Graham Tolley — RIP


The following was sent in by Brian Holmes:

Where I met Graham was at an ex Aussie’s home in Phan.  Ian Bannerman had lived in Thailand for some 25 years, had a Thai wife and a western style house who enjoyed meeting and guiding new furang – particularly Aussies to the Thai culture.  It was at one of these ‘dinners’ that I met Graham.  I assisted Graham in some building changes he made at Thip’s home and he helped me with electrical changes at my home.  Our respective partners enjoyed each others company at many dinners and I enjoyed Grahams competitive nature at golf.

I believe Graham lived in Newcastle in the state of NSW. He joined a mining company as an electrician in the NW of WA before he claimed he was unfairly dismissed. The story goes that he and two other workers were required to fix an electrical problem at a railway crossing some 200 kms from anywhere. The temperature was in excess of 40 degrees,  nothing around overhead and the need to dig trenches to reach broken cables.  Hardhats and shirts were removed for the task. Unfortunately for Graham the ‘big boss ‘ turned up  and found the workers without the appropriate safety gear and were dismissed.  So Graham came to Thailand.

There were many great times with unquestionable loyalty to Thip and her family.  May he rest in peace.

The following was sent out by Chiang Rai Golfers.

Graham Tolley’s life in Thailand was marked by a fortunate chance meeting.

It came after his marriage in Australia broke up and he went on a Thai dating site.

Disappointingly, the woman he arranged to meet in a Bangkok hotel looked nothing like her picture.  But the chaperone she’d bought with her to the rendezvous … well, she was something else.

The intended date went off to powder her nose and Graham quickly exchanged phone numbers with the chaperone.

That was how, 10 years ago, his life began with Thip, from Chiang Rai. Graham at first balked at moving into her village house about 15km south of the White Temple but was won over after she agreed to one condition — the pigs and the chickens had to go!

He was soon making improvements to the house where, when not playing golf, he spent most of his time in family life with Thip, her grown children Thai and Frank, and a granddaughter nicknamed iPhone.

His favourite spot was a gazebo out the back where he was quite happy alone savouring a few whiskeys  and enjoying his domestic life.

Brian Holmes taught him the rudiments of the game and he joined Santiburi Golf Club. Over the years he has played on many golf courses in the region and won a number of tournaments.

The eight iron was his favourite club. And, although he didn’t generally have much to say on the course, the burly Aussie from Grafton in New South Wales was famous for yelling out “good caddie!” whenever he nailed a shot.

At the time of his death, he and John Cates were running the golf society Santiburi Members and Friends.

Graham’s life ended suddenly, aged 60,  just over a week ago. He’d been in hospital for a long time being treated for what at first seemed like food poisoning, which morphed into blood poisoning.

But after 49 days in Overbook Hospital he was out and told friends he was getting his strength back and looking forward to sharpening up again at the Santi driving range.

Then came the cluster headaches and more tests in hospital.  He was at home when he suffered a massive stroke and was taken to hospital again.  Graham never regained consciousness.

Many of his golfing friends and, it seemed, most of his village were there to farewell Graham at the Than Tong crematorium, in a short, moving ceremony. Then it was time to share memories of Graham over a few beers and fried chicken at Thip’s house.

By the reckoning of many of the old blokes still swinging a club in Chiang Rai his life  was tragically short. But for his golfing mates and those closest to him the memories of good times remain.

Funeral pictures can be found on Chiang Rai Golfers Facebook page.

My comment.

As the one that possibly played the most rounds with Graham over the last 4 years I will add my 2 bits worth.   There were a lot of fun times.   One of my favourites was when Graham was on the 9th tee and would start going “quack, quack” to those that were taking their second shots from the 8th fairway.  One day I yelled back to him that perhaps “quack, quack” wasn’t appropriate when a doctor was addressing his ball.

A great time was had by all last February when SMAF went on a road trip to Mae Moh.   I took the opportunity to commend Graham on the fine work he had done as the Commissioner.   It wasn’t an easy job because there are people in our community that take golf decisions personally.   Knowing Graham had put the group’s best interests ahead of personal relationships I presented Graham with a picture that I had named “The Ogre and The Jackass” because the photo reminded me of his mates that weren’t speaking to him at the time.

Mae Moh 2018 --Ogre and Jackass

I will always remember the many good times we had playing together (especially the next time I have a bad case of PLS).  We have lost a man that truly loved the game of golf.



Farewell to SMAF

My membership expires today so yesterday was my last day with SMAF.   For the past few months I have found them not to be “fun and friendly” as their blog claims.   There were 2 major incidents this year.   The first one was the “Anchor Dropping”.   Most members were unaware that anchor dropping is a violation of the rules as set out by the USGA handicapping manual.   On a one time basis this is not a real concern.   However, if allowed to continue then the dropper’s handicap lose its integrity.   I brought it up and in their ignorance the members shouted me down.  There was never an apology or an admission of wrongdoing by the Administrators.    It was a very simple matter that good leadership would have handled with one short statement.  “The guilty party as well as many members were unaware that anchor dropping is a form of handicap manipulation.   As such, all members are advised that anchor dropping is unacceptable.   We wish to thank the member who brought this to our attention.”

