Joel Juht, who is preparing for the marathon in the Moroccan Sahara desert in April, has already been training in hot climates, first on Tenerife and later on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. The marathon runner didn’t spend all of his days on the running tracks, however, but also found the time to go play on local golf courses, and shares his impressions looking back on this.

You were just in Thailand, where your goal was obviously running, since you’re preparing for the desert marathon. You also ended up on a golf course, where did you get the idea and the time between running?

I had a few so-called rest days where I only had hour-long swimming sessions planned. However, to use up a day to its maximum potential, you need to experience something more, so I decided to indulge in my other hobby, which is golf.

Which course did you visit?

The Santiburi golf club course, which was only 30 minutes from our hotel by taxi.

How would you describe the course, and how was it better than Estonian ones?

When I compare it to the golf course on Tenerife, you could understand the green there, but on Santiburi I couldn’t figure out the slope of the green. You play, hit to the green, see the hole and everything should go right, but the slope was amazingly hidden in the green. Of course, the greens weren’t completely green there. I didn’t do too well on those.

How did your game go?

The course was difficult, and being up high on a cliff you can’t quite calculate your stroke, you see the flag 150 meters away but you’re hitting downhill. I hit down the hill with a smaller iron, the ball flew nicely and I even thought, what happened just now. It was the first time I had tried Taylor Made irons and the ball flew unbelievably well.

The first nine holes felt complicated at first, but a few days later I went back there alone, wanting to make a video with a drone since the view was quite beautiful. On that day, I played on from ten holes to the eighteenth and that course was very difficult. I took four spare balls and with those four I missed playing three holes, since I simply lost all of the balls.

On the topic of service and culture, how much does it differ from what goes on in our Estonian golf courses and club rooms?

There, the golfer is a customer and is dealt with. The club’s equipment is also of such quality, that some of our hobbyists don’t have equipment as good as theirs. Of course, I haven’t played enough to seriously compare, but what I’ve experienced playing at three clubs in Estonia was also rather good. When you play there, you also get a caddie, you play a symbolic 60-70 Euros to receive a caddie, ice cold water and car, where I rode on the passenger seat. The time expenditure was noticeably smaller, as the caddie recommended the proper irons and drove from one hole to the next. It was all extremely convenient.

You’re a rather fresh and young beginner as far as golf goes, who would you recommend to go play there?

I’d recommend it to everyone. I looked into who mostly go to play there, and visitors are largely from Hong Kong, the US, and Australia.

It has been noted that when a person discovers in themselves a passion for golf, they will never choose a travel destination without a nearby golf course. Has this happened to you too already?

IT hasn’t happened to me, but when I take Thailand, then you can’t go wrong by starting out at a hotel near a golf course. They have everything, and a hundred percent of it, or so it feels like to me as far as Thailand goes. The Santiburi golf course is isolated on a cliff edge, you have a view of the ocean and mountains running up one side of the cliff and down the other. The footpaths there were very interesting. I figured I should go running there, as I got to walk up and down quite a bit, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time for this.

Is it worth traveling to foreign countries for golf?

Yes. When I left there and reached Bangkok, we went to browse a shopping center and they had all possible variants of golf clubs you could possibly want. They were also very well priced. Of course those who have played golf longer assuredly know this, but this was a new and different experience for me. Since I’m still a beginner at golf, I don’t know much about irons and equipment, and being able to see with your own eyes just how many choices and opportunities there are was a very interesting experience.