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.

 

Treasure Hill, Chon Buri, Thailand

This morning I was feeling wonderful, it was quite simply the most beautiful morning since my arrival last week, I even managed a swim before the usual 8.00am meet at The Haven. Like the previous 4 rounds on this tour I had never had the pleasure of playing Treasure hill before so I was very excited and I had heard good things.

So after the usual breakfast and the 45 minute bus journey to the course we arrived to another beautifully constructed clubhouse, well up there with Bang Pra but possibly not quite as grand as Phoenix.

Right lets get down to the course, and what an opener, quite possibly the hardest opening par 5 you will come across. This time I was playing with Trevor the Aussie guy again (absolute legend) and 2 Norwegian guys one of which was a teaching pro and he said it was the most difficult opening hole he had played. It starts with a difficult drive onto a narrow looking fairway  with big dangerous bunkers down the right  and eventually opens out to a a beautifully sat green. I birdied it so I had to make it sound difficult. The course then ebbed and flowed with a lovely par 3 2nd and a stunning par 5 7th, and a great par 4 to finish the front 9. After 4 rounds I’d really found my swing and actually totting up a better score than the Norwegian pro who I must admit he was a great playing partner and his friend who was in his late 70’s very much looked like he had plenty more tours in him. Whoever said golf wasn’t a very active sport was talking out of their rear end because he was adamant it was the reason he was still very able. The 12th was another beautifully designed par 5 with 2 possible fairways to hit and a backdrop of the mountain was up there with a similar backdrop to Bang Pra. It was then after the 12th my worst nightmare happened on a golf course and my stomach dropped, walking like a penguin I was relieved to find there was a conveniently positioned toilet between the 12th and the 13th. After 15 minutes of blood, sweat and whatever else it was and to the amusement of my playing partners I was back on track. Then came the 16th a monster of a par 5 and a conveniently placed water hazard and for some it was bang on the two shot range, luckily I got two good ones away to clear it.

This course was up there with Bang Pra and I will definitely visit this one again. It might not suit the short hitter but it was in great condition and again I was in my heaven. Out of the 15 odd golf courses in this area this again is a course you must visit, along with Bang Pra, Phoenix and Khao Kheow.

 

The bottom picture being the long par 16th, 2nd up on the right is the beautiful view from the long par 5 12th with two fairways, top row on the left is also the lovely par 5 7th and the top is the opening green after the narrow fairway.

 

Phoenix Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand

Well, I didn’t think it could get any better than Bang Pra, but this matched up to it. Again travelling with The Haven boys, it was a mere 25 minutes from Pattaya. The clubhouse was ultimately the best I’ve come across, It was grand, overwhelming, facilities that beat Bang pra. A lovely day here in Chonburi as always, I’ve only come across rain once in the daytime at Eastern Star and this was rainy season and I have played about 20 different times around here. I was partnered up with some great boys again, a group I didn’t know but ultimately very relaxed blokes, Andy a great player he drew the ball in ways I could only dream about. Phoenix is the host of several touring events, as were visible with gateways that made you feel like a pro. There were 3 9’s on the course we played the Lakes and the Ocean which I was told were the best two. Like no other course around here, there was little water around the course but the beautifully cut greens and fairways were magnificent on the eye. Its starts with a lovely 1st, slightly rising up to a green the rolling fairway was majestic as the way it was cut it seemed like a kind of a diamond formation on the fairway, and the second par 3 was a lovely reachable dipping green. It starts with a nice relaxing two holes that set the game up nicely (we started with the lakes 9 by the way). Most of the water is obviously on the lakes course but there are mere ponds but as you get to the beautiful 8th it’s a tricky par 4 that needs two very accurate shots to reach the green in regulation. As you are playing this beautifully crafted course there is the majestic site of a golden giant buddha crafted into the rock face of a cliff in the background. 

The ocean course is where it’s at though, unbelievable scenery of the gulf of Thailand, tricky par 5’s and long par 4’s just what you can imagine from a championship course, and once you get to the 9th the high tee box allows you to really take a deep breath of the ocean air and makes you happy that you took this hobby up. Again like Bang Pra this is a must if you are in this area, a haven for avid golfers like myself. Of all of the golf courses around here I find it very difficult to critique many of them but this and Bang Pra are the ultimate two to play but then I have had no experience of the highly publicised Siam Country Club nor Laem Chabang that I hear is stunning also.

 

A beautiful clubhouse, and the fairways were in complete tip top order, practise putting areas good enough for Tiger and the beautiful par 3 7th (Lakes course).

Bang Pra, Chonburi, Thailand.

Wow, wow, wow, the only description I can think of. This course gave me the need to start blogging, this course has everything, stunning scenery, different kinds of tree life, monkeys, dogs, dogs chasing monkeys and a giant monitor lizard on the par 3 17th. A stunning clubhouse, quality caddies, backdrops like I’ve never seen, locker rooms good enough for tour pro’s and an Australian playing partner who moaned all the way around, but he was not going to ruin my day. He hit every rough on every hole and moaned about how bad the rough’s were (well don’t hit it there then), he moaned about every bunker (well don’t hit it there either). One of those playing partners you dread, nothing was ever his fault, “just enjoy where you are mate”.

