By Robert Bicknell

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September 3, 2006

The Best laid plans of mice and men…

When discussing the Gannon Vietnam Open Championship, there are three absolutes: The event will have improved from the previous year; there will be slow play; and of course, I will self-destruct.

Despite all my plans to the contrary, the usual script was followed which causes me to question if my performance is pre-ordained by some higher power for their private amusement. There is no doubt that the gods of golf have a sadistic sense of humour and I seem to remain one of their favourite targets.

I planned a nice comfortable practice round on Thursday and accomplished this easily enough…perhaps too easily. I should’ve stopped after 18 holes but played 27 which is not a wise thing to do when you’re tired. If you’re gonna screw up your swing, chances are you’ll do it when tired.

On Friday, I planned to take it very easy and headed to the driving range to loosen up before another practice round. Let me get this straight right off the bat…I usually shun driving ranges in the way that Dracula avoids garlic, ok? But for some reason – probably my penchant for self destruction – I decided to work on my swing at the range.

Bad idea.

The truest words ever spoken in the history of mankind are "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," but logic doesn’t apply to golfers in general and certainly not to someone pre-destined to destroy himself. So, I took a swing that was performing perfectly and screwed it up beyond belief. When you’re standing on a tee box and have no idea how to start the back swing, you’ve got major troubles.

To make matters worse, Jeff had decided to make the course more of a "links" style course by removing many trees which allowed a lot more wind to come into play. Personally, I liked the changes when I played on Thursday, but was less than thrilled on the weekend when even a easy shot became a struggle.

And yes, the Yuccas were waiting for me…

Ok, enough of my troubles as they’re bound to continue at the Swing For Life on Saturday…especially as I found my swing again and have a week to screw with it some more at the new Him Lam Driving Range…

I really need to say that this year’s Gannon Vietnam Open was far better than the year before and continues to amaze me in that it keeps getting better year after year. When you’re in Phan Thiet next time, consider staying at the villas at Ocean Dunes…truly fantastic and the view cannot be beat.

During my southern trip I managed to get a few practice rounds in at VGCC and Long Thanh Golf Course.

Again, this was not the brightest idea as I developed a huge blister on my right foot, so I have a built in excuse for the Swing For Life, but to be honest, I’d rather play to my potential for a change.

As of this writing, I’d have to admit that I’m disappointed with the overall conditioning of the golf courses I have seen, but to be completely fair, they’ve been getting clobbered with rain for the last two months and this contributes heavily towards the problem. Jeff told me that he ran the irrigation system once in 50 days, meaning that Mother Nature took care of the other 49 days. That’s a lot of rain, folks and it can cause superintendents to go screaming into the night.

To add to my misery, during my nightly calls home my daughter keeps saying, "Poppa, come home soon" which is a killer, but I can recognise my wife’s coaching when my daughter follows up with, "Poppa, don’t spend money…"

Hopefully, the new Sesame Street DVD’s I found down here will make amends.

When you read this column my trip will be over, business accomplished and I had a few fun days in the sun. I’ll be home in Hanoi ready to finish building my new course while nursing sore muscles, broken blisters, sunburn and a battered ego.

And start planning for next year…

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