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Teed Off (02-12-2012)

Update: December, 04/2012 - 22:15

with Robert Bicknell

The USGA and the R&A, the two governing bodies of golf have agreed to ban the long handled putters beginning in 2016, claiming they give players an unfair advantage. In my opinion, this should have happened a long time ago. I hated them when they first came out and I still think it's not golf.

Apparently, Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Rory McIlroy agree with me on this. OK, they don't agree with ME, but they support the ban.

One problem is that players and manufacturers are unlikely to take the decision lying down and could take the matter to court, something Karsten Solheim (PING) did when the governing bodies ruled square grooves were illegal.

While the two governing bodies work hard to keep the game of golf honest and enjoyable for everyone, it must be remembered that they only have power as long as the golfers of the world agree to let them have power. If all the club owners and players woke up and said, no more USGA, no more R&A, there is little the two bodies could do about it.

Something to remember when they start making rules that upset a lot of players and, more importantly, club manufacturers who have a lot of money and a lot of lawyers…

It seems that my little joke last week about screwing up the balance of the universe by flying on a Wednesday seems to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

To wit:

I had to wait an hour for my transport to Laguna Lang Co as there were some others flying in from overseas, through Ha Noi's Noi Bai Airport.

My golf swing was seemingly left behind in Phan Thiet, but I have a nagging suspicion that Mark Canavari absconded with it when I wasn't looking. When I get back down there this week, I'll know if he out drives me. I also left my putting stroke down there as well.

And then Ben Styles started his antics…

I've known Ben for years and I was hoping to get in a round with him at the Danang GC. In fact, before the trip, Ben advised me to bring a lot of cash, implying he was going to relieve me of it after the game.

Heck, even the night before at the dinner, Ben was talking big about emptying my wallet.

Yup, Big Ben was fixin' to take yours truly to the proverbial cleaners, but by the next morning, his mysterious "foot ailment" started acting up and, gosh darn it, he just couldn't risk playing for fear of aggravating his *ahem*…"injury".

I wonder if the foot acted up before or after the Golf Digest guys who played two rounds with me at Laguna earlier in the week casually mentioned that I was hitting 330-yard drives and 155-yard pitching wedges.

I would prefer to think it was a "legitimate" injury because the thought that an old friend who I have always looked up to (literally, the guy is 6'7" and weighs as much as a small moon) could be a faker.

YES, I will die for these comments. Ben is slow to rile, but when he does, be someplace else… like another planet.

The funny thing is that if Ben wasn't injured, he would have beaten me easily because, mentally, I just wasn't there at all (see "wife screaming"). On the more positive side, Danang GC was in the best condition I have ever seen it (kudos to Ali) and the greens were running around 11.5 – 12.0 on the stimpmeter.

Caddies were well-trained and really helped out and the F&B was outstanding.

When people ask me why I constantly give Danang GC my highest praise, the answer is that I simply cannot find anything wrong there to complain about and, you know me, complaining is my life's blood.

Ben has done a great job there and really is one of the best club operators in the country (but don't tell him I said it or he'll get all chuffed).

I also had a chance to meet some of Ben's bosses (i.e., The Owners) and I gotta say they were really down to earth guys with a great sense of humor. It seemed more like a bunch of friends running the club instead of the traditional owner – manager relationship.

I wish more clubs were like that…. VNS

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