Poppy Day golf tournament proves a big hit

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Friday, Nov. 5, Khao Kheow – 2-Ball Better Ball Stableford

As with all good ideas, this one came about over a beer in Tropical Bert’s.  We were knocking ideas about for enhancing the ‘Remembrance’ period and maximizing income for our charitable actions when it was suggested we have a ‘Poppy Day’ golf tournament.

With yours truly ‘volunteered’ as tournament organizer and Graham and Bert tasked with the difficult job of nailing down sponsors, the idea slowly germinated into something tangible and things began to take shape.

The tournament winners, Steve Hamstad and Jeff Warner, collect their trophies.The tournament winners, Steve Hamstad and Jeff Warner, collect their trophies.

Khao Kheow G.C. was selected as the venue and the format was decided on as 2-Ball Better Ball Stableford over the A & B nines.  Bert ordered the shirts with a design that reflected the British Legion’s origins and they will one day be a classic, so well worth keeping.

We selected Jameson’s for the night time function as Kim Fletcher is ‘A Friend of The Legion’ and usually comes through for us.  Here I must thank Kim for not only the night but he also played and put in a four-ball.

After a slow start there was much relief as the players began to sign up in droves over the final two days and by tee-off time we had 136 golfers raring to go.  Here we must thank Max and Tony at PSC plus the various golf outlets and Colin Davies at Lewiinskis in particular who helped in ensuring the tournament was full.

For such a good cause we really deserved good weather and it was nice and sunny, but also blowing a gale!  Early on it was just difficult to stand up and the ball on the greens went all over the place.  The Long Putt markers, supplied by Khao Kheow, either blew away or became ripped.  I soon solved that by holding them down flat with four tee pegs.  Mind, one ripped in two and blew away.  Good fun was had by all!

With the players holding their wigs on with super glue we were away.  The fairways were in good condition, the greens were hard and fast and the ball went where it wanted.  The rough was wicked and on my second shot my sand wedge snapped in two, so a good day was expected.  However, all in all as we came to the end of the round the wind dropped and the day became all peaceful and the world looked good.

Runners-up Frances Goyon and Thierry Petrement collect their awards from Derek Brook, 2nd left, and Graham MacDonald, right.Runners-up Frances Goyon and Thierry Petrement collect their awards from Derek Brook, 2nd left, and Graham MacDonald, right.

Back in the clubhouse, after a hot shower, I found Max beavering away in the reception area tabulating the scores, and being a kind and considerate leader I left him to it.

Arriving at Jameson’s for the presentations I was not surprised to find the place packed and finding a seat was at a premium.  Dave Richardson, Mike Gosden and his table made space and that was good as it was next to the prize area.  I have to say the prize presentation looked good and I particularly thought the trophies, sponsored by ‘The Sons of the Andrew’ alias George, Roy and Kevin looked particularly fine.

The trophy sponsors display the main prize table.The trophy sponsors display the main prize table.

The food consumed it was time to get on with the presentation, and your truly, as Emcee, introduced the Legion President, Graham MacDonald, and mentioned that our Secretary Bert Elson would have been there but was recovering from Dengue fever.  However Bert had written his thoughts down and George Barrie was asked to express them, which he did so very eloquently.

Bert noted that the Royal British Legion Thailand Branch had come a long way since 2007 when just 15 of us got together to form it.  Since then we have grown significantly and are now approaching nearly 200 members covering all of the country.

Last year we raised just over 196,000 baht from our Poppy Appeal and spent just over 200,000 baht on welfare cases such as medical care, hospital visits, rent, household goods, unfortunately funerals and a number of other things.  We also have a number of Thai widows under our wing and ensure they receive their entitlement with regards to pensions and grants.

As people get to know us we receive more requests for help so we knew we needed to increase the funds.  We are fairly confident that this year’s event will equal what we collected last year but not all of the money will go to the Poppy Appeal as we wanted to also involve a local charity and decided on the Thai Veterans Hospital in Bangkok, and they are going to provide us with a ‘wish list’.  In return we will use their share of the proceeds to try and fulfill that list.

After George had spoken it was then time for the presentations and Graham MacDonald was called upon to present the prizes.  The Near Pin awards went to Gary Green, Colin Swanick, Hugh Byrne, Phillip Moore (2), and David Spiers.

The major Near Pin was for the one for who got closest on the Island Green of B8, with the Standard Bearers prize being a 2-day sailing course for 2 people at The Royal Varuna Yacht Club.  This was won by Jeff Clohessy.

The Long Put awards were picked up by Merle Humphries, Dick Warberg and Alan Lamb.

Then it was onto the competition prize winners, and here it has to be said that the most famous players of the night were the four-ball who by mistake played scramble but still had a great day out.

In sixth place was the team of Patrick Brown and David Czernie with 42 points while coming in one place better on a count-back was the pairing of Liam McGuiness and John White.  Also finishing with 42 points but with the better math was the fourth placed team of Patrick Dunbar and Gerry Power.

Bob Myers Senior, right, proudly holds the fine paratrooper print with Reg.Bob Myers Senior, right, proudly holds the fine paratrooper print with Reg.

We then came to the top three, all who would not get just a prize but a trophy also.  In third place with 43 points was the team of Jimmy Day and Andrew Byrne, just one point behind the runner up duo of Frances Goyon and Thierry Petrement.

Our champions this year, and holding onto their hair in the wind, was the team of Steve Hamstad and Jeff Warner, each winning a flight for two courtesy of Tiger Air.  I have to say here that Jeff Warner donated his prize back for the financial betterment of the Poppy fund and I thank him for that gesture.

Before the night wound down we had two special events take place that are worth mentioning.  Four tickets to see Tiger Woods play at Amata Springs Club were put up for auction and after vigorous bidding a portly gentlemen who wishes to remain anonymous bought them for 8,500 baht, and then promptly donated them back and they were sold to the next highest bidder for 8,000 baht.  A fine gesture!

But the high point of the night has to be the auction of a fine print of a wartime paratrooper landing and after a lengthy bidding war it was bought by Roy and presented to Bob Myers Senior, the man Roy calls his ‘step father’. Bob is a lifelong ‘Para’ and the gesture brought tears to the eyes of many there.  Well done Roy.

We finished the evening with the raffle by Reg and Dot and most of us could relax in the knowledge we had indeed reached the figures Bert had predicted.

As the ‘organizer’ I thank not only those above but all who helped out on the day and last but not least our fantastic and generous sponsors: from MBMG, to Boots and Tesco Lotus, to Tropical Bert’s and to Matvic Wholesale Butchers, to the Sutlet Group and to Gez and The Pattaya Invitational Golf Society, to Kim and Jameson’s, and also thanks go to The Royal Varuna Yacht Club and David Miller for their Standard Bearers Prize and Massic Travel for their voucher.  We also need to thank the anonymous donors who do not wish to have their names mentioned.

Everyone got involved and contributed to making this a great golfing day and a fundraising event that will help support some real worthy causes.  We look forward to doing it all again in 12 months time.  T.T.F.N.