Sunday, October 23 2016


Teed Off (Jan 10, 2016)

Update: January, 10/2016 - 00:19

with Robert Bicknell

Well, the new year is truly underway and, as usual, I played my first round of golf to see how this year will go. Normally, if I play well I know the year will be excellent. If I play poorly, I know its gonna be a nightmare.

To sum it up, I had two snap hook drives, lipped out 4 birdie putts and ended up even par (yes, off the back tees you jokers), so this year will be OK, but it will not be easy. C'est la vie, nothing is ever easy in my life.

However, I am still doing my best to remain positive and not get "Teed Off" at anything, but I gotta admit the strain is killing me. My natural default position is explosion. I play golf the same way… attack. Sure, I crash and burn more often than not, but at least I enjoy myself in the process. I never expect to win, but I do want to have a good time.

Yes, grumbling is part of having a good time in my little world.

We launched the soft opening of the new Trang An Golf & Country Club in Ninh Binh on 2 January and so far the results have been pretty good and the feedback very positive. This is a bit of a relief as we are still not ready for prime time and have a lot of work ahead of us before any Grand Opening, but it looks good so far. We just need to keep moving forward.

The club is open for visitors to try until 2 March, after that it becomes a private members club. If you're not a member or the guest of a member, you will not get in. Very simple concept.

Many of the guests so far say our greens are excellent and the design is challenging. We still have work to do on the clubhouse and other facilities, but we're getting there.

If you have time, feel free to contact the marketing department to arrange a tee time, but please understand that we do limit how much play per day to ensure the course isn't overcrowded.

In other news, it looks like The Bluffs at Ho Tram Strip has done it yet again.

If it wasn't enough that they held one of the most successful Asian Tour events in history, got a week of international television coverage for both the course and Viet Nam, got the country on the international golfing map, or witnessed Sergio Garcia dropping in a 35-foot bomb putt to get into a four-man playoff and eventually winning the event, the Bluffs has managed to top even that…

The Bluffs has been listed in the Top 100 golf courses in the world.

Yes, you read that right. The Bluffs came in at number 74, right behind Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, and ahead of Royal Lytham & St Annes (82), Nirwana Bali (84) and the Emirates (95).

Now THAT is impressive!

Next time some local golf magazine says that someone else is number one, show them Golf Digest. End of argument right then and there.

I know that eventually some club is going to come along and raise the bar even higher than The Bluffs eventually, but its gonna take some careful planning, a lot of money and a lot of dedication.

The Bluffs didn't happen by accident. I know what went into it as I am friends with Ben Styles, and I know how hard he worked. Unless another group is willing to go the distance and make the same effort, they simply will not reach that level.

Many clubs can claim they are number one, they can point to a lot of local / regional magazine awards, but the fact of the matter is that if you're not ranked internationally then you haven't reached the top.

The Bluffs did it and helped to put Viet Nam on the international golfing map. They will take it to the next level in August with the Viet Nam Junior Championships and then the 2016 Ho Tram Open which is supposed to be on an even Grander Stage than the first one.

My question is what the other clubs in Viet Nam will do to help carry the ball.

The Bluffs kicked the door open, but it's up to all the rest of us to help build on that beginning. — VNS

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