Samui Wining & Dining
Multi-Course Lunch

The Santiburi Samui Country Club offers a great view, a good lunch, and a fun day out – as well as golf!


7One of the things that foodies like to do is spread the news about new places to eat. But when you’re a food writer, then somehow it all becomes more solemn. It’s our professional duty to make our readers more aware. To encourage their gastronomic third eye to focus more intently on the island’s karma in general and, specifically, upon one or another of the desirable aspects of the Samui food scene. It can be tough sometimes, touring around and forcing ourselves to sample all this food. But one of the rewards is to point out to you, dear reader, yet another fab place to visit. This month’s trail wends upwards towards the lap of the gods, as we explore the attractions of the Santiburi Samui Country Club.

      Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa, to give the place its full title, is one of our leading 5-star resorts. And more than a decade ago, the resort opened a tournament-standard 18-hole par 72 golf course, with driving range and putting green, in a prime elevated location up in the hills in Maenam. The golf course was originally known by a simpler epithet: Santiburi Golf. But somewhere down the line, it was renamed to how we know it today.

      Sounds a bit grand, doesn’t it – Samui Country Club? Far be it for me to say that it isn’t really, but in the words of the Club Manager, Derek McKenzie, “This is a holiday island and the emphasis is on informality and enjoyment. There’s very little in the way of formal dress needed on the greens, and the same goes for eating here!” Yes, this might be Samui’s only championship-level golf course, but you can play in your trainers. Similarly, the ‘clubhouse’ is just as laid-back. It’s essentially just one huge room, Thai-style, and completely open on three of its sides. The décor is unassuming. But what will knock your socks off is the view. This is perched up much higher than the short drive from the ring-road suggests. And from up here you’re looking down on the seven-kilometre sweep of Maenam Bay in its entirety.

      The first tip for you is that this is one of the most glorious places on the island for an early breakfast. Not surprisingly, all the activity here hinges around the hours of daylight. So the restaurant opens at 6:00 am. Which means that the full splendour of the sunrise, over to the right, is available seven days a week, glowingly reflected on the surface of your fresh-ground coffee. Or fruit juice (big selection). Or smoothie or milk-shake. There’s an à la carte breakfast menu if you fancy something light like toast ’n’ eggs. And there are also four full set-breakfasts, too – the Full-Monty English offering (only in this case it’s listed as ‘Scottish’, in deference to Derek), the American alternative, a Euro version, together with a Thai variation, if you’re that way inclined. Oh – good place to mention it – the prices here aren’t grand in the least. And the top-of-the-list full breakfast will set you back you just 250 baht.

      The breakfast menu is available all day, which I like the idea of. But it’s supplemented by a more general daytime menu, too. Bear in mind that the clubhouse closes early, not so long after the sun goes down, like the greens. Which means that there’s no up-market dinner menu – this is strictly a daytime affair. Which is not to say that the fairway fare is lacking in any way. “This is a golfer’s menu,” continued Derek. “It’s what we’ve found people want during the daytime. It’s hot and they’re thirsty, so our range of fresh juices is pretty good and there’s a wide variety of other beverages - beers, wines and spirits. Plus, of course, the first-rate breakfasts. But you’ll also find that the burgers are excellent: they’re made for us by a local chef – we don’t buy them frozen from the big supermarkets. Then there’s a range of sandwiches and a selection of light-bites. There’s a couple of German items - the pork leg and the sausage plate. And there’s a whole range of quality Mövenpick ice-creams, too – available by the scoop or the tub. Just the thing for a hot sunny day!”

       Count your blessings, dear reader! Your awareness has already been expanded to include a) one of the best panoramas on the island and b) a superlative spot for breakfast. What more could there be? Well . . . golf! Many people like to play, and you could be one of the throng. I’m not talking professional (not in this instance anyway), but there are many visitors to Samui each year who are partial to a hole or two (or nine or 18). You don’t need golf shoes, clubs or membership – not to explore this course, anyway. All you need is enthusiasm plus an inclination to enjoy your holiday and have some fun. And a bit more icing on the cake – after 3:30 pm (and all day on Wednesdays) you can play a full nine holes for well under 2,000 baht.

      “You need to understand that golf in Thailand is essentially a serious bit of fun,” explained Derek. “For a lot of reasons, there are no handicaps here – it’s impractical. So, basically, it’s played in a spirit of competitive enjoyment and everyone is welcome to come along. The caddies here have been specially trained to direct and control the traffic on the greens. And, unlike countries such as Germany, Austria or Holland, there’s no certification needed.” (In these countries, and others too, not only do players need to strictly adhere to a prescribed dress code but they also have to have attained a certificate of competency. Not so here!)

       The Santiburi Samui Country Club has an international course. The clubhouse menu reveals quite a few courses more. But, one way or another, the only handicap you’ll find here is missing all the fun.


Rob De Wet


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