit of a lad if you know what I mean, and as I had mentioned Peter very down to earth, relaxing and pretty much a lovely bloke. The beers did flow, as you can imagine there was no competitive edge whatsoever only on the par 3’s where we agreed to bet a few baht and the winner had to give it to the caddy which I thought was a lovely gesture to these 3 lovely caddies.

Right enough of talking about my experiences of being introduced to some great people and lets talk about this course, and before I make it sound like the best course ever, it wasn’t a touch on the beautifully crafted courses in the more touristic areas, but value for money this was right up my street, a great local course the greens very slow but having work done which was nice to see, and if I was to settle as an expat in this area then I would be extremely happy to pay the prices to play Dancoon regularly.

The opening hole was quite a simple par 4, teeing off over water was know to become the norm and with a good drive you would be left with a simple chip onto the green, not a frightening opening hole to say the least, in fact the course is very different to what I was used to here, if you sprayed the drive a bit and didn’t land in water you almost definitely would be in a safe hitting position, there was very little tree life on this course. The par 5 3rd was the next notable hole worth mentioning almost having two dogleg rights in it, very testing for a short hitter but was right up my street birdie first time round, I knew I was going to enjoy this place. The holes were quite simplistic up to the 7th where you then come across your signature Thailand par 3, a nice 145 from the whites but from the blues a more difficult 170 with water all the way up to the front of the green with bunkers all the way down the right of the green, so you can get carried away with the quite simple first 6 but then the course comes to life, The 8th a beautiful long straight par 4 with well positioned bunkers and then the par 5 9th is an absolute belter, its long, if you hit a good drive you still have to lay up short because only Dustin Johnson could carry the water in front of the green in two, once you got round the dogleg left you were introduced to the wonderful sight of the slightly raised green behind a the water that carried through from the opening tee shot and would maintain its flow through to the 18th green and behind the 9th and 18th greens was the sight of the lovely restaurant and hotel.

The early morning mist looking out on the course from the restaurant.


The opening hole at Dancoon a fairly straight forward par 4, then where the course starts to get really interesting with the par 3 7th.


The back 9 is a completely different challenge to the front 9, its more of an exciting longer challenge than that of the front, more suitable for you big hitters. It starts with a lovely par 4 over water, dog legs to the left but if you were greedy enough to cut some of the water out you were left with a chip albeit a difficult chip onto a raised green, then came the what I would call the signature par 3 with the island green and lovely scenery around the big lake, as I mentioned Dancoon is in comparison to the touristic courses very flat and has very little tree life and its on this par 3 where you realise this with the lake and the surrounding flat banks almost make it look a little like a dessert course with water obviously. Following this par 3 is a long hard par 5 with a suitably placed tree to catch you out on that second shot, with an approach shot onto a raised green and if the flag is at the back don’t be going long as it falls away at the back. The finish to Dancoon is quite difficult with long par 4’s on the 14th, 15th and 16th then again although similar to its approach the slightly shorter par 5 is the perfect ending to what a lot of people would call quite an easy course, very relaxing, easy to walk although with its limited tree life I could imagine in the hotter months here this course could boil you up a little bit.

A pano of the 11th par 3 you can see the small amount of tree life compared to that of  the other courses I’ve played in Thailand. The 18th approach with the hotel in the background. The lovely 17th par 3 and the approach to the very difficult 15th par 4.


Sri Thani Golf Forest, Udon Thani, Thailand.

So eventually after the awful experience of Victory Park I had managed to badger myself a game in Udon Thani province north east Thailand. Fortunately through the powers of Facebook I managed to get hold of a lovely chap called Gary Parks who arranged for someone to bring me some golf clubs. I got the taxi drive from my hotel to the golf course it took about 25minutes from the centre of Udon and it was a lovely drive around big lakes and proper Thai villages I immediately knew this was going to be a different experience to all the others I had. After being awake all night with what I might call Udon Thani Tom Tits (the sh*ts) and trouble with knowing if my stomach was ready to explode at any minute and on top of using a new set of golf clubs, and a seemingly nosey old chap from Birmingham constantly telling me where I was going wrong this was to be the biggest mental test in golf I had thrown myself into, but I was adamant I was gonna enjoy being in this rural setting. If you get the gist my golfing performance was horrific so let’s talk about the experience of the course.

