TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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March 11, 2007

You can learn a lot from watching womenÖ

Since it is Womenís Day as I write this, I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at womenís golf, especially here in Vietnam.

While some clubs in the US and Europe discriminate against women members, even to the point of how they allocate tee times, Vietnam doesnít seem to have that problem, which is a very good thing.

I personally agree that private clubs should be allowed to decide who they want as members because the very definition of a "club" is an "organisation of like-minded individuals", I also believe that clubs which discriminate against women are losing out on a valuable source of revenue

Lets face it, women make the clubs more fun and wives beating the crap out of their husbands makes for some great bar chat after the round.

Some of my favourite memories involve my aunt blasting my uncle in the bar after a husband / wife event with comments like "I told you to hit the 7-iron, but NOOOO, you had to be the big man, ĎI can make it with an 8-ironí. Idiot!"

As a professional and club manager here in Vietnam, I have the opportunity to ensure that women receive the same benefits and privileges as the male members. In fact, at Kings Island Golf, I even arranged a free daily shuttle bus just to make it easier for them to play more and we didnít set any rules regarding who can tee off when based on gender.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to playing fair, the women are just as serious when it comes to submitting scorecards for handicap and they are very competitive, just ask my wife. I washed a lot of dishes after losing 9-hole matches to her after work when I was with Vietnam Golf (Thu Duc).

I have seen quite a few ladies shun the forward tees because they prefer to play from the whites, or even the blues on some occasions. I know one lady who can beat quite a few men straight up from the same tees.

One difference is that I still havenít witnessed a woman throwing a club yet, but Iím sure that it will happen someday.

A lot of people donít like to watch the LPGA, but they are missing out on a lot of excellent golf. These ladies can play some excellent golf and you can learn a lot by watching how they handle different situations.

During the Tiger Skins in Singapore a few years back, Annika Sorenstam was on hand and I got to chat with her during a rain delay before we teed off. Thereís a reason she is as good as she is, its called focus and its not solely a male attribute. Despite also having Retief Goosen and Jesper Parnevik on hand, Annika was the star of the show, especially at the free clinic.

Asian females are making huge inroads on the LPGA and they are doing what their male counterparts cannot. They win and win often. Ever year there are at least two or three new Korean and Japanese names on the rosters, which says a lot about womenís golf in Asia, but I would like to see a Vietnamese name on the leader board someday as well.

It can happen, but the clubs here in Vietnam need to play an active role in promoting junior golf which includes girls as well as boys. In fact, over time, it just might be the ladies who make the most impact on golf here in Vietnam.

So, my advice to the clubs in Vietnam is simple Ė donít sell the ladies short. We donít always have to follow the examples set by the US or Europe. This is Asia and we can do it our way.

One last point to make is that husbands with non-golfing wives are missing out on a great thing. Listen, there is nothing better than having a wife who plays golf because youíll always have a partner in your twilight years and you might even learn how to do the dishes.

A word of caution - donít EVER try to teach you wife how to play golf. Let a professional do it.

Trust me on this.


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