Category: The Mainly Unquenchables Golf Society (MUGS)

Warm-Up Routines No Good For Your Golf Game?

Warm-Up Routines No Good For Your Golf Game?

Spleen_meridien There was a collective sigh of relief last week from members of my favourite Golf Society in Thailand, the Mainly Unquenchables Golf Society (the MUGS). One long-time member, Alistair – a Desperate Dan look-alike with a dry sense of humour and what he describes as a ‘power fade’ (i.e. a huge slice) – brought along to the MUGS “clubhouse”, the Limping Cockroach pub, a DVD which he had somehow acquired. This apparently demonstrates that common warm-up routines may be robbing us of our strength and energy before we even approach the first tee. In the DVD, "Par and Beyond Secrets to Better Golf," Dr. Jerry V. Teplitz explains the “Meridian Acupuncture” lines in the human body and how these energy fields affect your golf game. It seems that when we take practice swings, we are interfering with and reducing the flow of energy in our body and our ability to drive the ball farther. To prevent this, Dr.Teplitz advises, simply take your practice swings and then rub your stomach along the “Spleen Meridian” line to restore the energy in your body. To order your copy or find out more about the DVD, visit www.golf-help.info. This all came as great news to most MUGS members, many of whom can be seen red-faced, wheezing and gasping as they approach the first tee, having tried in vain to follow the latest warm-up advice, but failing even to touch their knees, let alone their toes (which most have not seen in years). Alistair’s plan was to explain to his caddie about the “Spleen Meridian” line so that she would know exactly where to rub. All this was of little interest to one MUGS member, 4-handicapper, ginger-haired, John, whose pre-game routine is to lay waste to a large bowl of spicy noodle soup, washed down with a big bottle of Singha beer. Invariably, he then strolls to the first tee and dissects the fairway with his opening drive.

It was John who caused another rules argument on the last MUGS outing to Lakewood Golf & Country Club in Bangkok. He had hit a great shot on the par three fifth hole on the Rock course to within a foot of the pin. One of the other players in his four-ball, loss-adjuster Robert, was short of the green, chipped on, and knocked John’s ball into the hole. John claimed that he had the right to either replace his ball where it had been, or to leave it where it finished, i.e. in the hole. So he claimed a birdie two. The MUGS organiser, Charlie (a.k.a. the “Ayatollah Hogmanay”) was called upon to give a ruling. He decided that what John was claiming was an old rule and he had in fact scored four. Charlie explained this is now covered in Rule 18-5, Ball at Rest Moved by Another Ball. There is no penalty to either player as long as the following procedure is adhered to: The person whose shot struck the ball at rest plays his ball as it lies; the person whose ball was moved returns the ball to its original position. Failure to replace the ball that was moved to its original spot; as in John’s case, results in loss of hole in match play or a 2-stroke penalty in stroke play.

If you have had to seek a ruling on an unusual happening on the golf course, please post it, or email it to me and I will do the rest.

Play fast, swing slow.

Wet Week In The UK

Wet Week In The UK

Tewkesbury_floods2_2 My recent sporting experiences in the UK confirmed why I prefer to be in Thailand, especially for golf.

The week-end before last I went with some friends on a mini golfing break. We had booked a great deal at the Tewkesbury Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club, five minutes off the M5 motorway and about 75 miles from my home in the UK. Two rounds of golf, with buggies, one night’s accommodation, dinner and breakfast, all for £80 (about 160 US$, less than 5,000 baht). On arrival, we were told that the course was closed due to heavy rain. Eventually, we were allowed on to the soggy course (but, no buggies) and managed to get round in time for dinner. Tewkesbury_floods_2

The next morning, we completed 13 holes before the heavens opened again. From then on the rain never stopped and within a couple of days, Tewkesbury turned into a stranded island and more than 10,000 families were left homeless in the area, electricity supplies to 50,000 homes were cut and, ironically, 150,000 homes were left without water.

Lords_rain The following Friday up to Lord’s, the home of cricket, for the second test match between England and India. Having travelled to London in relentless, driving rain, on arrival the ground resembled a lake and it seemed that no play would be possible. Miraculously, the weather relented after lunch, and due to the fantastic new drainage system, we were able to enjoy a few hours’ cricket.

