Tuesday, 1 December 2009

phuket -- golf clubs -- DRIVING ME CRAZY

Let me get it out here first -- I can't stand golf. You see, it's always played in the most beautiful of natural surroundings, often on a clear blue sunny day, often with good friends, and a few drinks afterwards. So far so good. So what's your problem, Lloyd? Well, it's the bit in the middle that gets me: the hitting the ball part.

If there's one thing that's going to get my blood pressure screaming up into the red zone it's the utter frustration of trying to hit a little white plastic orb 300 metres across a perfectly manicured lawn into a little cup someone has placed deviously just out of sight, around the bushes, over the water, oh, mind the sand trap on the right. And don't forget the green slopes down off to the right so aim a little left. But slice it a bit because there's right-left crosswind blowing. Grrrr. Now replace your divot. Seriously, where else in life do you put up with so much crap and go back for a second helping?

Even just typing this I feel my blood boiling just that little bit more. However, if what I just described somehow turns you on, and you feel it's challenge you need to, um, rise to then I have a cure for you: it's called the Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket.

Since 1991 the likes of Bill Clinton, Gary Player, and Nick Faldo have sung the praises of this club. But arguably its biggest fan is some guy called Tiger. In fact, there's even a hole they call 'Tiger's Hole' after a particular shot he played here in 1998 on the 13th hole.

Now picture this hole if you will: it's 390 yards from the back tee to the flag for heaven's sake. Uphill. Over a water canyon (yes, I know all the clues are there in the name of the course.) Now if you look very closely you can just see the white flag fluttering above that line of trees. That's your goal. Now most golfers go the safety shot, and plonk it over the water, leaving then a fairly straightforward drive up to the tee (or several drives in my case) from there. But not Tiger. Oh no. In a no-guts-no-glory move, he's nailed his Big Mother club straight at that flag. Canyons and bushes be damned. He's on in one, a 270 metre drive straight to the green.

You get the idea. But it's actually the next hole, the 14th that is the Canyon course's signature. Arguably one of the most beautiful holes in golf, straight down to the pin just in front of the lake below, where, conservatively, there must be 57 million golf balls languishing at the bottom.

So that's the Canyon championship course. If you still like water, there's also the Lakes course which I prefer because at least you can take a buggy around (I'm Ok at that sort of driving.) No that carrying your clubs is a problem, because there are somewhere between 400-500 women caddies on hand to lug all your stuff for you, fan your fevered brow, and offer club and shot selection tips. (That's all I need -- a woman telling me how to drive, haha!) Well worth the 250 baht fee.

Then it's back to my favourite, the 19th hole. At this club, it feels more like you're checking into a 5-star resort. Rarefied air. Waitresses padding around. Cool breeze. And iced water to wash my blood pressure tablets down with.

Aah, it doesn't get much better than this. I love golf ...

Question: Have you golfed in Phuket before? Leave a comment on your best course/game (or alternatively your most frustrating hacking round).

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