Lee Westwood has played in almost every part of the world on his 25-year tour, but there is one place where he enjoys playing and being on top of everyone else – Thailand
You have traveled all over the world in your career and visited lots of amazing golf destinations. If you could compress it into a country, which one would it be?
I’ve traveled a lot, and seen lots of amazing places, so it’s hard to shrink to one, but I’ve always loved playing in Thailand, especially in and around Bangkok. I’ve won a few tournaments there in my career and I’ve always loved it. Not just golf courses, the whole country.
What makes Thailand in particular different from other places you’ve visited?
More than anything, it’s people and culture. The Thai people are incredibly friendly and welcoming wherever you go. Not just at tournaments and hotels, but whenever you are out. The hotels and resorts are incredible, and so is the food. And, if you like it hot – which I do – the climate is great too, so it ticks in a lot of boxes for me as a golfer and vacation destination.
Which golf courses in Thailand are different for you?
Amta Spring Country Club, where I was lucky enough to win a few, is definitely one of my favorites. About an hour’s drive from Bangkok. It has hosted the Royal Trophy several times, a Rider Cup-style tournament between Europe and Asia, but I won the first Thailand Golf Championship there in 2011. I remember shooting 60 shots in the opening round – career best for me – and then I won again when Amta hosted it in 2014, so I have some good memories there. There is also a course called Alpine Golf Club, which is 20 minutes away from Bangkok, which I really rate. It was originally built on a flat land, so all the hills and heights are man-made, but it’s a really fun course to play. I won the Johnny Walker Classic there in 2004, and I remember it was so gorgeous, and you almost felt like you were playing around in a tropical garden. Again, water is definitely a big feature, and I remember a couple of cracking par threes from half-island greens.
Want to try local food when you travel to more foreign destinations?
You can’t be the same size as me without going out for some food and trying different foods! That said, when I play in a tournament, I don’t have much time to look at sights or go hunting at certain local restaurants, so often it will be eaten at the hotel. But we can go out occasionally and try more off-the-pit-track places. I like Thai food, since I like some spices, so whenever I get a chance I always try something new.
Which is your favorite hotel in Thailand?
I have been to St. Regis in Bangkok a few times, and I must say that this is not only my favorite place to stay when I play in Thailand, but also one of my favorite hotels in the whole world. It occupies an amazing location in the city center and overlooks a golf course and a race track – another of my favorite sports. The rooms are spacious, and the floor-to-ceiling windows offer a great view of the city, which is even better at night. Each room comes with its own personal butler, regardless of the room you get, which is a nice touch. It also has an open-air swimming pool overlooking the city, and the site has a great selection of local and international restaurants. It even has its own train station that leads to the front door – many hotels can’t tell!
What are the ingredients for your perfect vacation?
Nice beach, warm sea, decent weather – normal suspects. I like to chill out when I’m on vacation, with a good selection of restaurants I need plenty of space to visit and something to do.
Where is your bucket list for vacation?
For comfort, I would like to go to Langkawi, Malaysia. It is a group of islands on the west coast, with amazing beaches, luxurious hotels and great seafood. I didn’t even go to Hawaii, so it’s definitely on the list, and not just for the golf course, which looks incredible. I want to see a lot more of New Zealand, because I like the landscape and the outdoor lifestyle.