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VietNamNews

Teed Off (Feb. 16, 2014)

Update: February, 16/2014 - 15:45

with Robert Bicknell

If this column look a little screwy, it's because my eyes have gone dien. I must be the only person in the world who can get an eye infection through the TV. Yup… right after I saw the US television host for the Olympics, Bob Costas, with a horrible case of "pink eye" (Conjunctivitis), I seemed to have caught it.

This could be a first.

A lot of people asked me last week what they can do for Valentine's Day and my first reaction is to tell them to play golf with their wife, then go out for a nice dinner. Don't forget the roses…

With or without thorns is up to you, based on your marital situation.

For me, you say Valentine's Day and the first thing that comes to mind is Al Capone and the St Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago back in the shoot 'em up days. Yes, my mind works in strange ways most times.

I always thought St Valentine's Day Massacre would be a great name for a team event tournament. Player's could dress in their favourite old-time gangster outfits, complete with suspenders and fedoras. Sorry, no "modern" gangster apparel allowed for many reasons, most of which you'd look stupid walking down the fairway with your pants falling down.

The restaurant could be decked out to resemble an old "speak easy" with old style drinks menus, and violin cases scattered about. Of course, the awards ceremony would probably be something to tell your grandkids about someday - especially with verbiage of the day sounding like: "Yo, pipedown ya mugs, Da winnah of de Best Gross something or udder iz… Nguyen Van Van, also known as Tony Pepperoni."

Don't look at me like that… it could be fun.

Back in the US, we used to hold events which required special rules, equipment or apparel for the event. Period-style dress, hickory shafted clubs, or whatever matched the theme of the event. Everyone had a great time and it made for some fun memories.

Sadly, clubs here in Viet Nam simply remain a bit short-sighted when it comes to fun tournaments. After all, when was the last time you participated in a "three clubs and a putter" event? Years ago?

It seems like a lot of the fun has gone out of golf, especially at the club membership event level. Owners want more play - especially by non-members who pay full price and have little enthusiasm for "gimmicky events" which cost more money to put on and are usually filled with members who pay highly reduced entry fees.

This is not a good thing because it discourages interaction within the club by different members.

As it stands right now, you could review the booking sheets for every club in Viet Nam and probably see the same people playing together on the same day of the week, every week. This helps to explain why clubs here in Viet Nam are not really "clubs" but "golf courses".

This is sad.

I believe that the clubs need to take things to another level in order to continue thriving. More ladies and juniors need to start playing the game and the clubs need to address this problem or the numbers will begin to drop and clubs might be turned into shopping malls and residential housing if the owners cannot realize a profit.

This is not a "doomsday scenario" as this very problem is appearing in the US right now and owners are trying desperately to sell off their courses. The main culprit - besides the economy - seems to be a lack of need for social interaction. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flappy Birds on their iPhones, they have no need to go out for entertainment.

Why travel to a club when everything you need is right there on your sofa with you - next to the Doritos and beer?

The answer is that people are social creatures. We need to be around other people, if for no other reason than to see how well we are holding up in comparison. We thrive on camaraderie and sharing good and bad times, and this is why we need real "clubs" and friends around us.

If you don't know 90 per cent of the other members of the club, you are missing out on a lot of potential new friends and business associates.

You might even find a new Valentine… if you're looking. — VNS

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