Last week-end, I was at Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland for the Open Golf Championship only to be greeted again by "dreech" Scottish weather: constant drizzle and a cold, stubborn mist. The players and spectators looked like Michelin men with layers of wet proof gear, some even wearing winter golf mitts. This, in the middle of July! Apparently, a foreign visitor asked why the tournament was not played in the summer!Open_golf_rain_2

The Open had not got off to the best of starts what with Gary Player’s outrageous, unfounded claims about alleged drug usage in the sport, and the farce which led to eight competitors playing 19 holes rather than 18 in the first round of the final qualifying round at Sunningdale. They had to play the fourth hole of the Old Course twice after, mid-round, the pin position was deemed unplayable and moved from one side of the green to the other! Might there be repercussions in the next outing of the MUGS? Half a dozen golfers arguing with Charlie to change an "unfair" pin position after they have played the hole?

Coincidentally with my comments in a previous post about Asian men failing to make an impression on the PGA Tour (unlike the ladies), all the talk before The Open was about whether K J Choi could be the first Asian player to win a major. In the event, Choi had his career first top-10 at a major and left Carnoustie convinced that he will one day hoist the Claret Jug. Asian Tour stalwart, Singaporean Lam Chih Bing failed to make the cut despite being spurred on by an entourage of twelve family members including his 79-year-old grandmother. She must have found Carnoustie more than chilly because I know I certainly did.

In the end, the exciting finish and Padraig Harrington’s first major win will be what is best remembered about the 2007 Open at Carnoustie. But my thoughts were more about heading back to Thailand for some hot golfing weather.

Play fast, swing slow.

Play It As It Lies

Play It As It Lies

Play_it_as_it_lies_2 Members of my favourite Golf Society in Thailand, the Mainly Unquenchables Golf Society (the MUGS) returned to Bangkok this week from their regular mini golf tour to Cha Am / Hua Hin. There they played the Dragon Hills, Royal Hua Hin and Springfield Village courses. Apparently, the trip gave rise to more than the usual number of disagreements about golf rules interpretation. The MUGS organiser, Charlie (a.k.a. the “Ayatollah Hogmanay”) was called upon a number of times to issue his edict. The MUGS “clubhouse”, the Limping Cockroach pub is still echoing with opposing views.

Billy, he of the flailing golf swing that can only be compared to a manic food mixer, was first to tee off on the tour. He skulled his ball, never to be seen again, off the heel into thick grass about twelve yards to the left of the tee to resounding cheers from the other fifteen members, and their caddies, gathered around. He opted to play three off the tee, but the onlooking crowd were roughly evenly divided as to whether or not he was allowed to tee the ball up again. Charlie’s decision: yes.

Then, Mike, a huge man and a former senior manager for a multinational company in Thailand, whose weight in stone is only just less than his handicap (24) and Dave, who all around eighteen holes and, indeed, throughout the post-golf evening, keeps up a non-stop commentary (which is probably what caused the problem), got into a mess on the 12th hole. They were sharing a golf cart and, it was only when they took their putters out that they realised that, inadvertently, they had been playing the hole using each other’s clubs! The general consensus was that they each should be penalised two shots for each shot that they took with the wrong club. Charlie’s decision: one two shot penalty each only.

On Springfield, John,  a retired security expert with a bad back who, as he finds it difficult to bend down, takes a second caddie to tee up the ball, had an air shot on the 2nd fairway. It was only as he addressed the ball again that he realised that it was his playing partner’s ball. As it was the wrong ball, John claimed that he should not be penalised! Charlie’s decision: one shot penalty.

Play_it_as_it_lies_1 A seemingly innocent mango grove caused a furore on Royal Hua Hin. Stephen, a lecturer in law at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, and as fastidious and meticulous on the golf course as off, hit a long iron into the mango trees. To the incredulity of his playing partners, he immediately claimed free relief as going into the grove would constitute a “Dangerous Situation” under the Rules of Golf. Apparently, according to Stephen, mango is in the same family as poison ivy and the mango fruit skin contains urushiol, which can cause dermatitis. The last time he had picked a mango on the golf course, having subsequently answered nature’s call, he developed a rash in a rather…er, sensitive area, if you know what I mean. Hey, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘scratch golfer’ doesn’t it. As it happened, Charlie was playing in the same four ball and, much to Stephen’s disgust, ruled that his ball should be played ‘as it lies’ or, declared ‘unplayable’.

Back at the Limping Cockroach, Charlie was able to back up his decision by referring to the USGA Decisions on the Rules of Golf: Decision 1-4/11 – Meaning of “Dangerous Situation”.

