So my summer break from my Korean university job had arrived and it was time to head back out on the fairways,greens, trees, bunkers, water and car parks of Asia’s finest golf courses. I was pretty excited to be caddying for one of the self-proclaimed legends of Asian golf…a man that apparently talks more then me on the golf course, Lord Simon Yates, formerly of Scotland, but now residing in Thailand, because he said the weather was too cold in Glasgow.
The trek to Thailand began with a 35 minute flight from Daegu to Incheon. I barely had my seat-belt on and we were landing. In fact, I think I spent more time waiting for my luggage than I did in the air. I’m not sure why it happens continuously, but my bags always seem to be last to appear on the carousel… is there any trick to changing this apart from just wearing all your clothes and boarding the plane..?
After realising that my flight to Bangkok was at 8pm not 8am , I had to book into a hotel near the airport, as there was no way I could stay in the airport for that long. I would have just ended up eating at McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC to help me pass the time. So instead, I ate pizza, watched sport on TV, slept, showered and left. Your typical exhilarating hotel stay…
As with every flight nowadays, I get there first thing so I can vedge it up in the lounge for 3 hours before zooming off to . Maybe that’s why my luggage is always last out? L.I.F.O. I know it’s not though, because I have asked at a few counters!The Korean Air Lounge was top notch as expected, and my eyes took over my belly again, eating food I didn’t need to! I like to plan ahead, so was just making sure I wasn’t going to be hungry during the flight.
I got my usual emergency exit window seat on the plane, which meant the inevitable spiel from the air hostess about pulling up the door if we crash, blah blah blah. After she had explained the safety rules in Korean to my temporary neighbours, for some reason she asked me if I was Russian. Hmmm, time to see how this pans out, so I just nodded, and enjoyed the delivery of the safety instructions in the Russian language. When she was done, I gave her another nod and she was on her way ‘Russian’ to her seat before take off. I never claimed to be a comedian, so if you didn’t find that funny, it won’t bother me in the slightest.
After getting picked up by a local taxi driver that laughed every time I spoke (for 90 minutes!), I got to the golf club at about 3am in complete darkness. No welcoming committee…although eventually some dude popped his dozy head up from a blanket behind the reception desk and we struggled through the check-in process. I crashed at about 4am, just as the birds were beginning their excessive chirping outside my window. Knowing that breakfast finished at 10am, I set the alarm for 9am, but as is typical, my belly alarm rumbled at 8am, so off for a morning feast I went.
Lord Yates was planning on playing 9 practice holes (yes, he does practice sometimes…), but got caught up in traffic, so was too late for our tee time, which meant a day under the air con watching a TV no bigger than a slice of bread. It was a pretty uneventful day to be honest, not much to do around the resort, so I didn’t do much… I did walk around the first few holes, but the heat was a bit much for my pasty Irish body, so it wasn’t long before I was back under the air-con, desperately trying to locate a strong WiFi connection, so I didn’t have to spend the day squinting at the tiny TV screen.
Later on, I met up with a few of the OneAsia Aussie players for dinner, who had practised earlier in the day, and looked rather tired…so maybe it was a good thing that Lord Yates missed the tee time. Bed was hit at 10pm- tomorrow was Pro-Am Day, my first one as a caddie…
5am wake up is typical for golfers/caddies during tournament weeks, but maybe not waking up in a ‘pool’ of blood on your pillowcase! *WARNING THIS PHOTO YOU ARE LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC MATERIAL (too late now I suppose…) It seemed my air con was set a bit too low and powerful and dried up my whole body…
Lord Yates made his grand entrance to the resort restaurant looking very much worse for wear, much worse than he usually looks… He had surgery on his head a week earlier (which was not as a result of the thoughts of me caddying for him) and was having dizzy spells at the breakfast table. He really shouldn’t have been here and I felt 0.000001% guilty because it seemed like he was not fit to play, but because I had made the trip, he probably felt obliged to. I mean this was a great opportunity for him to have such a world class caddie on his bag who doesn’t have smelly feet…
(Jorgen, you know I’m joking…) A solid 78 (+8) in the Pro-Am was actually a seriously good score for a man who looked like Ozzy Osbourne after a week at Glastonbury. Unfortunately, the amateurs were not treated to any birdies, which I’m sure Lord Yates was saving up for when the tournament began. Apart from the golf, good times were had and thankfully, buggies were used for the entire round,or Ozzy Yates would probably still be out there. The day was finished off with room service as the thunderstorms begun outside. My kind of weather, roll on tomorrows battle!
