We had two reasons for a recent visit to Banyan Golf Course. First readers may recall the December 2014 edition which highlighted the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators Awards, featuring Hua Hin Golf Courses Banyan and Black Mountain. The headline said: ‘Asia Pacific Golf Summit – Black Mountain & Banyan Share the Honours’ Somewhere between editing and printing a ‘gremlin’ in the system meant that three award winners ‘shifted’ from the Banyan list to Black Mountain, an embarrassing error! Our first ‘mission’?, to offer our apologies to General Manage Stacy Walton and Director of Golf Operations of the Year, Stuart Daly. Secondly we wanted to talk with the two less heralded award winners, Best Club Caddie of the Year, Kannika (Khun Ked) Namthong and Best Golf Course Superintendent of the Year, Minachai (Khun Min) Srichanya. And to these two; khor thort maak maak (sorry very much) for our error. Our thanks for their time and openness.
Our questions to Khun Ked:
Can you tell us about your caddie career, how did it get started?
“My first round as a caddie was when I was still at school and 12 years of age, so only on weekends. My Auntie introduced me to Royal Hua Hin Golf Course. I was very small and needed to carry the golf bag with no trolleys then. It was hard to convince them that I could do the job. That was 19 years ago and I’ve been caddying ever since.”
What do you enjoy the most about being a caddie?
“It really makes me happy everyday. I enjoy the exercise, the scenery, (especially mountains) and meeting new people.”
Who are your favourite golfers?
“I don’t really have favourites. I caddie regularly for 4 or 5 golfers and I like golfers who can joke and smile. Australian golfers are often good sports and are friendly.”
What is the biggest tip you have ever had?
“A Chinese golfer once tipped my 3,000 THB.”
What is your favourite Banyan hole?
“Hole 15. It has great views of the off shore Islands.”
How often do you work and what do you like to do when you are away from the golf course?
“I often work 7 days a week, but not always in the low season. When I have time off I like to go shopping at Market Village. I may also be able to visit home in Ratchaburi sometimes in the low season.”
What are your thoughts about winning the Best Caddie Award?
“First the other caddies supported me and helped me win the Award. They are very pleased for me; that is important. Second, it has been a very exciting time, both at the Awards Ceremony and since then. The only problem is that when I am excited I forget my English, not so good. I also didn’t smile in the award photo!”
Banyan and the Asia Pacific’s Caddie of the Year really typify why caddies in Thailand are so popular. No criticisms of golfers or anything about her role. Just eager to please and provide the best of service with immaculate grooming and the best of advice. The last question …….. Can you be my caddie next time at Banyan? Yes please book my number! Sorry readers; that’s my secret!
Our questions to Khun Min:
What are the main responsibilities in your position as Golf Course Superintendent?
“Three main areas; first the maintenance and development budget, second managing the staff on course and then maintaining the equipment. I always need to think about the enjoyment and safety of golfers as a priority. Many golfers never see the work going on, for example we usually start the day at 4.00 AM under lights. We manage an annual schedule of work and my job is to keep that on track.”
How do you keep up with changes or developments in the golfing industry?
“One way is through the Thailand Golf Superintendents Association. There is an annual conference with expert speakers and also regular seminars to attend through the year. Second we have visiting international consultants to discuss issues we may have and make suggestions.”
Can you tell us what is the most common issue or even complaint you receive from golfers?
“Low handicap golfers, professionals and tournament organisers want the stimp meter to show a speed of around 9.5 to 9.8; that’s usually too fast for the higher handicap players who then may not be happy. We aim for around 10.2 to 10.5 with adjustments to that according to the needs of visiting players but it’s hard to please everyone. If golfers are new to the Course they may ask about the green speeds from the caddie.”
What is your favourite Banyan hole?
“Hole 5. It may look straight forward but it’s very challenging and deceptive.”
What are your thoughts about winning the Best Golf Course Superintendents Award?
“I was concerned that winning the award could result in me becoming complacent. I want to show what I can everyday with our golfers really enjoying the Banyan golfing experience, that’s more important to me.”
Our impressions: The consummate unsung golfing industry professional. Khun Min (or ‘Minnie’ to his friends, including the caddies) knows the devil is in the detail from landscaping (how do the colours of the plants off the fairway appear against the fairway green?), taking care of staff welfare and concerns about the budget always in mind. A gentleman off the green and we are confident on course. He’s an 8 handicap player!