with Robert Bicknell
It seems to be a quiet week as I haven't seen one sensational story about Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth or even John Daly. Talk about boring!
However, things in our neck of the world are about to become quite heated when the $1.5 million Asian Tour Ho Tram Open tees off at The Bluffs in the first week of December and a slew of PGA Tour stars roll into town.
I kind wonder how Sergio Garcia will react to Viet Nam. He's kinda high-strung and makes me look like Mother Theresa. I suppose with great talent also comes a temperamental character (no, I'm not talking about yours truly because everyone knows I am 40 per cent temper and 60 per cent mental) In addition, Ryder Cup Captain&Past Open Champion, Darren Clarke; Former US-Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy, two-time European Tour winner&The Bluffs Ambassador, Robert Rock and Viet Nam's Asian Tour member, Michael (Nhat) Tran will join with the current roster of the Asian Tour to see how they do against Greg Norman's world-beating design.
Yes, I said "world-beating" and in this case the hubris is justified because The Bluffs just got "World's Best New Golf Course" award from the World Golf Association.
It's kinda hard to top that, but if Golf Digest, Golf Magazine or any other legitimate visited the Bluffs, they too would be hard-pressed to deny it was the best new course in the world.
So, why should anyone in Viet Nam care about a golf event in Ho Tram?
Well, first of all, Viet Nam is being acknowledged internationally as one of the fastest growing golf destinations in the world. That alone is a big deal because it gives credibility to the policies of the Viet Nam Government, which came under a bit of criticism when they elected to cancel many golf project licenses a few years back. This continued growth simply proves the government was smart to keep things moving forward but slowly and let demand keep up with supply.
Other countries, who shall remain nameless (but we all know who they are) allowed golf to boom out of control and found themselves with more courses than customers.
We all know that nothing happens quickly in Viet Nam, but slow steady growth is always preferable to skyrocketing because eventually whatever goes up will come down. It's Newton's Law.
Secondly, this event shows the world that Viet Nam has great golf courses and is ready to take its place alongside other regional golf destinations. Not too many people overseas know that much about Viet Nam in general and when you mention golf in Viet Nam to them, they hang their mouth open in doubt.
Four days of televised golf will go a long way in changing their perception of Viet Nam.
Years ago, Diamond Bay brought the Miss Universe contest to Viet Nam in the hopes or reaping a big influx of tourists. The problem is most people who watch that show don't really spend money. It was also only a one night show, and despite having many cut-away video presentations of Vietnamese culture, it really was only an eyeblink.
We also need to remember that golfers are one of the only groups of tourists who have no problem spending money. They stay at 5-star resorts, they buy big tour packages and they shop like crazy when not playing golf. They often bring their friends or families and the entire tourist industry can benefit from an influx of tourist money.
While Viet Nam was known as a backpacker's heaven, that perception is slowly changing as more high-end resorts start to spring up in notable destinations like Ho Tram, Da Nang and Nha Trang.
Most importantly, it allows younger kids to see the big stars up close and, hopefully, learn from them. With any luck, some of these kids will get stars in their eyes and decide to really dedicate themselves to the game. We all hope that somewhere the next Tiger, Rory or Jordan will come from Viet Nam, but before that can happen, they first need someone or something to inspire them.
This event will do exactly that and perhaps more. When sponsors see the value of jumping on the bandwagon, more junior golf programs can spring up and this could ignite a boom or the right kind.
This is all good. — VNS