The course lies a good distance East of Bangkok, and is easily reached in less than one hour and twenty minutes, provided that you know where you’re going. The Klong bridges and poor quality roads will slow you down a bit but when you get there, it’s well worth it, an impressive course that is completely out of place amongst the extensive rice fields. You actually wonder why, why is it here at all; there’s not a hotel to be seen?
John, Suzi and Rosco.
A well priced green fee, complete with cart make it an economical place to play on some of the best manicured greens and fairways you’re ever likely to see in Thailand, and with the prospect of a deal for walkers coming soon in the low season, it’s a venue that should not be missed.
Faced with a choice between the blue or the white tee (a difference of about 400yds), we elected to go with the longer blue tees at around 6,500yds, not particularly long by many player’s standards but with no roll due to the wonderful, almost a soft mattress like quality of the fairways, with not a weed in sight, it (the course), played its full length.
We had been given the luxury of a two tee start at 11.30, the weather was excellent but the scoring generally on the low side with the exception of one player, Rosco, who left the remainder of the field in his wake in this warm-up round, with a fantastic 42pts, seven clear of his nearest competitor, Paul Greenaway with 35. Paul looked as though he was going to score somewhere near the 40pt mark, after 22pts on the front but a series of missed putts on the back, left him wanting. Paul Bourke (32pts) took third in the same division with the final place going to Bernie Stafford on 29.
Rosco, centre, with Bernie and Paul.
In Division B, the girls took advantage of the course being some 1,000yds shorter than for the men, as Sakorn put a very good round together to score 34pts to win from Suzi in second with 31; the minor places were filled by Jon Kittilsen (31) and Jean Morel (30).
After a drink and a bite to eat, we left for Royal Hills to arrive there just after 5.30pm and after checking in many of the group could be found at the Orchard Cafe, just outside of the main entrance to the hotel, enjoying the odd bevvy or two, contemplating the golf the next day.
Tuesday, April 17, 3rd Royal Hills Classic - Day 1
We woke to the bright morning sunshine beaming across the eighteenth fairway from over the surrounding hills and captured by the hotel, which is sited adjacent to the green and down alongside the fairway. It’s a tranquil setting, with the dew still glistening on the grass, as many of the Outbackers were up early and ready to do battle on this stunning golf course.
We had been joined by two more players, making our full complement of 24 for the start of our 3rd Royal Hills Classic with a start time due at 9 a.m. However, as with previous years there is a pro event that starts later in the week and many of them (the pros) were teeing off from the tips, going out in five and six-balls and generally in a haphazard order with the starter, showing little of no control. There was also a shortage of caddies, and our first groups, who eventually teed off from the tenth, actually went off without caddies, to be joined by them later in the round.
So after a crazy start, we were all away, a little ahead of schedule as it turned out, with the group this time electing to play from the shorter white tees. Although on the first nine (course back nine) there was a significant difference between the whites and the blues, on the back they were, with the exception of one hole, all on the same tee box.
It was a good paced round with no hold-ups but even from the shorter tees, the course was the winner in most cases; only Rosco (again) and Paul Greenaway, both with 37pts, gave the course a bit of a lesson, with the rest of the field trailing way behind.
Three of last year’s top five finishers, namely Bernie and John Stafford were again showing well with Bernie (34) grabbing third in Div A and John (33) winning Div B and Kamol (Mon) leading the three ladies in the field with her 31pts.
After the golf was finished and before it was dark, we were treated to a spectacular storm up and down the valley, which lasted a good 40 minutes or so.
Div A (0–16)
1st Rosco Langoulant (16) 37pts
2nd Paul Greenaway (11) 37pts
3rd Bernie Stafford (13) 34pts
Div B (17+)
1st John Stafford (18) 33pts
2nd Jon Kittilsen (19) 32pts
3rd Sugar Ray Handford (18) 32pts
Wednesday, April 18, 3rd Royal Hills
Classic - Day 2
After the previous day’s evening storm the skies cleared, giving way to another bright and sunny morning. Capt’ Steve was on the putting green at breakfast time and said that the rain had little or no effect upon the course and it wasn’t necessary to impose preferred lies and indeed the carts were still using the fairways quite normally, which was amazing considering the quantity of rain that fell.
