Connect with us


The back nine of Augusta… in Bangkok?



I had heard of a Bangkok course that had replicated some of the great holes of the world on the front nine, and for the back they had just lifted the most famous stretch of holes in golf: the back nine of Augusta. So when my wife and I had to go to Bangkok, I had to play these holes.

Some quick searching came up with “The Dream Arena at Royal Gems Golf City.” The website didn’t offer much more, but there was an email address so I got in contact. Their director of sales quickly replied that while it was a members’ course, they’d be happy to give me a tee time on a “special trial rate” for 4000 baht (about $125) which included green fee, buggy and caddy fee. Renting clubs would be another $45 and a pair of shoes would cost me $15. I took my own shoes, but used their clubs: Nike Machspeed forged in an R flex. Maybe I could have asked for S-flex when I booked, but they really only made a difference with driver and 3 wood. It was too hard to explain once the caddy had arrived with them.

The course was in great condition: All the fairways had a very even coverage of Platinum Paspalum, although there was rarely a flat lie. The greens had been cored a fortnight prior, but still ran pretty true (only one putt was noticeably affected) and fairly quick — but obviously not Sunday-at-the-Masters quick. I should also commend RGGC for letting me know in its first email reply of the coring. How frustrating is it to turn up at a course to find you are playing sand greens? The course is still young: The trees are not the hazards of the original, but watch out in 10 years. I was asked to play the back nine first, so no easing into it — straight to what I was here for!

I have never been to Augusta, but apart from the blue dye in Rae’s Creek and greens that stimp at 14, it seemed to be pretty much all there. In fact, it’s more than all there, because the Eisenhower pine remains on No. 17. Knowing the standard first reaction to Augusta, I was prepared for some big elevation changes and that is also there at Royal Gems. It’s particularly downhill on Nos. 10 and 11 and uphill on No. 18. The finishing hole was also into the wind and had a back pin location, making it a driver and a 3 wood for me.

Now, I know you are a golf junkie if you’re on GolfWRX, but I’m not going through all 40 shots (do you like how I snuck that in there? Pretty happy with that for a once-a-month golfer), but allow me to take you through a couple of my favorite experiences: Nos. 12 and 15. Even in replica, I think I would be happy playing these two holes the rest of my life.


No. 12 (pictured above) was all it’s cracked up to be. Downhill. A fair bit downhill. A fluctuating breeze from right to left, slightly into players. Length: 155 yards. Ten percent off is 140 meters, which is right between an 8 and 9 iron. It was downhill enough to be a 9 iron, but I didn’t want to be in the creek like so many I had seen in 30 years of watching the Masters. But I didn’t want to be in the back bunker, splashing out downhill, downwind to the pin and the creek when the breeze dropped. Definite 9 iron now.

Quick, get up there. No, the breeze is back. Ok, wait for it to drop again (fortunately, I had no one with a stopwatch on me, so not only did I avoid a penalty, I got the caddy to take a photo of me at the top of a dummy swing). Right, the breeze dropped off again. The pin was right, but I aimed for the middle of the green. Middle of the green. Hit. Oh yes, please be the right club. Bang. Middle of the green, right where I was aiming. Piece of cake this hole.

But my caddy was having none of this percentage golf: “Second ball, go for pin!” as she tossed me another pill. “Ok, Toohey, same deal. Hit it straight where you’re aiming.”

Again I made good contact, but there was just a tiny bit of pull/fade, it was just a tiny bit higher, there was just more headwind. “Nooo, in the wat-terr.” She could have at least waited for the splash. Or for the Titleist to reach its apex. But before it had crossed the red tees, she knew. And I kind of did, too. But it started just left of the pin and was sliding gently right, gently right, right at the pin…

We golfers live in hope: “C’mon, be the stick!”


Hey, who really wants to make a hole-in-one with a second ball?

My birdie putt? Not enough borrow (I gave it a foot left on a 12-foot putt) and 3-feet past, but I rapped in the comebacker for a pretty satisfying par.

