Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Greatest Game Ever Played (Thailand edition)

Last summer, I spent two weeks in the Land of the Free (the word Thai literally means Freedom, a Snapple cap interprets Thailand as Land of the Free). Two prime summer weeks without golf just would have been too much, so thanks to Joe Boonsiri, I was able to get a tee time on the Royal Thai Army Course in Bangkok. My eightsome consisted of me, Dan, Joe, and Tom Atwood...and our four little Thai female caddies.

That's right, when you play golf in Thailand, you are required to have a caddy. And that caddy is more often than not a small Thai woman wearing a large hat like so. And in addition to carrying your clubs for you, these caddies keep your score for you. Sounds extremely convenient, right? And prevents the gentleman's 7 that Dan is so fond of.

So we went to the 1st tee, each with our own set of rental clubs and our own caddie. After adjusting to the difference between meters and yards (usually about one club different for medium range shots), we were improving as we reached the 3rd tee. Here I took out my driver for the long par 5. I took a big swing and when I made contact, something just did not sound right. And when I looked up, my clubhead was flying down the fairway. It ended up traveling about 50 yards, 20 yards farther than the ball! Naturally, I felt bad about breaking a rental club, but it clearly wasn't my fault. So, after a fit of laughter, I apologized, picked up the clubhead, and re-hit my tee shot with Dan's driver.

I played my second ball in 5 shots, making what I thought to be a nice par, after a difficult start to the hole. But that was when I realized that these caddies meant business. I peaked over at my scorecard, and I saw a big old 7 there. My caddie gave me a penalty stroke! Now maybe she was right under strict rules of golf (see Goldfinger), but I figured that we were playing a friendly game. It was then that I learned one of the most important of life's lessons: No one takes the Rules of Golf more seriously than a Thai caddie.

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