If you are considering booking a Pattaya golf holiday, the city is simply one of the best golf holiday destinations in SE-Asia. Golf is rapidly becoming the fastest growing participant sport in the world. Asian golf has some stunning golf holiday destinations. The most famous across the continent being Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China. This club has 12 courses in a single complex designed by the world’s most famous golfing legends and designers.
In my humble opinion, Thailand is South-East-Asia’s premier golf holiday destination. However, one location is a lofted sand wedge above the rest. Startlingly so, Pattaya has a staggering 25 golf courses within 40km of downtown Pattaya. For some reason, this high concentration of courses as never been successfully marketed as so.
For all intents and purposes, Pattaya should be the number one golfing location in South-East-Asia. Pattaya has so much choice in regard to pricing, quality, and diversity. From meticulously pruned championship courses to local municipal style courses, Pattaya golf has them all and everything in between. As an avid golfer, I have played the majority of courses in the region, so let me give you a rundown on the best options.
Pattaya Championship Golf
Championship style courses are mainly quite difficult for those of us who consider ourselves as rank amateurs. But there is nothing better than challenging yourself and playing a course fit for professionals.
Pattaya has a nice collection in what I define as ‘Championship Courses’. The Siam Country Club, situated just a 15-minute drive from downtown Pattaya has two Championship courses – The Plantation, and The Old Course. The Plantation is a 27-hole course built in 2008 and designed by the Arizona-based renowned designers, Schmidt & Curley Design Inc. Taking its name from the surrounding Sugar Cane, Tapioca, and Pineapple plantations, which are also the individual names of each 9 holes. The Plantation is a mix of lofty tee-offs, stunningly maintained fairways and greens and a colossal amount of bunkers. Weave your way through this gem of a course and make sure you are hitting the ball well.
The Old Course, on the other hand, was first built in 1972 but enjoyed some renovation work in 2006. During 2007, the course hosted the Honda LPGA Thailand, which shows you the high standards we are talking about. The Old Course is more of a traditional course, much flatter than The Plantation and much more user-friendly. Don’t let this become false dawn. The 18 holes are also quite challenging – as you would expect from a Championship course.
My favourite Championship course in and around Pattaya is the Laem Chabang International Country Club. Its breathtaking scenery is something else. And the fact that it was designed by golf messiah, Jack Nicklaus, makes it even more desirable for golfers. Situated a 25-minute drive outside Pattaya at the neighbouring Laem Chabang, this is a must-play course when visiting the region. It’s like going to Egypt and forgetting to view the Giza Plateau, completely sacrilegious! This lush and exotic course comprises three sets of 9 holes – dully name the Mountain 9, Lake 9, and the Valley 9. Each set is roughly 3,500 yards in length and a test for any golfer. Although in my opinion, much more forgiving than the Siam Country Club Plantation Course.
Great Value for Money Pattaya Golf
As a world-class golfing destination, Pattaya golf is on a level of its own when it comes to value for money. As a resident of Phuket for many years, my golfing options were limited because of the high-pricing structure. But the first time I visited Pattaya, I was amazed by the immense value-for-money on offer. With so many courses fighting to make a living in the region, the bargains are simply endless. Whereas the average price for a round in Phuket is nearing the 3,000 baht mark, you can enjoy a round of golf in Pattaya for as little as 500 baht. However, the average is probably near 1,500 baht.
My favourite value-for-money Pattaya golf course has to be Greenwood GC. The course is roughly 30km north of Pattaya heading towards Chonburi City. For a round of afternoon golf on a weekday, the green fees are as little as 800 baht per round. Not only is it affordable, but the quality of this 27-hole course is excellent. From what I have seen, during the weekdays it is very quiet. So you can have a round of uninterrupted golf. This woodland course is tree-lined and meticulously maintained with carpeted fairways glass-like greens. I strongly recommend you try Greenwood out.
Another great golf option is The Emerald Golf Club at Ban Chang, just 25km from Pattaya on your way to Rayong. The course was designed by golfing demigod Nick Faldo and the late Desmond Muirhead. Emerald is carved through pristine jungle terrain that makes the course at one with the surroundings. The forgiving fairways, fast greens, and the strategically placed water hazards make this course an enjoyable play. The fact that you can play the course for 900 baht on weekdays and 1,300 baht at weekends is great.
The Plutaluang Thai Navy Course at Rayong is another fantastic option. It’s located a 40-minute drive from Pattaya, is one of the most natural and oldest courses in Thailand. The course is symbolized by the lighthouse that features one of the most interesting Par-3s in the country. This 27-hole course is astonishingly inexpensive while still being a well-maintained and scenic course. For as little as 800 baht on weekdays and 1,000 baht at weekends, you can play 18 holes on this fantastic course.
Other Notable Pattaya Golf Options
Aside from the championship and the best value courses in and around Pattaya, there are other courses which in their own way are unique that every golfer will enjoy. St. Andrews 2000 is a link styled course with a tropical spin as the name would suggest. Situated 40 minutes outside Pattaya near Rayong, this unique course has some undulating fairways famous across Scotland on their links courses. On the grounds of this golf club, you will also find Rayong Green Valley GC and Silly Oaks Country Club, all of which are quality courses in their own right making this compact corner of Rayong prime golfing territory. The green fees for all these courses are between 1,000 baht and 2,000 baht per round.
One of the best Pattaya golf courses in the region is Phoenix Golf Club, just a 5-minute drive from the scenic Bangsaray, which is just a 20-minute drive south of Pattaya on your way to Sattahip. This tree-lined forest course is one of the best kept in Pattaya and guarantees an enjoyable round of golf.
Other courses to check out are Bangphra Golf Club, Mountain Shadow and Khao Kheow GC, all of which are located within a stone throw of Siracha, just a 45-minute drive north of Pattaya.
As you can see, Pattaya golf should rightfully hold the number one position for golf across South-East- Asia. I would recommend that you find the individual websites of the golf courses and organize your own rounds and green fees as opposed to using one of Pattaya’s many golf tour companies. The golf tour companies obviously charge you more than the courses because they have to make a living, so doing it yourself can be the best way. Hire yourself a car for around 1,300 baht per day and away you go.
Another interesting way to play the courses for even cheaper prices is to visit the website for the Pattaya Sports Club and become a member for 900 baht per year. This will give you even better discounts, which could come in handy if you want to play the championship courses and you will get your money back on the first round you play. All you will need are passport style photographs and you will receive your P.S.C membership card on the same day.
Whatever your level of desire, you will find something that suits you in Pattaya. Pattaya golf not only offers some of the best value for money options but also some high-end courses, which is of course complemented by Pattaya’s world-class holiday atmosphere and amenities.