The course was a dream, the first probably the only disappointing hole, but then after it was a mind blower. The second a lovely par 3 with water and awaiting monkeys the other side, then you get to hole 6 and the backdrop was unreal. If you hit a good straight shot the ball is visible against the trees all the way up and down. Already in awe after 6 holes, I was in my dreamland, my grin was from ear to ear. Hole 8 another stunning par 3, water hazards to the right, a couple of well placed bunkers and it’s a good hit to the green. Then the par 3 12th was simply the best par 3 I have ever had the chance to shoot on (see picture). I didn’t care much for how I was playing although it wasn’t bad, by time I got to the 16th there were dogs chasing monkeys up trees, Lizards casually walking across fairways it was so surreal, so relaxing, what a course, and to top it off we were watched onto the 17th green by a giant monitor lizard that lived in the lake you hit over for the par 3. This was my best golfing experience to date by a mile.

As  you walk out of the clubhouse you get greeted to this little charming drink station. The par 3 12th was so beautiful, possibly the best par 3 I have ever played. The usual monkeys and lizards that you see all over the UK (sarcasm), and the moaning Aussie guy I had to endure 4 hours of one of my favourite courses with.

Mountain Shadow, Chon Buri, Thailand.

It was Monday morning, I’d had a steady Sunday evening and I was feeling good we proceeded into the 50 minute drive to Mountain Shadow and again I was partnered with me old mate Trevor, a lovely guy from Oz in his 60’s, an expat who lived in Pattaya. The other two were Japanese guys who spoke very little English but with smiles from ear to ear you knew they were chilled, the weather was great a little hot but hey this is Thailand.

The clubhouse was the worst of the lot and needed loads of tlc, apparently this course was bankrupt and was repossessed by the Bangkok bank. The first tee was a little dogleg right with a tight fairway, I was confident, pulled it into the trees, the second hit another coconut tree, the third over the other side of the fairway scrambled onto the green two putted for a 6. I went from that lovely relaxed calm feeling to frustration in a matter of minute’s. The second another little par four, my heads a mess, I hit the first slice into the trees, next into the bunker, thins out over the green scrambles a 7. Holy shit this was gonna be a bad day. We all know this is what golf does to you the round was horrendous got 20 points the course was difficult, tight long roughs and I was having a mare. I made my mind up to just enjoy where I was, this time I had no buggy, I got to the 8th and thought I was going to die, I seriously questioned my lifestyle decisions at this point whilst Trevor in his 60’s was just strolling around making me look a dickhead. It was one of the hardest rounds I’d ever played. I Was exhausted, my mind was blown, my swing was shot to bits and I was ready for beer.

As for the course, It was lovely, as I said the clubhouse needed work and there were a few things going on, but this course is not for the faint hearted, thick strong roughs you really need to get a swing through it here in Thailand and the fairways were tight and lined with coconut trees, but nevertheless it was lovely.

Highlights of two challenging par 5’s in particular the 14th a long dogleg left hugging a lake all the way to the green. A couple of stunning Par 3’s over water particularly a long 150+ carry over the lake.

The beautifully cut yet narrow fairways of Mountain Shadow (well we all need an excuse).

 

Eastern Star, Rayong, Thailand.

Well what can I say, I arrived in Thailand late Wednesday evening and I’ve turned up to play Eastern Star on Friday morning a bit blurry as I couldn’t handle the excitement of being in the land of smiles and ended out on the razz far too late last night.  But as we sat down at The Haven Hotel (this is where you can find a great group of chaps to socialise with in your golfing trip, I’ll explain more later) I got stuck into one of The Havens English breakfasts and had a cup of tea and we had about a 45 minute journey to the course, I started feeling a little better.

As we entered the gates of Eastern Star the usual greetings of the security guards were a miss as the chap seemed to be fast asleep to the amusement of us all, We drove up the drive and you are presented with quite a magnificent clubhouse (most course clubhouses are amazing from my experiences in Thailand). We paid got sorted had a little putt and got cracking. I was slightly nervous but loving being here, the skies were looking precarious though. We got started and as we walked down the beautiful second fairway the skies opened we finished the hole and hid under a hut for an hour with our caddies and watched as the thunder and lightning exploded into action. We were soaked but after the hour we proceeded onto the lovely 3rd par 3 and began our journey towards the ninth, slowly drying off. The course was wet and we got no run whatsoever but it was gorgeous, the rough was cut and the greens were slow which ended up helping me as I could continue from the slow greens in England and just bang them. Finishing with 32 points I was chuffed and ready for another night on the razzle.

The highlights of the course for me was the 8th par 5 which has an extraordinary sitting tall tree on the fairway (I even managed to hit the bleeding thing), the 13th par 3 was immaculate looking, the home run 18th is a little beauty of a par 4 and as I said before the clubhouse really does make you feel special.

The beautifully constructed difficult par 3 13th.IMG_4032

Lovely 9th hole par 4, bunkers around the green but a nice inviting fairway.IMG_4028