Round One: After already clocking up his bad round for the week, Lord Yates produced a solid day of 70 (level par) .The fry up and pork steak before 11am surely helped, (him not me!). We played alongside Namchok (500 points in scrabble surname) and another Thai player (these names are hard to remember. Maybe I will do some research and edit this later, probably not though). Anyway, they shot -3 and -5, but they didn’t look like they had had any recent head surgery. The flies on the course turned out to be the main obstacle during the round. They were everywhere!Luckily, our scorekeeper, had some ointment to fend them off, although shortly after applying, it began to burn the ears off me. Or maybe that was just because of Lord Yates (recently promoted to Lord of the Flies) and his excessive talking? Seeing that we were in Thailand, the scorekeeper spent the rest of the round trying to sell me the insect repellent for 100 Baht.There’s no escape from the local hagglers, even on the fairways… I was back lying down in my hotel bed by 5pm after vacuuming a steak in about 15 seconds. Tomorrow was another 5am wake up call to hopefully keep cut run going! Time to tuck in the clubs for the evening.
Round Two:Yates arrived for breakfast full of confidence and fully packed to leave, in case he missed the cut! The Wee man devoured two fry ups and was all set for another day of swinging a club and self commentating on the course. Another level par round saw us make the cut on the number, and secure two more days in the beautiful sunshine. I wonder who I will be caddying for when I eventually experience a missed cut, because it will basically be all their fault…(this is a joke by the way, so relax!). As is tradition after a round, we ate lunch and I rested up for the day.
The WiFi was down, which felt like I had been put in an isolation booth for the day, left with only my thoughts, which thankfully can be quite entertaining at times…Later that evening, I grabbed dinner with Asia’s number one cameraman, Jeff, Australian player Kevin Lee and some ASEAN Tour media fella. It was back to bed by 8pm, a routine that I was very much enjoying! A caddies life is basically walk, talk, eat, sleep, repeat.
Round Three produced the same score again of even par. Lord Yates was homeless after the round, as he wasn’t expecting to make the cut it seemed…We were done by noon and headed off to Pattaya for a bite to eat, as the resort menu had become all too repetitive for the belly and after receiving daily photos of food from an Irish pub by Lord Yates, it was time for him to treat me to some proper food. This was my first time visiting Pattaya, but I had heard many stories about how greasy the place was. I certainly wasn’t expecting that my first experience there would involve a trip to a Tile store, so Lord Yates could check out the options available for his latest mansion in Hua Hin. We eventually made our way to the Irish pub and a traditional dish of burger and chips was annihilated in record time, while we watched The Open . When we got back to the hotel, for some reason the WiFi only worked for me so I continued to watch the The Open on my phone, as Lord Yates complained his way to sleep…Finally, some silence…or so I thought…It wasn’t long before he began talking in his sleep. Here are just some of the quotes he mentioned:
”1. Kenneth, you are not just the greatest caddie I have ever had, but also the greatest person I have ever met.
2. All the birdies I have had this week are because of you. The bogeys are all my fault.
3. Did you know that Jorgen secretly hates milk?
4. My plan is to buy every property in Hua Hin and rename the town Yatesville.
5. All this talk about Brexit is doing my head in, what about Yexit 20 years ago? Where was my media coverage?”
Round Four produced the best round of the week, by one shot… to finish T-35TH on -1 . I am going to take some credit for this after lying to Lord Yates, telling him that every golfer I had caddied for to date had finished under par. He had to produce a tricky up and down on the last to keep this record going, and celebrated like he had won The Open after he did this. Of course, I quickly told him that I may have lied about this stat, but if I didn’t do this, he probably would have bogeyed the last…maybe!
And so my time with Lord Yates had come to an end. As he wiped the tears from his eyes, I consoled him and told him that we will meet again someday. For now, I was just happy to part ways and become the most talkative person in my life again. Adios.