Boredom set in pretty fast this time around since I did all the touristy activities on my last trip so I was soon looking for ways to fill my day. I had a sudden thought about playing a round of golf since I play a bit back home, albeit badly, so looked into finding a place to whack a few balls about.
A quick Google revealed about 10 courses in a 40km or so area which surprised me, apparently golf is big in Thailand and especially here in Chiang Mai, so I did a bit of research and checked out my options.
The closest course to me was Stardome.
A pretty cool looking course that offers a few unique features such as night golf; the course lit by lights that simulate daylight yet still give you that twilighty feeling as well as being perfect for avoiding the heat during the day. Another slightly odd but typical Thai feature was the option of hiring a 'refresher' girl. I'm not sure what exactly they do but I imagine it's just following you around looking pretty and giving you food, drink and the odd bit of small talk. In any case, looking at the 'menu' online was a bit surreal.
The thing that turned me off from playing here though was the blatant dual pricing. As a foreigner/farang you expect to pay a bit more but c'mon.. standardly displaying it is a bit fucking rude and probably turns more people away than they realise, not that they care.
That, and stuff like a minimum tip (500 baht for the refresher girls apparently, on top of the hire price!) made me look elsewhere. Not that I'm cheap but fucking hell, I'm not paying someone to do something I can do myself, regardless of how pretty they are.
Eventually I found a course that seemed alright, in Hang Dong district around 20km out of the city, funnily enough called Hang Dong golf course. Great name no? Can't forget it in a hurry, if I do I just remind myself it's something to do with my dick and oh yeah.. Hang Dong!
So I checked Google maps, planned my route and jumped on my moto.
Hang Dong Golf Course
I found the place pretty easily and rocked up into the car park. At least I thought it was the car park until a bunch of little old ladies ushered me a bit further down the road to another parking spot. They were all dressed in funny pink uniforms, all over 40 and about 4ft tall which was cute and kinda funny and I soon realised these ladies were the caddies.
I'd never played with a caddy before. I knew they carried your bag and helped you out with club choice etc. but I figured they were strictly for the pros or super rich and were generally unnecessary, but most Thai golf courses have a 'no caddy, no play' rule in force. (Most but not all).
So I go to reception, getting alot of stares as the only farang and being unable to read or speak any Thai I just about manage to rent clubs for 200 baht and pay the green fee for a 9 hole round of golf, also 200 baht if I recall correctly. The caddy fee was also about 200 and lastly 8 balls cost me 100 baht. Overall still fairly cheap, especially compared to back home.
I'm standing around waiting for a caddy and this cute little old lady comes over and says hello, straps my bag in a trolley and gestures me to follow her to the first hole. While waiting to tee off I'm getting alot more looks, being in the typical tourist get up, looking lost, being a lone farang and my caddy has retreated over to her caddy friends giving me the odd look and expressing her sadness at being stuck with this big white oaf.
|People waiting to tee off on the first|
As my tee off nears and after watching a bunch of well off Thai guys hit beautiful golf drives a young guy comes over to me and asks if I'm playing alone. I say I am and he kindly offers to play together, partly because his group was at a limit and he was left out I think but either way it was nice. He was quite well off, in good golfing gear and was an up and coming pharmacist who was playing golf with his boss and some surgeons from the local hospital. He also spoke near perfect English which was a surprise and a relief since my caddy had about a 10 word vocabulary.
It's our turn and he sets up his shot, looking every bit the pro. Good stance, the golf wiggle, backswing, BLAAAAAAAMMMMM! A great drive down the fairway like it was an everyday thing, casually picks up his tee and walks back towards the caddy soaking up the praise. Now I'm up. I put the ball on the tee and stand up, the ball falls off. I reset it and awkwardly line up my shot knowing I'm gonna look like an idiot after I top the ball and it bounces about 20 yards towards the clubhouse. I hear my caddy talking with the odd 'farang' thrown in and I just sigh.. fuck it, I'm gonna enjoy this day.
Grip, backswing, BLAAAAAAAAAAAMMM!
I fucking kill it. Straight down the middle of the fairway and about 50 yards further than my playing partner, absolutely beautiful. I hear the caddies say 'Ooooooooooo!! FALANG FALANG!' in surprise and feel like the king of the world. My caddy comes over with a big smile on her face and tells me 'good shot, velly good' and we start walking up towards our ball like new best friends.
The rest of the day was spent chatting to the guy, who's name I can't remember sadly but he was a really nice bloke, and making uncharacteristically great shots with the odd fuck up thrown in. Despite the language barrier I really got on with my caddy and she was the highlight of the day, excitedly cheering on my good shots and calling me 'number one!' after some great ones.
The course itself was beautiful and well looked after, with a great signature island hole for the 8th.
|The 8th at Hang Dong.|
Overall it was a really relaxing and enjoyable experience, lovely people and amazing scenery with the added bonus of playing one of the best rounds I've ever played.
Once my 9 holes were over I said my goodbyes to the guy and his caddy and walked with mine back to the clubhouse to return my bag of clubs. I knew I had to tip the caddy, this is how they make their living, although how much I wasn't sure. I figured it was around 150/200 baht at Hang Dong for 9 holes but she'd made the day so enjoyable I had to give her 300. I folded the notes up in my hand and and passed them to her like a drug dealer before saying goodbye and setting off back home.
As I was driving out of the car park I saw her walking back to the caddy area and she gave me a lovely smile and wave, and I left with a huge smile on my own face, number fucking one!
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