One of three golf layouts at Siam Country Club, the Old course was originally laid out by Isao Mazumi in 1972 then renovated by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley twenty-five years later when they replaced fairway grasses with salt water-tolerant Seashore Paspalum and removed trees that were obscuring sightlines on many of the playing corridors.
All three courses at Siam (Old, Plantation and Waterside) lie around 10 miles inland from the popular beach resort of Pattaya and the fairways of the Old are routed in a north-south or south-north direction towards or away from a lily-covered creek that runs through the property – water features most prominently between the 15th and 17th, a trio of holes known as the “Amen Corner” of Thai golf.
And just when you think you’ve safely negotiated the par four 15th, the long par three 16th and water-threatened 17th, the 540-yard home hole then doglegs uphill all the way to a heavily contoured green, behind which sits a large golden Buddha to further distract your attention.
The club has hosted many prestigious competitions down the years, such as the Thailand Open, and since 2007, the Old course has been used on several occasions as the venue for the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament.
Siam Country Club introduced a fourth course – Rolling Hills – at its Pattaya site at the end of 2019. Located in a valley at the bottom of the other three courses, it was designed by Brian Curley with the intention of one day hosting an LPGA event.
“The site has a natural sandy base in some areas,” said the architect, “and this material was used to create large sandy expanses with islands of native tropical carpet grasses. The holes often offer angles of attack that reward aggressive play and many have centreline hazards that create strategy and visual excitement.”
Siam Country Club is a mega golf complex with three different facilities and a total of 63 holes. The Old Course, updated by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2006/07, is a quality layout. There's not much land movement given the flat terrain but Schmidt and Curley have inserted a range of bunkers -- both in terms of overall numbers, shapes and placements -- to keep players on their toes. The course is the annual stop for the Honda LPGA Thailand event and, as befitting a tournament venue, the overall shape of the grounds is very good.
The Old features plenty of holes that have various turning points. Shaping one's tee shots is always a key issue when playing.
The putting surfaces are also quite varied -- Schmidt and Curley have eschewed predictable circular targets and made it a point to feature greens that take irregular shapes and can have demanding pin locations which can be hidden.
The ending two holes on the front are great examples in taking dead flat land and providing for good golf holes. The par-3 8th features a long narrow green necessitating smart club selection. The par-4 9th features a "T" shaped green -- when the pin is placed in the very front it takes a top quality approach to access it.
Unfortunately, the par-5 10th is nearly a clone to the 1st hole. The rest of the inward half is a good combination of holes -- the stretch beginning at #14 through to the closing par-5 18th are nicely balanced and reasonably challenging. Turf conditions when I played were very good because far too often courses near the sea in Thailand can play especially slow with little bounce of the ball.
Having the women play the course each year clearly adds to the visibility of the Old Course but I have to chuckle at the usage of the name when such a course is merely a babe in the woods when held against the one true Old Course in Scotland.
by M. James Ward