Golfing in Phuket is fantastic. First the courses are well maintained, all courses have compulsory caddies so you don't need to pull your own cubs around the course, they all have great food and the changing facilities are excellent too.
It is easy to book tee times directly with the individual courses, but we have been using an agent- Phuket Golf for several years now, and it makes everything a bit easier.
My husband plays every year for a week with two colleagues and he simply sends the agent the dates he wants to play and tells them which courses they prefer and the agent works around tournaments at the individual clubs and sends him back a timetable of games. The other benefit is that the agent also gets around 20% discount off the list price of a round.
There is a slight inconvenience in that you have to meet with the agent at the course before each game and pay with them but its a small price to pay to get 5 games for the price of 4.
We usually call the agent when we are about 10 mins away from the course and they come and meet us before we tee off.
The First course we played was Loch Palm.
You can have a buggy at this course but we decided to walk. Since you don't have to pull your own clubs its not so strenuous, unless of course its exceptionally hot.
When we pulled up to the caddy station and before we were even out of the car we were greeted with 'sawasdeeka' - 'hello' in Thai and smiles while our clubs and shoes are been taken from the boot of the car.
The main area of the club house and pro shop are newly renovated as are the locker rooms which have been decorated beautifully and the stocked with toiletries and towels.
Before playing I had the lunch special - 130 baht for fried chicken with rice and papaya salad it was delicious, tasty, fresh and beautifully presented.
The second course we played was Phuket Country Club. This is a 27 hole course - although we have no idea where the extra 9 holes are....Like Loch Palm it has been recently renovated and has a fabulous locker room. Very modern and lots of space inside the actual locker.
Again the caddies were lovely, and knew the course very well. Sadly our game was stopped 3 times because of heavy rain and after 12 holes we finally gave up. Every time the ball landed on the fairway it sank into the mud or water and was often impossible to find. The bunkers had become water features and there was no roll on any shots.
We did go back and play again the following week when the weather was better and had a great round. It doesn't have as much water as Loch Palm (normally!) but it is just as challenging. Maybe not as well maintained, but it is also cheaper to play...
It is worth noting that Loch Palm have a rain check policy and Phuket Country Club do not....
We were in Phuket in September which is off season and course was incredibly quiet. Only one 4-ball left in the half hour I was eating. And a couple of 2-balls who had already finished were in the restaurant at the same time. We were the last group of the day, so no pressure to play fast, very different to during the busy season over Christmas and New Year when we were here last.
Loch Palm is a challenging course, a lot of water and some very large and steep bunkers, but the caddies know every inch of it and can steer you in the right direction.
For us Europeans having a caddie is a strange concept. When I started to play golf in London I carried my clubs around the course as some didn't even allow trolleys in winter months let alone have carts.
Having a caddie not only means you get good advice about where the next shot should land but also that you don't have to wheel your own clubs if you decide to walk the course, and the icing on the cake is that your clubs and shoes are returned to your car boot squeaky clean....
The caddies in Thailand are all women, some courses even have a book of photos and bios so you can choose one who speaks good English or has worked a particular courses for a long time. I remember playing in Indonesia where all the caddies were men, but with a similar book so you could potentially select one you wanted for the day. As long as I can understand their English when they are telling me the yardage and where the sand and water are, I'm not fussy, but we have had caddies who line up your ball on the greens and even point out where you are going wrong with your swing..... Not everyone wants this kind of advice though, especially on a bad day..
There are additions to both the courses... on Loch Palm between holes 10 & 11 just outside the course through the steel gate (or over the gate if the gate is closed) there is a man with a table and golf balls for sale. They are all 'recovered' from the course and sorted into bags... ideal if that water has been causing you a few problems....
The addition to Phuket Country Club is the chicken hole between holes 12 and 13. My husband claims this is the best fried chicken in Phuket... the only downside to a late tee time is that if the guy has sold out of chicken he goes home..... it can be quite disappointing if you have been thinking about fried chicken since the 10th hole...
In addition to these courses there is Blue Canyon (two courses) which are fabulous championship courses, Mission Hills where you play along the coast and Red Mountain which is a stunning course with as the name suggests lots of red mountains in the landscape.... however there is also a lot of OB on this course.
The two women we met from Phuket Golf are Pin and Noi. Both were lovely, and were always on time when we were ready to play. My husband has used the same company for several years and it certainly takes the hassle of lining up tee times.
We paid 8600 Thai Bhat for Loch Palm and 7200 for Phuket Country Club incl caddie fees. If you are planning a golf trip to Phuket you can make contact with them through their website.
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