Line up a bargain to fly and play overseas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 August, 1998, 12:00am

The Jockey Club-funded, Gary Player-designed twin courses at Kau Sai Chau looked like being a God-send for an army of golfers in Hong Kong whose chances of playing locally had previously been stymied by the rigid rules of the handful of private clubs.

However, Kau Sai Chau's popularity was immediate and overwhelming and telephoning to secure a weekend tee time soon became, for many, a finger-numbing exercise in futility.

It seemed the best opportunity to play remained the occasional away trip.

The cost of a package to Thailand, for instance, can prove financially more attractive than, say, a couple of days at mainland China's oldest and best-known course, Chung Shan.

A three-day, two-night trip to play either or both of Chung Shan's admittedly splendid courses during the week is likely to involve only small change from $3,000 after green fees, caddy fees, visas (if expatriates), ferry fares, transfers and accommodation plus breakfast.

The cost can be more at weekends and, with visitors who are not accompanied by a member restricted to the tough Nicklaus course, the option of travelling abroad remains an attractive one.

Consider a Canadian Airlines weekend package to Thailand involving air fares, transfers, three nights first-class accommodation with breakfast and two rounds of golf, including caddy fee, can be arranged for $3,735 and even Chung Shan's allure begins to fade in face of what Bangkok, Pattaya or Hau Hin have to offer.

Airlines such as Canadian and private tour operators are increasingly coming up with attractive packages, especially involving Thailand and the Philippines.

Shop around to secure the best deal.

Even hotels are getting in on the act.

The Mandarin Oriental in Manila has struck a deal with Orchard Golf and Country Club that enables guests to enjoy a round.

Don't expect a bargain but, in a capital where clout is all-important in securing a game on one of the better courses, the deal certainly eliminates the hassle.

Bali has some generally attractive options and the island seemingly remains a haven of peace and tranquillity in the face of turmoil that has wreaked havoc in so many other parts of the country.

Outside Asia's exotic spots and mainland China's courses which feature such designer names as Nicklaus, Palmer, Faldo and Langer, Australia has its share of options.

Don't cling to the hope of playing a round on one of the exclusive courses in, say, Sydney or Melbourne but venture into the country or head for the Gold Coast, Queensland's holiday haven.

There are choices galore and at prices that will not eat the heart out of the holiday budget.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Rockies might be more generally associated with snow and mounted policemen but, as this special report highlights, when the snow does thaw golf there can be relatively inexpensive and the experience exhilarating.

A five-hour drive from Vancouver leads to the seat of 14 courses.

Tee up a trip and try them out.