LEE WESTWOOD: ME AND MY TRAVELS

Lee Westwood has played in almost every part of the world during his 25-plus years on tour, but there’s one place that he enjoys to play and stay above all others – Thailand

You’ve travelled all over the world during your career and visited a lot of amazing golf destinations. If you could narrow it down to one country, which would it be?

I’ve travelled a lot, and seen lots of amazing places, so it’s hard to narrow it down to one, but I’ve always loved playing in Thailand, especially in and around Bangkok. I’ve won few tournaments there in my career and I’ve always loved it. Not just the golf courses, but the country as a whole.

What specifically sets Thailand apart from the other places you’ve visited?

More than anything, it’s the people and the culture. The Thai people are just so unbelievably friendly and welcoming wherever you go. Not just at tournaments and hotels, but whenever you’re out and about. The hotels and resorts are incredible, and so is the food. And, if you like it hot – which I do – the climate is superb too, so it ticks a lot of boxes for me as a golfer and as a holiday destination.

Which golf courses in Thailand stand out for you?

Amata Spring Country Club, where I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of wins, is obviouslyone of my favourites. It’s about an hour’s drive outside of Bangkok. It hosted the Royal Trophy a couple of times, which is a Ryder Cup-style tournament between Europe and Asia, but I won the first Thailand Golf Championship there in 2011. I remember shooting 60 in the opening round – a career best for me – and then I won it again when Amata hosted it in 2014, so I have some good memories there. There’s also a course called Alpine Golf Club, which is 20 minutes outside of Bangkok, which I really rate. It was originally built on a flat piece of land, so all the hills and elevations are man-made, but it a really fun course to play. I won the Johnnie Walker Classic there in 2004, and I remember it being very lush, and made you almost feel like you were playing around a tropical garden. Once again, water is a big feature of the course, and I recall a couple of cracking par threes to semi-island greens.

Amata Spring Country Club is one of Lee’s favourites

Are you keen to try local foods when you travel to more exotic destinations?
You don’t get to be the size that I am without going out for a few meals and trying all different kinds of foods! Having said that, I don’t get a lot time to see the sights or go out hunting for specific local restaurants when I’m playing in tournaments, so often it will be a meal in the hotel. But we do occasionally get to go out and try more off-the-beaten-track places. I love Thai food, as I like a bit of spice, so I always like to try something new whenever I get the chance.

Which is your favourite hotel in Thailand?

I’ve stayed at the St Regis in Bangkok a few times, and I would have to say that it’s not just my favourite place to stay when I’m playing in Thailand, but one of my favourite hotels in the whole world. It occupies an amazing spot right in the heart of the city and overlooks a golf course and a horseracing track – which is another favourite sport of mine. The rooms are huge, and the floor-to- ceiling windows offer a great view of the city, which looks even better at night. Each room comes with its own private butler, no matter what size of room you’ve got, which is a nice touch. It’s also got an open-air swimming pool overlooking the city, and there’s a great choice of local and international restaurants on site. It’s even got its own train station that comes right to the front door – not many hotels can say that!

What are the ingredients for your perfect holiday?

Nice beach, warm sea, decent weather – the usual suspects. While I do like to chill out when I’m on holiday, I also need plenty of places to see and things to do, along with a good choice of restaurants.

Where is on your bucket list of places to go on holiday?

For sheer relaxation, I’d love to go to Langkawi in Malaysia. It’s a group of islands off the west coast, with amazing beaches, luxury hotels and great seafood. I’ve also never been to Hawaii, so that’s definitely on the list, and not just for the golf courses, which look incredible. I’d also like to see a lot more of New Zealand, as I love the landscape and the outdoor lifestyle.