I had a similar amount of fun on No. 15. I managed to leak my drive just into the rough (or should that be “first cut?”) 200 yards out. Like No. 12, again it was downhill, into the wind and with water at the front. I was hitting off a downhill lie, out of the rough (but sitting OK) and with clubs I didn’t know. I would have loved to hit a 3 iron, but my choices were hybrid 3 or 4 iron. I suspected the hybrid was too much (and I didn’t really like them), but that the 4 would be flirting with the pond. So gripping down the hybrid a little, I ripped it. Straight at the pin. It took one hop on the green, popped up on the fringe and rolled over the back… about 20 yards. Oh man. I’m not Phil so I was not going to try hitting some massive flop into the 10 feet between the pin and collar. But I couldn’t run it too far past because that green runs and runs into the front pond. Anywhere but the pond is good.

Of course I chickened out and bunted it too cautiously into the bank, so it stayed on the top. I very nearly holed the next, but no one cares about nearly so I tap it in and walked off another victim of the intricacies of Dr. Mackenzie. With a big grin, bring on No. 16!

The front nine was nearly as much fun, playing spot the hole: there was the church pews (Oakmont No. 3), a big par-5 around the water (Bay Hill’s par-5 No. 6), Sawgrass No. 17 (pictured below. It doesn’t look quite right because it’s a mirror image!), the Road Hole (sans Hotel), the Postage Stamp and No. 18 at the Blue Monster. It was fun identifying them, and then trying to navigate them.

3 - Sawgrass 17th

At the finish of the round, I found a typically elaborate clubhouse for this part of the world with big, soft, fluffy towels, a “press here for service” button in the shower (I didn’t press it, and I didn’t ask) and very reasonable prices for food and drinks in the restaurant while the Masters Par 3 tournament played on multiple TV screens. Since I got home, it has been fun to see the pros play Augusta from similar spots as I had — and I am very glad that the Royal Gems greens are a lot slower!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day. I will definitely be coming back — next time with a mate or two, my own clubs and we might even try to get a two-day booking!

Your Reaction?
  • 5
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Brendan Toohey is a sports nut who wasn't good enough at golf, cricket, (Australian Rules) football or athletics so turned his fascination with the history of these sports into a career as a history teacher and occasional writer. He currently lives in Singapore where the cost of golf is a long way from the $1.40 he used to pay as a kid at Waverley Public in Melbourne, Australia. Brendan's fascination with the history of the game extends to still enjoying the occasional outing with persimmon but is too much of a gorilla to put one in permanent play even though he would hit more fairways.



  1. Harry

    Apr 23, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Did you find it be oppressively hot. I played there about this time last year. It is quite a distance away from Bangkok proper, but worth the travel. I was with a friend who is a member and I’m sure I paid less than $100 US.

    Have you played any other courses in Thailand? My list is growing and it’s up to 8 different courses including Thai CC and Siam CC.

    • Zra

      Apr 25, 2014 at 2:54 am

      Dude, April is like the hottest month of the year in Thailand, we even have a new year festival called Songkran in April, where we splash water because it is too hot! ; )

      Siam and Thai, I heard, are great courses. Also try Amata, Burapha, Chiangmai Highland and Blue Canyon, great courses outside of Bangkok.

      • Harry

        Apr 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

        Oh, I know. We went up to ChianMai for the weekend during Songkran. What a blast!

    • Brendan

      May 1, 2014 at 4:58 am

      Hi Harry. Yeah, it was hot. If you check out my shirt in the first picture, there are already some pretty good sweat marks. This was after two holes in a buggy! That is a very good reason why there are no other pictures of me later in the day. Unfortunately, we left just before Songkran cranked up.
      Zra, thanks for the tips for other places to play – I normally have the kids in tow as well, so don’t always get to play on holidays.
      And I agree, Ryu, 4000 baht is pretty pricey for Thailand but for what I figured was probably a one-off was worth it. And given I live in Singapore, there is not much cheap golf unless I pack a passport and use up a whole day going to Malaysia or Indonesia.
      Thanks for the comments, everyone, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  2. Ryu K.

