By Robert Bicknell

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December 9, 2007

Holiday season begins in Vietnam...

Ah...the Christmas feeling is starting to appear in Hanoi. In other words, the weather is turning cooler. Brown greens are not something that I enjoy, but I do enjoy ladies dressed to the nines in their winter clothes though, so there is a nice balance.

Thereís something about a good looking lady in high leather boots which I have always enjoyed.

Holiday decorations are guaranteed to cheer you up, especially at the 5-star hotels which tend to go all out in their bid to promote the holiday spirit, but I really have to make a special mention of the Hanoi Horison Hotelís decorations.

If youíve ever wondered what Santaís elves would look like if they had a crack habit, check out the display, their eyes alone are hysterical. Even the Horison GM, Christoph Voegeli, was getting a good laugh out of it over coffee the other day. Despite my head office being in the hotel, I never looked closely at the display until he pointed out a few things to me...

Such as the elf with an axe, or the one smoking a crack pipe, the one drinking beer and, my favourite, the one with his pants down and what appears to be his "Shmeckel" (thatís Yiddish, look it up for yourself) hanging out.

Granted, this was NOT the intent of the hotel, but it just turned out that way, most likely because the elf-maker wasnít really familiar with Christmas (or maybe he was, and got into the egg nog early) but it did a lot to cheer me up and now, whenever I need a quick laugh, I walk by the display.

Unfortunately, people doing things without a firm grip of the subject (or reality) seems to be more commonplace than we would like it to be...especially on the roads or on the golf course. Many people continue to drive without actually knowing the rules, or having bought a car, havenít made the mental jump to the fact you have to drive differently.

On the golf course, itís a similar problem and one that I ranted about last week, so thereís no need to cover the same thing twice in such a short period of time. Suffice it to say that many people got the message.

With the cooler weather here, more and more people will be on the golf courses and that is a good thing. Hopefully, many of them will stay through the holidays instead of taking off with their families, but you never know.

One thing I really donít like is that the cool weather causes my back to act up terribly thanks to 40-plus years of golf. Iím a physical wreck in the wintertime, as are many people, which is why we head to Florida, Hawaii or Phan Thiet at this time of year.

One famous golfer, Fred Couples, is also a victim of back problems and I can sympathise because he actually earns a living playing golf, whereas I donít anymore, but that doesnít stop me from twitching all over the place like Jerry Lewis.

Fred's back pain really cut short a great career. He still plays, but has to pick and choose in which events he thinks he can participate without excess pain. This is a shame because his fluid, powerful golf swing is a joy to watch and is one that should be emulated by many beginners.

While we might not be able to see Fred in many of the normal Tour events, itís almost a guaranteed thing that heíll play in the Skins Game, where he has the best winning record of all, five times over a 14-year period and thereís a lot less pressure than a Tour event.

This year he pocketed $375,000, a very respectable runner-up to Stephen Ames finish, so ya gotta give him credit because only if you've ever experienced the severely limiting pain of a dysfunctional back can you know how pervasive it is on quality-of-life.

I do enjoy this time of year because the courses get a bit quieter between Christmas and New Year, thus, I can get in a few rounds as well. Hey, I need to relax too!

But with my luck, Iíll get a caddie who resembles one of the Horisonís elves..

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