Teed Off (Jan. 5, 2014)
with Robert Bicknell
Another year is out of the starting blocks and, hopefully, heading in the right direction. While some might have thought 2013 was pretty lousy, it did end with a bang here in Viet Nam as the first-ever play-off to decide a club championship was held at VGCC (Thu Duc). Unfortunately, four time champion, Andrew Hung Pham, just couldn't keep it together long enough to survive the 5-hole playoff. No worries for Andrew, he's already a legend and we all have to lose sometimes…
I played with Andrew the day after the Club Championship and he didn't miss a fairway, didn't miss a green and hardly missed a putt. There's a reason the guy is a 4-time champion folks.
As for me, I was sick as a dog, but determined to participate in Ryan's (TaylorMade / Adidas) last event here in Viet Nam before heading off to Singapore. I hit two good drives and one plugged at 316 yards… such is life. Other than that, I was a basket case. It just proves that when you're sick with the flu, stay in bed and don't try to play golf in the heat.
All in all, it was a fun day and VGCC was playing pretty tough after the Club Championship. Sure, the greens were a little slower, but still running pretty good.
We are all hoping for a few new golf courses to open during 2014, but there is no guarantee of that, unless the market improves. However, for Viet Nam to come out of its economic slump, most people believe the real estate market has to rebound first before anything big happens. Some think it might be another five years or so, but I just read where the government is actually considering letting foreigners buy houses…
I sincerely hope so. It would be nice to have my name of some documents instead of my wife for a change… hee hee. But, the fact is it would be a good idea as it would allow a fresh influx of foreign investment, which is badly needed. Yes, I am sure there will be strings attached, but it's still a step in the right direction… if it happens.
I am hoping that 2014 will see an increase in Junior Golf programmes because, as a country, we really need to be looking in that direction, otherwise, we will be hard put to have any local kids joining the international tours, or feeding into the National Team.
As part of my annual New Year's resolutions, I am trying to quit smoking, yet again. Not bad so far, only slipped up twice, but I figure two or three cigarettes per day is better than two or three boxes per day… yeah, you read that right. I really went nuts in 2013…
I'm a bit miffed that Viet Nam doesn't allow the "e-cigarette" to be sold here, as it might help more people get off the damn things, but the other side of the coin is that companies are making them with many different flavours and many fear that will simply hook more people into smoking.
If we have clinics available for people hooked on drugs, why don't we have them for smokers too? After all, nicotine is an addictive drug, isn't it? People have trouble quitting don't they?
Maybe a nice golf resort with a stop smoking package would be the right way to go. Perhaps some of the resorts - like Sea Links, Danang, Montgomerie Links or the Grand Bluffs in Vung Tau would try it…?
So, we obviously have many things to do in this coming year and Tet hasn't even arrived yet to launch the Lunar New Year. When that happens, you can expect a slew of new promotions and openings.
On the equipment scene, I tried out the new TaylorMade "Tour Preferred CB irons" last week and was quite impressed. They had a very good feel to them. Not sure if I want to stay with them or go to either the MB's (which I will try in a few weeks), or the SpeedBlades, which seem to react very nicely to my style of swing.
In the old days, I rejected "technology" in favour of the old style, but as I get older, I find myself looking forward to new innovations.
An old DOG can learn new tricks, it seems… — VNS