Having played golf in South East Asian countries since 2015 it was time to try playing in the home of golf, the United Kingdom. A temporary move back in May 2023 has been a bit of a culture shock but the determination to continue a weekly round prevailed and the contrast could not be greater. Leaving the trusty TaylorMade's back in Asia the first stop was acquiring a cheap set of clubs locally. After scouring the classified for a few days, a second hand (unused) set of irons, bag and push cart trolley was sourced for just $55, the seller even threw in 25 lake balls. A few quality second-hand TaylorMade woods were also sourced at $50 each. With a set of clubs and necessary gear it was time to book a round, easily done online.
South East Asian countries are generally blessed with copious amounts of hot sunny weather with only the odd thunderstorm during monsoon season to worry about. The ground can vary between hard and a little soft which provides an element of consistency. Conversely northern Europe has a temperate climate which means seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Most UK courses are well kept year-round but green keepers will certainly have their work cut out during the winter months just to keep courses open. UK summers can make the ground incredibly hard like playing off concrete which can be great for those lofty pitches that require plenty of club head bounce. The winter months can be brutal making playing conditions challenging with regular heavy rain turning the fairways into quagmires and the subsequent adoption of ‘winter rules’. If the ground freezes some courses will not allow play until there is a thaw, even once open the ground can remain frozen leaving a rock-hard playing surface. Constant monitoring of weather forecasts seems to be the order of the day when planning to play a round in the UK.
Courses and Costs.
There are a wide variety of courses in the UK from exclusive members only clubs to low-cost public access courses. Green fees are mostly similar to those charged by courses in South East Asia (roughly $40) but restaurant facilities are considerably more expensive in the UK. Almost all UK courses allow visitors and there are a variety of membership packages available too although many golfers play less during the winter months. Pro shop prices for new equipment in the UK are comparable with Asian prices and can be cheaper, however, buying lake balls in a pro shop is an expensive option, South East Asian pro shops offer lake balls at 1/5th of the UK price.
Caddies and Facilities.
Whilst South East Asian courses tend to have some large club houses with great facilities like restaurants, massage services, changing rooms (for members and visitors) and pro shops. In the UK facilities will be more modest where changing rooms are for members only. Probably the biggest difference is the use of caddies and golf carts in Asia, often mandatory, and it is not unusual to have café/bars and toilets every 3 holes. Playing in the UK will certainly mean no caddies and golf carts will be limited to those with certified medical conditions only. In the UK players will have to carry their own clubs or at best use a push cart trolley and rarely will there be any facilities for refreshments or toilets on course.
The differences playing in these two environments has been an experience but in balance playing in South East Asia is probably a more enjoyable day out, an overdue return to South East Asia is imminent. Wherever you play in the world it’s always great to have the right training aids and accessories to improve your golf game and playing experience. One of the best value online stores is Top Golf Goodies who have a huge range of putting and swing aids and accessories. Most of their products are priced at well under $30 and best of all shipping is free.