    Apr 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I am a native Thai amateur who has been a member at the Royal Gems golf city for a few years, I have always liked it. The reason not many people know about it is because the course is a new course and it has been closed to the public for quite some time. Although the course says it’s in Bangkok(It’s in a region called Rangsit) , it’s a pretty long journey from the center of town (about an hour). For the average rates of fees in Thailand, 4000 baht is pretty expensive (with buggies and a caddy). I would love to show you around the course, mail me when you are planning to come to the Royal Gems city 🙂

  3. Tony Lynam

    Apr 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Every hole at Renditions: Golf’s Grand Slam Experience in Davidsonville, MD is a exact replica from courses that have hosted a major championship. Amen Corner is there (awesome!!! bogey-par-birdie for me)as is the Church Pews from Oakmont (double bogey) and No.17 at Sawgrass (par). Just a great fun course to play and each hole has a placard with major championship historical notes about that hole.

    • Shawn

      Apr 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      International World Tour in Myrtle Beach is the same way. 27 holes, all replicas. Great course, layout, and customer service!

  4. Zra

    Apr 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Very cool. I’m thai living in Bangkok, and didn’t know about RGGC having Augusta’s back nine.
    It sure is expensive though, the membership going rate i believe is Baht 1.2 million ($40,000)- higher end of any golf club membership you can find in this country.

    Your rate of $125 was it on weekend or weekday, Brendan? I am temped. Especially the Road Hole.

    • Brendan

      Apr 15, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks, Zra. Played on a Thursday, so I don’t know weekend rate or availability.
      I misread the membership rate – i had only a very quick look and thought it was 12 million baht! Crazy price. 1.2m sounds reasonable in comparison 🙂

  5. Sharkhark

    Apr 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Very cool story. Thanks!

  6. Rich

    Apr 14, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    That’s pretty cool. There is a course here in MD, that replicates lots of holes from Championship golf. They have Amen Corner and its always a fun place to take friends that are in town to knock it around.

    • Brendan

      Apr 15, 2014 at 6:41 am

      Thanks, Rich. I kind of expected it to be a bit kitschy, or for the design to be there but the fairways to be cow grass or terrible bunkers, but the conditioning was amongst the best I’ve come across in Asia. After 30 years of watching the drama every year, it was great to (attempt to) replicate some of the shots. It was most definitely fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Barnbougle Lost Farm: 20 Holes of Pure Joy



Another early day in Tasmania, and we were exploring the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw-design, Barnbougle Lost Farm. The course was completed in 2010, four years after the neighbor Barnbougle Dunes, resulting in much excitement in the world of golf upon opening.

Johan and I teed off at 10 a.m. to enjoy the course at our own pace in its full glory under clear blue skies. Barnbougle Lost Farm starts out quite easy, but it quickly turns into a true test of links golf. You will certainly need to bring some tactical and smart planning in order to get close to many of the pin positions.

The third hole is a prime example. With its sloping two-tiered green, it provides a fun challenge and makes you earn birdie — even if your tee and approach shots put you in a good position. This is one of the things I love about this course; it adds a welcome dimension to the game and something you probably don’t experience on most golf courses.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

The 4th is an iconic signature hole called “Sals Point,” named after course owner Richard Sattler’s wife (she was hoping to build a summer home on the property before it was turned into a golf course). A strikingly beautiful par-3, this hole is short in distance but guarded with luring bunkers. When the prevailing northwesterly wind comes howling in from the ocean, the hole will leave you exposed and pulling out one of your long irons for the tee shot. We left No. 4 with two bogeys with a strong desire for revenge.