Firstly you drive down the driveway to what can be described as a few wooden shacks and some scruffy looking caddies about  (this place doesn’t need caddies). The shop wasn’t open so Gary and the lads said it was ok to play and pay after so we continued ahead. The first tee was split by water and you couldn’t differentiate the fairway from the rough saying that you couldn’t differentiate the fairway from the rough over the whole course and with a good drive you’d only have a small wedge in to the greens that were very slow. Now from what I was used to playing here in Thailand I was bit underwhelming but I was going to enjoy the company of Scotty and Ari who were perfect playing partners especially when I couldn’t find the swing and I had to try and erase the other guy out of my head I’m not even gonna mention his name. My highlights from the course were the 4th par 4 that had a nice little dogleg on it and the par 5 6th that was the most difficult par 5 I had seen, it was long, it had a dog leg and if you were over the green by the smallest of margins your ball was gone into the water. My ball pitched on the green took the most horrific bounce never to be seen again, and with the fairways being as long as the rough you couldn’t really chip and run into any of these greens. Then I got to the 9th and realised it was only a 9 hole golf course so we played 9 twice. I can’t complain too much about this course with a green fee of just over a fiver and if I was living in this area I would certainly play it again for practicing purposes, but I would be damned paying for a caddy that did nothing. If you are in the area and you want a cheap round of golf then by no means go here, but like me if your looking for something more overwhelming then leave this one alone. I would like to mention though the wonderful Gary Parks who organised for me to join his wonderful group of men (apart from one) for a nice Monday morning sociable round, he is a true gent and I hope to see him in the future for a round.

The par 3 3rd. Tough par 3 especially from the blues, didn’t see any of the usual lads perform well on this.


The opening hole, If it wasn’t for the green you wouldn’t know it was a golf course.


Don’t be long into this green there is a lake the other side that beautiful looking tree makes it look like you have more room that you actually have. IMG_4404


Royal Lakeside, Chachoengsao, Thailand.

Luckily enough I had time to squeeze one more round in before I go to Nakhon Pathom and try to immerse myself in the real Thailand and living like the Thai people. As we were postponed for a few days travelling this may have been the luckiest break I had because Royal Lakeside for me was the best course I had played so far in Thailand. Once again the true gentleman Ray Bloom from The Londoners Golf Society had agreed to give me a lift to the course, and it seemed to be quite a short journey from the Bang Na side of Bangkok probably only 30 minutes. As we arrived at Royal lakeside I was greeted to what might be the most impressive looking clubhouse yet, and this being Thailand things are a bit OTT when it comes to impressive clubhouses but my gosh it was lovely.

My camera skills and my phone are shocking but you get my gist with these two pictures regarding the clubhouse.

The course matched up to the clubhouse, although some wouldn’t agree but as I am the one blogging I will be the judge. The fairways were immaculate, the only issue I have with golf in general in Thailand is they make the greens super fast but the fairways into the greens are slow, basically you can’t chip and run into the greens.

The game itself was highly intense, something I don’t particularly enjoy. I was playing with Ray, an Englishman called Richard and an American called Patrick. Ray and Richard were playing in a match-play that was to see who the winner of the match-play competition for the calendar year of 2017 at The Londoners was. You could cut the air with a knife, you could feel every mood swing, this is not an atmosphere I enjoy much but it kind of made me and Patrick quite competitive as we had the same handicap, it was almost like there were 2 match’s going on.

