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Golf gone mad

The Square Ring

Chiangmai SportRoundup

Golf gone mad

Golf gone mad is popular everywhere, including Chiang Mai.

Pat Black

The crowd roars and Tiger pumps the air with his fist as the ball sinks into the cup. Successful putts are the ecstatic climax to any hole in golf ญ the reward for intense concentration and accurate analysis of the line and speed of the green. But I’d like to know how the Champ would deal with a tricky shot through the door of a miniature windmill.

Crazy golf might be regarded in the same light as candy floss and all the fun of the fair, but despite its format of putting through pipes and over bridges it is a professional sport.

Ironically, the idea started at the home of golf ญ St Andrews in Scotland - when the 18-hole Ladies Putting Club was formed in 1867. However, that course demanded straightforward putts. Crazy landscaping and obstacles weren’t introduced until 1916, when James Barber created Thistle Dhu in North Carolina, USA.

A craze was born, and by the 1930s an estimated 4 million American “minigolfers” were playing on 50,000 tiny courses, many of which originated from the Tom Thumb Golf fantasy factory. This company launched the first US National Tom Thumb Miniature Golf Tournament, with 200 contestants fighting for a top prize of US$2,000.

Known more today as minigolf, the World Minigolf Federation claims that over 15 million people play the game annually in Germany alone. Professional players in America compete for a prize budget of more than US$100,000 and ESPN has televised some major events. There is a European semi-professional circuit and the World Championships started in 1991.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that big names like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are in on the act ญ designing miniature replicas of famous golf holes such as the 11th at Troon, and keeping to tradition with the odd waterwheel and windmill.

With a rapidly growing number of conventional golf courses springing up in and around Chiang Mai, the emergence of crazy golf was inevitable. Three venues have opened in the Rose of the North, with the latest innovation being Go Putt-putt, situated behind Carrefours hypermarket on the southbound Superhighway.

Here, anyone can join the world tour for as little as B. 120 for grown ups, B. 90 for youngsters, who putt their way around the globe through pyramids and windmills, around the Eiffel Tower and down to the Taj Mahal any day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This undercover course not only offers a 19th hole for refreshment, but also group discounts and special parties for friends, colleagues and family fun.

Inter Minigolf teed off two years ago on the Sankamphaeng Superhighway, roughly 10 kilometres east of the city, where eighteen challenging holes in a concrete surface wind through a garden environment beside a lake laden with lotus plants.

Play starts from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with mums and dads paying B. 100 per round, children B. 60. And after scorecards, putters and brightly colored balls are dished out; the first hole offers a simple shot of some 20 metres.

Play becomes tougher at the volcano on the 8th, and shots around Stone Henge and through a post box on the last are no doddle. There are undulations, pipes, pyramids, ramps and a water jump, but the highlight here is the 7th ญ a 40 metre pitch and putt with grass fairway and an inclined tee to elevate the ball.

Whether playing in sunshine or under floodlight no round of golf is complete without a drink, and the 19th hole isn’t far from the 18th.

In contrast to concrete, the conditions at Tropical Mini Golf present a totally different ball game, with a fast felt surface, jagged rocks and tiered fairways.

Eighteen holes in lush parkland surround a majestic man-made waterfall beautifully set on the banks of the Ping River off Chang Klang Road ญ five minutes drive from the city centre. Open from 10 a.m. to midnight, floodlight facilities, bar, restaurant and evening entertainment and are all available.

Adult green fees are B. 120 – B. 60 for children - and out on course the slightest touch of the putter sees the ball careering off over humps and through hollows, and ending up in a bunker, if you’re not careful.

Strategically placed rocks are a help or hazard depending on the luck of the bounce. The right rebound can divert the ball towards the cup on the doglegged 5th, or into oblivion if the ricochet goes wrong.

A well weighted shot is needed to hold the ball on a small plateau at the 16th and tiered fairways on the 7th and 9th demand putts through a pipe system that leads to the hole.

The ball hits a rock, vanishes down a hole before a pipe spews it straight into the cup. Dad punches the sky like Tiger - family and friends go raving mad. And that’s what crazy golf is all about.

