The Final Post

The following has been sent not only to all regular readers of my blog but to those who play regularly in Chiang Rai as well because I think you should all know. This is a one-time only email and I won’t be sending anything similar to you again.  It is also the very last posting on this blog.– Leo

Full Circle?

Back at the end of 2014 there were 8 Santiburi members. Those members that preferred a golf group went to play with CRAPS at Happy City or Waterford although CRAPS did play occasionally at Santiburi. Those that had bought their Santiburi memberships usually played in a group of 2 to 4 people at Santiburi on days when CRAPS wasn’t playing.

At the beginning of 2015 the 8 members got together and formed SMAF. They realized that it was in everyone’s best interest for all to play together about 3 times a week. I started maintaining the handicaps for the group. Shortly after the group started we took a road trip together which assisted in the unifying process. Having been in 3 golf groups that had imploded over the past 15 years I suggested that we put a little bit of structure in place to deal with any possible conflicts. I put together the “Code of Conduct” which was discussed and agreed to by all members. An email “An Invitation to Play Golf” was sent out to the entire golf community informing them of what we were up to and letting them know that they could play with us at any time.

A year later a local golfer (a non-member) mentioned to me that “SMAF was crumbling” because a founding member had left the group. I discussed this conversation with the group and we all agreed on the email that was sent to the golfer. We informed him that SMAF was not crumbling and we were playing as many rounds and had as many members as in the first year. We asked him to get his information straight before making public negative comments about our group.

Each year when Santiburi was crowded we continued to make our annual road trip to Mae Moh where we competed for the “Cockhead Trophy”. We invited the entire Chiang Rai golf community to join us for this event. Last year was again very successful and all had a good time. We believed in “Strength in Numbers”.

At that time it was UNTHINKABLE that:

-One member could flat-out refuse to play with another member. He wasn’t able to keep his personal disputes away from the golf course.

-The Code of Conduct was scrapped. “It is just a guideline”. This meant conflicts were not resolved.

-Two members could decide without consulting the others that they were changing the handicap system.

-Several members would not attend a city-wide competition that was partly organized by one of their members.

-The blog master would use the member’s blog to discredit another member without first discussing the issue with that member together with the group.

-A few members preferred not to support the group and would play at a different time of day.

All of the above was UNTHINKABLE but did happen this past year.

Of the 8 original members only Andrew and Marc are still playing regularly with SMAF. The following were once members: Brian J, Charchy, Graham, Joe, Jockey John, Josh, Leo, Merv, and Stacy. You can add 0Points to the list as I believe his membership also expired.

Who are still members that play competitively?

Permanent residents (6): Andrew, Bruce G, Jim, John P, Les, Marc, Garry

Another one bites the dust update (Mar 11/19)– I am told Andrew has left Thailand and sold his membership to Garry.

Part time residents (3): Darryl, Egbert, Peter

Non competing members (2) : Doc (seasonal), Tommy

Rarely if ever participating (4): Bruce K, Steve, Paul, Young

Friends (of the 11 listed on their blog) : (2) Colin and Ralph might combine for a total of 30 rounds, the (9) others might combine for very few rounds perhaps about five.

As I have shown on recent postings the participation numbers are way down from last year where there were 16 members playing together. For a few membership at Santiburi is a good value. For most others it isn’t worth putting up with the constant maintenance or playing with a group that no longer claims “all are always welcome.” If it isn’t fun, friendly or fair why would anyone want to join?

SMAF is crumbling! I don’t think I will get an email telling me to get my facts straight. I foresee in the future that the group will have gone the full circle and will once again be just 2 – 4 people playing on their own.

Update June 5/19 :   It is now one month since anything was posted on the “official” SMAF blog.   There hasn’t been a Santiburi score recorded on Birdie by a member since May 18th.   A grand total of 3 members entered a combined total of 11 rounds at Santiburi during May.  


(About tab) on this blog says “We recognize that we are not all experts on the Rules of Golf and that occasionally someone will inadvertently break a rule. As we are a friendly group we are inclined to not make an issue out of someone unknowingly violating a rule. If the majority of those present feel the rule violation could have made a difference then the penalty according to the Rules of Golf is applied. Outright cheating is defined as knowingly breaking the rules with the intention of getting an unfair gain. Outright cheaters will be told not to compete with us again.

I certainly have no problem looking the other way when 20+ handicappers make minor rule infractions. With many minor rule infractions it isn’t going to make a difference anyway. By all means “keep it friendly”. For some reason when the members created the “new” blog they chose to omit the last sentence about cheaters being told not to come back. Perhaps everyone is not aware that there have been at least 2 instances of someone pulling a Goldfinger in the past 10 years.

I have come to believe few if any members have actually read the USGA handicap manual. (here) For that matter I am certain that the majority of the members don’t understand handicaps or the importance for following the rules.

From the handicap manual:

Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap Systemnamely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. The player and the player’s Handicap Committee have joint responsibility for adhering to these premises.