The second incident was over the Birdie handicap system.   The members were told that they had to switch without the system being checked out first.   Birdie was phased in and it was noticed that the handicaps weren’t the same as what was being produced by the Fairness Specialist.  As it turns out there were errors by the Fairness Specialist as well as incorrect calculations by Birdie.  It would be at this point there should have been a discussion of how to proceed to get it right.  I did the work to get the handicaps correct – they weren’t accepted by the Administrators.   They never said why.

At no time did I make this personal.   For me in both cases it was strictly about the handicaps and getting them right.   My only concern was the integrity of the group.   I tried to resolve this quietly with the Administrators.  They chose to go public with this and they defended it with a character assassination of me.  The members have had no choice but to accept Birdie because they are at a disadvantage if they don’t.

The Administrators have chosen to make this personal and I have been treated with considerable disrespect.

To those members that were always friendly, respectful and supportive of me I wish them the best and hope to have the opportunity to play golf with them some time in the future.

During the next few days there will be several posts which show the true character of the Administrators.   Unlike the “new” blog where comments are not allowed if they conflict with their views this blog will allow all comments as long as there isn’t any foul language.   Anyone wishing to make a posting on this blog can send me an email and I will post it unedited whether I agree with your views or not.   Feel free to email the link to this blog to others in Chiang Rai that may be interested.   As well, click on the “Follow” button to get all the new blog posts as they are published.  (You can unfollow at any time.)

Road Trip

We will be celebrating going into the 4th year of Santiburi Members and Friends by taking a road trip to play Mae Moh.   It takes about 3 hours to drive from Chiang Rai to Mae Moh/Lampang.

Members coming for sure:  Graham (+1), Leo, Brian (+1), 5Points (+1),  Paul and Young, Egbert, Peter R (+1).    Non-members coming for sure:  Jim (+1),  Jockey John (+1) — That’s a total of 10 golfers with 6 wives.   We will accept up to 12 golfers so if you decide at the last moment to play, please check to see if there is still room for you.

Mae Moh is rated as more difficult than Santiburi.  We will be playing the course from the white tees using our Santiburi blue tee handicaps.   Young will also have 1 stroke added to her (red) handicap.


Tuesday, Feb 6th — A few members will be taking their wives to Lampang and spending the night.

Wednesday, Feb 7th — Most members will be leaving Chiang Rai in the morning and meeting up with those that left Feb 6th at Mae Moh.  Tee times start at 1 PM.  Please see Leo when you arrive.   Most will be taking buggies on the course.   DO NOT PAY YOUR GREEN/CADDIE/CART FEES until you have checked in with Leo.   He will be collecting the money from you and paying for all at once.   After golf there is nothing planned at the golf course.   You may take a shower at the course or wait until you get back to your hotel.   The skins will be done at the group dinner at the Riverside Restaurant.   Our dinner reservation is for 7:30 PM.

Thursday, Feb 8th — We have tee times starting at 9 AM.   Lunch will be in the clubhouse,  the skins game will be finalized, and the competition winner will be announced.   After that, most will be returning to Chiang Rai.


4 or 5 golfers  (and their wives)  will be staying at the Wiengthong Hotel.   It is 1000 baht per day (superior room) including breakfast.   The deluxe room is apparently exactly the same — a little more money and on a higher floor.   It is a good place for the wives to hang out while we play golf.  You need to contact the hotel directly to get the 1000 baht rate.   Mention you are with the golf group.   054-225801

Leo recommends the Hop Inn (Lampang City Center).   This is a new hotel chain in Thailand.  Very clean, standard rooms, good wifi, no breakfast.  For a place to sleep and shower it is very adequate.  Price 650 baht per night.

Of course, if you prefer somewhere else feel free to stay there.

Cost of golf:

Mae Moh green fee is 500 baht + 200 caddie.   Optional (but recommended) carts are 300 baht sharing.  (Total 1000 baht per day)

We will be playing our usual skins game both days.  Participation in the skins game is optional.

As always everyone is welcome to play with us.

If you are planning to join us please reply by email as soon as possible so we can get a handle on the numbers.   Also, let us know if you have transportation or if you require transportation.   If you are bringing your wife let us know that as well.   Email :

Dennis DiCesare – R.I.P.


Photo from the Canada Cup Golf Tournament — July 14, 2017

Dennis was a long time resident of Chiang Rai.   In recent years he didn’t play much golf but those that got to play with him always had an enjoyable day.  A true gentleman that will be missed  by those that knew him.

Services for Dennis were held at Wat Chetuphon in Denha on Saturday, August 9.   The following photos were taken at the funeral.


