By Robert Bicknell

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December 2, 2007

Noise pollution on the courses getting worse…

People have mentioned to me that they think I am getting mellow in my old age and no longer get "teed off" at issues which drive me up the wall. Well, here’s a bit of nostalgia for you because, I have had enough of this particular subject and don’t care if someone shoots me in the head for opening my big mouth.

Would it be too much to ask that people shut up when on a golf course?

Despite the amazing amount of articles devoted to the subject of golf etiquette, despite having the Rules of Golf translated in to a multitude of languages, and despite the golf course marshals reminding players to "keep the noise level down," players in Vietnam still continue to act as if they are at a football match instead of on a golf course.

Last week, I actually had to back off a shot or putt four times, due to the unbelievable racket coming from players on other holes. On one par 4, I was 350 yards from the group behind and I could still hear players screaming and laughing in the Drink Kiosk!

Yes, I hit my next shot into the bunker and subsequently helicoptered the club down the fairway. Instead of what should’ve been an easy birdie opportunity, I made bogey just from being aggravated – both at the inconsiderate group making noise and at myself for letting my temper get the better of me again.

If it was only the players being inconsiderate, that’s one thing, but even the caddies scream "Birdie!" or "Good Shot" at the top of their lungs...probably hoping the player will appreciate their enthusiasm and give them a bigger tip.

What I really enjoy is when, instead of walking over and quietly exchange pleasantries, players and caddies will shout greetings to each other from two holes away.

This is getting out of hand.

In their rush to become part of the golfing society, too many players will take lessons in the swing, but are not being taught the rules or, as is evident, etiquette, despite claims to the contrary by the golf teachers.

Unfortunately, golf teachers in Vietnam do not charge the same rates as other countries and have to rely on a high volume of students moving through like an assembly line at an auto manufacturing plant to turn a profit. Therefore, they do not have the time to correctly teach the finer parts of the game, such as etiquette and the Rules of Golf.

So, how can we correct this embarrassment once and for all? Frankly, I am tired of hearing about visitors going back to their home countries saying, "Nice courses in Vietnam, but bring ear plugs if you’re gonna play there because there’s no concept of etiquette."

The newly established Vietnam Golf Association should make "player education" a top priority and have the Rules of Golf translated correctly into Vietnamese. I am sure that the local Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean Golf Societies can make the Rule books available to their members in their respective languages. English language Rule books are easily obtainable for the Westerners and all the Western golf pros will be happy to point out any of their indiscretions whenever the need arises.

Secondly, the golf clubs themselves have to make an effort to educate their members in how to act properly and this goes double for the employees. If the staff do not behave properly, how can you expect the members to do so?

Unfortunately, many clubs seem to have given up trying to educate the members for fear of losing money or offending people. But it’s funny how the worst offenders are usually the first ones to take offense when their errors are pointed out to them.

Only Van Tri has the courage to stand strong in this area and have made it very clear what is acceptable and what is not. Van Tri wants to have the most well-mannered members in Vietnam and have taken positive steps in that direction.

If Vietnam is to take its rightful place as a prime golf destination, we need to smooth out all the rough edges and lead by positive example.

There is simply no excuse for this kind of behaviour on a golf course any longer.

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