In a recent posting I referred to the perennial Thailand Golf Society, the Mainly Unquenchable Golf Society (MUGS). Today I want to go into more detail by recalling a story told to me by Niftee, one of their members who occasionally join its Wednesday afternoon outings. First some background.
The MUGS “clubhouse” (actually a pub in the Silom area) is like the statuesque member’s only area in a long-established golf club: with leather seats, golfing prints, tournament trophies, and past champion boards on the walls. The club staff have nearly all been there for as long as I can remember, well over twenty years. A recent innovation was the installation of a TV, now set to watch the many golf tournaments televised on satellite in Bangkok.
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 mysterious characters who nobody is quite sure what they are doing in Thailand.
Most are members of the Bangkok Golf Club but prefer to enter the MUGS Wednesday stableford tournament on whichever of Bangkok’s golf courses it is being played. Their handicaps range from plus 2 to 28, with every standard in between. The MUGS is run by Charlie, an uncompromising Scotsman, with a straight back and a ginger toupee, something akin to a Muslim cleric. 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 Bangkok golf tourist was once shocked 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 he shot 86. Charlie also administers members’ handicaps (the MUGS is affiliated with the USGA) and adjudicates on rules disputes. Rarely is he wrong.
Charlie had an unfortunate experience during their last visit to Alpine Golf Club. His four-ball – made up by 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 adjuster 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. Then Charlie after realizing the situation, lipped the put out to loose the round!