By Robert Bicknell
I mentioned in one of the pre-Tết columns that I was planning to forego my usual habit of playing one last round before the Lunar New Year, but then The Bluffs contacted me and invited me down.
To me, an invitation from The Bluffs is like pizza… I’m helpless to say no. If there is pizza, I’m gonna eat it and if the Bluffs says “c’mon down” I’ll be on the next bus.
It’s like the moon and tides. It’s not up for debate. It’s a universal constant.
Anyway, I am very glad I went down because I had a great time and, despite not playing for many months AND having to fight against a two-three club wind the entire day, I actually scored half-decently well. But to be honest, even if I shot a million over par, I’d still be happy because, hey, it’s the Bluffs, right?
I teed off with their resident pro (read: Director of Golf) Patrick Kelly and immediately became annoyed with his golf swing. Perfect three yard draws on every shot. C’mon, I mean, really? HMPH. Couldn’t he at least throw a shank or slice in there to make me feel good, but nooooo.
Anyway, Patrick was a great host and good company, despite his not wearing a hat. I joked that he was taking his “Robert Rock” idolization and bit too far, until the first good gust of wind caught me and ripped my cap off. I think it might be halfway to Cambodia now, which is when I got wise to the benefits of going hatless. Who says I am too old to learn new tricks?
I always mention that The Bluffs is a course which changes from day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute due to the wind and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I normally hit my 5-iron 200-205 yards, but into the wind the best I could do was 175.
Fortunately, I had a caddie who was much smarter than I was and figured out what club I need to hit for every given situation. She also was great at reading the greens, except for the 16th which she booted big time, which gave us a huge laugh…
Yeah, in the old days, I’d be furious and acting like Sergio in a bunker (did ya see that YouTube video of his meltdown? I’ll cover that next week), but the “new me” (since turning 60) is that I really don’t give a damn what I shoot. I’m just thrilled to be out there playing golf, and having fun.
To be honest, I always wanted to have fun playing, but the truth of the matter is that, for me, tournaments and betting isn’t fun. It’s work.
Back in the day I had no sense of humor out there, which was to my own detriment. Honestly, I should have discovered the joy of not giving a damn a long time ago. Life would have been so much easier.
The trip down and back was via bus, which The Grand (hotel) runs a few times per day between HCM City and Ho Tram. Air con, good seats and rather quick. An easy two-hour fifteen minute ride. If I wanted to, I could have made it a one day trip and been back home before 9pm, but I decided to bring my daughter down so she could enjoy the beach and, her favourite activity, “room service”.
The day after was spent hunting sea shells, chasing crabs and avoiding sunburn. I don’t worry about myself as my skin is like leather, but my daughter burns if the light bulb is too strong, so out came the industrial strength sunblock and all was fine.
I gotta send a huge thank you to Sonia, Ali Neal, Patrick and all their staff at The Bluffs and The Grand for taking such good care of me and my daughter, and a special huge thanks to my old friend (who doubles as a Guardian Angel) in HCM City for arranging a room at The Grand for me.
It might’ve been at the end of the Dog, but it kicked offthe Year of the Pig perfectly.
My smile has returned…