‘Thommo’ strikes on Outback Golf Bar tour to Bintan

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Tuesday, May 31, Bintan Resort (Woodlands) – Stableford

Our journey to Suvarnabhumi was quite painless early on Monday morning, arriving on schedule at the airport at 6.30 a.m. for our two hour Thai airways flight to Singapore, leaving at 8 a.m.  Unusually, it was a Jumbo, giving us a very pleasant flight, even though it was fairly full.

Passage through Singapore airport was as efficient as ever, before the 15 minute taxi ride down to the TMFT ferry terminal, which serves the Island of Bintan.

B1, Stuart Thompson and Rosco Langoulant line up with their caddies on the Seaview golf course, Friday, June 3.B1, Stuart Thompson and Rosco Langoulant line up with their caddies on the Seaview golf course, Friday, June 3.

Forward one hour (Singapore time) and then back again (same as Thailand) in time zones, after the 50 minute boat ride, we were greeted in Bintan, our passports collected for the fast immigration service, and after a couple of remonstrations from our driver, we were on our way to the wonderful Ria Bintan course, for nine holes of exquisite golf – even if we were all a bit shattered by the trip.  It was just a friendly knock, the real stuff starting the next day.

It was a little disappointing that only 8 golfers ended up on this tour but those who didn’t will have missed something very special.  The hotel is fantastic and after avoiding a storm, which could have turned nasty when we were playing the 13th or 14th hole, we completed the round on the Ian Baker Finch designed Woodlands course comfortably by early afternoon.  It was a little unfortunate that many of the greens had either been sanded recently or cross cut, leaving us with three varied types of greens throughout the day, making the putting very tricky.

This is a seriously hilly course with long distances between the tee boxes and even though we had carts, it was a long but pleasurable day in the office.  I can’t say I warm to one caddie between two players, she’s rushed off a feet which tends to affect one’s golf as they always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, nevertheless they got the job done, even if they did have to be told to slow down!

The winner today was Clyde Smith, a friend of Sel Wegner’s, playing off a handicap of 26, and he had a total of 35 points, 12 of which came from three holes, which included two ‘2’s!  Needless to say, he received an immediate handicap adjustment down to 22.  Second place was a count-back between General Jack and Stuart Thompson both on 32, Jack getting the nod with his 16 on the back.

1st Clyde Smith (26) 35pts

2nd Jack Moseley (15) 32pts

Wednesday, June 1, Laguna – Stableford

We left at 9 a.m. en route to Laguna, a course designed by Greg Norman, lying about 20 mins from the hotel.  There was nobody on the course but we were warmly greeted at the clubhouse and it wasn’t long before we were on the first tee, a long par 4, which in most people’s opinion should have been a par 5.

In fact our choice to play the blue tees, although only just over 6,300 yards long, made in a tough course, as four of the par 4s on the front nine were all over 400 yards.  The course was a little scruffy round the edges and the greens varied in terms of speed but generally in good condition.

The seventh, the signature hole, is a par 4 that leads right down to the beach, and is made difficult by being dead straight and the very next hole is a par 3 that actually runs right alongside the beach.

Ria Bintan, the world renowned Gary Player course.Ria Bintan, the world renowned Gary Player course.

The storm, which had been lurking, eventually prompted the sirens to be sounded and we headed off back to the clubhouse to wait it out.  Some 40 minutes later, and of course after the customary beers, we were back on the course resuming at the same par 3.

Rosco, who had 18 points at the turn, went on the score 20 more on the back which included an excellent birdie (worth 4pts) on the 13th, which gave him the win for the day with a total of 38.

General Jack struggled on the greens but just did enough to take second again with 32 points, beating Bruce Milner on count-back over the last three holes (4-6), having been level on the back nine (16-16) and level on the back six (11-11).

This was a tournament over four rounds, one of which had to be discarded (only three counting); the decision as to which one to discard had to be made before the start of the next day’s round.  As it stood, Rosco led with 68 points, followed by Jack with 64 and Bruce on 62; but anything could happen with two rounds still to go.

1st Rosco Langoulant (15) 38pts

2nd Jack Moseley (15) 32pts

Thursday, June 2, Ria Bintan – Stableford

Ria Bintan, a world renowned Gary Player course, is the one that everybody wants to pay when they visit Bintan.  It is truly a world class course with a certain serenity all of its own, a must play, which inspires the best golf, but you have to keep the ball straight; veer off line and it’s a certain bogey or worse.

We had the benefit of playing nine holes here on Monday, when we arrived just as a taster but today was the real thing, into the whole 18 holes, which everybody, without exception, couldn’t help but enjoy.

Stuart was unstoppable having turned with 21 points, shortly after which the siren sounded for an enforced storm break of around 40 minutes.  When we resumed it was business as usual for Stuart as he racked up 24 more points on the back (level par gross).

General Jack was trying his best to hang on to Stuart’s shirt tails but his putter was unusually cold, as it had been all week, and his short game wasn’t up to much either!  Nevertheless, he was content to take second for the third time this week with some signs that his game is returning after a long time in the wilderness.

At this point, after three rounds, only Jack and Rosco had all three counting; Jack with a total of 102 and Rosco one back with a 101, but with one round to go Stuart only needed to score 26 points to overhaul them, so they were both (Rosco & Jack) forced to discard their lowest scores and make the final day count!

1st Stuart Thompson (12) 45pts

2nd Jack Moseley (15) 38pts

Friday, June 3, Bintan Resort (Seaview) – Stableford

The second course at the Bintan Lagoon Resort is the Jack Nicklaus designed Seaview course.  We were up for an early start (7.45 a.m. tee) as Sel had to catch an early flight back to Bali and then to Aus., but it wasn’t such a bad idea since we were likely to miss the storms which usually arrive around midday.  Although they (the storms) had been a daily phenomenon, there had been little or no rain and we had been permitted the use of shared carts on the course all week.

It was Sel’s turn to shine today after he had played pretty miserably all week.  When he strikes the ball properly there are few better but his direction left a lot to be desired and had there been a prize for the most balls lost it would have most certainly have been awarded to Sel.  However, today he got it right and won the day with an excellent 39 points, followed in by Rosco with 34, which was not enough to give him the overall win, falling short by three shots.

So the overall win went to Stuart with 108 points, followed by Rosco on 105 and Jack on 100, with Sel in fourth with 98.  The remainder were some distance off, notably Steve Mann who had had surprisingly a disastrous week with absolutely nothing going right for him.  He said afterwards that he had thoroughly enjoyed himself but I suspect he would have enjoyed himself more if he had had just one good round.

We left for the ferry at 14.15 which departed at 15.35 and settled down to our 45 minute crossing watching children’s cartoons; the ferry was full of school kids returning to Singapore.  We bade goodbye to Bruce Milner, going back to the Philippines and also to Clyde, returning to Sydney; for the rest of us, our packed Thai Airways flight arrived back in Bangkok just ahead of schedule at 10 p.m.

1st Sel Wegner (14) 39pts

2nd Rosco Langoulant (15) 34pts