Shuttleworth keeps a cool head to take out Chiang Mai tourney

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The Outback Golf Bar 6th Chiang Mai Challenge

Monday, March 14, Maejo – Stableford

After a slightly delayed flight with Bangkok Airways on Sunday, we arrived in Chiang Mai to pleasant partly cloudy weather and a comfortable temperature of around 25 degrees.  The Porn Ping Hotel, which has recently changed hands, continued their usual warm hospitality, meeting and greeting us in the customary Thai fashion and making sure the hotel bar was well stocked with cold beers. 

The Challenge is a three day tournament and incorporates three separate daily competitions over arguably the best courses in the area, and in addition we have a ‘2’s fund which is spread over the three different courses.

Everybody was so keen to get started that the bus left 15 minutes early on Monday morning and when the remainder of the party arrived at the course it wasn’t long before we were away, some 30 minutes before tee time and with the added benefit of a two tee start.  The course, which is going through a long programme of changing the grass on all the greens, was in good nick and apart from a couple of drops of rain, we enjoyed excellent playing conditions.

Mark, Lloyd, Steve (the Cherokee) Mann, Capt’ Bob, John & Suzi Lawton sport their anoraks for the final day at Chiang Mai Highlands.Mark, Lloyd, Steve (the Cherokee) Mann, Capt’ Bob, John & Suzi Lawton sport their anoraks for the final day at Chiang Mai Highlands.

Last October at Royal Chiang Mai, it was Chad who scooped the whole ‘2’s fund with his hole in one, this time it was to be Rosco, with a superbly flighted 7 wood on the 175 yard par 17th.

As for the main tournament, Barney Clarkson had the day’s top score with 40 points to win Div C, whilst the 38 points from Jock Drummond and Norm (the chatter) Cheetham, took the A & B divisions.

Div A (0-12)

1st Ron Drummond (6) 38pts

2nd Lloyd Shuttleworth (5) 36pts

3rd Steve Mann (9) 35pts

Div B (13- 7)

1st Norm Cheetham (15) 38pts

2nd Bruce Milner (13) 37pts

3rd Tim Balfour (13) 35pts

Div C (19+)

1st Jeff Clarkson (26) 40pts

2nd Hec Cooper (24) 39pts

3rd Geoff Moodie (21) 33pts

Tuesday, March 15, Alpine Resort – Stableford

So with a later than usual tee time, we were off to the Alpine Resort Golf Resort, about 40 minutes out of Chiang Mai on the Lamphun Road.  We woke to a drizzly English weather type day, with the forecast of rain, but it was relatively clear and no sign any heavy smoke, the aftermath of rice field burning, which we have experienced in previous trips at this time of year.

The course looked excellent upon arrival and the check-in went smoothly, but 650 Baht for a cart raised a few eyebrows, even though the water was free in the on-board ice-box.  It did not take long for the efficient starter system to sort us all out and again we had the benefit of a two tee start, with five groups starting on the back and three on the front.

The rain never came and the indifferent greens, which were completely different to Maejo and their own back nine were not even related to their front nine, all in all contributed to some fairly ordinary scoring, with the 35 points from Chris Dopp being the top score of the day, giving him the win in Div A at the same time.

Rosco receives his hole in one certificate at the Porn Ping Hotel.Rosco receives his hole in one certificate at the Porn Ping Hotel.

General Jack’s 34 points was full of grumps and groans as his knee injury reared its head again, but nevertheless it was enough to give him the Div B win ahead of Mark Riggall with 32.

Suzi Lawton also managed 34 points which won her the Div C title, way ahead of Pat Lamont with 29 and Barry McIntosh with 28.

The restarted ‘2’s netted five, coming from Ian Heddle, Mark Riggall, Ed Wycoff, Jock Drummond and Tim Balfour and we would have to wait until Thursday to see if anyone else wanted to share the pot.

Going in to the last day on Thursday, the last two four balls out (the leaders) were Chris Dopp (69), Bruce Milner (68), Lloyd Shuttleworth (67) and Ed Wycoff (67), preceded by Norm Cheetham (67), Jack Moseley (66), Tim Balfour (65) and Suzi Lawton (65); and it was expected that the overall winner would come from one of these two groups.

Div A (0-12)

1st Chris Dopp (11) 35pts

2nd Ed Wycoff (9) 33pts

3rd John McDonald (10) 32pts

Div B (13-17)

1st Jack Moseley (14) 34pts

2nd Mark Riggall (14) 32pts

3rd Bruce Milner (13) 31pts

Div C (18+)

1st Suzi Lawton (18) 34pts

2nd Pat Lamont (26) 29pts

3rd Barry McIntosh (18) 28pts

Thursday, March 17, Chiang Mai Highlands – Stableford

Maybe we should write about the coldest weather ever experienced by most of us, as Suzi came back from the Airport Shopping Mall with an armful of anoraks; they were all sold at the bar within about 10 minutes.  Rosco, Barney and Steve Mann found an alternative source, resembling gear more likely to be worn by Cherokee Indians, nevertheless they were just as effective – and reversible!  In addition to the cold, it did not stop raining, that persistent, as we say in England “wet rain’ for two solid days and nights and more.

