Viet Nam News
By Robert Bicknell
For those of you who quack, moan and rip your hair out over the price of golf in Vietnam, pay attention and discover how good you actually have it.
Green fees at Erin Hills (site of the 117th U.S. Open Championship) are currently US$280, with a same-day replay rate of $180, and in 2018 the price is scheduled to increase to $295 and $195, respectively, in 2018.
Wait…it gets worse…
Erin Hills is a walking-only course, and push carts aren’t allowed, so you have to hump your own bag around. No buggies either.
Wait…it gets even WORSE…
While using a caddie isn’t required, it’s highly recommended. Caddies cost $55 (VNĐ1,247,977) per player, with a suggested tip of $65 (VNĐ1,474,882). And if your foursome would rather request just one forecaddie, that’ll cost $110 (VNĐ2,495,955), plus a suggested tip of $100 (VNĐ2,269,050).
And players complain golf in Vietnam is expensive… Unbelievable.
And Erin Hills isn’t the most expensive either. TPC Sawgrass would set you back over $495 for a green fee and $65 for caddie fee. Famed Pebble Beach has green fee rates of $495-$630, plus $80 for a caddie. However, Pebble’s sister course is cheaper, if you consider $395 (including buggy) cheaper…
Now, speaking of the US Open…
It IS that time again and, following the debacles which saw greens at Chambers Bay completely uncontaminated by turf grass, and Dustin Johnson plotzing (Yiddish word for worrying) for six holes while the USGA debated penalizing him for his ball moving on the 5th green at Oakmont, is it any wonder that the USGA faces closer scrutiny this year?
Every year they claim they set up the US Open course to “identify the best players in the world”, while the players retort that the USGA sets up a course to “humiliate the best players in the world.”
I, on the other hand, enjoy both watching the USGA set up the course to kill people, and watching the “best players in the world” lose their collective minds. With every scream of anguish, I smile even more because these are usually the same conditions the average golfer faces every day.
OK, I have also become a bit of a sadist (enjoys seeing others in pain) in my twilight years. Before I played the game professionally and would be considered a masochist (enjoys bringing pain upon himself), now I’m a bit of a sadist. Isn’t getting older wonderful?
Trust me, sadism is more fun…and let’s be honest, most golfers are sadomasochists. When your friend or competitor shanks a ball into the lake, you secretly enjoy it…don’t lie.
The sad part is the next step of this transformation is either Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some claim I am already demented, but that’s not true. I am simply brilliantly nuts.
So this year, the USGA set up a brand new venue, Erin Hills, for the 117th US Open Championship and I can only hope they do their usual black magic to cause players to reach for Maalox and Valium.
A normal US Open set-up involves rock hard greens where the ball has as much chance of stopping as a bus on a frozen lake, and the green speeds are usually 14 or more (but less than Augusta). They use normal bunker sand, so you will see the occasional fried egg or plugged lie (just like normal players do).
Fairways are usually cut very tight (narrow) and the rough is deep enough to lose your golf bag in if you lie it down. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not far from the truth.
What I like about the US Open, to be honest, is that you don’t see ridiculous scores like 16 or 20 under par, like you do in normal Tour events, which are set up to make the players look like demi-gods.
When a course is set up where the winning scores are within a few strokes of par, you know they did a good job on the set-up, even if the players themselves don’t like it.
The difference in courses between a US Open and The Open Championship, as mentioned many times before, is that the R&A sets up a course to be difficult but fair and relies on Mother Nature to provide the drama.
Time to get the Maalox……