Lam Luk Ka
Roughly translated, Lam Luk Ka means "crow singing," and among the rice paddies and fish farms northeast of Bangkok, the birds do indeed make themselves known. In this peaceful setting architect Roger Packard fit in two distinct eighteen-hole courses: the East course (7,012 yards from the back tees, with water hazards on every hole) and the West (6,605 yards, with lots of trees in play and water on ten holes). The East has ample fairways and big greens, the tighter West calls for precision. The best stret ch of holes at Lam Luk Ka comes at the start of the West's back nine. The 347-yard tenth curls around a large lake to force an approach to an elevated green over water and a deep bunker. The eleventh plays downhill to a narrow green bordered on the left by water. After a par three, the 529-yard thirteenth has water all down the left side. Both courses are in immaculate condition. A first-rate practice facility, a large clubhouse and a very good restaurant make Lam Luk Ka a favorite of Bangkok golfers.
Location: On Highway 3312 about fifty miles northeast of central Bangkok--at least an hour, more in heavy traffic
Thai Country Club
This is the newest course in the golf-rich area along the Bangna-Trad Highway east of Bangkok. Memberships list at $17,000, making it the most expensive course in the region but still a bargain for Americans. Tiger Woods christened the course by winning the Asian Honda Classic here in February of last year. Architect Denis Griffiths's design measures over seven thousand yards from the back tees, but even the tour pros didn't play it that long. Immaculately maintained and lush, the course features large gr eens but with ridges and steep slopes. The fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth are the best holes. Two lakes come into play on the tee and approach shots of all three holes--pars four, three and five, respectively. There's a massive redbrick clubhouse fronted by a large lake along the first and eighteenth holes and an expansive practice area.
Location: At the 35.5-kilometer mark east of central Bangkok along the Bangna-Trad Highway. Travel time from central Bangkok depends on traffic. Since the Bangna-Trad is going to be under construction for months, plan on an hour at least.
Note: About ten kilometers west of Thai CC along the Bangna-Trad is Lakewood Country Club. Designed by Californian Mike Poellet, it has twenty-seven holes, so it is usually possible to get a tee time even during the busiest weekends. Though the course is flat, twenty holes have water hazards, and from the back tees all three nines measure longer than 3,475 yards. Lakewood is quite popular with Japanese golfers, due in part, no doubt, to the first-rate Japanese restaurant located in the massive clubhouse. Call 011-66-2-312-6276.
This twenty-seven-hole facility, originally designed by California architect Ron Fream and opened in 1993, offers plenty of challenging holes, but it is the C or Garden nine, redesigned by Singapore-based architect Neil Howarth, that offers the best memories. Reopened in December 1997, the new nine features two walls made of large, square stones that are covered with flowers and red and orange bougainvillea. One wall serves as a border and backdrop to the 175-yard second, and the other comes into play midway through the 567-yard third, where it follows for more than two hundred yards the contours of a winding creek. The par-three sixth, a 249-yard gorilla, calls for a tee shot over water to a sloped green. The short par-four seventh with its split-level fairway and the curling par-five eighth are also outstanding holes, making the Garden nine one of the best in Thailand. It measures a whopping 3,501 yards from the back tees, yet it is the baby compared to the 3,608-yard A and 3,658-yard B nines. The B-C nines are the most common combination and have lights. Night golf is available on Wednesday and Thursday.
Location: East of central Bangkok, left at the nine-kilometer marker on Ramindra Road, about a thirty- to forty-five-minute drive