TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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November 25, 2007

Montgomerie builds signature course in Vietnam…

I would hope that it was just a tragic oversight, or maybe it got lost in the mail, but it appears that two old friends, Peter Ryder and Jeff Puchalski forgot to send me an invitation to the launch of their Colin Montgomerie Course in Da Nang.

Maybe they were afraid that the first words out of my mouth would be, "Hi...Mrs Doubtfire! Welcome to Vietnam!"

They’d be wrong.

While I, and many others, take great delight in winding him up from time to time, the fact of the matter is that I have the utmost respect for Colin Montgomerie.

Greg Norman, who was also here in Vietnam a few weeks ago, once commented that to be considered "great", you had to win majors.

Shark muffins.

While Monty has come close on numerous occasions, he has never won a major. It almost seemed like some evil genius has been plotting against him and waiting for the right moment to knock him to his knees. I would hesitate to say that the sand is running out on the chances of his winning a major, but I wouldn’t count him out. The golf g-ds seem to take great delight in tormenting him, so it stands to reason that they might also reward him for his dogged perseverance as well.

Be it as it may, Monty already earned the right to be called "great" simply through his continual rock solid Ryder Cup performances. I think the US crowds were particularly hard on Monty for a bigger reason that his perpetual hang-dog expression. It was probably because he was the player they feared the most.

Look, if I had to put together a team to play against the devil for my life, the first player on my speed dial wouldn’t be Tiger Woods. It would be Monty because even if he lost, the devil would know he’d been in a hell of a scrap afterwards. When it counts, Montgomerie doesn’t take prisoners, just ask members of past US Ryder Cup teams.

So, now he’s here in Vietnam to design a golf course and I think it’s fantastic for many reasons, most of all because I have never played on a Montgomerie Course and am dying to see how much of his character is reflected in the design. Jeff Puchalski will the first to admit that I can throw as good a pout as anyone, even Monty, while walking down a fairway in a huff.

One coincidence which I found amusing is that Monty always puts in his best performances when the Ryder Cup is involved, and since the chairman of the project is Peter Ryder...maybe he offered him a cup as well?

I would love to see the Montgomerie Club Championship award to be called Ryder’s Cup, just for the fun of it.

Peter Ryder is one of the very few Americans who has been in the country longer than I have, and understands the Vietnamese business community better than most people. Big Jeff Puchalski has been here for about 10-12 years and has done a great job handling both Ocean Dunes and Dalat Palace golf clubs (more on that next week), so Monty definitely has the right people in his corner for this project.

Montgomerie says that he plans to build a classic Scottish links style course in Da Nang, because the land they found is remarkable similar to Scotland, except with better weather and it seems like a perfect time to start bringing golf to that area of the country.

One truism is that you can tell a lot about a player simply by the way he swings. The best players always swing according to their character.

Sam Snead is still my favourite, followed by Fred Couples, the late Payne Stewart. Colin Montgomerie is fluid and has a classic high finish, which I’ve always liked, so I would expect any course he designs to have classic design features as well.

As more top designers arrive in Vietnam, the level of quality will continue to improve as well. Eventually, Vietnam will be able to compete with just about anyone as a prime golf destination.

And there’s no doubt about it.


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