By Robert Bicknell

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May 6, 2007

Too much of a good thing…

Well, now that we’ve all enjoyed a long weekend, it is probably safe to assume that most people now need a holiday to recover from the long weekend. For some strange reason, most people tend to self-destruct when they have too much free time on their hands, which then requires more time to recover. Its a never-ending cycle and the medical profession has terminology to describe this phenomenon...


Fortunately, my wife and the weather saved me from destroying myself from over-indulging in golf by ensuring that I had to drive her all over the planet. Ok, I went to Son Tay twice and spent the rest of the time writing columns, eating potato chips and watching TV. My darkest secret is that when the wife is away, I become the biggest sloth on the planet and nothing is gonna get my fat butt off the sofa, except for an occasional game of golf or a nuclear detonation.

However, I played 13 holes at Van Tri with TORO representative - Ian Quek, Ian Fleming and Grahame Harris. It was the Van Tri boys versus the Rest of the World and Ian Quek won single-handedly. I think my sole contribution was a well-timed par putt, which was undoubtedly an accident, and he did the rest.

By the way, I feel the need to clear up a misconception. I do not work for Van Tri, nor do I receive any compensation for writing about them or any other course for that matter. The only reason why they have been getting more attention from me lately is because, when I do occasionally have a chance to get out and play, Van Tri is the nearest course to my house, and its in great condition.

Yet, as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I will venture further from the comfort of my sofa and potato chips and begin to play and write about the other courses again. Once my course, Dam Vac Golf & Country Club, opens our first nine-holes in September, expect me to be a virtual single-minded windbag about it.

In all honesty, I was planning on getting out to both Chi Linh Star and Tam Dao over the long weekend, but as mentioned, "sloth mode" kicked in and I became too lazy to drive that far. Even walking from the sofa to the refrigerator required determination. I am planning, however, to give Lars Holden and Steven Banks an opportunity to lighten my wallet significantly in the coming weeks and check out Chi Linh’s new holes and see how the new nine at Tam Dao is growing in.

If I get really ambitious, I’ll talk Lars into letting me check out Dai Lai Star (sister course of Chi Linh Star) to see how the progress is coming. I will keep you posted as to the progress of that course as I get more information.

When you think about it, the golf business has really boomed here in the north and there are five or six more courses expected to open within the next 48 months which will provide a lot of alternatives for the golf community.

Unfortunately, unless we begin to make strong effort to "grow the market" a lot of these clubs will be fighting tooth and nail for the same dollars and, in the long run, that benefits nobody.

Sure, if a price war broke out it would be great for the players, but only temporarily because while cheap golf is a dream for many players, unless the club is always busy, there will be less revenue available for providing quality services to members and guests.

Less available revenue could mean a reduction in maintenance standards, which would result in many complaints from members and guests, who would ultimately move to better maintained courses if the situation didn’t improve.

Therefore, if the boom here in the north is to be maintained, the clubs must take action to increase the amount of new people picking up the game each year.

Instruction clinics, mid-week promotions and associations with schools and businesses would be a good start, but only a start.

There will need to be much thought on this in the near future.

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