Monday, October 21 2019


Teed Off (Apr. 27, 2014)

Update: April, 27/2014 - 21:12

with Robert Bicknell

Well, it's a Monday and a hectic weekend over.

Last Saturday's 15th Annual Norfolk Invitational came to a successful end, although not without some bizarre occurrences in the Lucky Draw. Without going into details, a few people were urged to return their lucky draw prize into the pool for others to win. Chants of "put it back, put it back" rang out and, of course, the winners donated the prizes back into the pool for others to win. The Norfolk Invitational is all about giving - both to charity and to friends.

All in all, it was a great time, but also a sad time as Rick Blackie, former GM of SGCCR project will depart for Malaysia and a new project which we know will benefit from his experience.

On the course, it was a lot of fun as I teed it up with fellow professionals Jeff Puchalski and Andrew Bowles, while in the group ahead of us were more pros - Ben Styles, Lars Holden and Rick Blackie.

OK, needless to say, I didn't win, but did achieve one of my goals that day, namely to drive the ball over 350 yards, which I did on the 9th hole of the West Course. Putting was good, irons were good, but my short pitches were horrible. Now I know what to work on in the coming weeks.

Rick and Lars played solidly, Andrew was a bit off - probably because of the free flow beer, but Jeff hit the ball better than I have seen him do in a very long time. It was like a time machine took hold and a joy to watch. If I had Jeff's short game that day, I'd be in the low 60's… he was deadly.

One of the biggest advantages nowadays is a laser range finder which helps you determine the distance to your target or hazards. When Jeff or Andrew shared the info with me on the tee box, I was pretty accurate, but in a few cases we found ourselves without a clue if the flags were in the front, middle or back of the green.

While range finders are great, professionally made yardage books and pin placement charts would be a great minimum to have available. In the old days, Jeff used to have them for Ocean Dunes, which made life so much easier for the players - especially tourists who have never seen the course before and would probably never see again. Thus, they can play a good round of golf. Without them, they are lost and walk away a tad disappointed.

While Thu Duc (VGCC) sometimes has three tournaments per week, they could still do pin placement charts, providing they have the templates set up and a marshal does the quick measurements in the morning when he checks the course before opening. We used to do it in the old days and they could still do it providing they want to assign a staff to stay on top of it.

Yardage books, on the other hand, only need to be done once (unless the course has a major facelift) and provide a great place for advertisements which also generate revenue.

I wish more courses would take the initiative and do them but I know what you're saying… "Robert, clubs have caddies and some even have caddies with laser range finders!"

OK, good point, however, many caddies cannot find their ass with either hand - especially as most are part time employees. So, finding a good experienced one is a crapshoot and the odds are not in your favour as the club members know who are the best and reserve them. Secondly, with the exception of The Bluffs in Ho Tram, some rangefinders used on the golf courses such as Van Tri and Twin Doves work only with the flagstick. They cannot range on bunkers, trees or other obstacles and, believe me, it is very nice to know the distance to the tree blocking your way.

So, it either comes down to courses providing yardage books & pin placement charts, or arming the caddies with real rangefinders, or… players buying their own rangefinders…

Which is exactly what I will do this week. With any luck I can find the cheapest one possible so that I can figure out what the hell I am doing out there… — VNS

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