Golfing in Asia

Whether you’re an old pro, an amateur, or a rank newbie, you’ll find a place to play the game of golf almost anywhere in Asia. From Singapore to South Korea, golf has gained tremendous popularity both as a relaxing pastime, and as a way of forging tight business connections.

Some of the best golf courses in the world are in places like Thailand and Singapore, with incredibly beautiful and challenging courses adjacent to luxurious resorts. Besides the golf itself, the surroundings are incomparable. Even in major congested cities, golf courses are set in gorgeous surroundings, often just out of town in a relaxing countryside setting. Many have been created by world-famous designers with consultation by some of the game’s most prestigious players, creating courses that stand out among all others. You’ll find all the amenities of the American course and then some, with excellent clubhouses, restaurants, and spa facilities. If you’re golfing your way through Southeast Asia, the heat may be stifling, but you’re never too far away from a relaxing glass of cold tea, and a comfortable place to sit in the shade for a while and enjoy the tropical scenery. You’ll find the service to be second to none, and in some of the courses, you’ll enjoy seeing some things you’d never expect at a Western golf course. If you’re playing near the jungle, you may just hear a high-pitched, two-tone cry off in the distance, and if you get a little closer, you’ll see a gecko crawling around the green. In Thailand, some golfers have been known to see a monitor lizard on the course from time to time-but if you do, don’t look at it, it’s considered bad luck!

Seal the Deal at the Course

Golf has always been considered a “businessperson’s sport,” but it is even more so in Asia simply because of the business culture. In most Asian countries, business is transacted on a much more personal level than in America. In Japan for example, it is very important to make a personal connection with someone before conducting business or making a deal. It’s never “just business” when you make a business trip to an Asian country, and if you go with a hard-edged attitude of getting right down to business, you won’t get far. More deals get made on the golf course there than in the conference room, and your Japanese counterpart will want to know you on a personal level before signing any contracts. This may take place over a few nights at restaurants and bars, a geisha house, and more often than not, a round of golf.

Many of the best courses are private, with open golfing limited only to a couple days a month. But chances are, if you are on a business trip, your Asian counterpart will have a membership, so you’re in luck. If business isn’t part of your agenda, don’t worry, there are still plenty of options-and if you sign up with the right tour guide, you may even still be able to get inside some of those exclusive private clubs. And the public courses are often equally stunning and beautifully designed, with greens fees that compare quite favorably to those in America.

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, you won’t have to look too hard to find a good course, wherever you may be. In legendary golfer Tiger Woods’ ancestral home, Thailand is rich with very well-developed and well-played golf courses, offering a very high quality environment at low cost. In many of the Thai golf resorts, the pleasures don’t stop at golf alone, with extensive opportunities for elegant meals, traditional massage, and the ultimate in relaxation.

Finding Golf Everywhere

Even in less-developed areas like Cambodia, you can find some place to play, so don’t forget to bring your clubs when you go to Siem Riep to see the magnificent Angkor Wat. India too, with is rapidly emerging economy, has a newfound respect for the game of golf, and courses are starting to spring up to accommodate the country’s rapidly emerging middle class.

And regardless of politics, golf still persists-and Communist countries are no exception. Vietnam has opened itself up to trade and tourism, and yes, you can find a good game there too. Despite the country’s war-torn past, Vietnam is a beautiful country with incredible scenery and wonderful hospitality. It has become a popular tourist destination, and the Vietnamese are very accommodating. The surroundings are varied but always exotic. And three hours or so outside of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find one of the top ten courses in Asia, right along the coast of the South China Sea.

When you visit India, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the vast array of golf courses, and in fact, India has had a long-held fascination with the game ever since the early part of the 19th century. New golf courses spring up on a regular basis, and the game is enjoyed by a surprisingly large diversity of people from all walks of life in India.

Golf Holiday Tours

If you’re a golf fanatic, you don’t have to miss your favorite game while on holiday. Several tour operators offer fantastic golf vacations that are all-inclusive. No need to worry about finding out where to go or how to get there, your tour operator will take care of all the details for you. And if you’re lucky, you may just find a tour package that gets you into some of the more exclusive clubs.

Part of the Package

Wherever you go in Asia, incorporating golf into your vacation is a wonderful way to see the country. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to incorporate golf into your family vacation or your business trip, because of the incredible popularity of the game and the wide selection of available courses. Also, many of the courses offer extensive amenities, and are close by to cultural centers, special events, and other prime tourist destinations. Golfing on holiday in Asia doesn’t mean you have to spend time away from the family-many of the courses are part of very large resorts that include a little bit of everything for everyone.