Phuket a Prized Destination for Aussie Golf Club

Phuket a Prized Destination for Aussie Golf Club

Chris Gibbins and fellow Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club members are gearing up to hit the golf courses in Phuket this October as Thailand and other Asian countries continue to welcome back international visitors in 2022. Excitement is mounting ahead of the tour, with Chris noting there will doubtless be a range of emotions experienced as it draws closer in the coming months.

Members are clearly keen, with Chris advising that the tour, the Sanctuary Lakes International Challenge, had sold out in quick time. Such has been the interest, that they are now considering staging an additional tour.

Following two years of Covid-related travel disruptions, Chris said he initially thought “there would be little appetite for an overseas trip”.

“However, when I mentioned to a few people I was thinking about a restricted 16 golfer tour to Phuket I was surprised at the response,” he commented.

“First time I’ve filled a tour within a week just by word of mouth. So much so, we are evaluating a second tour running back-to-back with the first.”

Phuket a Prized Destination for Aussie Golf Club

The Sanctuary Lakes International Challenge is a relatively recent addition to the club’s calendar, with Chris advising it had originally come about five years ago, following a number of earlier international events staged by members.

“Whilst our tours used to be informal affairs run by vets, they are now open to all members, and we try to encourage younger members onto the tours,” he said. “This next tour in Phuket, running October 21-29, we have players ranging in age from 28 to 84.”

International attractions beckon: On and off the course

Chris has been a keen golfer since his early teenage years – first swinging a club at Hoylake’s local municipal courses in the UK’s northwest – and has over the years played a number of internationally renowned courses, including St Andrews, Royal Liverpool, Troon, Carnoustie, Pebble Beach and Royal Melbourne.

Fifteen years in the Royal Navy naturally curtailed his golfing activities. However, having traveled around the world in the years since, he has made up for lost time.

Customer Profile: Chris Gibbins, Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club

Chris said Sanctuary Lakes, in Melbourne, Australia, features a links-style Greg Norman layout, singling out the closing three holes as being among his top course features.

“One of the great things about our club is the very well supported veterans group, which I chair,” he said. “We have over a hundred active veterans (over 55s), men and women, and we play each Monday morning, commencing at 08.30 with a shotgun start and a group lunch post match.

“New members young and old are encouraged to have a few rounds with the vets to get to know the club and course.”

Chris has run tours to destinations including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea and the UK, pointing to a range of attractions when traveling and playing overseas, both on and off the course.

“It’s the quality of the courses, the caddies, the clubhouses, and post-golf, just the enjoyment of exploring the night markets, the food stalls, and on non-playing days, the endless options of other places to explore or relax in,” he said.

“For the non-golfers, we try to ensure there are plenty of things for them to do during the stay, often well organized by the hotel.”

Come October, it will have been 25 years since Chris last visited and played golf in Phuket – and, looking forward, he also points to the potential for future tours, both in Thailand and the region.

“In itself, Thailand in general provides the vibe, the food, the quality of the courses and the good value from decent hotels – although Vietnam gives it a good run for its money – and I guess Cambodia will be on the agenda for one of our tours,” he said.

Tour planning: Responsive service and support provides peace of mind

When it comes to organizing golf tours in the Asian region, Chris pointed to the overall convenience of dealing with Golfasian.

Phuket a Prized Destination for Aussie Golf ClubHe stressed the importance of Golfasian not being a “one-man show”, noting that too many tour operators have no obvious back-up.

“When I’m sending thousands of dollars of other people’s money, and those people are fellow club members in the main, I want a large amount of certainty,” he said. “I feel I get that from Golfasian.

“You are willing to negotiate on price, or at least price-match. I don’t expect you to be the lowest cost, however I’ll pay a reasonable premium for good, reliable service.

“You guys make it so easy to do business – everything from regular communication, to a seamless payment structure and a single contact point. All good business practices.”Phuket a Prized Destination for Aussie Golf Club

Chris additionally pointed to the importance of receiving ongoing support while on tour, which he said, “takes tons of ‘work’ off my shoulders”.

“You’ve never let us down and have always been flexible – from airport pick-ups, to golf transfers, even when one or two golfers are staying in separate hotels (yes, that always happens!)”

As for October’s Phuket tour, Chris highlighted the particular importance of reliable and responsive service and support.

“I know there is a fairly high level of excitement mixed with anxiety about this upcoming tour,” he commented. “My reason for choosing Golfasian is the security and certainty you offer, along with your seamless service.”