Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back from 11 Days of Golf in Wonderful Thailand

I have just returned from 11 days golfing in Thailand as part of a tour put on by GolfAsian for a bevy of tour travel operators and two golf writers. It was quite a whirlwind trip encompassing 8 courses and 8 hotels in 11 days plus an elephant park, Buddhist temples and the nightlife of Hua Hin, Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

The Thai are golf crazy. Unlike other countries, there the average person tees it up, not just the wealthy and golf tourists. There are 700,00 Thais that golf plus 200,000 more golfers that are foreigners living in the country. Golf courses number 260 while there are 1,000 driving ranges.

There's a lot to write about golf in Thailand, but I'm going to start with the caddies.

Every golf course has caddies, which are mandatory, and all caddies are women. Most Thais try to avoid the sun so caddies wear long sleeves, long pants hats and, in many cases, gloves, all in the distinctive colors of their course.

Many caddies play, as well, but most do not. What is remarkable is that adeptness at which they ply their craft. Of the 8 caddies I had, I would rate perhaps 3 of them A+, 4 A and 1 a B+ plus. My fellow travelers said they had much the same experience as me. In a couple of instances, I had caddies who were pulling my clubs 4 holes into the round. All of them were excellent at reading putts.

To make communication with them easier, the caddies often shorten their names. Here is my caddie Bai, also known as "James Bond" for her uniform number "007." The caddies, like the cast majority of the Thai people, have a wonderful sense of humor. Bai and her fellow caddies laughed at the nickname my group -- Julien, Mikael, Oliver and I -- gave her. About three holes into the round, she said to me. "You good golfer. Play bad golf. I kill you. I James Bond."

I'm not sure I'd ever been threatened with death by a caddie up until that time.

All caddies have shortened their names or use nicknames that are sewn onto their uniforms to make communication easier. Many use words that obviously have no direct correlation to their real names. One caddie was called "Poa," much to the delight of those who know about golf course agronomy. Another went by the name, "Norm." Maybe she was a fan of the television show, Cheers?

Here, though, hands down, is our favorite nickname. No one, to my knowledge, ever asked her how she came up with this moniker. (Thanks to Mikael Jensen of Krone Golf Tours for the photos)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Tony – thanks for this easy to read and most entertaining intro to our tour... I'm curious how you will go on...

    And: What do you think - will poor "Porn" ever get to know, what's her "official name" means in the real world?