By Robert Bicknell

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March 18, 2007

Why is one tournament better than others?

If you asked me what my favourite tournaments in Vietnam would be, Iíd probably say the "Gannon Vietnam Open" at Ocean Dunes in Phan Thiet, "Swing For Life" at Vietnam Golf & CC (Thu Duc) and Norfork Invitational, also at VGCC.

The reasoning for this is simple, I like the courses and I have long-term participation in these events. As they are in the South, it allows me to get away from work for a few days, which is always a plus.

I also enjoy playing at VGCC (Thu Duc), especially the East Course, because I can most often walk off the course with the same ball I started with and lately, that alone is a major achievement. Hey, when you donít practice and play much, you have no right to complain.

Also, after working there for four years, I can play both courses in my sleep, so it reduces the odds of my making an error from lack of knowledge. Lack of talent is another story.

Now, before other tournament organisers start sending me nasty e-mails, please understand this is not to say your events are not as well organised or prestigious as the ones that I mentioned, but rather that these are events which I personally enjoy.

They also send me special invitations.

If the truth be known, Iím happy to play in almost any tournament when my schedule allows. The problem is that not many events keep the same dates every year, so advance notice and information is usually scant, so players have to make last minute decisions on whether to attend or not. Personally speaking, I have to arrange my schedule at least six months in advance to be practical.

As a matter of fact, the Norfork Invitational is coming up on April 7th and I will be attending because if I donít play golf someplace warm soon, I will blow my brains out.

Which leads me to two topics for this column: tournament information and a national tour.

In the old days, when I only required four hours of sleep per night, I used to keep the tournament information and results section of my website pretty up to date, but as you get older, the siren call of a soft pillow is hard to resist. Heck, when reading bedtime stories to my daughter, I fall asleep before she does. I donít think sheís ever head the ending of "The Little Engine That Could".

However, in the interest of promoting golf, I will try to stay awake a few more hours each day to keep the event schedule up to date. Look for changes starting in April, providing that the clubs cooperate by sending info on time.

Another idea which popped into my mind is the possibility of setting up a national amateur tour. A series of events for the better amateur players scheduled nationwide throughout the year as opposed to haphazard last minute sign-up by frantic players.

In fact, each club could select a team which would compete against teams from other clubs. The possibilities are endless.

I know Dean Cashion would jump on this idea in a heartbeat.

There are many really good sponsored open tournaments that players look forward to such as Vietnam Airlines, Tiger / Heineken / Carlsberg , FPT, BMW, etc. One possible idea is to hold a series of these events, one in the north, one in the south and one which plays off the top 60 finishers in each.

I think this can fly, but as you might imagine, I havenít thought this completely through as yet, so forgive me. It was one of those ideas which seem utterly brilliant in the middle of the night, but come daylightÖpoof!

The fact of the matter is that Vietnam doesnít have a series of professionally run amateur tournaments where talented young players can fine tune their games. Playing with friends is one thing, but competing under real tournament conditions brings another element into playÖmental conditioning, which is sorely lacking in many junior players at present.

Ok, Iíve laid out the concept, but its now up to the golf clubs themselves to take the next steps as they will have to invest their time as well.

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