By Robert Bicknell
Before I get into the main topic this week, I just want to reminisce about Halloween Golf in New England, where I grew up. Autumn is always special in that part of the US because the fall foliage is simply breathtaking.
They say that it’s the only part of the US with the specific combination of minerals in the ground which give the leaves such amazing colour. That’s not to say other parts of the US don’t have fall foliage, but New England has it best.
Fall (Autumn) golf usually means sweaters, fewer mosquitoes than normal and the unique smell of autumn leaves in the air.
It also means Halloween …
Back in the day, we didn’t have lights on the golf course for night golf, but we did have glow sticks to mark the flagsticks and perimeters of the course, and pumpkins carved into Jack O’ Lanterns (you know, scary faces with a candle inside).
There also special golf balls made back then which had space for a tiny glow stick inside. As you can imagine, the air was filled with glowing green golf balls whizzing all over the place.
Before you say it, let me point out that New England only has one poisonous snake which lived near the rivers, so no problem. No, I will not mention bears, of which we have a lot of, but they seemed content to stay away from idiots dressed like ghouls hitting glowing green balls everywhere.
Bears might be ferocious, but they ain’t stupid. On the other hand, Moose are stupid and we have a lot of them too. How stupid? Simple…
One Goose = Goose. Two goose = Geese. One Moose = Moose. Two Moose = Moose. Why? Because they’re stupid.
The Jack O’ Lanterns were used as tee markers and the woods were filled with truly eerie sounds, courtesy of the club sound system. A well-timed witch’s laugh over a three foot putt can be unnerving to say the least, not to mention a wolf howling…
It was only a fun 9-hole tournament and there was a costume party afterwards in the clubhouse with a live band, free food and drinks and awards for the tournament, and for best costume.
Did I mention you were supposed to play golf in costume? No? Silly me…
All in all, it was always a load of fun and both members and guests always took special effort in making their costumes.
That was then back home in New England, but this is now home in Viet Nam and, it seems, based on many comments from members of various clubs, that there is a bit of a disagreement between them and the club management. OK, let me rephrase that to say there is a HUGE disagreement.
As I mentioned last week, members in Viet Nam are very limited in what they get for their membership investment. It’s not the same as being a member in the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea or Australia, etc. Being a member in those countries means you have an “equity stake” in the club. You are a partial owner, and as such, have voting rights.
That isn’t the case in Viet Nam (although it almost was when Saigon Golf Country Club & Residences was being built in District Two. SGCCR was supposed to be a “members-owned” club until the project directors had a falling out and the project was scrapped).
For the most part, in Viet Nam you only get free green fees and discounts, etc., and the club remains a privately owned business trying to make a profit.
But, as I mentioned last week, this doesn’t mean the clubs should not take members opinions and views into account when making decisions. Not including them in the process is the biggest mistake any club could make.
When I managed clubs, I was of the belief that “a happy club was a profitable club” and, for the most part, this turned out to be correct. When members and frequent quests feel that their opinions matter, they take pride in being a member of the club and help bring new players to the club.
These people are the biggest asset to any club and will help a club improve if the management would just listen to them.
So my advice is to start listening to each other…