I am a Kiwi who was introduced to golf in Thailand in 2004. It didn’t take me long to realise that golf here was different to anything I had experienced elsewhere. Not just the conditions – weather, caddies, competition rules – but also the way people conduct themselves on a golf course. A year or so later, after a few hundred rounds spread among many venues, I could easily discern those who learnt the game here, in Pattaya, and those who had belonged to a golf club prior to playing in Thailand.
Many of us have experienced playing with or behind golfers who struggle with what they are about. Whether it’s the pace of play, knowing what to do in certain situations, or simply course etiquette, some golfers really struggle – as most do when first starting out. The average Korean, for instance, may not step foot on a golf course until they take their annual holidays in Thailand. Their knowledge of how to conduct themselves on an actual course, therefore, is in the hands of their tour organiser. If that tour organiser is remiss, then those who play behind those golfers will be in for a long and frustrating day. Complain to the course marshal? Realise this, without those Korean tour parties, some courses wouldn’t survive.
But it’s not just the Koreans. It’s us Farang as well. Especially those new to the game, or possibly those who have not learnt their golf in the somewhat rigid environment of a typical Western-style golf club. This is not meant as an arrogant put-down. If it was taken that way, please allow me to apologise now. It refers to the lessons one learns during the first few years of club membership, especially the unwritten rules that one stumbles over during those embarrassing moments of newbie ignorance. These can involve issues of etiquette, club house rules or even the Rules of Golf.
Ever wondered why someone gave you a venomous look when it was your turn to tee off, and you hadn’t finished marking your card from the just-completed hole? Or you couldn’t tell your playing partner the direction of his drive because, like him, you were blinded by the sunlight? Or maybe you or your caddie simply smoothed out what was obviously a pitch mark, laying a mere two feet between your ball and the putting surface? And what do you do if your caddie picks up your ball on the assumption that your next putt – it’s resting on the edge – will be given? Indeed, there are many examples that will occur regularly in Pattaya that will throw not only the new golfer, but those who believe their “club back home” has taught them all they need to know.
Not here it hasn’t, Sunshine. Not in Thailand. And that is the main reason this blog exists: to help the golfer new to the game, and those not so new, increase the enjoyment of their golfing day in what many regard as golfing’s best location – Pattaya.
I am familiar with both the IPGC and PSC – the two most prominent golfing organisations in Pattaya. I play most of my golf with the Pattaya Golf Society (PGS), an IPGC affiliated group run by Khun Len, out of Rabbi’s Elephant Bar in Soi Buakhao. Whilst the occasional post may have a PGS orientation, most will relate to the matchless experience that is golf in Pattaya. The inspiration for nearly every topic covered would have presented itself to me, many times over, during the course of my golfing experience in LOS.
My aim is to post a new blog each week. I trust you find them informative, occasionally entertaining and always helpful.