Viet Nam News
by Robert Bicknell
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain
This might come as a great disappointment to some readers, but as stated above, I am still amongst the living and show no signs of crossing to the other side. As the bumper sticker a friend gave me in the 80’s said, “Heaven doesn’t want me and Hell is afraid I’ll take over.”
Nevertheless, I missed last week’s deadline (which is only 2-3 times in 18 years) due to an overloaded schedule, and the fact I am probably going slightly “điên” in my old age.
So, to those of you who missed my column, you have my apologies, and to those saddened that I am still around, tough luck pal.
Now then, on to this week’s rant…er, column
I played 18 holes at Long Biên GC in Hà Nội last week. Nine holes in the daylight and nine holes under the lights. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of the turfgrass in the fairways because those of us in the business know how difficult it is to keep paspalum in good condition.
The lighting system (Philips) was actually quite good and didn’t throw too many unwanted shadows. Night golf is actually fun and since there was almost no deep rough to speak of, you don’t lose your ball.
The greens are TiftEagle, which is an excellent grass but demands a very specific set of cultural practices to perform at its best. Its also not the best grass for Hà Nội due to the amount of cloud cover. It would be better for someplace like Đà Nẵng or Vũng Tàu.
From a professional playing point of view, I was dismayed by the amount of spike marks. They puffed up like cheeseballs all over the place. Yes, it’s against the rules to tap down spike marks, but we waived that rule because putting would have been impossible otherwise. It would have looked like a pachinko game.
This is not a huge obstacle and I am sure that Long Biên will recognize the problem and get it fixed. It’s not a difficult fix for a qualified superintendent who has experience with micro-dwarf grasses.
The only thing I really didn’t like was the “internal OB” stakes. I have never liked it at any course I have played or managed.
One thing is fairly certain, Long Biên has a lot of land and money, and was obviously not afraid to spend it.
Just look at the clubhouse, it’s the size of a palace and just as ornate.
Personally, I hated the clubhouse because I am old and have arthritis and it was a long walk from place to place and had too many stairs. If I was younger, I wouldn’t have minded. Maybe they should provide Segways for us old people? I practically needed a buggy to get me from my locker to the shower. Its tough to get old.
So why the internal OB? So is it OB on the other hole as well?
Most times, clubs will do this as a safety issue and that is probably the case here as well, but if the OB applies to only one hole, can the players on the other hole regard the OB stakes as an immovable obstruction?
This cannot be allowed under the OB definition, but it can be a local rule under obstructions.
RULE OF GOLF DECISION 24-5:
Q. White stakes installed between the 7th and 8th holes define out of bounds during play of the 7th hole, but they have no significance during play of the 8th hole. Are such stakes obstructions during play of the 8th hole?
No, the Definition of “Out of Bounds” states that such stakes are not obstructions. However, in this case it is recommended that, by Local Rule, the stakes be deemed immovable obstructions during play of the 8th hole.
If a club has multiple nines, such as Long Biên, it would also make sense if the OB was between holes on different nines because, logically, you have left the confines of the course you are playing, so you would be “out of bounds” (beyond the boundaries of the course).
All in all, I had a good time at Long Biên GC and can happily recommend it to anyone looking for a game. VNS