Pickleball Chiangmai - pickleball was introduced to Chiangmai by American retiree John Bayer in 2013/14.
It was predictably a slow start with few takers before the word slowly began to spread with a number of interested people pausing to look and sometimes ask about the game as they walked past the game in action.
Initially played in the Chiangmai corner public park, it was beneficial that by default it attracted all those that visited for the scenery or to do their exercise. If you are not familiar with the park here are some old pictures of the guys playing there.
From there it was a one by one approach - which is to say that all of those that stopped to watch or ask about the game were always invited to play. The surface was bitumen with sometimes an unpredictable bounce but all players took that in their stride with the approach of what you miss on the herdy gurdy you pick up in the round-a-bout. Yes sometimes the luck of the bounce went with you and sometimes it didn’t.
The real downside to the bitumen surface however was its roughness and it used to really chew through the balls at a great rate which was an expense that was constant. The club charged (and still does) just 20 Baht a game and supplies all the playing gear if required with nets, paddles and balls so there was not a lot left in the kitty for ball purchase.
A number of generous players it should be noted donated nets or paddles and balls and thanks goes out to them for the start they gave pickleball in the Chiangmai pickleball club.
There was originally a makeshift net and a fancy new fold up net (kindly donated) that was put up if we got more than 4 players and both courts were lined by tape not paint. Unfortunately change (meaning painting new lines that can’t be removed) in Chiangmai management (park management in this case) is a big decision that can’t be made so new tape on rough bitumen, an added expense needed to be laid regularly.
Then one day all the park sidewalks were upgraded with new bitumen but the playing surface was not. In fact, that was where the raw bitumen was put to lay the sidewalks and the consequence was tractor front-end loader bucket marks nitched out more holes in our playing surface that made playing a real challenge. To get them fixed was a challenge that proved too much for John to convince the park managers to do so our time in the park had come.
It became necessary to find a new surface, a new home to play pickleball. All players loved the park and it was sort of sad a bit that we had to move but when old doors close, new doors open they say and for Chiang Mai pickleball that was true.
Pickleball Chiangmai has now found a new location which is housed within an open door basketball court. It sports two courts and is lined on one side with tall trees which provides fantastic shade through until lunch time – giving players a great playing environment for 4 to 5 hours with a 8am play off.
The club has grown now to more than 100 members on the pickleball Chiangmai facebook page and most often sees two courts in action with players of all ages and playing levels.
Our oldest player John - he surely won’t mind us telling everyone - (too late now!!!) is 80 years young and has really enjoyed and improved his game from his first attempt at this funny game we call pickleball.
If you’re in Chiangmai come on down and pay us a visit, we would love to see you there. Visit our other pages here for details and information.
Yes, we supply all that is required to play, all you need to do is rock up with footware and sporting togs, a smile on your face and maybe a little laughter in your belly and we supply the rest. And yes, for first time players it is free. If you love it and want to come back, and we think you will, it’s pay to play and no it won’t break the bank. John has kept the contribution fee to just 20 baht, about 80 cents for as much play as you want to play on the day.
Excess moneys (now that we have a smooth cement surface to play on which is a lot easier on our picklball balls requiring less money to replace them) – goes into the kitty for a rainy day.
Rainy days are then spent in a restaurant (with drinks of course) to enjoy the fruits of our playing fees.
Playing Times - Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8.00am or earlier in the hot months - check out our facebook page for game day details updates.
Come on down to Pickleball Chiangmai, we think you will love it.
Chiang Mai Players