Gary Corbett Clinches Thai Title at Greencard Golf Holidays Thailand Tour Event
This year the Greencard Golf Holidays Thailand Tour event in the Far East included two centres. Firstly we had six nights in Phuket before moving on to Hua Hin for another nine nights. In Phuket we played three magnificent rounds of golf before starting the golf tournament for real on some of the best golf courses in Asia. During our stay in Thailand we also took part in some memorable Chinese New Year celebrations. Read our full report on what was a very enjoyable trip and a tightly contested competition that went right down to the final two holes.
Phuket – Fantastic New Hotel
One of the attractions about Phuket is that Emirates fly directly from Dubai eliminating the hassle of flying in and out of Bangkok. Within an hour of landing it was possible to be relaxing around the pool at the superb Slate Hotel (formerly known as the Indigo Pearl). This stylish five star design resort is located on the edge of the wonderful Nai Yang beach, which is part of a nature reserve and a perfect starting point for a golf holiday in Thailand. The food is amongst the best we’ve tasted, fresh fish are delivered straight from the fishing boats to the kitchens and you are able to enjoy some delicious meals in the many restaurants on the beach and surrounding area.
The Morgans, Arthur Jowle & Steve Gray win opening AM-AM
We had six nights and three rounds in this fantastic location. The first of which was played at Loch Palm. This is one of Phuket’s original courses and has two distinct halves. The front nine sits amid lakes and palm trees, whilst the back nine moves you through the mountain scenery. Since completing its upgrade it is now a worthy sister to its illustrious neighbour at Red Mountain. This was the first of our three team games and the day was won by Jez Morgan, Debbie Morgan, Arthur Jowle and Steve Gray with a total of 86 points. Gary Corbett, Jean Corbett, Jim Barton and Mel Barton came in second just three points behind.
Arthur Jowle goes back-to-back with another winning team
With a round of golf every other day, we had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beach, pool and other attractions Phuket has to offer. The next round was played on the Lakes Course and as its name suggests, water features heavily, with no less than 17 of its 18 holes incorporating the striking semi-natural water features carved into the landscape from the flooded canyons of Phuket’s tin mining past. Arthur Jowle continued his form and helped his team including Mel Barton, Victor Borg and Lodewijk Schlingemann to a well deserved victory with a team score of 98 points. Chris Hegarty, Sally Ward, Jim Barton and Gary Corbett finished in second place on 95.
Memorable boat trip around Phi Phi Islands
The following day was a free day and so we decided to hire a private boat and take a trip over to the Phi Phi islands. It is fair to say that it was a little bumpy on the outward journey but once there the views from the boat were spectacular. Our captain took us to several areas including a quiet cove where we were able to jump in and snorkel in the amazingly warm water. There was a little issue on the way back when we ran out of fuel but this being Thailand our captain just pulled in to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere to refuel. Whilst this was going on we were able to enjoy a cold beer on the beach. It was quite a surreal experience but another one for the memory bank!
Spectacular Red Mountian concludes our stay in Phuket
The next day we had our final game in Phuket at the magnificent Red Mountain course. This is unquestionably the best course in the area and has to be one of the best in Asia. The course meanders through rocky landscape and the holes are nothing short of spectacular. A real test of golf in paradise. This time we were playing in three balls and the winning score of 72 was posted by Reuben Fielding, Gary Corbett and Paulette Morris. John Ward, Debbie Morgan and Lodewijk Schlingemann came second just one point behind on 71.
“Flushgate” on the way to Hua Hin
The following day we all checked out of the Slate for our journey to the Centara Hotel in Hua Hin. Phuket airport is only a short transfer from the hotel but the domestic terminal was rather chaotic with so many people attempting to check in to just three desks. It was an experience, but once onboard the 90 minute flight to Bangkok was fine. From here we were met by a luxury coach for the road transfer to Hua Hin. With wines and beers freely available the journey flew by and before we knew it we were arriving in Hua Hin. One memory of the journey was when one of the group popped to the onboard toilet and coincidentally as they pressed the red “flush” button the coach pulled over and stopped. They thought that this had been caused by them pressing the button and didn’t want to come out!
Happy to be back at “First Class” Railway Hotel
Once we had unloaded and checked in to the hotel, we met by the main pool for our welcome cocktail. It was great to be back at the Centara which is the original Railway Hotel. Completed 100 years ago when the iconic railway first came to town, this first class 5 star hotel is set in immaculate 40 acres of gardens with 3 pools and right on the beach. However, just walk out of the main gate and you are in the centre of Hua Hin with its huge selection of bars and restaurants.
The golf tour programme in Hua Hin included the four individual rounds over the nine days. The first of these was held at Banyan. Opened in 2008, it has won awards from Asian Golf Monthly and was featured in the Top 1000 courses in the World by Rolex.
