Golfnutter: Xmas Day in Ban Chang – Bring ur A Game


The planning had been meticulous.  Four devout observers of Christmas traditions – two Englishmen, a Welshman and a Kiwi – leave Pattaya at 07:45 on Xmas Day, destination; the Emerald Golf Course and a 09:12 tee-time.  The golf was to be followed by a full-on Xmas dinner served at that well-known Ban Chang establishment – the one with the fabulous kitchen – the Camel.  Transport leaves at 07:45. Bring ur A game….for BC stated the text sent out the night before.  And so the day was set.

Our four intrepid golfers decided on a form of split sixes, where everyone finishes up partnering with each of his companions over the course of 18 holes.  Three six-hole matches of pairs better-ball is normally a fair format, especially when handicap differential is reduced by a quarter.

Emerald’s par-3s are amongst the best around. This is the challenging 7th.

Dividing Emerald’s 18 holes into three sets of six should mean the team of lower markers would take the first set, arguably the toughest thanks to holes three, five and six. Not so on this day. One of the Englishmen – an 18-handicapper and the highest marker by some margin – proceeded to play the golf of his life. By the time we arrived at the 6th tee he was one over the card, gross. He and his fellow countryman, smiling from ear to ear, had already won the first set of six – 2&1.

Again the balls were tossed.  This time it is the turn of the Welshman to partner the golfer who at this stage simply had to be the hottest thing on the course.  If this were a guess what happens next scenario, one suspects many would get it right.  Over the course of the next six holes, the Englishman, the same one who had played the first six impersonating Lee Westwood, proceeded to have five of six scores circled.  Yep, he came into just one hole and that was for a half.  For the second time running the Welshman stood on the last tee of a set already having lost; 2&1.

Welsh golfer’s A game.

Xmas Day: a day for love and fellowship, a time for giving, for charitable thoughts and goodwill towards all men – even golfers.  Yeah right!

No need to toss balls for the last set of six, as the pairings picked themselves. This time it was the Kiwi’s turn to partner ‘Lee Westwood’, and as luck would have it, the set started on the par-3 13th.  It’s stroke index three, meaning Lee got a shot all by himself.

The 13th on Xmas Day required a tee-shot of 170 yards to an elevated green. The pin was in a tough spot back left, playing the equivalent of 185 yards. Unfazed, the mighty Lee stepped up and proceeded to flush a magnificent hybrid to centre rear, just off the green. His superb chip left his ball 18-inches left of the hole, whereupon, much to the amazement of the normally good-natured Welshman, his playing partner unbelievably conceded the putt.  Lee’s score: three net two, one-up, five to play.

If the goodwill to fellow men thingy hadn’t previously been discarded, it certainly had now. “What have I done to deserve this?” or words to this effect would have been heard by most golfers on the course.  That the Welshman had the undoubted sympathy of all three playing partners didn’t help one jot, apparently.

From this point on the Kiwi and Lee Westwood simply cruised home in even-par for a 1-up win, leaving the Welshman, normally a regular on the podium, the only loser of the day.  And this in spite of him playing to his handicap, shooting a net-72.  Lee Westwood on the other hand was well over his.  Golf – it was never meant to be fair.

On to The Camel for a 2:30pm sitting of our three-course Xmas dinner.  Such was the setting, the quality of the food and the service, all four golfers, yes all four, were soon enjoying the sort of spirit that is Xmas.  From the entrées through the mains and on to dessert, the culinary experience was enjoyed by all.  It was just before the brandy-sauce coated Christmas pudding arrived that the somewhat erudite Welshman, complete with backpack, brought out his offering.

On the table was placed the dice game; the ubiquitous conversation starter showing numbers 1 – 9 complete with two dice, found in most Pattaya bars. Three of us looked somewhat confused. The fourth asked “Where’s yours?”

There was no answer to this, really. Not when one has absolutely no idea what brought the game out in the first place.

He might have lost the golf, but he wasn’t going to lose this.

“Your text,” said the perplexed Welshman, “stated bring A game. This is mine. Where’s yours?”

What a lovely Christmas Day it was turning out to be, and it still had some time to run.

I hope your Christmas was as merry. Have a great New Year.