Teed Off (22-07-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
As I write this, the Open Championship is well under way and, despite warnings to the contrary, Royal Lytham seems to be on her best behaviour as evidenced by early scores with none in the 80's.
Is this the same course that Tiger Woods claimed in a practice round was close to unplayable at times?
Well, Adam Scott and others would disagree after posting some uncommonly low scores for an Open Championship. In fact, it looks at this point that the cut will be even par or one under.
The first round produced some surprises, such as McIlroy almost decapitating a spectator with an errant tee shot and Lee Westwood putting himself in danger of missing the cut. As for Phil Mickelson, no real surprises there – he self destructed in the first round.
Last year, ESPN was criticised for talking-over conversations between Mickelson and his caddie, so this year they let his commentary go over the airwaves. It wasn't really worth waiting for as all he seemed to do is wonder if he would get relief from tall grass where his tee shots seemed to end up time after time.
Listen, the only guys who were worth listening to on the course were Craig Stadler, Curtis Strange and, of course, Tiger Woods. Then again, listening to Tiger on the course would be basically a series of bleeps punctuated by more bleeps.
I guess many of us are wondering what happened to Lee Westwood. For the longest time, he seemed to be the next great thing, but it appears that it just wasn't meant to be.
I guess he can cominserate with scores of others who knocked on the door but couldn't pass through, or David Duval who got through the door, but couldn't stay.
I hate people who leave just when the party is getting good.
There are rumours on the street that Ocean Dunes / Da Lat Palace will have a new GM in the very near future. This can only be a good thing as both properties have great potential, but have never lived up to expectations.
Da Lat Palace GC, for example, has the best location in Viet Nam as it's right in the city centre, but being the only course in Da Lat for a long time, it had trouble generating enough interest to consider the mountain resort as a "golf tourist destination."
However, as most are aware, the new SACOM – Tuyen Lam "Rose Garden" golf course is slated to come on line in the near future, and Royale City has nine holes operating now and is expected to begin construction on the second nine holes very soon.
With these additions, Da Lat has more ability to attract golf tourists, but the biggest problem still seems to be the lack of international flights. The airport has supposedly been licensed to handle those planes, but so fat, I don't know one to have landed as yet.
Ocean Dunes remains one of my favourite destinations, but it gets harder each year for me to maintain this opinion. Not just because more high quality golf courses open in attractive destinations such as Da Nang and Nha Trang, but mostly because the drive to Phan Thiet keeps getting longer and longer.
It would be nice if there was a high speed rail, helicopter or even a luxury train car service to Phan Thiet so we could avoid the 5-plus hour drive. I remember when it was only three hours, but those days are long gone.
Lots of things in Viet Nam used to be easier, but with increased "progress" it seems more and more things have become more difficult. Traffic especially.
What surprises me is the amount of people who are now looking at Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar as possible future homes. This alone should sound the warning bells in many people's minds as to the direction we are going.
Viet Nam made amazing strides in many areas over the last fifteen years and it seems that we might have actually outgrown ourselves. It could be time to sit back and look at the actual situation and make longer term plans.
We've already caught up to many countries in the region, no need to rush in carelessly. We have time to think things out.
And I hope they do. — VNS