By Robert Bicknell

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February 12, 2006

I decided to check out Tam Dao GC to see if any of the six balls I lost last time were somehow recovered, also to see if my new swing changes worked and to say hello to Dayne Bulloch who I havenít seen since he was at Song Be.

I am happy to report that Iím hitting the ball longer and straighter than ever, but I still putt like Helen Keller.

In reality, I knew those balls would never be found again, unless somebody drops a two-man deep-sea diving bell into the lake, but I needed an excuse to go for a fast 9-holes and finally get a look inside that clubhouse Iíve heard so much about.

Now before you start making jokes about being so decrepit that 9-holes is the limit of my old, arthritic body, understand that I had to make a deal with my loving and increasingly vocal wife to take her and my daughter to Vincom tower in the afternoon. Confidentially, I had more fun watching my daughter play in Kiddie Land than I did on the golf course and no, I did not shank my daughter OB off the slideÖ

The golf course played even better than the first time, the fairways were excellent and the greens rolled quick. It was a weekday and Tam Dao was officially "closed", so the greens were a little bumpy from not being cut and yes, Iím making lame excuses for missing all six birdie putts.

My home club back in the US actually had a larger clubhouse, so the size didnít shock me, but I was pleasantly surprised to find full size lockers, whereas most other clubs in Vietnam use "halfs" to squeeze more lockers into a smaller area, a trait Iíve never really liked.

Members at private clubs usually have their own full size locker, with name on it, etc. so you can keep your golf bag in there. This eliminates the problem of bag storage and members complaining of "missing balls."

Peter Rousseau, General Director of the Van Tri Marsh GC in Dong Anh visited me over the holidays and said his course will "raise the bar" for all other courses to meet or beat.

Peter is from my neck of the woods (weíre both real "Yankees" from New Hampshire) and is highly qualified in his field, but Iíd say that Tam Dao ALREADY raised the bar and everyone else is going to play catch-up.

Yet, if Van Tri Marsh can top Tam Dao, it will send a message to all the other courses in Vietnam, both old and new, that "good enough" isnít going to cut it anymore.

Thereís a joke that Iíve been wanting to publish for the last 10 years, but never found a version of it which would comfortably fit in a family newspaper formatÖuntil now.

Out on the golf course with his wife, the husband says, "Twenty years ago I had a brief affair. It meant nothing. I hope you can forgive me."

His wife was hurt but said, "Dearest, those days are long gone. What we have now is far more valuable. I forgive you."

They embraced and kissed.

On the seventeenth tee, the husband was starting his back swing when the wife blurted out, "I'm sorry darling, I've been so conscience-stricken since you told me, but since we're being honest with each other, I have something to tell you also. Fifty-two years ago I had a sex change operation, I was a man before I met you. I hope you can forgive me."

The husband, froze at the top of his back swing, started at his wife in total disbelief. As realisation of what she actually said sank in, his eyes bugged out, he started to hyperventilate, then proceeded to throw a colossal mental fit.

He slammed the driver into the ground, kicked the ball into the woods, stormed off the tee, pushed the golf cart over on its side, broke the rest of his clubs one by one, then started on hers.

He screamed and ranted, "You liar! You cheat! You despicable, unconscionable deceiver! How could you? I trusted you with all my heart and soul...

And all these years you've been playing off the ladies tees!"

Some things in life are sacredÖ

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