An essential element of the USGA Handicap System is the Handicap Committee. Every golf club utilizing the USGA Handicap System must have a Handicap Committee to ensure the integrity of the USGA Handicap SystemThe Handicap Committee sees that scores are posted, all elements of the USGA Handicap System are followed, and the integrity of each Handicap Index issued is maintained.

Adjusted gross scores from all courses with a USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating made during an active season, both at home and away, must be posted by the player.

I don’t think the last sentence is at all ambiguous. You have to post all your scores. It is the rule and if you break the rule you are cheating. Those that don’t post poor scores and would rather lose money than play with higher handicaps are just as guilty. Perhaps spending the money at the driving range or taking golf lessons would be a better alternative. Earn the right to play with a lower handicap!

Those that aren’t posting all their scores and playing with handicaps that are higher than they should are outright cheaters. Playing with an extra stroke or two in a skins game is a huge advantage. To those that say “we are only playing for a small amount of money so who cares”, I say playing with people who cheat to win is unacceptable and the lower the amount of money the more contemptible it is.

To the member that thinks that shouting loudly makes you correct – “We don’t care about handicaps”. Handicaps are part of the rules which makes the game fair for all. Saying that you don’t care about the handicaps (which would include) manipulation is the same as saying that you don’t care if someone kicks his ball away from a tree. Someone playing off a handicap that is one higher than it should be is the same as giving someone a free kick. What’s next? “We don’t care about free kicks”.

Community Cup

The first Community Cup came about because other than the Canada Cup and the (then)  new Tony G Competition there weren’t any other community events.   You had to be a CRAPS member to play in the “Championship”, Captain’s Cup and Bernie Memorial.   I suggested to 0Points that he sponsor a competition and suggested the name “Community Cup” where similar to the Canada Cup all were welcome to play.

Last year 0Points had said there would be a 200 baht competition fee for the Community Cup.   Recognizing that the price at Santiburi for some might be a bit much I told 0Points that I would pay the competition fee for all.  It was 24 golfers –a total of 4800 baht.   I did it because I have always believed in the concept of community competitions where all should play a round of golf forgetting their differences for a day.   It didn’t matter to me that I was unable to participate and it didn’t matter to me that I was paying for some that I find extremely disrespectful.   To me it was for the good of the community.

Just over 3 months later I was one of the organizers for the Canada Cup at Happy City – the longest running community event in Chiang Rai.   0Points did donate 1000 baht but played with 6 other Santiburi members at Santiburi on the same day.   They boycotted the Canada Cup as they were unable to put away personal differences for a day.

Chiang Rai Golfers organized the Captain’s Cup in November and the Annual Championship in January – both times only 5 Santiburi members showed up.  It seems hypocritical that they have a community event but don’t support the other community events.

I will be away again this year but this time I certainly don’t see the point in financially supporting the Community Cup.

Reviewing their blog

Their blog does not allow comments from those that have a different opinion from the blog writer. Their blog never mentioned why banning cheaters was removed from the Code of Conduct. Their blog never mentions that it is imperative that all scores be posted. Their blog claims the change of handicap system was for peer review – then they stopped posting scores because an independent peer review was being done. Their blog never said why they stopped posting scores. In other words, Their blog fails to mention that cheating is acceptable and they do their best to cover it up. I have asked numerous times why not follow the rules and do it correctly. This has never been addressed on their blog.

The only time that their blog did post something negative about a member was to accuse me of having  a stunning disregard of ethics and using despicable tactics like coercion and blackmail. What did I do that was so bad? I sent an email to 2 members insisting that the handicaps be done properly so there wouldn’t be any cheating.

Moving On

Many years ago a friend in his mid-50’s announced after shooting an 85 that he was giving up golf for good. We were shocked!! He was good fun on the course. His explanation was that when he was younger he was a scratch golfer and now he didn’t enjoy playing anymore, because he couldn’t play as well as he did in the past. He no longer had the ambition to work on his game so he gave up. I didn’t understand the reasoning at the time but now, I do get it.

I have played Santiburi about 1500 times and have had 4 hole-in ones there – so, what motivation do I have to play Santiburi again? The other Chiang Rai courses have combined to amount to more than 100 rounds, and I estimate that I have played with over 150 different people on Chiang Rai courses over the past 12 years.
Before my back problems I was doing the majority of the work for SMAF. Golf became a job, rather than something I really enjoyed and I was losing interest. After my back problems (about 18 months ago) golf still wasn’t fun because my game wasn’t what it was. The conflicts with other members didn’t help either. I nearly quit SMAF in February, I did quit in March, was talked into coming back in May, only to leave when my membership expired in August. I haven’t quit golfing but I no longer take it seriously and now prefer a very informal round with those who want to play with me. I will continue to play with Chiang Rai Golfers as and when, and obviously will continue to support the major local competitions.  Soon I will going on a road trip to play a few of the many courses in Thailand that I haven’t played (or don’t remember playing) before.  Anyone that wishes that I join them on any local courses or a road trip only need to contact me and I will do so occasionally.

In other words, anything different appeals to me. Playing the same courses, with the same very few people over and over again doesn’t interest me at all.

As always comments both favourable and unfavourable are welcome and never deleted.