A Poor Man at Blue Canyon

By: David Wood

[Editorís Note: This story by noted author David Wood, originally appeared on Cybergolf in August 2006.]

Indulge me while I regale you on the magnificent charms of living the life of an Asian millionaire for a day while golfing at the wonderful Blue Canyon Golf Club just outside Phuket, Thailand.

I now have a pretty good clue how the other one-percent lives. (Didn't it use to be how the other half lived?) They live quite well thank-you-very-much in tropical, exotic Thailand - especially at the Blue Canyon Golf Club, which boasts of having two world-class courses sitting on as fine a piece of natural golfing real estate as you'll find anywhere in the world. Thoroughly captivated by its joyous ambiance, I found myself seriously contemplating a life of crime to be able to afford joining the delightful, but expensive, club.

Now, I'm not smart enough to be a white-collar criminal. Plus I don't even have any white collars except on golf shirts. However, I've decided to start knocking off the convenience stores that seem to dot the corner of almost every block in the world. I figured two to three holdups per week should cover the ongoing cost of the club with little problem.

By the way, if you are a convenience store clerk reading this, please, don't mistake me for a real burglar when I enter your store and say that I have a gun. Don't worry! That's just my finger under my golf shirt. Don't shoot me! Just give me the cash and I'll send it directly back to the Blue Canyon Club.

You're probably thinking, "What's in it for me?" Listen up. I plan to put all the names of the convenience stores that I rob into a hat. I'll have a drawing, and the lucky winner will join me in the annual member-guest tournament, on me - my treat! What could be better than that?

It's the Canyon Course - the elder of the two golf courses at Blue Canyon - which has the pedigree even the winner of the Westminster Dog Show would envy. It has been named "The Best Course in Thailand," "The Best Course in Asia," "The Best Championship Course in Asia," and "The Asia and Pacific Golf Resort of the Year," as well as holding numerous major world professional tournaments including the Johnnie Walker Classic - won by my fellow millionaire (not that I'm letting the whole experience go to my head or anything) Tiger Woods in 1998.

The week before I played the course, two of my future clubmates - Ernie Els and Nick Faldo - visited Blue Canyon, relaxing and preparing for the upcoming Johnnie Walker Classic to be held in Bangkok the following week. To think that I'm only one measly million dollars away from saying, "Good morning, Ernie! That was one hell of a good shot you hit on 18 yesterday, big fella." Or, "Hey, Nick! Fancy a game today? I'm just going to need my usual 20 shots a side." Oh, what fun we'd have!

Built on an old rubber plantation with natural ravines and valleys, Blue Canyon is a symphony of green fairways, fragrant flowering trees, and wondrous foliage that would force Monet to get the easel out of his golf bag and start painting. The Canyon Course has it all: large, fast, undulating greens, tricky water hazards, and naturally rolling fairways that turn each hole into a mini-SAT test of golf.

Several holes are outstanding. My favorite is the par-4 390-yard 13th hole -a real gem - which horseshoes around a deep ravine that must be cleared on your drive. If successful, your second shot is 185 yards uphill to a severely bunkered green that rests peacefully beside the grand, elegant clubhouse. Playing this hole when he won there in a playoff against Els in the Thailand Johnnie Walker Open in 1998, Tiger drove the green! Standing on the tee-box, it would never even occur to me that route was a possibility. We're talking a carry of 340-plus yards straight across the unforgiving ravine to an uphill green sitting behind a grove of tall rubber trees overlooking a cliff that must be cleared as well. No way! I couldn't think of a more difficult golf shot, or anyone with the ability or imagination to try such a heroic feat.

The next hole, the 14th, presents itself like a wolfish par-5 wearing a lamb's par-3 clothing. Playing this diabolical hole is as scary as waking up next to Bea Arthur. While it looks nothing but beautiful, resting all peaceful-like in the middle of the lake - a veritable torture chamber of evil awaits your innocent little ball. The wind, the water, the tiny target, your nerves - you really don't have a chance. Best to just hit your shot quickly knowing that it's going straight into the water, then proceed rapidly with a rueful smile to the drop area.

The terrific holes go on and on. Course record-holder Fred Couples calls the 17th one of the best par-3s in golf. He's not alone - the 221-yard hole has been named in the top 500 golf holes in the world. The finisher is excellent as well with water flanking the fairway to catch errant drives. The second shot at the stout par-4 plays directly toward a peaceful waterfall that cascades gently down the hill on which the grand clubhouse is regally perched. It's the perfect ending to a great course.

To be fully forthcoming, all the holes are remarkably memorable. I could go on and on about this golf wonderland. How is it that I can never remember where I put my car keys, yet I can recall every blade of grass at Blue Canyon?

After playing, I sat on the elegant clubhouse patio overlooking the course mesmerized by all the colors as the sun started to slowly descend over beautiful Phuket. I dreamed of playing this course on a daily basis and then relaxing in that very spot, taking in the awesome view. What could be better? Purples, reds, greens, and blues - the full spectrum of the earth's finest colors - formed a serene palate soothing my constantly restless mind.

The spell was enhanced by an orange butterfly that suddenly flittered directly past my gaze as if to tell me that the glories of life are fleeting and time is racing by. I summoned the cheerful waitress and asked, "Excuse me, would you please tell me where the nearest convenience store might be?"

David Wood - writer, corporate speaker, and humorist - is the author of the soon-to-be published book "Around the World in Eighty Rounds." With several appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman," Wood combines humor with his love for golf and adventurous travel. For comments or inquiries on having him speak to your group, contact David at David@DavidWoodSpeaking.com. His website address is www.golferdave.com.