Santiburi 1 Year Membership for sale

Leo has sent in the following.

I am selling my Santiburi membership which expires on August 5, 2018 (about a year from now).  It has a current value of 55,000 baht.    This will be a blind auction.  You get one bid and whoever bids the most before 6 pm on Thursday gets it.   Any bids below 40,000 will not be considered.  If you are interested please send an email to my email address with your offer.   If there is anyone that doesn’t know my email address you can  click on the contact button at the bottom of this posting.

For those that aren’t aware — I have issues with my spine and will very likely be undergoing spinal surgery in the next couple weeks.  It is very likely that I won’t be playing golf again for at least 3 months, probably longer, possibly never.

I would like to thank those that have commented or sent me an email wishing me well.   I would like to say a special thanks to Santiburi member Dr. Egbert who sent me some helpful information.

For those that need some golf amusement I came across this.  It’s 4 years old but worth watching.


No golf today or Saturday

Due to the rain there was no golf today.    Most of the Santiburi members will be out of town on Saturday so it is likely no one will be there.   Assuming the weather is better we will be back to our normal schedule on Monday.

Santiburi Members and Friends meet on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.  Please be at the course by 8:15 AM.   Our friends are reminded that the green fee + caddie fee every day during the month of July is only 1300 baht.

Next Events

Next Events:

 Thursday, April 13:  Santiburi Members and Friends (SMAF) – be at the course by 8:15 AM

 Thursday, April 13:  Chiang Rai Golfers – At Waterford.  8 AM

Saturday, April 15:  SMAF – Be at the course by 8:15 AM

SPECIAL NOTE:  Santiburi is hosting the Singha Amateur event on Sunday April 30th.  SMAF has reserved 8 slots, and 6 slots are already spoken for (meaning there are two slots available).  This is an 18-hole shotgun event with prizes hosted by Santiburi golf club.  The entry fee is THB 3,500, which provides each participant with a Singha logo Golf Bag, Singha logo clothes/shoes duffel, and Singha logo umbrella, as well as green fee, caddy fee and cart fee included.  Just the merchandise alone is worth the price of admission!  IF YOU WANT TO PLAY AND YOU HAVE NOT YET SIGNED UP, please contact Basil Puppy Dog or 5Points ASAP.  (5Points has until 16 April to provide the names for the last two slots and pay for them, so if there are no takers the slots will be cancelled!!)

Golf next Monday (Apr 10th) — Santiburi under championship conditions

The following has been sent out to the Chiang Rai golf community.

Santiburi Members and Friends invite you to join us this Monday  (April 10th) for a round of golf under championship course conditions.   The greens are lightning fast — the rough is deep — the bunkers will be in perfect shape if it doesn’t rain on Sunday night.  Everyone is welcome to play, participation in our usual (250 baht) skins game is optional.   Green fee 1000 baht, caddie fee 300 baht,  carts are optional at 600 baht per person.

If interested please respond in the comments and let us know you are coming.   Please be at the golf course by 8:15 AM.

Change of plan for tomorrow (Thurs Mar 23)

5Points just got a call from Santiburi.   They have a seniors competition today and tomorrow.  Today they couldn’t get anyone out until 1 PM and suspect it will be the same tomorrow.

If you want to play tomorrow you have the following choices:

  1.  Go to Santiburi and take your chances that you can get out by 1 PM and that it won’t be slow.
  2.   5Points and Leo are teeing off at Waterford at 9 AM.  All are welcome to join.
  3.   Chiang Rai Golfers are at Happy City, 8:30 AM.

If one of the above options appeals to you then it might be advisable to leave a comment below and let others know where you will be playing.

Results — Mon. Mar. 6th

Due to the Bernie Memorial Tournament on Sunday, March 12th we have changed our dates for this week.   Wednesday (8th) and Friday (10th) — Please be at the course by 8:15 AM.

Immediately after golf on Friday, Darryl is hosting a (burgers and beer) barbeque at his home on the golf course.  All are welcome (including spouses and children).

The course is in great condition and was very quiet today.   Unfortunately when we got to the 14th we ran into a 5-ball that had teed off at 6:30 AM.   They completed their round in just under 6 hours.  Our 2 three-balls did it in about 3 1/2 hours.

Closest to the pins:  #3–Leo  (17′),  #7 — no one,  #12 — Egbert,  #17 — no one.

The stableford was once again won by Brian with 37 points.  Leo was 2nd with 36 points and won the most skins (6.5) for a 150 baht profit.  Graham had 2 birdies and still managed to lose a little money.

Jim joined us for lunch and will be playing with us this week.

stb score Players Skins Money
37 95 Brian 24 5.5 90
33 94 Darryl 19 2.5 -90
26 109 Egbert 27 3.5 -30
34 93 Graham 19 3.5 -30
26 104 Jockey 22 2.5 -90
36 90 Leo 18 6.5 150