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.
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.
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!
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.