Total Consciousness: Golfing in Bhutan

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Golfing in Bhutan is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report. Catch up on Bhutan Day 1 and Bhutan Day 2.


There won’t be a tip, but on your death bed, when you die, you’ll receive total consciousness. So I got that going for me.

While visiting the fortress in Thimphu, I saw an adjoining golf course. The last thing I thought I’d find in Bhutan is golf. Add that to the list of my incorrect preconceived notions. Following the harrowing downhill bike ride and a general indifference to visit a stupa and paper factory, I told my guide I wanted to golf.

We went to the course to check the prices. It was $60 for 9 holes, $10 for a caddy, a few dollars more for club rentals, and an insane $11 for a sleeve of Srixon balls. That’s almost as bad as Marrakech (see Golf in Marrakech: BYOB).

I almost paid in one round what is due in one year.
But look what surrounds the course.

Still, how many people can say they’ve golfed in Bhutan? And with this view? I had no problem paying.

TPOL’S TIP: Only cash is accepted and you must wear a collared shirt and long pants. I had to borrow pants because I showed up in golf shorts.

Borrowed clothes.

Rentals

The irons were fine but the driver was garbage. It had a crack in the base. I tried to explain to my caddy that I normally don’t drive the ball 10 yards straight up in the air. He wasn’t buying it.

Caddy

My caddy was on Bhutan’s national team. He has a handicap of 9. A few times, just for fun, we played closest to the pin. I never won once.

Dog Caddy

I also had a dog follow me around for all nine holes.

Beers

Nothing like a tall boy on a rainy day.

Views

I had many good shots but I was more interested in photos than what my score would be. I took many of the views and my caddy graciously took many of me.

Greens

Much like golfing in Bolivia, the greens were terrible (see Golfing on the Moon: Club de Golf, La Paz). It makes the game pointless when the greens are flooded.

Tip

I tipped the caddy 1000 Bhutanese Ngultrum ($13). He was happy. I was happy.

Clubhouse

After a great day, I went to the clubhouse and drank with the who’s who of Bhutan. One of the golfers happened to own a travel agency. He recommended that I go white water rafting down the male river, a category 3, and rebuff pleas from my guide to go down the gentler, boring female river. That proved to be great advice (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 3).

Besides tourism, we discussed life in Bhutan. It was interesting to hear their perspective on happiness, Buddhism, and reincarnation. It was also interesting to hear that the younger generation is questioning it all. The best example was one gentleman’s son who questioned his dad why he couldn’t get an iPhone. The dad said in his time they would not think to ask this because his current place in life was a circumstance of what he had done in a previous life. That ideology is a tough sell in today’s social media world.

Overall

I don’t make golfing a priority when I travel because I can golf at home every day in Puerto Rico. But golfing in a place that measures wealth by happiness? How could I pass that up? With that standard, I was the richest man in the country after that round.


Golfing in Bhutan is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report. Catch up on Bhutan Day 1 and Bhutan Day 2.

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