By Robert Bicknell

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December 10, 2006

Avoid Fat Ass Syndrome / Golf's Silly Season

I came across an interesting article this week which claimed that many companies in the USA are "strongly encouraging" and, in some cases forcing, employees to eat better and exercise more. They claim this will cut down on health care costs and result in less sick days as well. Then it occurred to me that this is something that Vietnam needs to be looking at as well.

When I first came to Vietnam in 1992, I do not remember seeing anyone who could be considered "fat", except for a few foreigners…well, ok more than a few. However, as living conditions improved and cars and motorbikes replaced bicycles, local Vietnamese started getting less exercise. If you combine that with the influx of western foods, which are high in fat and calorie content, and with the stress of office work, you create an environment for the beginnings of a health problem.

Office work is mentally stressful and requires a lot of sitting at a desk or computer. It has long been known that repetitive actions such as typing on a keyboard, can lead to wrist problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and sitting at a desk leads to a different problem – "gluteus maximus blividity" otherwise known as "fat ass syndrome."

Lets be honest here for a moment, and not a second more as it would destroy my reputation, if you look out the window of your office you probably see at least one fat person waddling along and don’t even get me started on kids… there must be at least two or three kids in my apartment building who are beginning to look like Ghostbuster’s "StaPuff Marshmallow Man."

With the advances of technology and business, there is a price to be paid. The question is how to deal with the problem and nip it in the bud.

My humble suggestion would be for larger companies and corporations to encourage exercise programs for their staff, including a twice monthly golf day. Sure, why not? Encourage the staff to play golf – it’s a great business tool, it promotes relationship building and is great exercise. Companies can form teams and compete against other companies in a league format. Golf courses would be happy help companies arrange the events as well. It’s a win – win situation.

The bottom line is this – healthy employees are far more productive and cost the company less in health care, sick days off.

Oh yes, one more thing…eat your vegetables.

Golf’s silly season is upon us, which means we can look forward to PGA Tour stars competing in a lot of "out of sanction" (read: it doesn’t count towards the official rankings) and made-for-TV events…such as the "Skins Game."

Fred Couples, the undisputed king of the Skins Game has amassed over $3.9 million during the last 13 events. He was joined this year by crowd favourite John Daly, Fred Funk and newcomer, Stephen Ames, who got into the event by winning the PGA Championship this year.

To say that fun is the main goal of the event wouldn’t be doing it justice. Ok, just because Fred Funk replaced John Daly’s ball on the green with a remote controlled one which wandered all over the place, and caddied a few holes for big John offering him a child’s 9-iron and a huge pitching wedge.

Couples, who always looks like he’s playing a member-guest event, even in the Masters, was completely relaxed and reacted in mock horror when he missed a tap-in with his wedge.

Another fun event which went off last week was the Father / Son Challenge tournament in which Bernhard Langer and son beat out Bob Tway and his son with a clutch birdie putt on the last hole.

Also in attendance, but no where close to winning was Arnold Palmer and grandson, and Jack Nicklaus and his son Jackie. The event is a two-man scramble format and you have to have won a major to be eligible.

Hmm, perhaps I can convince Jeff Puchalski to host a "Father / sibling Scramble format event in Phan Thiet…around Christmas time in a few years time. As most of the pros in Vietnam have kids now, who knows what will happen in the next few years?

It could be a lot of fun.

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