Anyway the forced competitiveness didn’t get in the way of me enjoying this beautiful arena. It started with an immaculate but fairly simple par 5, with a big fairway to hit and realistically if you are on your game you can be up and around the green in 2. The greens here were not as quick as Bangkok Golf Club, just how I like them being an Englishman. The course was lovely, the beautifully mowed fairways and the addition of probably the best weather I’ve had in terms of heat, as it wasn’t too hot made this course look and feel even better. the beautiful dog-leg right fourth par 4 was like a picture out of a golf magazine, beautifully sat palm trees, with beautifully placed bunkers on the dog leg opening up to a wonderful looking and inviting green and the to top a great front nine you are blessed with a tough par 4 9th with water hazards both sides (I didn’t know there was a water hazard to the left until I walked over the mound to find a big lake that the caddy didn’t mention). The tee off from the 9th is one of the better views of the absolutely amazing clubhouse here, very inspiring for a round of golf.

The view from the 9th tee box and the beautifully crafted 4th pr 4.

The back 9 didn’t disappoint either starting with a simply delightful par 5 10th following the water all the way down the left and the 11th par 4 continues to follow the water with an epic looking beach effect bunker all the way along the river. The par 3 12th has that much sand it makes you feel like that your playing in a desert for another added difference to the course and to make it a fairly difficult par 3. But my favourite hole had to be the 14th, it was a very simple par 4 but looked amazing, with a good 200 yard t shot left you a nice wedge into the island looking green, and as we don’t get many in England I do love these island greens here in Thailand.


The par 3 12th, and the par 4 14th green.

To conclude I don’t want to put this as number 1 because I enjoyed my time at Phoenix more but mainly due to my playing group, the added competitiveness did hamper the mood here but as per course layout and beauty this has to be number 1. I will go back here and hopefully get to play in a less serious situation. If you were wondering I beat Patrick by 1 shot but as I wasn’t a paid member of The Londoners it didn’t go down recognised and as would have one the whole day, not that I have a little bit of a competitive streak in me.

Bangkok Golf Club, Pattum Thani, Thailand

So my adventures in Chon buri/Rayong were over for now and what a great 18 days I had. All a man of my addiction to golf could dream of, great playing partners (well 99% of them), great courses (also 99% of them), great weather most of the time and this was supposed to be the wet season and great beer. The haven had done me proud again at making the golf courses around that particular area so accessible with the least amount of hassle, and also a new friend in Colin who had also made my round with his group so enjoyable. Next was the prospect of meeting up with some guys from a club called the Londoners in Bangkok. I’d previously e-mailed Ray Bloom the captain after I found his very professional outfit on Facebook, oh the wonders of social media. I’d arranged to meet him at his condo in Udom Suk, luckily my hotel was only a couple of kilometers away so it was kind of easy, and the very kind gentleman took me in his own car to Bangkok Golf Club, around a 45 minute drive from Udom Suk.

Bangkok Golf Club looked like a scene from the Beirut of the past as we drove down the entrance road. To the right was an horrific looking building that was apparently being renovated into a new modern hotel but for know it didn’t look at all inviting. The clubhouse albeit was in good order, it was beautifully constructed and we went through the routine of sorting our gear out, having a lovely cup of coffee and proceeding onto the apparent fast putting green, but as this place had seen a fair bit of rain lately they had slowed up a little.

As we tee’d off I was joined by the club captain Ray, and two other great blokes, Stuart I can only describe as this full of life, full of stories gentleman from South Africa and a more kind of gentlemanly quiet Englishman called Barry, but yet again couldn’t have asked for more in terms of playing pals.

The first tee was a hit over water but what wasn’t apparent to me is this was usually not a hit over water and it had just flooded severely, the fairway doglegged round to the right for a fairly straight forward par 4. Now from being involved in some beautifully scenic courses in and around Pattaya I knew from the drive this was going to be your bog standard inner city course and it was just like that. I was never inspired at all by any amount of beauty on this course even the fairways looked quite drab, I was only ever inspired by my playing partners who were a wonderful bunch. In all honesty the front 9 past me by without having any breathtaking holes in my head, In all honesty I didn’t even feel the need to take a photo until the par 3 island green and in again all honesty I can’t remember what hole it was. The back 9 was the better of the two halves and the par 4 13th was the highlight of the course, but I have to say if I don’t play this course again I wouldn’t be too bothered. Like all golf addicts, I was loving the fact I was playing nice sociable golf in the warm weather of Thailand so nevertheless the feeling was of happiness.

