Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thailand Part 2: Suwan Golf and Country Club

Once our group of approximately 25 tour operators and golf writers had finished playing the eight golf courses that GolfAsian arranged for us to sample throughout Thailand, we invariably came up with a best-of list and in nearly everyone's top 3, was Suwan Golf and Country Club. What's most surprising about that fact is that green fees at the outstanding facility were $25, American, easily the least expensive course where we teed it up. As with all golf courses in Thailand, we had access to the locker room, showers and restaurant, just as if we were members. The caddies were fantastic.

The attributes we found so appealing about the layout was the fact the golf course had strategy on nearly every hole. This isn't a course where merely hitting it down the middle on the tee shot is always the correct way to play. There are doglegs that tempt golfers to cut the corners and for those who do there are big rewards but severe penalties for the failed attempt. The bunkering was more than just of the penal variety. At times, like many of the streams or ponds found on the course, the sand punishes the overzealous player, at other times, is serves to deceive the golfer.

As an example, this is a photo of
the par-3 sixth hole. The front bunker is some 20 yards short of the green but from the tee looks as if it is flush again the putting surface and.

The greens were interesting and challenging without being overdone. There's plenty of movement requiring more than just a cursory read of the line to be successful at putting.

Suwan also has the most interesting design history of the layouts we played. The architect is Major General Weerayudth Phetbuasak, still active in the Thai army and director of the Weeyos Design Group. He also laid out Sir James Country Club, Narai Hill Golf Resort, and Bangkok Golf Club as well as Phokeethra Golf Club in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

I took a good look on the web for information on Major General Phetbuasak and all I could find was that he is a member of the International Golf and Life Foundation Council of Experts.

Making the round at Suwan even better was the fact I went out in a fivesome that included (left to right) Paul Guarino, an American via the Dominican Republic, me, Chayuda (Toom) Singhsuwan, Mikael Jensen from Denmark and Canadian Sandy Bain.

Toom, 20, is a newly minted professional golfer who counts Golfasian as one of her sponsors along with Chang beer. It was a delight to watch her navigate her way around the course, playing bold when she could and cautious when she had to. Toom's short game is fantastic, she has a putting stroke that I would sell my soul for and her play with the long irons-hybrids game is astonishing. One of her birdies came after she knocked a 3-wood to 12 feet.

After shooting even par on the front side with us from the men's tees, Toom came home in four over for the last nine but after carrying our team for so long, it was no wonder her game floundered. I'm just hoping we didn't do any permanent damage to her golf game or her psyche. Toom plays on various tours throughout Asia and already has wracked up a victory. Keep an eye on her.

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