By Robert Bicknell

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August 20, 2006

On the Road Again...

Pack pack, stuff stuff…its that time again…

Once again I gird my loins, stuff my suitcases and harden my ego against the usual beating it takes from Bob Van Mol as I head on down to HCM City for tournament season. Ok, I know, two weeks isn’t a season, but when you’re too busy working in golf to actually play a lot of golf, you take what you can get.

First stop, Phan Thiet for my annual battle with the Yucca at the (delayed) Gannon Vietnam Open Championship. This is an event that I look forward to each year because its like a family reunion. Big Jeff has the opportunity to show off his tournament organising skills, which are quite impressive by the way, and most of the pros have a chance to be a guest for a change. The food is always great and I get a chance to swim in the ocean.

My only concern is the weather this time of year. I really hate rainy season because it screws up our business in all areas from operations, to maintenance to construction. The only good thing is that it might slow don Phan Thiet’s green speeds and make them even more receptive to incoming shots, but knowing Jeff, he’ll have the staff out there with hairdryers to make sure they stay fast.

I know that I lose each year, but if you’ve followed this column in the past, you’d have to admit that I lose in spectacular fashion. Greg Norman has nothing on me when it comes to shooting myself out of the tournament in the first round before making a doomed but heroic comeback to fall short by a stroke or two.

But this year, I’m gonna employ a little different strategy…. Instead of having high hopes for a great first round, I’m gonna just take it easy and try to keep the ball in play. No birdie tries, no heroic tries at eagle, no 300 yard snap-hooks into oblivion and most of all, no worries.

I figure that by playing it cool, I can position myself near the leaders after the first round, which will give me a perfect opportunity to crank up the old engines, pull out all the stops and choke like a dog on the 2nd day for a change.

Normally, after I shoot myself out of the tournament in the first round, I sleep like a baby…I wake up every two hours and scream. So, by changing the order or screw up, I’ll finally be able to sleep peacefully after the first round instead of grinding my teeth all night.

The next stop is my old stomping grounds, Vietnam Golf & Country Club for the annual Swing For Life Charity Golf Tournament. Did I ever tell you that I’m one of the founding fathers of this event? Hmm, a thousand times…oh well. Make it a thousand and one.

Hey look, when you’re part of something as fantastic as SFL and its probably the only decent and positive thing you’ve ever done in your life, you tend to brag about it, ok. So shaddap and let me enjoy the moment.

To date, SFL has raised over US$350,000 for charities such as the HCMC Red Cross, the HCMC Sponsorial Association For Poor Patients, bought thousands of wheelchairs for needy disabled people and help to fund thousands of cataract operations for the poor.

This year, SFL will raise funds to renovate and upgrade a medical station in Long Trung Ward, District 9, which is one of the poorest areas of the city.

Last week, I was talking with some guys from the International Red Cross. When I mentioned how much money SFL raised to date for charity, their coffee almost shot out of their ears. Ya gotta admit, that when it comes to charity, Vietnam’s golfing community takes a backseat to nobody.

As I tell everyone who will listen, the golf community in Vietnam might be small compared to other countries, but we’re proud and we’re not afraid to open our wallets to help.

I’m sure that will everyone’s participation, we’ll meet or beat this year’s $60,000 target.

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