Thailand has not made it big in the golf world yet, their leading golfer being Thongchai Jaidee at 52nd in the world with Kiradech Aphibarnrat not far behind in 67th and both continue to get better. That does not mean they do not have quality golf courses around though. The LPGA tour was played just this last weekend in Thailand where the top 10 female golfers in the world competed. Night Golf, Chiang Mai’s golf scene may help young players develop as the incentive to avoid playing in the scorching heat can be avoided.
Chiang Mai in particular has recently been pushing itself as a golf tour destination and there is no shortage of courses within an hours drive. Star Dome, Chiang Mai is right on the edge of the old city.
With all that said, I had been to the local driving range a couple times in the last month and finally last week got an actual round in at Star Dome Golf Club.
Course: Star Dome Golf Club
Players: me (NZ), Scott (Eng), Simon (Eng)
Tee off time: 7.30pm (9 holes), 20th Feb 2014
Conditions: Gentle breeze, may have been clear skies (playing in the dark under floodlights)
Scott was the instigator, being in town for just the week he was the push needed to actually play. So after a couple hits at the driving range we were to play on the Thursday night.
There is a promo on at the course. 700 baht (23$~) which includes green fees + golf cart + caddy hire. The caddy hire was interesting, we did not want caddies but you couldn’t play without one. We still are not sure why. Anyhow, me and Scott shared a caddy and a set of clubs (400 baht/set). So for me I was expecting 900 baht for the round (~30$) which is not too bad. It wasn’t until later on that we realized they had not mentioned a 500 baht tip was the minimum for each caddy. Suddenly the round was 1400 baht, nearly $50 -> not so great.
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Playing at night was fun, the course is most definitely emptier and luckily in Chiang Mai the temperatures call down a lot relative to the middle of the day where the heat is excruciating leading into the hot season. The lighting was fairly good, the only difficulty I found with night golf Chiang Mai was trying to see where our drives landed (brag long hitter :P). Thankfully our caddies knew the course intimately so they knew where we were hitting roughly. It is fair to say that we all played well below our best throughout the round.
Our caddies were two ladies probably in their 40’s who play golf from time to time. They were great I must say. They would clean our clubs, took down our scores (no idea what we all shot), helped us look for our balls, gave our yardages on all shots and helped us with directions. The also helped us on the greens, telling us where we suppose to aim…we learnt to trust them as reading breaks while playing night golf in Chiang Mai or elsewhere is not easy.
Teeing areas, they were immaculate. As a course right in the city, you would expect this but all the teeing areas were flat which surprisingly is rather rare I find. The fairways were in great nick, it helps with the caddies repairing our divots for us. Catering for the casual golfer the rough was not thick at all and you were not penalised for a shot slightly off the fairway. You were punished though by the water. Every hole there was water coming into play, mainly on the tee shots, but the par 3s and a few of the other holes had water coming into play coming into the green. We all lost some balls in the water, a couple of times we thought we had hit quality tee shots only to find out our slightly off line shot jumped through the rough and straight into the water. The course was very well lit.
Overall it was a very good experience. As I do not play regularly atm, I will probably not be playing again for another couple of months but next time it will definitely be at night time again. You just cannot beat playing in cooler conditions. I would also probably walk next time – have never played well with carts.
If you want more things to do after playing golf, check out this epic list.