So what happened to the golf on the “day off” day (Weds) at the new Inthanon course?

As we arrived after a journey of just over an hour in the pouring rain, the smiling staff were there to greet us at the top of the stairs and soon made us all feel very welcome.  The clubhouse is spectacularly simplistic but today of all days we would have sooner had some windows and central heating, with nowhere to shelter from the biting cold wind.

After a complimentary cup of hot herbal tea we debated whether to play, and in the end eleven brave-hearts deciding to give it a try.

Rosco and Suzi came in shivering after nine, quickly sitting down to a bowl of hot soup; the other nine stayed out and later reported the course to be “great”.  In an unofficial game, Shane Brown won with 38 points playing from the white tees at around 6,500 yards long.

Eleven withdrew from the third round of the three day tournament at Chiang Mai Highlands but all the leading groups remained intact.  There was nobody else on the course so we were away early with the daily comp being reduced to just two divisions.  After a few holes the rain eased and to be honest the conditions were not too bad, although it did remain very cold so we all appreciated the jackets bought the night before.

With a third of the group back at the hotel, the presentation was for the first time to be held back at the hotel instead of the usual Chiang Mai Highlands clubhouse.

Fidge Button, with the able assistance of Barney Clarkson was our ‘finesmaster’ all week, and was not short of material; keenly gathered from the ‘faux pars’ we all made on tour, with once again Norm Cheetham racking up the most fines.  Probably the most unlikely one was the two guys who managed to board the Phuket flight instead of the Chiang Mai flight, hardly believable in this day and age; and it carried a double fine.  The money as usual went as tips to the drivers and hotel staff for looking after us all so well.

So to the results of the final daily round; winner of Div A, who had remained solid throughout the week bearing in mind the rain, was Lloyd with an excellent 37 points, with Ian Heddle, our low marker this week with a handicap of just 2, taking second with 36.

Suzi, who stepped up to the task, playing in the second to last group out, finished also with 37 points to win Div B, but had reason to be a little disappointed after getting herself into difficulties in the heavy wet sand in a greenside bunker on the last hole and walking away with a wipe.  Second place went to Barney (34pts) and third to Hec Cooper (31).

Div A (0-13)

1st Lloyd Shuttleworth (5) 37pts

2nd Ian Heddle (2) 36pts

3rd John McDonald (10) 35pts

Div B (14+)

1st Suzi Lawton (18) 37pts

2nd Jeff Clarkson (25) 34pts

3rd Hec Cooper (23) 31pts

Winner and final positions

This is the first time that we have lost any golf due to inclement weather on any of the Outback Tours, whether at home or overseas with the exception of three holes in Indonesia three years ago.  Admittedly, it came close last year in Batam on the third day, when we were forced to play in the rain on a very wet course, with the use of tee pegs permitted throughout and all bunkers being declared GUR.

The poor weather this week clearly contributed to some below average scores and the lowest winning three-day total, since our tournaments began; but that does not detract in anyway from our overall winner, Lloyd Shuttleworth, who played fantastic golf all week.  He is a credit to the game and has a mindset and that we could all learn from, remaining incredibly calm and unflappable at all times, being just happy to be out there on the course.  He won with a total of 104, two ahead of another cool player and our only lady this week, Suzi Lawton on 102.  Bruce Milner (101) had his highest ever finish on a tour to take third with newcomer, Ed Wyckoff getting fourth on 100.

After the drama of Rosco’s hole in one on the first day, our new ‘2’s pot had ten winners, namely Ed Wyckoff, Ian Heddle, Tim Balfour, Jock Drummond & Mark Riggall (all on Day 2) and Ian Heddle, Jock Drummond, Steve Mann, Bob Green & Suzi Lawton (on Day 3).

After the vote as to which courses to play on our 7th Chiang Mai Challenge, Oct 16–20; it was Maejo that lost out to the new Inthanon course but we shall play there (Maejo) on our ‘day off’ day.  In addition to this October’s Chiang Mai tour will be the optional extra, in Chiang Rai, playing Santiburi twice and Waterford.  This was incredibly popular last year with 21 taking part and increased numbers are expected this year.  Santiburi, the home of many Amateur and Professional Tournaments, is a truly fabulous course and should not be missed.

Finally, other tours scheduled for this year include; Royal Hills 16-19 April, Bintan Indonesia May 31 – June 3, and Hua Hin in late August.

Final positions

1st Lloyd Shuttleworth (5) 104pts

2nd Suzi Lawton (18) 102pts

3rd Bruce Milner (13) 101pts

4th Ed Wycoff (9) 100pts

5th John McDonald (10) 99pts

6th Chris Dopp (11) 99pts

7th Jeff Clarkson (26) 98pts

8th Ian Heddle (2) 97pts