A pano of the view from the clubhouse, a rare one of me on the 13th and the island green (can’t remember what hole). All in all a very uninspiring course.

Silky Oaks Country Club, Rayong, Thailand.

Silky Oaks in Rayong was to be my last day out golfing here in Chonburi/Rayong area this trip. I am heading to Bangkok for a teaching seminar and to join up with a guy from a Bangkok society called the Londoners in the hope for a few more rounds in the Bangkok area.

Last night I was out on the razzle again watching my Beloved Leicester City beat Swansea, I had a word with myself to get back to the hotel early enough so I would feel ok for my round the next day, but would you believe it we had the most wonderful thunderstorm there was no way I was walking in that and it lasted 3 hours making me consume a few more bottles of the old San Miguel Light. So a  very late night topped off by what I could only describe as a walk home in the sewers. I had to empty the valuables from my pockets so I could walk at least 200 meters back to the hotel in hip deep water and to be honest it was like walking through a Severn Trent treatment station. After getting back to the hotel smelling like I’d spent a night in the Bangkok Hilton (prison), with a tide mark round my waste that Skegness beach would be proud of I proceeded to get clean and sleep ahead of a busy day at Silky Oaks.

The morning came around far too quickly according to my fuzzy head, a few aspirins and plenty of water sorted the job out. This time it was a Sunday round and as The Haven only play Monday, Wednesday’s and Friday’s I had to find a new society. I came across Colin from the appropriately named Colin’s Bar, on Soi Buakhao and he let me join his very friendly group of expats so I jumped in his car and took the 30 minute drive to Silky Oaks that was incidentally on the same site as the famous St Andrews course and Green Valley.

The course itself was the worst I played on this tour and if your keen on a nice walk with your round of golf then you can forget this one, the 2km buggy round to the first tee was long enough let alone the distances between green’s and tee’s, the course just had no flow, it just didn’t make sense. As I obviously had a buggy it was time to play and enjoy the few holes that seem to have had a bit of thought put into them and admittedly it wasn’t all bad, my playing partners were great, a South African guy who was as relaxed as the usual South African and an Englishmen who loved his golf as much as me. I was struggling to keep up with his tally of 43 points off a handicap of 21 though it gave me no chance giving him an extra 8 shots.

The opening hole was one of the best, hitting a drive over water with the inviting fairway below and then onto a nicely sat raised green. The 3rd par 3 over water is a lovely little hole (I do love a little bit of water on a par 3) the green precariously sloping backwards into the water makes it a very awkward yet nice par 3. The most impressive hole was the par 5 5th. The tee box beautifully constructed so you felt as if you were teeing off from the lake, as you looked up to your left was an appropriate positioned drink station and to be fair the drink stations on this course were beautiful. This par 5 will be one of the toughest you ever play, so you tee off over water then you still need a big hit second to have a chance of hitting over the water again to reach the green in 3, I could easily see people playing for the green in 4 on this hole as did the South African guy. The rest of the front 9 had little to be desired. The back 9 also offered little to the imagination, the best hole was probably the 11th, but even that was exactly the same as the first and as I said the course designer had quite the nightmare here and it’s not until you reach the par 3 14th do you completely realise the disaster they had. What a terrible hole, you look up on what you can only describe as a field onto the nice looking drink station, you can’t see the green and you can barely see the flag, it’s almost like they ran out of idea’s and just stuck a hole in the middle of a slope and did nothing with it.

All in all a good day had by all, Colin at Colin’s bar was very welcoming he just doesn’t have the transport options that The Haven have so his bar is aimed towards the expats more.


The par 3 14th (where is the green? Where is the flag even). A panoramic picture, I had to try and be technical to get a bit of beauty out of this course.