The Best 19th Holes

What makes the perfect clubhouse? Paul Myers selects his favourites in Southeast Asia

The wonderful waterfront clubhouse at Thai Country Club in Bangkok

What does a clubhouse tell you about a golf course? A lot? Something? Or not much at all?

There are probably as many views on this question as there are clubs in a golf bag. But I would argue strongly for the former; in fact, not just "a lot", but everything.

Why? Well, a clubhouse is – or at least should be – the heart and soul of every golf club. What you see there – at the bag drop-off, entrance, reception, locker rooms, restaurant and pro shop is invariably reflected on the course itself.

I liken it to the old computer terminology, WYSYWG – What You See is What You Get. Every time I arrive at a course, especially one I haven’t played before, I apply the WYSWYG test in the clubhouse. And 90 per cent of the time those impressions gained off the course remain after the game is over.

If you take a tour of golf courses in Thailand and Vietnam as an example, you’ll find the best courses invariably have the best clubhouses. The clubhouse is, after all, a reflection of each owner’s commitment to the whole golf experience. If he or she is prepared to spend money on the clubhouse, they’re almost always equally prepared to spend it on greens, fairways, gardens and general maintenance. The same cannot always be said of courses in China. Mainland clubhouses are almost invariably vast and grandiose – and many resemble shopping malls such is their reliance on retail sales to drive income. One gets the impression that at many, course maintenance comes rather lower down the order of importance.


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