By Robert Bicknell

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November 5, 2006

Cure for a mid-life crisis...

Ever had one of those weeks where nothing seems to go right? Well, I’m in the middle of a month of those weeks. I have almost zero interest in playing golf, my back is killing me and a host of other irritations. If I were a horse, they’d shoot me. A friend, who is a budding armchair psychologist, called it a "mid-life crisis" which fits because I am 48. I call it something else entirely associated with what makes the grass grow green.

Everyone goes through these periods, its nothing unique, but the difference is how we handle it. When I worked for Thu Duc or Kings’ Island, I’d either simply go to the range and hammer a few drivers as hard as I could to get it out of my system, or I would wander around the course and let Mother Nature cheer me up.. Sadly, as the course I’m working for now is under construction, I don’t have the option of the second and I recently developed a distaste for driving ranges, so that’s out as well.

I am also beginning to experience what most of the various club members go through every week. They work like crazy from Monday through Friday, looking forward to the weekend so they can unwind at the club. Thus, when some unexpected problem pops up, they’re ready to go ballistic.

I can understand that…really. I’ve reached that point as well.

Rumours, rumours…everybody has something to say, truth really doesn’t matter and never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

For example, let us discuss the Dam Vac Golf & Country Club project…you know, the one which everyone says is bankrupt…but isn’t.

It is no secret that the project hit some major delays, but this is Vietnam and as anyone who has lived here long enough knows, nothing is as simple as it seems. Land clearance is, without a doubt, the biggest pain-in-the-backside. The government might say, "sure, we will give you this piece of land to build your project on", but that doesn’t mean you actually get the land…because the people living on it might have other ideas.

Thus, begins a very complicated and expensive dance which alternates between being a rumba, foxtrot, waltz and punk rock slam.

Dam Vac ran into this problem and a few others due to an inexperienced golf course construction company who couldn’t read a land survey plan correctly. Happily, that problem was easily solved by replacing the company and we have been moving forward with the construction of the course ever since.

I visited the site last Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised to see that it actually looks like a golf course now. Four holes have been final shaped, trees planted on a few of them and you can see how they will play. There’s a par three which is beautiful, but terrifying.

My problem is that I’m American. I have almost zero patience. If I take a vitamin, I expect to jump over the moon, so I’m going nuts because things aren’t happening fast enough.

Yes, I know slow and steady is prudent, but after trying it for a few months, I have come to the conclusion that sitting behind a desk isn’t in my best interests. I have to be moving around and interacting with staff and members, otherwise I’ll be scratching on the glass windows eventually.

Speaking of new projects, the 54-hole Dragon Phenix course in Hoa Binh is coming along quite nicely. According to the reports I received, it has the biggest clubhouse in Vietnam and a 350 room hotel. Quite a few holes have been finished and ready for play.

I have also received yet another report that a 36-hole Korean golf project has been licensed for Ha Tay Province as well and will begin construction in the very near future.

This makes me wonder if Ha Tay will become Vietnam’s version of Thailand’s "Golf Highway" which runs from Bangkok to Pattaya and is home to a dozen golf courses. At present, that area has Kings’ Island (36-holes), Dragon Phenix (54 holes) and the new Korean project (36 holes)…that’s 126 golf holes.

Looks like brighter days are coming for golfers in Vietnam…hmm, I feel better already!

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