with Robert Bicknell
If it's a Thursday, then it's a safe bet I am at the airport yet again on the way to HCM City for the "Swing For Life" charity golf tournament at VGCC (Thu Duc). Charity has always played a major role of golf, both at the club level, as well as on the Tour and this tradition found its way to Viet Nam over a decade ago and shows no sign of slowing down.
Up here on the mountain top (Da Lat), I had the chance to meet the new GM for Da Lat Palace GC and Ocean Dunes GC, Scott Morrissey. If the name sounds familiar, it's because he worked here in Viet Nam before at Chi Linh Star and Cua Lo in Vinh.
Da Lat Palace GC is a favourite tract for many players in Viet Nam, primarily due to the weather and the bent grass greens, but suffered from neglect for a while as the club changed hands a few times. However, now that DPGC and ODGC are now under one ownership umbrella again, they can get to work putting everything back in tip-top shape and that is where Scott comes in.
During our round together at Royale (more on that later), he informed me that the club is in the process of purchasing a lot of new maintenance equipment as to bring the club back into form. As a pro with an accounting background, I am hoping Scott will follow the F&B formula established at the sister club – Ocean Dunes, which does mega-volume due to the price and quality.
On Saturday afternoon, Scott, Antoine Drappier (current golf ops manager at DPGC) and I met up at Royale City for a game with the Baron of Da Lat, Grahame Harris. As you can imagine, with all these warped personalities in one area, the jokes were coming fast and furious.
Scott fit in very well and gave as good as he got in both the level of play and the jokes. You have to have a sense of humour to survive in this business in Viet Nam, so I think he will do very well over here.
We ended up playing teams, DPGC vs The Old Guys, which was a bit of a one-sided contest with Scott playing the role of a camel because, while Antoine is a very fine person and a good ops manager, he isn't a professional golfer, but he hung with us and had a great time.
You know it's good golf when you've gotta birdie to win the hole. Combined best ball scores, would have been something like 14 – 15 under par collectively that day.
Scott was bombing his drives way out there using a set of rentals from DPGC and his swing kinda reminded me of Lars Holden. In fact, come to think of it, it seems most pros from "down under" have the "swing from the heels, take no-prisoners" style of play.
It's gotta be the Vegemite or something.
Yours truly did fairly well with a few birdies in my pocket, but I still putt like Stevie Wonder.
Grahame Harris, on the other hand, had four kick-in gimmie birdies in a row and drained a 30-footer somewhere along the line as well and almost aced the 3rd hole.
What I love is that Grahame does it in the most self-effacing and understated way. Under most circumstances, he moves like a Valium-loaded sloth. No hurry, everything is fine. You could set off a bomb and it wouldn't faze him. To look at his face, you'd never know he was doing anything spectacular. But when you check the card later you'd realise you just got whipped like a government mule hauling munitions on the Santa Fe trail.
He's sneaky like that.
Scott had four or five birds in there as well but it was a losing effort as the Old Guys put the youngsters down by 2 holes. With any luck, we might even win the comeback match at DPGR in a few weeks, but you know, Scott will bring his clubs next time.
I stopped by DPGC last week and they had verticut the fairways for the first time in a billion years and it made a huge difference. They were also doing something to the clubhouse as well.
Changes, they are a comin'!