TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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April 22, 2007

Act my age? NEVER…

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to therapy I go…

For some strange reason, grown men just cannot act their age when in the presence of a beautiful young woman, or on a golf course. It’s true…put a bunch of middle-age guys in a room with some beautiful women and watch how hard the guys try to stand up straight and suck in their gut.

It doesn’t matter if they’re married or not, it’s a "guy thing"…sort of like watching NASCAR, cleaning their nails with a pocket knife or scratching themselves in public.

Women, on the other hand, simply go shoe shopping. Twenty pairs is never enough I suppose.

The other place, as mentioned in the first paragraph, is the golf course and I am a constant victim of this phenomenon as well. The problem is that my heart tells me I’m 18 years old, however, my body disagrees violently and should I forget this fact, it takes drastic steps to remind me otherwise.

Tendonitis, sprained and torn muscles are not a lot of fun, but that is what awaits fools like me who refuse to act their age. Then again, a drive which carries over 295-yards by a 48-year old idiot is still something to chest-thump about.

As you might suspect, I picked up the clubs again after getting a clean bill of health from the French – Vietnam Hospital in Hanoi last week and promptly headed out to Van Tri to check out their second nine holes.

It was definitely worth the wait.

I have maintained for quite some time that Van Tri is the best course in Vietnam to date and this new nine shows that they have no intention of relinquishing that title. I think that the second nine is even better than the first - and that’s a statement unto itself.

Ok, lets get to it.

The second nine holes plays 3,627 yards from the gold tees and 3,333 from the blue, which means that it’s long enough to hold an LPGA event if they wanted to and they can stretch the course to a total of 7,300 yards if the APGA rolled into town.

You know, since Van Tri is shaping up to be Vietnam’s Augusta National, they might as well hold a prestigious yearly international tournament as well. Greens are quite large and have a lot of subtle movement which would provide a Masters-style challenge if the speeds are boosted to 10 or 11.

The two par threes on this nine are absolute killers which require a carry over water and some very deep bunkers to catch the foolhardy. There are some truly diabolical pin placement opportunities if their Director of Golf, Grahame Harris, who is usually a kind and gentle soul, wakes up in a bad mood.

While the par five 11th hole offers a great birdie opportunity for players who cut the dogleg, it’s balanced by the 600-yard 17th hole which will separate the men from the boys. Yes, you can get on the dance floor with two great shots, but there’s water crisscrossing in front of the green in two locations.

Every good course has holes which offer a great risk vs reward opportunity and this nine has two of them. The 15th hole measures 325-yards from the blue tees and is quite tempting, but you have to be careful of the water in front of the green.

The other is the 354-yard 18th hole which, despite having to carry 295-yards over water, proved too tempting to resist, especially with Laurent Nguyen visiting from HCM City.

This is a great "do or die" hole for close matches. A lot of people will pull their tee shots left into the water under pressure. Being a first class dummy, I pulled out the driver and gave it a go.

To my own surprise, I carried the water and had a sand wedge chip over the bunker to the green. Unfortunately, my body decided to remind me of the consequences of age, so I pulled a muscle in my back during the tee shot.

Sadly, loving consolation was not in the cards as my wife took one look, laughed, then gleefully dashed out the door in the direction of the nearest shoe store.


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