Sandwiched between the two runways at Bangkok International Airport is one of the most unreal golf courses in the world. My colleague and I were there last Friday !
The course is called Kantarat Golf Course. It is owned by the Royal Thai Air Force. It is 6,500 yards off the mens tees and par is 72.
It is also one of the worlds great golfing bargains - the course is open to the public and on a weekday green fees including caddy fee are Baht 450 (US$10).
This is not a course for anyone with a severe slice - out of bounds in on the right of holes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15 and 16 ! Other important local rules are that no weapons are allowed on the course - and there is no photography - they are very strict about this !
How to get there - well - its not easy ! The road to the course runs on the south side of the airport; south of the cargo terminals. Best thing to do - ASK !!! Or find a friendly taxi !
Holes 1, 2, 3 and 4 take you out from the clubhouse in a straight line next to the shorter runway, 21L. This is generally used for landings in the day and you will play with the prevailing southerly wind. 21L is close - about a sand wedge from you as you play these holes ! You will also be looking out over the air force base on the eastern side of the airfield - now it is clearer why photography is not welcome.
Holes 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 come back to the clubhouse alongside 21R. 21R is further away but an EVA 747-400 was still my excuse for a bad three-put !
Hole 10 brings you back to 21L - now on your left hand side before the short 11th takes you back to 21R. After the 11th you have to cross the taxiway that takes landing planes from 21L across the much longer 21R to the taxiways and the pax and cargo terminals. There is no speed exit on 21L so all landing planes taxi to the runway end. Red lights will flash and barriers fall to warn you not to cross in front of a turning plane !
Holes 12 and 13 run alongside 21R. Planes should be well airborne by this point! But it can be noisy ! If they were landing on 03L this would be a great spot - though a runway 03 approach seems to be very rare at BKK.
Hole 14 runs you along the airport perimeter ! Then hole 15 brings you back past the appraoch lights to 03R. This would be the hole that Qantas remember so fondly after overshooting a wet landing on 21L. I wasted a great drive here and pushed a poor 8 iron on the Qantas approach !!
Hole 16 runs back next to 21L. Then a very good par three crosses you back to 21R for the long closing par 5 18th.
Now what can you see there - we played the course on a Friday morning !
Some of the traffic included -
A State of Qatar A340
Qatar Airlines A320
Bangladesh Biman 310
Yunnan Airlines 767
Bangkok Airlines 717s - Samui and Angkor
China Airlines 747-400 and 340
Singapore Air 777 and 747-400
China Airlines 747 Freighter
Cathay Pacific 340 and 777s
Thai Airlines - just about everything - including the A330 painted as the Royal Barge
A DC8 freighter - carrier unknown !
Assorted military - fighters, trainers and cargo. Sorry I dont recognise them !
South African - 747SP
Finnair MD 11
Gulfair 340 (I think)
Indian Airlines 320
An Air France Cargo 747 (white fuselage and tailplane - groupe air france sticker on the side).
Sorry - thats about it from memory. I was trying to play golf - and was not writing down the details.
For the golfers - the course is flat - there is water - and there are some bunkers. The course has no sprinker system and it is dry in BKK at the moment so the course is not as green as it might be. No its not in great condition - but you are really not there for serious golf !
The club house is friendly - a little old ! The pro shop has a good range of second hand clubs - sadly no souvenir shirts ! There is food and drink at the clubhouse and at various points on the course. It is very local. I did not see any other foreigners on the course - but we were made genuinely welcome.
Your caddy will be wearing ear plugs. You might want to do the same - but I think you would be missing out on half of the fun !
It is a great experience and a huge amount of fun ! Enjoy it while you can!! Hitting the ball straight will help - you cannot go across the ditches onto the airport to collect your stray drives ! And for the record I went out in 39 and back in 44 ! It was getting very hot !!
Does anyone know of any other major airport with a public course in the centre !!?