Teed Off (23-01-2011)
with Robert Bicknell
Well, it's taken me quite a while to get around to it, but I finally played a round at Twin Doves Golf Club in HCM City last week and I came away quite impressed.
Before going there, people told me to be very careful on the greens, especially the front nine as they were extremely fast due to the undulations. So, I brought an extra putter that I purchased especially for the old days at the Gannon Tournament in Phan Thiet where Jeff would get the greens lightning fast.
It turns out that I didn't need it.
The secret to the front nine "Mare" holes is to keep the ball below the hole and try to never leave yourself a downhill or sidehill putt. For the most part, I did just that except for one hole where I really misjudged the distance and paid the ultimate price with a double bogey.
The second nine (Luna) greens have a lot less slope, but to be honest, I found them a bit more difficult to read than the front and had putts sliding by on the edges and refusing to drop. It became very frustrating as I had trouble making the mental transition from the back to front nines.
C'est la vie, that is not the problem of the course, but my own.
People also told me that it was impossible to stop the ball on the greens, but once again, I found that to be untrue as well. I had no problems with sticking the ball in the general vicinity of where I wanted.
If you've played at Van Tri, you'll find a lot of similarities, especially the sharp demarcation edges and grass faces of the bunkers, as both courses were designed by Peter Rousseau. There is also the trademark Rousseau landscaping, so you might just find yourself feeling like you've been here before even though the holes are different. It's a strangely comfortable feeling.
Like Yogi Berra once said, "It's like de javu, all over again."
One big difference between the two ‘sister' courses is the type of grass used. Van Tri has Paspalum (Salaam) on the fairways and "SeaIsle 2000" on the greens, which is the same format as on Tam Dao. Twin Doves, on the other hand, is wall to wall "Platinum TE Paspalum."
To be honest, I found the fairways at Twin Doves to be excellent. The Platinum allowed for a firm tight lie allowing for always a clean strike, however, there were a couple of wet spots where the drainage system might need beefing up.
If I have any criticism of Twin Doves, it would be the lighting poles. While I love the idea of night golf as it allows more people to play after work, I really dislike it when courses keep the lighting poles silver colour like a parking lot. It would be much better if they painted them dark green to blend in with the course more.
Two things that also influenced my game was a swing change that allows me to really unload at impact and also a new Titleist 910 D3 driver. Suffice it to say the driver responds like a Ferarri. Simply unbelievable. Now, of course, I have to wonder what the 910 Fairways woods are like and if they will melt my credit cards.
I used a Pro V1 on the first nine and tried the new TaylorMade Penta on the second nine. It seemed the 910 performed better with the Pro V1. With the irons, it was close, but again I felt the Pro V1 was a bit better.
To be fair, I've been playing Titleist balls all my life and using the Penta for nine holes isn't really enough time to make an accurate judgment.
I didn't have a chance to try out the driving range, but I liked what I saw. A great driving range is one that should encourage you to practice and Twin Dove's' range does just that.
Bottom line, Twin Doves gets two thumbs up and could easily become one of my favourite courses in Vietnam. Try it for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
My sincere thanks to James Lee, Peter Rousseau and Roger Jones at Twin Doves for their gracious hospitality during my visit. — VNS