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Disc Golf in Paradise


A triple mando greets players on the first hole of the Samui Swine Classic. Photo: Gregg Barsby

Sawadee!

Picture yourself on a karst island off of Thailand’s southeastern peninsular coast. Sounds like a dream vacation, right? Now imagine you are there playing a PDGA Tour A-Tier in early February, immersed in tropical conditions amidst palm tree groves and grazing water buffalo. It seems like fantasia for snowbound Europeans and North Americans but, disc golf fans, it isn’t.

Welcome to the fifth annual Samui Swine Classic, where on Thursday morning 105 players will tee off in paradise. This premier event of the early 2018 season is the brainchild of transplanted Californian Nigel Mills and his wife, mamasan Tiger. The tournament name reflects the fact that Nigel is also a BBQ maestro and the purveyor of the post-event tradition of brisket, an entire pig roast, and other carnivorous delicacies prepared for participants on his gigantic smoker.

The competitors hail from 16 different countries -- including a 19-strong contingent from the hotbed of Finland -- as well as 10 of Thailand’s top players and many farangs who now call the Kingdom of Siam home. But it is a quintet of world class-rated American tourists, though, who are expected to battle for the lion’s share of the ฿142,000 ($5,800) pro purse. Philo Brathwaite is back to defend his title and will most likely contend with Jeremy Koling, Gregg Barsby, Nikko Locastro, and Nate Perkins for the right to carve his name on the annual winner’s boxing-style belt, but the Canadians and Finns may have some say before the chain slamming is done. Paige Pierce is expected to dominate the Open Women’s division, though she has hardly practiced, so smitten is she with riding her scooter around the island and taking part in its myriad of oceanside activities. Local favorite View Khamsriphon is expected to vie with Hannele Määttä and Briana Ainsley for the division’s other podium positions. The top Thai player -- 17-year-old, 957-rated Tee Vetne -- is the odds-on favorite in the Advanced division.

scooters_at_event_central.jpg

Scooters are far and away the most popular form of transportation in many parts of Southeast Asia.

The event’s format is somewhat unique, featuring two nine-hole layouts that three pools of 36 players will play twice in one 18-hole round each day. Thursday’s opener and Saturday’s final will take place on the permanent track on Nigel’s and his neighbor’s properties near the town of Maesam, while on Friday the competitors will boat to a temporary beachside layout on the neighboring islet of Koh Som.

With the players now having dusted off their drivers and tuned up their putters, we hope you will stay tuned as the PDGA and our naamjai hosts provide the disc golf world with daily stories, photos, and round-by-round scores and player ratings from the Gulf of Thailand.

Comments

Thailand is an amazing backdrop for throwing a disc! Especially in winter while your friends searching for their discs in snowdrifts. Even if you can't come to paradise to play a few rounds, you can still follow disc golf in Thailand on the Disc Golf Assoc. of Thailand Facebook page. Weekly pics and videos from all courses and tournaments in Thailand since 2013.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/175193609346877/

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