Gall wins gold at Khao Yai


PSC Golf from the Billabong Golf Bar

The regular trip by 25 golfers from the Billabong to Khao Yai had an early 7.30 am start for we anticipated some traffic problems on the way with hoards of Thais making their way north to spend the Songkran holidays with family and friends and our worst fears were realized, with a 5½ hour journey, so we drove direct to the golf course to save some time.

There is much to do to organize a trip of this nature but Bob Philp was relieved of recording all the scores and preparing the sheets for the presentation each day by Bob Pearce, who Capt. Bob thanked back at the Billabong on Tuesday.  The one thing we could be certain of in the next three days was that it was going to be hot, even extremely hot, and sunny and we were not to be disappointed.

Capt. Bob (right) with some Khao Yai winners.

After the long drive we were delighted to find an almost deserted Khao Yai golf course.  What was previously known as Mission Hills could not be more appropriately named for it is totally surrounded by hills and, probably, harbouring all sorts of creatures, the small monkeys making their presence felt by occasionally joining us on the course.  But, Khao Yai G.C. as it is now known, is a beautiful course with the derelict condos now hidden by trees and vegetation and with greens slick and smooth.

Following the long, slow drive the scores were remarkably good but the 3½ hour round with no hold ups, perhaps, had something to do with it.  There was only one ‘2’ recorded on the day, which went to Brian Chapman who also came in 4th with 37 points.  The colourful Greig Ritchie, also on 37 points, edged Brian on a count back but, the old saying ‘a game of 2 halves’ applied to Keith Allen for second place: 15 points on the first nine and 4 lost balls changed dramatically on the back nine with 8 consecutive pars and 25 points giving him 40 in total.  After making all arrangements and organizing the transport for 25 players there was a well deserved win for Capt. Bob with 41 points.

(L-R) Auke Engelkes with Alistair Gall, Wayne Cotterell and Bill Marsden.

Bill Trainer found today that golf can be great but also dangerous as one of his many bunker shots hit a tree root at the end of the bunker and ricochet back to hit him in the left eye, knocking him to the ground.  Fortunately no damage was done but Kiwi Bill started a count of 10 and the wounded soldier was back on his feet at the count of 8!

There are many compliments you can use to describe Rancho Charnvee, our second course of the trip, but the first thing you notice on arrival is a 40 foot boat sitting quietly, going nowhere on a pond just in front of the clubhouse accompanied by some graceful white swans.  The course is cosmetically different to Khao Yai but beautiful in its own way and the clubhouse facilities are superb.

Lloyd Shuttleworth with Brian Wilkinson and Paul Stennett.

Other than Greig Ritchie making everyone aware that his driver was not his friend today, there was complete silence around the course, even the birds were sheltering from the heat.  The course was well prepared with some interesting holes but the greens were tricky for there did not appear to be a flat green on the course and you quickly realized that most of the pins had been placed on the side of a hill, making putting quite interesting and ensuring below average scores.

Sugar Ray Handford needed a count back to finish fourth with 33 points but three others seemed to relish the difficulty on the greens, with Capt. Bob again making his presence felt with 36 points to finish on the podium but being pipped for second by Alistair Gall on 37.  But the honours went to the wily old campaigner Gentry Harrington with 40 points.

There were two ‘2’s today, going to John Player and J.B. Russell.

On day three we had an early start from Khao Yai – 7.30 am – for the 2 hour drive to Lotus Valley.  Thankfully, we were coming south as opposed to thousands going north but as you drive through the gate first impressions are that everything is so green, obviously well watered.  This is the best manicured golf course that most of us have been to in Thailand and that includes the courses around Pattaya.  The fairways and rough are in near perfect condition although the greens had been treated recently and were a little slow but true.

There have been many comments made about this course, one in particular being that there is water on 17 holes and, although this fact maybe somewhat intimidating, the water is not intrusive and offers wide open fairways to help the hapless golfer the opportunity to conserve his supply of golf balls.

Capt Bob apologized for playing from the blue tees, with one par 3 measuring more than 220 yards, but having now played the course we know the white tees are more suitable for mere mortals.  The caddies are very smart in their uniforms and well equipped with a yardage book to provide you with all the information you need.

Kiwi Bill, unusually playing 3 consecutive days, was getting into his stride and came in with 35 points for fourth place, with Auk Engelkes losing on a count back having missed a very short putt to register a birdie 2, to Wayne Cotterell also on 36 points for second place.  The steady Alistair Gall won the day with 39 points.

Only one ‘2’ recorded today which was a pleasant surprise to the person concerned, Sugar Ray Handford who got his birdie from a greenside bunker.

The final presentation took place on our return to the Billabong when we learned that Capt. Bob just missed getting a century, finishing fourth overall with 99 points.  Auk Engelkes came third with 100 and the big hitting Keith Allen, not starting too well on day one, came second with 104.  But six points clear and taking the gold medal was Alistair Gall with an excellent 110 points.

Everyone was still in holiday mode, the bell was rung by the winner and a number of others found any excuse to do the same, what a great way to end 3 very enjoyable days.

Wednesday, April 13, Green Valley – Stableford

After being away in Khao Yai for the last three days it was only a small field Wednesday at Green Valley, with 5 girls and 12 men.  We got away to an early start on a nearly deserted course which was in great condition, with fast greens and fairways that are getting better by the day.

There were some scruffy scores today and a few good ones but the girls as usual came flying out of the blocks, with Songkran Lusha scoring a magnificent 41 points to take that division and Eng Cotterell taking second spot with 35.

In the men’s division there was a count back between J.P. Maffray and Tony Oakes, both with 38 points; Tony getting the nod for first place with a better back-nine of 21 points.  Third place meanwhile went to Lloyd Shuttleworth with 35 points.

There were three ‘2’s, coming from George Barrie and Tony Oakes (2).

Friday, April 15, Burapha – Stableford

With the Songkran festival under way everyone had headed for the hills so the field today was a little depleted, with three groups playing Burapha C and D loops.

We were joined by the Stennett brothers from Adelaide for their first game with the Billabong.  I think they enjoyed themselves with Paul taking a ‘2’ to share the pot with Brian Wilkinson.

The course was in magnificent condition as usual with greens so fast the scribe couldn’t handle them.  The scores were pretty good with only one player scoring in the 20s. Taking second spot was Brian Wilkinson with 37 points but being over shadowed today by Lloyd Shuttleworth, playing off his 7 handicap and scoring 38 points.