Monday, January 25 2021


How to survive a storm

Update: July, 31/2016 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

by Robert Bicknell

As I’ve been working 36 hours straight due to the storm on Wednesday night, this column might be stranger than usual. Yes, I know I can get pretty strange at times, but at this point in time, I think I might be actually hallucinating and without any artificial assistance.

This could be interesting. It’s like an out of body experience without actually leaving my body. A friend of mine back home had a similar experience when we were much younger, except he got arrested for his troubles. See, all natural is best.

The recent storm really did spring up suddenly and then it was all hands on deck, batten down the hatches, raise the mizenmast (whatever the hell that is) and get ready to ride out the storm.

When it comes to golf courses, we typically bring in all the flag sticks and tee markers, remove from the clubhouse surrounds any possible flying objects (identified or otherwise), lower the water levels a bit in our lakes and ponds, clean all debris from the drains, reinforce young trees with more wooden stakes, put all the equipment in the maintenance house or cart barn, then make sure all the glass is taped up.

After that, its Beer o’clock and find some place to ride out the storm and hope for the best.

We didn’t have that much advance warning, so while we did emerge relatively OK, I was riding around the course at the height of the storm making sure everything was OK and reassuring the security guards that Armageddon was not upon us.

Of course, being local Vietnamese, they knew it just might be and they made their own plans on how to survive it.

Our active golf course (at Tràng An Golf & CC in Ninh Bình) has 96 bunkers (which now need a major power raking) and a lot of trees. In fact, we have over 20,000 pine trees and a lot of assorted others, like palm trees, acacia and a few I haven’t quite figured out. The good think about pine trees is that they only drop pine needles in a storm. Unfortunately, some of the other trees decided to drop themselves across a fairway or tee box. One enterprising tree even fell itself across the buggy path, requiring us to get out the chainsaws.

The good thing about a small storm is that it allows staff to become more aware of what needs to be done. Our club is still in it’s “Soft Opening” mode, so the staff are just working on improving their skills, creating better menus and training up the caddies to be the best they can be.

The bad thing is that the owner expects the manager to be on site during the storm as if we have a magic wand and instantly protect the club from any potential damage.

OK, some of us can, but let’s save that for another column in the distant future, such as after I return to my home planet. You guys really think you built the pyramids, eh? Keep dreaming.

Ah yes, in the meantime, we just have to make sure everyone does their best then double check everything to ensure it is correct.

One of the best things about a severe storm is that the power goes out and, many times, the mobile telephone signal as well. This means the owner cannot keep calling us in the middle of the storm for updates.

Of course, it can be fun to give the owner updates, such as, “Remember that tree on Hole 3? We really didn’t need it did we? I mean, I could probably find a way to replant it, but…” Or such gems like “Looks like we won’t need to repaint that wall after all.”

My favourite is, “Don’t worry, we have enough grass in the nursery to replant that green if necessary.”

Yes, I can be evil when I want to be, but for the most part I play it straight and make sure the job is done correctly.

And for the record, we only had to close down for one day for the clean-up (which was a herculean effort by the superintendent and all available staff) and we were ready for business as usual the next day.

Good night…VNS



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