Later in the round, we notice our scorecard had a hole numbered “13A” just after the 13th. We then noticed there was also an “18A.” That’s because Barnbougle Lost Farm offers golfers 20 holes. The designers believed that 13A was “too good to leave out” of the main routing, and 18A acts as a final betting hole to help decide a winner if you’re left all square. And yes, we played both 13A and 18A.

I need to say I liked Lost Farm for many reasons; it feels fresh and has some quirky holes including the 5th and the breathtaking 4th. The fact that it balks tradition with 20 holes is something I love. It also feels like an (almost) flawless course, and you will find new things to enjoy every time you play it.

The big question after trying both courses at Barnbougle is which course I liked best. I would go for Barnbougle Dunes in front of Barnbougle Lost Farm, mostly because I felt it was more fun and offered a bigger variation on how to play the holes. Both courses are great, however, offering really fun golf. And as I wrote in the first part of this Barnbougle-story, this is a top destination to visit and something you definitely need to experience with your golf friends if you can. It’s a golfing heaven.

Next course up: Kingston Heath in Melbourne.

Your Reaction?
  • 24
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading


Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf



We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.

Launceston Airport, Tasmania. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.

The locals at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Wallabies, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.

“Tom’s Little Devil.” Hole No.7 at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.

After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.

The walk between the 4th and 5th holes. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.

After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 4th hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!

As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.

To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.

(C) Jacob Sjöman.

Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.

The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.

Your Reaction?
  • 46
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW3
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading


Ocean Dunes: Golfing in the Wild Waves



On the last day on King Island, we were excited to see what its other golf course had to offer. While we first missed the small entrance to Ocean Dunes from the road, we finally got it right and approached the course on a small gravel road taking us up to the golf club parking.

When we walked from the car parking heading down to the temporary club house, we were facing large dunes and a beautiful big ocean. “What a site for a golf course!” That was our first impression. And after a quick look out on the short par-3 down below us, we knew that this would be a good day.

The iconic 4th hole. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Ocean Dunes opened in September 2016 and is designed by Graeme Grant. It’s actually for sale at the moment, and if I had the money I would honestly consider buying it. It’s currently ranked as the fourth best public golf course in Australia. We met one from the staff before our round, and she told us that Ocean Dunes is like Barnbougle Dunes on steroids. Although we haven’t reached Barnbougle yet, we immediately understood that this was a good thing.

No. 3, a tough par 4 (C) Jacob Sjöman.

We later played 18 holes, and we were almost alone out on the course. I love that feeling when you’re able to play in your own pace and don’t have to wait. Just hit, look and plan for your next shot. It was a very windy day, and it wasn’t in the normal wind direction. A lot of our approach shots just wouldn’t stop on the firm greens.

Waves crashing in behind Johan. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

My highlight from Ocean Dunes was definitely the fourth hole, a lovely and beautiful par-3 where the big waves crashed in. It has a Cypress Point vibe about it. I also enjoyed playing the third hole, a long par-4 (425 meters) that runs just next to the ocean with a tricky fairway sloping down toward the ocean. It all ends with a very complex green. It’s a great challenge from the backtees.

Sunset highlighting the shapes of Ocean Dunes (C) Jacob Sjöman.

Overall, I would describe Ocean Dunes as a challenging, risk-reward course. It’s a bold and perfect complement to Cape Wickham Links on King Island. At Ocean Dunes, there are 17 holes with water views. All 18 holes have bent grass greens and a lot of variation. They’re highly memorable. We truly enjoyed our round and had a lot of fun. But if you’re able to visit King Island, it’s not fair not to treat yourself just to one course. You need to play both Cape Wickham Links and Ocean Dunes.

The 7th green. (C) Jacob Sjöman.

The next destination for us will be Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm in Tasmania. They’re two world-class courses that looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen so far. I can’t wait to get there and share our experience. We will also meet the owner himself, the potato farmer Richard Sattler. Don’t miss it!


Your Reaction?
  • 19
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

19th Hole