The Square Ring

by Howie Reed

Last week as the people of Chiang Mai were throwing water to celebrate Thailand’s New Year, in Nevada, the State Athletic Commission was meeting in open session in an attempt to sort out the confusion that became the last 10 seconds of the 10th round of the title match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah. A brief recap is in order.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was kicking the stuffing out of Zab Judah. With 10 seconds left in the 10th round Judah landed a “really” low blow and followed that up with an illegal rabbit punch. Referee Richard Steele stopped the action, (good move Richard, Duh!). At that time Roger Mayweather, uncle and trainer of Floyd, entered the ring. Entering from the other side of the ring was Leonard Ellerbe and Judah’s father/trainer Yoel Judah. Video replays indicate that Yoel tossed the first punch but was soon joined by his son Zab and an assortment of other “nar-do-wells”. Mayweather Jr. stayed out of the fray. Roger Mayweather was immediately banished from the venue and after 12 rounds Mayweather won a unanimous verdict.

After the decision was announced, Judah’s promoter Don King wanted Mayweather Jr. disqualified because a member of his corner entered the ring. The commission ordered all purses held pending a hearing.

At the hearing held before an overflowing audience, the Commission decided on the following course of action: Mayweather’s purse of $5 million USD would be released. Uncle Roger Mayweather would be fined $200,000 USD and have his training license revoked for a year for entering the ring before the 10th round ended. Judah’s purse would continue to be withheld pending a disciplinary hearing yet to be scheduled.

The commission will now hire an expert to break down the melee frame-by-frame to identify all the people in the ring and review exactly what took place. They also plan to further address the rabbit punch thrown by Judah, as well as Zab’s involvement in the melee, which included pushing two inspectors and striking at least one person.

It’s confusing to many why Judah’s promoter Don King has made such a big fuss about a case he is sure to lose, for a boxer with so little future. Kevin Iole, boxing writer for the Las Vegas Review Journal, has an opinion.

“Zab Judah has to have some incriminating pictures of Don King somewhere. That has to be the explanation, because there is no rational reason why King is going so far out on a limb for a fighter with so little value left.”

At the hearing King argued that Mayweather should have been disqualified because his trainer entered the ring. The Commission, as ever having the final word, disagreed. “Mayweather’s win stands because referee Richard Steele made a decision the fight would continue and the rules clearly state, ‘if an unauthorized person enters the ring, the referee “may” stop the fight.’”

Betting in Las Vegas is that Judah is far from out of the woods just yet. Best guess is that Judah will be fined a substantial sum of money and have his license suspended for 6 months. The money that Judah was to get from the match had already been allocated to the United States Internal Revenue Service and promoter Don King. It’s doubtful that the IRS would settle for anything less than was owed. The money would have to come out of promoter Don King’s pocket, which might explain his actions. Well if anything can explain Don King’s actions.

The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales will play host to many events this year. Among them are the FA Cup Final on May 13, ancient rockers The Eagles and Rolling Stones, Madonna and a really big prize fight on July 8 between Joe Calzaghe and Clinton Woods. Calzaghe will be defending his WBO/IBF super middle title and his promoter’s 500,000 British Pounds. Woods promoter, Dennis Hobson, offered to make a 100,000 Pound side bet on his fighter. Warren upped the ante to 500,000. Hobson then demanded that Warren offer him odds or no bet.

“Frank can pick any big name bookies he wants and as long as he agrees to match their odds - whatever they may be - for Clinton to win then I’ll gladly have a half a million bet with him,” said Hobson in a press release. “He can name the stakes.” Warren has now contacted Mike Dillon of Ladbrokes and is prepared to match the 7-4 odds being offered by them.

Very seldom does one of the ‘talking heads’, who like to provide their opinion on what’s going on in the ring, ever say anything that’s worthwhile - unlike boxing writers. Jim Lampley is the lead announcer on HBO Boxing. He is the company shill. He spouts the company line with the ease of a lady saying, “I love you too much.” When Judah landed his low blow Lampley said, “That was as classless a move as we’ve ever seen.” Guess he missed Judah trying to choke referee Jay Nady in a previous visit to Las Vegas.

Jeeves has returned from his days of being silly tossing water, watching ladies dance and driving like my ex wife. He’s back on track serving his master. “Jeeves, I believe that I’d like to celebrate your safe return and Jim Lampley actually saying something worthwhile. Perchance could you procure a tall glass of amber liquid, filled with ice and a lime. Well done my good man!