With a restaurant, a bar, a magazine and a travel agency to run, David Bowers could have earned some time enjoying Pattaya‘s leisure opportunities. Instead, the British entrepreneur has taken up golf.
‘I’ve just got involved in a golfing range,’ he says. ‘Pattaya is now the No.1 golfing destination – the amount of high-quality courses in such as small area is incredible.’
In fact, according to The Pattaya Guide, there are now 24 golf courses within 45 minutes of the resort – a statistic every bit as remarkable as the city’s thousand-plus bars, albeit far less widely publicised.
‘At most of these courses you can play for only £20-25 and they host international competitions like the Honda LPGA Women’s Golf Tournament,’ he says.
The emergence of Pattaya as a golfing paradise has come with little fanfare, partly because – alongside its more sedate options – the town has by no means eased up on its lively bars and racy nightspots.
Yet, alongside its jaw-dropping nightlife, Pattaya is now offering attractions for a wider demographic.
David Bowers’ own business empire reflects the increasingly diverse profile of the resort’s visitors.
From operating a bar on Pattaya’s notorious Walking Street, he has moved into running the upscale Manhattans restaurant and a food delivery service offering cuisine from every continent.
‘You can now eat here as cheaply or expensively as you’d like to,’ he says.
The change in Pattaya‘s profile is clearest outside the centre of the city – in the area known on the city’s radio as ‘the dark side’ because no streetlights come on at nighttime.
On the shores of Lake Mabprachan, Sunday lunch at the Mullighan’s Irish Pub draws together a community of retirees who have been drawn to Pattaya by its golf.
‘I first came out here on a golfing holiday,’ says Terry Phur, a retired telecom engineer in his seventies who now lives in his own villa by the lake.
‘I love the sun, the heat and the smile,’ he says.
His friend John Chapman, 59, is also a regular on the local courses – although he is also an enthusiast for another sport not conventionally associated with the city.
‘There a great lawn bowls green set up by a county bowler,’ he says.
For Terry Allen Collins, a project manager at The Vineyard villas nearby, Pattaya is now almost two parallel universes in terms of leisure.
‘You can now come out here and stay for a fortnight and see nothing at all of the bars and nightlife,’ he says.
‘On top of the whole night scene for single guys you have golf and attractions for families like The Flight of the Gibbon and go-karting.’
Not that for the businessmen like David Bowers behind Pattaya‘s transformation, there is much time for either of the resorts two worlds of leisure.
‘I didn’t come here to relax,’ he says.