There are few things that surprise me any more about Thailand. But the Don Muang Airport golf course was something that truly blew my mind.
This is an 18 hole golf course that’s laid out between the two runways at Thailand’s second biggest airport.
So while you’re teeing off, there’s literally nothing between you and the runway where huge jets are taking off. Nok Air, Air Asia, China Air, Bangkok Airways and other carriers all use this airport.
If that all sounds too strange to believe, just check out the video below which shows the course in between the two runways at the Don Muang Airport…
So let’s just take a step back for a moment and look at some of the information about the Don Muang Airport golf course…
- The golf course is called Kantarat Golf Course and it’s run by the Thai Royal Air Force
- The course has 18 holes, with the first nine running parallel to and facing the take-off runway and the back nine running parallel to the landing runway
- The course also has a club shop, restaurant, caddies, club hire, buggies and a practice range
- Kantarat Golf Course is open to the public and anybody can play there
- Yes, you are playing golf next to the runways with no barriers between you and the planes
If this all sounds too bizarre to take in, no, it’s not. The golf course at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok has been open for several years. Players must go through an explosives scanner before they play on the course and they have to be accompanied at all times by a caddy (more on that later! ). The gap between you and runway on the first nine holes is literally about 20 yards.
Players are one bad shot away from taking out an Airbus A330 with 200 passengers onboard! It’s the only place in world where you can be arrested for being a bad golfer. Now that’s a hazard!
Having said all of that, the course is actually relatively straight forward with a range of par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes. There are sand and water hazards, too, as well as the distraction or roaring planes coming and going.
The Kantarat Golf Course in Bangkok is a great place to visit for golf lovers whether you’re on holiday or living in Thailand. It’s a truly unique course.
Now, we promised you more details about the caddies….
When I arrived to play on the course there were around 30 female caddies all waiting outside at the caddy shack. They seemed pretty excited to see a Westerner. One woman immediately accosted me and led me to the hut, then to the club house where I paid for a round of golf, the buggy hire, the club hire and the caddy hire. Total = 2,000 Thai baht.
Next we went on to the practice range where two more caddies were sitting. ”Hello sexy man. Hello, handsome man. I love you, I love you.” For a moment I thought I was hearing things. Here I was on a high-security golf course, taking part in a respectable past time and there are hot little chicks flirting with me like I’m on Soi 4.
The full extent of the bizarreness of this surreal golf course came to light half way round when my caddy, a middle-aged Thai woman, started making small talk.
With a little bit of gentle flirting, it soon emerged that she was for hire, in more ways than one. The caddy, we’ll call her Noi, was pretty up-front about offering herself to provide a little light-relief for my aching limbs after trawling round the course.
It’s pretty clear that all of the caddies are also available to take out after you’ve finished the golf. They’ll go with you to a short-time hotel, bar, restaurant, your hotel, home, car. Anywhere you like.
The tips are how they make money.
This situation with pretty caddies came to light recently when the Thai government began investigations into the use of foreign workers from Cambodia and Burma as golf course caddies. Naturally, there were no immigrants working illegally at any courses they checked but they did admit that pretty caddies were prevalent at courses. Some of the younger, more attractive pretty caddies could earn up to 5,000 baht a day in tips, Anurak Tossarat, General Director of the Department of Employment, said.
Now if all this sounds a little bizarre – golf courses inside airports where the caddies are prostitutes – let me assure you, it’s not.
Unsurprisingly, the golf course has been criticised in the past about its security. Since then, the course has added CCTV and started scanning bags for explosives. But it still does boggle the mind that anybody can walk in off the street and get within a few feet of planes taking off and landing.
On the other aspect, the use of caddies as ”mia nois” and small girlfriends by Thai men is widely known about in Thai society. It means that local men have a cast iron alibi when they’re out with their mistress. There’s no denying they’re at the golf course with the boys. But what goes on between players and the pretty caddies is all, well, hush hush.
Having read all that (well done) you’re probably wondering how you can play a round of golf at the Bangkok airport course.
TAXI: The easiest way to reach Kantarat Golf Course is by taxi. You’ll need to tell the driver you want to go to Don Muang Airport. The entrance is hidden at the very back of the airport. However, the road is guarded by the Air Force and they do not allow taxis inside. You’ll need to get the taxi to drop you off at the top of the road and then flag down a motorcycle taxi and tell them to take off their orange vest. This will get you in.
Alternatively if you or a friend has a car, just drive there. Here’s a map of where to drive to…
I hope that’s given a bit of an insight into Kantarat Golf Course and what is certainly one of the world’s strangest golf courses. Unfortunately, taking photographs or videos of the course is strictly banned due to the recent security crackdowns described above. The caddies also strictly enforce that rule and don’t allow players to take pictures.
You also won’t see any Boeing 747s or Airbus A380s at their airport taking off or landing unless it’s an unscheduled flight. (Though there are some parked up at the hangers). Those bigger international flights have all been moved to Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang now deals with domestic flights and flights in Asia.
It is still one of the busiest in the world with flights every few minutes. Don Muang Airport, which also has a Royal Thai Air Force base, has had commercial flights since 1924 making it one of the world’s oldest airports and in 2017 carried 40 million passengers on short haul domestic flights and to destinations in Asia. It has a capacity for 60 flights per hour.
This makes it a massively busy, and relatively large airport. All the more surprising that it has a golf course inside and people can literally play golf next to the runways! Below here is a selection of some of the best pictures of the course that were taken before photographer there was banned.
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The Kantarat Golf Course at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok is an absolute must visit for any golf fan in Thailand!