Monday, January 27 2020


Wild weekend in Hồ Tràm

Update: April, 21/2018 - 11:00
Viet Nam News

by Robert Bicknell

Well, the 19th Annual Norfolk Invitational tournament is over and it was truly a wild weekend at The Bluffs in Hồ Tràm, especially for yours truly. Very enjoyable from start to finish and I got to see a lot of people I haven’t seen since the last year and many new faces.

I suppose, the biggest question for me would be: “How do you start with 5 birdies and still shoot 80?”

Yes, the obvious answer would be: “Because I missed a putt for 79” and, for a change, that is actually the correct answer. The greens started off running at 10.5 in the morning, but thanks to the very brisk ocean winds, by the 2nd nine holes the greens had dried out and were running closer to what felt like 12 and I couldn’t adjust…

Missing a three-foot birdie putt and having an 18-foot comeback par putt will have you talking to yourself for sure and I was doing that all afternoon. But for a change, I was actually laughing rather than being annoyed which made a huge difference. I was enjoying myself a lot more.

There is something liberating about being 60-years old. You can either choose to act like a wizened senior and dispense wisdom (aka contrived BS), or you can pretend to be senile, depending on the situation.

Yes, you can pretend to be senile and not drool all over yourself … trust me.

A few weeks ago, I commented on the “de-vegetation programme” going on at The Bluffs and the resulting complaints from a few unenlightened players.

Well, let me tell you that the consensus of the players in the tournament, many of which played the course last year, was that the removal of the vegetation made the course harder, not easier and having played it under both conditions, I have to agree.

Look, it’s very simple. Before, if your ball went into the vegetation around the perimeters of the holes, you could claim a lost ball. But now, not only did removing the vegetation increase the odds of finding your ball, it also increased the chances of you wishing it didn’t.

You will probably find it in a sandy depression instead of sitting up nicely waiting to get smacked back into the fairway. Congratulations and welcome to the world of links-style golf.

It also allows the wind to have more of an effect, especially down low, so all in all, you have to plan your shots more. Forget trying to overpower the course, you can’t.

Bottom line: I have to say that removing the vegetation was a huge improvement to an already amazing course.

The accommodations at the Grand Hotel were superb as always, many hotels in Việt Nam could learn from them in terms of customer service. My only “real” complaint would be the same that I mentioned from day one…

 I wish they would install “butt guns” in the hotel room bathrooms. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a water gun next to the toilet. As the overwhelming majority of guests are Asian, they prefer it over straight toilet paper.

Anyway, it’s hard to find anything major to complain about at either The Grand or The Bluffs as they seem to be really dialed-in on keeping guests happy and it’s a delight to visit there when I can.

I strongly recommend a visit to anyone looking to decompress.

As mentioned earlier, the 19th Annual Norfolk Invitational was a huge success, primarily due to the people behind the scenes who rarely get credit, such as the Norfolk Marketing and Advance Teams and, of course, the management team at the Bluffs (Sonia, Ali and Patrick) who always go the extra mile for guests.

In addition, the folks McClelland set up a nice display and kept everyone quite happy.

Sadly, nobody won any of the four Audi’s available for a Hole-in-One. One player did run his tee shot over the cup, but gravity doesn’t seem to apply at The Bluffs when you want it to. It only applies when the ball is flying over a bunker…

 Anyway, big thanks to all for a great weekend!

Next year will be the 20th Annual Norfolk Invitational and I hear they are already planning something very special for the event. It should be amazing.

I can hardly wait! VNS



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