Wednesday, January 20 2021


Lightning on the golf course

Update: July, 24/2016 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

By Robert Bicknell

Well, I finally got a chance to revisit my “ancestral home” here in Việt Nam. Yes, I went back to Kings Island in Đồng Mô where I started here in 1992 and returned to from 2002 – 2006.

Some things will never change.

Unfortunately, the night before my visit they had a massive storm which knocked down an amazing amount of branches and a few trees. Bunkers and fairways were covered with leaves. They’ll be cleaning that place up for a week quaranteed.

I also heard that one tree fell on a buggy near the kiosk (there is night golf and apparently the storm hit while play was still going on). Fortunately, players had already scurried into the kiosk and brought their clubs with them, so nobody was hurt and no clubs damaged.

One of the things that clubs cannot control is the weather and if the club has a warning siren, players would be best served by listening for it and following procedures. If a club sounds a warning, players should take this seriously and get the hell off the course. Nobody wants to see a tragedy.

Especially when lightning is in the area.

Lightning can travel 10-15km horizontally before striking down, which means you CAN get hit while under what looks like clear blue skies. This is where the phrase “A shot from the blue” comes from.

Back in 1999 when I was managing Thủ Đức (VGCC), we had both sirens and lightning protection all over both courses, the clubhouse, the parking lot and driving range. The West Course’s 18th green was within the protection umbrella of three systems… but a severe lightning storm came up and se sounded the siren to clear the course.

A group of Taiwanese players was on the 18th green putting out and refused to heed the siren or obey commands of the marshals.

A lightning bolt hit a large tree 10 metres from the green and exploded it. Yes, the tree was effectively cut in half and huge strips of bark could be found all over the clubhouse, starter shack and even into the JV parking area.

Yet those idiots kept playing like it was nothing wrong. They didn’t even notice the tree was missing.

Every year scores of people are hurt or killed on golf courses because of lightning, or big wind storms knocking down trees. Don’t become a statistic. Listen to the warnings and heed them.

It’s for your own safety.

Anyway, I know both the Mountainview and Lakeside courses at Kings Island like the back of my hand (I helped build them) so there was no unexpected surprises. It was like putting on an old comfortable pair of jeans.

The playing conditions were OK and the putts rolled pretty true. I had a caddie who read the putting lines better than I do, so it was fun. Sadly, my lack and legs were stiff from the two and a half hour drive there from Ninh Bình, but no complaints. It is what it is and I enjoyed the day.

I mentioned this a long time ago, but will repeat it here for those who go to Kings Island a lot…

When driving on the road before entering the gates, look above the treeline at BaVì Mountain. It practically fills your windscreen. Its massive and towers over the trees.

Then loom again when you get to the boat dock. All of a sudden the mountain is tiny and in the background.

How the hell does it do that? For 24 years I have tried to figure this out and there is just no logical answer. A mountain cannot change its size and you know it’s not hopping backwards 20km.

It continues to be one of the unanswered questions of the universe.

Most of my OLD staff were still there and still going strong. Many of the caddies and staff I hired back in 1992 - 1993 now have grown children who are working there as well. Its amazing to see how one golf course can help change the lives of so many people and even the surrounding community.

Kings Island currently has 36 holes (Mountainview and Lakeside courses) and they are in the middle of finalizing plans for yet another 18 holes under the direction of Jack Nicklaus Golf.

The more things change, the more they remain the same… just better. VNS



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