The young pros were out again from the tips smacking the ball down the first fairway, rather intimidatingly, as they could easily be watched whilst having breakfast. So the scene was set for our second day here but just before tee off another little twist was added as the tee of the day was moved back to the blues.
After the customary group photo, Rosco, Paul Greenaway, George Bishop & Bernie Stafford led the field out on time and everything was going smoothly until the untimely arrival of a top general; some of his sub-ordinates, playing a few holes in front of our leading group, left the course to greet him at the clubhouse before re-joining the course at the same hole they had been on before. The result, a total mess, our first group were then right behind these two six-balls. Needless to say, the pace of play slowed right up and by the par-3 16th there were three groups on the tee.
Presentation was held at the restaurant that afternoon and the Royal Hills management apologised profusely for the incident which was actually out of their control but they did later in the day present the Outback Group with some complimentary green fees for the inconvenience. Nice gesture!
Same old faces on the leader-board as Rosco won Div A with 36, from Bernie and Mon both on 33 and both of whom finished in the top five last year. In Div B, Sakorn came out on top with 35pts from another of last year’s top five finishers, John Stafford with 34.
Div A (0–16)
1st Rosco Langoulant (16) 36pts
2nd Bernie Stafford (13) 33pts
3rd Kamol Thongkiew (12) 33pts
Div B (17+)
1st Sakorn Pramoolchart (19) 35pts
2nd John Stafford (18) 34pts
3rd George Bishop (17) 31pts
Thursday, April 19, 3rd Royal Hills
Classic - Day 2
After a leisurely breakfast and watching the young pretenders bombard the centre of the first fairway, we checked out and left for Lotus Valley, for the final round of the 54-hole tournament. The journey took about an hour, made easy by the GPS gismo but the road was poor in places, however we arrived at a deserted course with plenty of time to spare.
With a two-tee start, this time from the whites, the leading groups went out in reverse order from the first, whilst the also-rans started from the tenth and we were all finished in well under four hours.
Bernie Stafford won Div A with a fine 40pts, the best score of the day, and standing on the 18th tee Rosco in his mind had all but lost the overall lead and drove recklessly off the tee.
Looking at his second shot from the balcony of the clubhouse, Capt’ Steve reckoned he’d lost it (the tournament) as he (Rosco) appeared to hit a driver off the deck towards the green. His next shot found the green about 5 metres from the pin and he holed the downhill slider for a birdie, and the overall win but at the time he didn’t know it, thinking that Bernie had scored 41.
Paul Greenaway and Paul Bourke filled second and third places, both scoring gross 81’s as did Bernie.
The rabbits came good in division B as the Lawtons, who were in the second group out, and the Turnip, who played in the first group, all came good to take the top three places as John won by three with 37 from Suzi with 34 and Turnip 33.
As Capt’ Steve and Jack were checking the scores, Rosco came in and confirmed that he didn’t hit driver but hit three wood for his second shot but he said he didn’t really care because he thought he had lost, but he did not know Bernie’s score was 40 and not 41 and that made all the difference as Rosco had won the overall by just one shot on a total of 108. Bernie was second with 107 and Paul was third with 103.
Presentation followed shortly after when the full results were announced, after what had been another remarkably successful tour for the Outback.
There were a total of nine ‘2’s during the three days from Paul Greenaway, Tony Garnett, Mick Leighton, Kamol Thongkiew, Paul Bourke, Martin Kingswood, Steve Mann & Jean Morel got two.
Div A (0–16)
1st Bernie Stafford (13) 40pts
2nd Paul Greenaway (11) 38pts
3rd Paul Bourke (9) 36pts
Div B (17+)
1st John Lawton (21) 37pts
2nd Suzi Lawton (19) 34pts
3rd Dennis Persson (17) 33pts
Overall winners (top 5)
1st Rosco Langoulant 108pts
2nd Bernie Stafford 107pts
3rd Paul Greenaway 103pts
4th Paul Bourke 96pts
5th John Stafford 94pts