Hua Hin: Where Royalty Resides
If you want to experience great golf, head to the Melbourne Sandbelt or the British Isles. But if you want to experience a great golf holiday, look no further than Thailand.
Thailand has six well-established golf destinations that offer a quintessential Thai experience: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Khao Yai, Pattaya and Phuket. They cater to golfers of all ages, tastes and persuasions.
Busy Bangkok has resort golf with easy access to the city’s landmarks, shopping malls and nightlife. The slower pace of Chiang Mai in the north has a remote and therapeutic feel. Khao Yai is a popular mountain retreat, while Phuket has an island vibe with a plethora of water sports. And Pattaya is a walk on the wild side with its nightclubs and flashy entertainment.
For a location that showcases Thai culture and great golf, it’s hard to beat the refined seaside setting of Hua Hin. Located on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin has been the royal family’s preferred holiday destination for more than a century. It’s a mature, sophisticated destination less than three hours from Bangkok. Hua Hin has a wonderful waterfront precinct with restaurants where there are some great bars and clubs, which are tastefully managed. Tourists typically fall into the age bracket of closer to 50.
Hua Hin has 11 golf courses within 30 minutes of the main tourist hub and all offer impressive points of difference. Black Mountain Golf Club has been rated in the World’s Top 100 Golf Courses by Golf Digest and played host to several European and Asian Tour events. Australian architect Phil Ryan has designed an impressive 27 holes named after the surrounding black granite-covered mountains.
Banyan Golf Club may be even better. Also built on a former pineapple plantation, its Thai architect has taken advantage of natural topography through a valley with breathtaking mountain and ocean views.
Springfield Royal Country Club is Jack Nicklaus’ gift to Hua Hin. Designed 25 years ago, it has 27 holes with all of the Golden Bear’s trademark bunkering and green complexes. Imperial Lake View Golf Club is a 36-hole complex designed by Roger Packard while Majestic Creek Country Club is another favourite that has contended for the region’s best layout.
While Hua Hin boasts many leading international hotels, one in particular stands out. Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas is one of the great hotels of South-East Asia. Its magnificent, colonial style of architecture is a remnant of a bygone era. (The producers of the film “The Killing Fields” even used the Centara Grand to replicate The Hotel Phnom Penh.)
The Centara Grand is in a delightful setting. A personal highlight is the beautifully manicured lawns with a remarkable array of topiary artwork in the gardens. There’s no better way to wind down the day than a twilight stroll around the painstakingly maintained ornamental shapes clipped out of the resort’s shrubs and trees.
Join the Festival of Golf: Centara World Masters
Asia’s largest amateur golf tournament returns to Hua Hin this June for the fifth staging of the Centara World Masters Golf Championship. More than 500 amateur golfers from around the globe will descend upon Hua Hin for the weeklong festival from June 10-16.
Now in its fifth year, the Centara World Masters has been a resounding success. Apart from Hua Hin’s idyllic seaside location and the quality of the four courses used in the rotation, a key factor has been the event’s timing.
While golf is playable 12 months of the year in Thailand, tournament organisers stage the tournament in June to capitalise on superb weather when the courses are in their prime. The hottest months (April-May) have passed while the traditional rainy season hasn’t yet set in.
Another key ingredient has been the emphasis upon creating an inclusive, fun-filled atmosphere. Past participants talk about the camaraderie generated at the Centara World Masters and the forging of life-long friendships. Most importantly, non-golfers have plenty of activities to pursue away from the course.
The host venue, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, is offering a six-night package that includes four rounds of golf – with caddies – at Banyan, Black Mountain, Imperial Lake View and Springfield Royal.
Priced from 55,500 Baht (approximately $2,430 NZD), the package includes return transfers from Bangkok, accommodation in a deluxe room at Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, daily breakfast, welcome dinner with entertainment and a shuttle service between Centara Grand and the four golf courses.
To register for the event, visit www.thailandworldmasters.com.
For more information about the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas, look up www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centaragrand/chbr.