Round 1: John Young sets superb pace at Banyan
John Young, on his first Greencard event opened his account with a very impressive 40 points, with an even 20/20 split over the two nines. Jean Corbett uncovered her potential with a wonderful 38, a score matched by another newcomer to Greencard, Dale Brennan. Gary Corbett shot a solid 36 points and Melvyn Fern 35.
The golf schedule on the Thailand event is always very relaxed with several free days, allowing people time to enjoy the pool, beach, wonderfully warm sea or simply stroll around the town.
Round 2: Neil Gillam climbs to summit at Black Mountain
The second round was played on the magnificent Black Mountain course. Not only is the championship course acknowledged as being one of the best in Asia, it is the only course in Thailand ever named in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses Outside the US. Here you will experience golf at its very best in a wonderful setting, with sweeping vistas from almost every hole, a challenging yet highly enjoyable design and tour-standard conditioning.
Last year’s Thailand champion, Neil Gillam showed his class with a fantastic 40 points. Melvyn Fern shot another great round ending the day with 38. Meanwhile, Victor Borg on his first Greencard event shot an impressive 36 points.
Melvyn Fern Leads by one at halfway
At the half way stage Melvyn Fern was leading the way on 73 by a single point from Dale Brennan. John Young was lying in third position on 71 and Neil Gillam was in fourth place, just one further point further back. Jean Corbett was holding the place of leading lady on 68 points.
Our 2017 Greencard Golf Holidays Thailand Tournament Gallery
Welcoming the Rooster in Greencard style!
Later that evening the majority of the group joined the hotel celebrations for the Chinese New Year. In true Greencard fashion, we were the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. It was a great night and we certainly saw in the year of the Rooster in style.
The next day was a free day and with the weather being so idyllic, time spent by the pool or on the beach was high on the priority list for many of the group before the competition resumed for the third round.
Round 3: Gary Corbett makes his move at Springfield
The following morning we made our way to Springfield for the penultimate round of the event. The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is beautifully maintained. It is definitely a true Nicklaus masterpiece and a pleasure to play.
Gary Corbett certainly enjoyed the round and came in with a tremendous 36 points. Sally Ward and Anne Fern both shot 33. Jez Morgan finished the day with 32 and Reuben Fielding 31. Meanwhile, Neil Gillam, Dale Brennan and John Young all carded a score of 30.
Going into the final round Dale Brennan on 102, had a one shot lead over both Gary Corbett and John Young. Neil Gillam was only one shot further back on 100.
Final Round: Could it be deja vue for Gillam and Corbett?
After another free day we returned to Black Mountain for the last round. Just 12 months ago Neil Gillam had a fantastic round here to just beat Gary Corbett to the title. The question was would history repeat itself, would Gary Corbett come through or would Dale Brennan or John Young claim victory at the first attempt.
The weather in Hua Hin had been fantastic throughout our stay and the last day was no exception. It was wall to wall sunshine and blue sky, a wonderful backdrop to the thrills and spills of the final round of a Greencard event.
Some fantastic play on the final day
Of the earlier starters both Chris Hegarty and Martyn Smith had the best score of the day with a fantastic 37 points. Reuben Fielding also finished the event in style with 36, enough to move up to fourth position overall. However, despite these excellent scores, it was clear that the winner was going to come from one of the last two fourballs on the course. Arthur Jowle enjoyed another solid round with 33 and Melvyn Fern finished with 32 points. Sally Ward’s 29 was enough to secure the position of leading lady.
After front nine four become two…
So it was all down to the final four players on the course. Gary Corbett and Dale Brennan had both shot 19 on the front nine. Neil Gillam and John Young had dropped a little behind after scoring 16 and 14 respectively. By the time the group had reached the 17th tee, it was clear that the title would be going to either Gary Corbett or Dale Brennan.
17th Tee shot proves pivitol
The 17th hole is a short par 4 with water running in front of the green. The carry is around 240 yards from an elevated tee. Dale opted to drive over the water and unfortunately fell just short hitting a tree and landing in the hazard. Gary then played safe and a few minutes later had secured a par.
Gary Corbett goes one better on 2016.
Having taken the lead with one hole to go, Gary played a rescue from the 18th tee, taking the bunkers out of play. Another rescue followed and despite the wedge approach going through the green, he had the cushion of two putts and a bogey to secure the title from Dale by two points.
Perfect end to a fantastic event
After few celebratory drinks at the club we headed back to the hotel for the prize giving dinner. This year the dinner was held around the picturesque swimming pool in the villa area of the hotel. It was a great evening and the perfect conclusion to a wonderful time spent in Thailand. Congratulations to Gary Corbett on a fine win and to everybody for making the event such a success.
The next venue on the Greencard 2017 Tour is South Africa towards the end of the month. Full details of all future Greencard events can be viewed on our website. We hope to see you on Tour event in the near future.
2017 Greencard Golf Holidays Thailand – Final Leaderboard
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