Viet Nam News
Robert Bicknell looks at the current pros and cons of having caddies at clubs in Viet Nam.
Apparently, the caddie stroke at a golf course here in the north has finally ended after a little government ministry intervention. I suppose the government simply said, “You have a disagreement, so fix it and stop annoying us.”
Yes, the owners caved in… for the moment, but nobody knows what the future will bring. Something will happen eventually, and if not at this course, then at another.
With revenues getting tighter and tighter, all courses are looking for ways to save money and caddies are an expensive part of the operation. Not all players like having a caddie, while others wouldn’t even dream of playing golf without one.
Many players in the US have heard or seen about how clubs are run here in South East Asia and are shocked about the levels of service and what players get for the money. It truly is “golf heaven” here, but there are a segment of players here who want to emulate the West.
Need I remind everyone that golf is dying in the US and Europe? OK, how about comparing another area of customer service, such as… airlines?
Sorry, but despite how many jokes we make about Vietnam Airlines, it is still a thousand times better than ANY US based carrier. In fact, I refuse to fly on ANY US based airline period. I will fly on VN Airlines, Thai, Singapore, Asiana, KAL, JAL, Emirates or even Turkish Airlines, but never on United, Delta or any of the others.
I am a person, not an animal. I expect value for the money I pay. US flag carriers have forgotten they are primarily in the service business and treat customers like crap.
It’s the same at many golf courses in the US as well. You are a statistic to them. The better courses force you to pay US$200 - 400 in green fee/buggy fee, and you’re still only a statistic to them.
Here in Viet Nam, there’s a pretty good chance the booking department, caddies and even the manager knows your name. We take the time to know you and we listen to problems and fix them.
We understand customer service and do our best to provide the highest level we can. Sure, sometimes we screw up, but not from a lack of trying.
So, when I hear a segment of players whining about fees and wanting to emulate the US, I begin to worry that they want to drag us down to a very sad level, just because THEY want cheap golf.
However, there is no doubt this WILL happen in the near future.
We will see clubs with very cheap green fees and no caddies. You will have to rent a trolley and pull your own clubs, or rent a buggy. But this also means you have to sand your own divots, rake your own bunkers, find your own balls in the trees, fix your own pitchmarks on the greens and read your own putting lines. If the player doesn’t do it, the course will very quickly go to hell and the players will have nobody to blame except themselves.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has trade offs.
I would say that caddies will become “independent contractors” in the future, but this has already happened. At one golf course in the north, caddies ONLY get paid when they actually caddie for a player. They do not get a salary, social insurance or anything else. On the other hand, they don’t have to do weeding or manual labor.
Those who play a lot of golf in the north know which club this is, but I will not mention any names, and I am not sure if I agree with this style because my club is very different.
Many players in the US/Europe come to SE Asia and love the caddies. They say it makes the game very relaxing and memorable. They claim it makes playing a strange course easier and less stressful. Despite some caddies being better than others, in general, caddies are a positive image for Viet Nam, and it helps to provide good paying local jobs.
To have a club without caddies just would not have the same charm… it would be like flying on United Airlines.-VNS