Q. According to Decision 1-4/10, a ball lying near a live rattlesnake or bees’ nest is a “dangerous situation” and relief should be granted in equity. If a player’s ball comes to rest in or near an area of plants such as poison ivy, cacti or stinging nettles, should the provisions of Decision 1-4/10 apply?

A.  No. The player must either play the ball as it lies or, if applicable, proceed under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). Decision 1-4/10 contemplates a situation which is unrelated to conditions normally encountered on the course. Unpleasant lies are a common occurrence which players must accept.”

Ain’t golf wonderful! If you have had to seek a ruling on an unusual happening on the golf course, please post it, or email it to me and I will do the rest.

Play fast, swing slow.

Welcome to this, the first posting on Thailand Golf Blog!

Welcome to this, the first posting on Thailand Golf Blog!

My aim is to provide information and comments about all aspects of golf, especially in Thailand, and indeed elsewhere, in a lighthearted and hopefully amusing style. The Thailand Golf Blog is meant to complement our ‘big sister’ blog, Thailandgolfzone.com. That blog offers golf course reviews, special Thailand golf playing tips and advice, and holiday and vacation planning, along with first hand expert knowledge. It perhaps has a more serious approach, whereas here you will find golf stories from Thailand and around the world, golf humour (or even humor) and golf trivia.

Mugs_10 In particular, I hope that you might enjoy tales, mostly apocryphal, from my favourite Golf Society in Thailand, the Mainly Unquenchables Golf Society (the MUGS). I occasionally join its Wednesday afternoon outings when I am in Bangkok and time allows. The MUGS “clubhouse” is the Limping Cockroach Pub in the middle of one of Bangkok’s less salubrious soi’s, surrounded by go-go bars, massage parlours and dimly-lit bars. Yet, the interior of the pub is like the gentlemen’s bar in a long-established, superior golf club: with leather seats all around, and golfing prints and trophies and past champion boards on the walls. The female staff have nearly all been there for as long as I can remember, well over twenty years, and probably by the looks of it, much longer. A recent new-fangled innovation was the installation of a TV set, much to the disgust of many of the decrepit-looking clientele. The eclectic and occasionally eccentric MUGS members are mainly old Far Eastern hands, and include Vietnam War veterans, senior managers in large international enterprises, successful businessmen, retirees, and some slightly mysterious characters who nobody is quite sure what they are doing in Thailand. Most are members of Bangkok Golf Clubs but prefer to enter the MUGS Wednesday stableford tournament on whichever of Bangkok’s golf courses the group is still allowed to play on. Their handicaps range from plus 2 to 28, with every standard in between. The MUGS is run with an iron fist by Charlie, an uncompromising ex-services Scotsman, with a ram-rod straight back and a ginger toupee, also known as the ‘Ayatollah Hogmanay’. A couple of years back he was practicing playing his bagpipes in Lumpini Park and was arrested by the Tourist Police for carrying an offensive weapon! Charlie keeps meticulous records of all MUGS outings going back years. An occasional visiting guest was shocked last week when trying to claim a handicap of 18. He was told in no uncertain terms by Charlie that he would play off 14 since the last time he had played with the MUGS in July, 2002, he shot 86. Charlie also administers members’ handicaps (the MUGS is affiliated with the USGA) and adjudicates on rules disputes. Rarely is he wrong. Last October, Charlie had an unfortunate experience on the occasion of the MUGS visit to Alpine Sports Club. His four-ball – comprising Billy, a 26 handicapper whose flailing golf swing can only be compared to a manic food mixer, Roy, who suffers from probably the worst “yips” in the world yet is still a creditable 13 handicap, and Rob, an impossibly good-looking, 6 handicap, insurance loss adjustor by whom all of the lady caddies hope to be selected – were caught in a sharp downpour. Charlie’s caddie rushed to put up an umbrella to protect him but, in so doing, unfortunately caught on the tip of the umbrella spike not only Charlie’s golf cap, but also his toupee. Needless to say his playing partners were too polite to mention the incident – until, that is, he was standing over a four foot, borrowing clutch putt on the last hole, on which ‘the money’ was resting. “That’s what I call a hair-raising putt,” said Billy.

More tales from the MUGS in future postings. You are welcome to post and comment on this Thailand Golf Blog, preferably in the same jocular vein. And if any of you have an interesting or amusing story about golf in Thailand, or elsewhere, please email it to me. Play fast, swing slow!