By Robert Bicknell

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September 10, 2006

Swing For Life nets $71,000 for charity…

Consider for a moment that most charity tournaments in the USA average a collection of US$5,000 - $10,000. Consider that, during lunch at the Press Club in Hanoi last month, I overheard some International Red Cross managers mentioning how difficult it is to find charity donations.

Now consider that Swing For Life, Vietnam’s premiere charity golf tournament, raked in $71,000 this year. Consider that in the seven years since its inception, SFL collected over $420,000.

Swing For Life has provided three Bloodmobiles for the HCMC Red Cross, provided thousands of wheelchairs for disadvantaged disabled people, provided sight-restoring eye operations for thousands of poor children and helped to renovate local medical facilities in needy communities.

Vietnam’s golf community can take great pride in their generosity and the organisers can take great pride in the most successful annual charity golf tournament in Asia…Swing For Life.

Next time someone is stupid enough to claim Vietnam is a "third world country", remind them when it comes to putting our money where our hearts are and helping the needy, Vietnam takes a backseat to no one.

This week’s snippet of golf news from Jeff Puchalski made me laugh because "to promote the products of a Canadian golf club manufacturer, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, with NASA's approval, will drive a golf ball into space in front of the International Space Station on 03 November."

This I gotta see…

It also gave birth to a few wild musings by yours truly, including…what if he whiffs? You know, big wind-up then misses the ball completely. As there is nothing to anchor him during the swing, it is conceivable that he would begin spinning like the Tasmanian Devil on amphetamines.

Will he actually aim at a specific target? If memory serves, there is still a flag left on the moon from the Apollo moon landings which would at least give it the appearance of an actual golf shot. Imagine if he knocks it stiff from a million miles out…

I figure the RPMs he’s gonna generate, if he uses a seven iron without gravity or air friction, will result in about a thousand yards of backspin if the shot hits the moon. Greg Norman eat your heart out.

Or, if the cosmonaut makes decent contact with the ball in a zero gravity environment and barring collision with other objects, or falling into the gravitational field of a planet, star or black hole… he could easily beat John Daly’s best drive by a few hundred trillion miles.

Of course, the USGA would probably disallow the drive from any record considerations because the ball’s top speed when leaving the club would be significantly higher due to lack of air friction and thus violate the rules governing COR tolerances.

Another thought involves the possibility of extraterrestrial life and what happens if the golf ball crosses their path? Ok, granted… chances that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is small, especially as we still haven’t really proved there is any intelligent life even here on Earth, but for the sake of amusement, imagine that there is…and a Titleist comes whizzing into orbit around their planet.

Two possibilities pop into my squirrelly little mind… One, the ball might end up being worshiped by billions of beings, which is really no different than what humans do back here on Earth, or it could trigger an interstellar war.

The next thing you know Earth could be bombarded by alien golf balls, which the USGA would immediately rule as non-conforming, or at worst, the alien struck by the ball calls a lawyer and ends up owning half of our planet.

I should be a Hollywood script writer…

Golfweek online last week offered an interesting breakdown on how users of different putter styles tend to misalign their putts.

Mallet-style putters aim golfers to the right, offset putters aim them to the left. Aiming lines influence putts to the left and the more lines, the further left you aim. Longer putters tend to promote putts to the right while shorter putters favour leftward misses.

Finally, the slower the putting stroke, the more shaft flex is required.

Pity Robin Williams didn’t have these facts on hand when he developed his comedy routine on how the Scots invented golf…

It would’ve fit perfectly.

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