TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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October 28, 2007

Alas, poor Grahame, we knew him well...

Itís not often that you can have a "memorial tournament" for a person who is still alive, but being the perverse characters that we are, the golf professionals in Hanoi decided to do just that for the "soon to be departed" Grahame Harris.

No, Grahame isnít about to shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon, but he is leaving Van Tri Golf Club to take over a new project in Da Lat, so in some sense of the word, he is "departing."

In a nutshell (stress on "nut"), this event was held to allow the northern professionals to say Hasta la vista to an old friend (stress on "old") and to show him the complete and total disrespect that he deserves.

Hey, Grahame worked hard for it, he deserves it and nobody should deprive him of it, especially other members of the family.

What people need to understand is that the professional golf community in Vietnam really is like a highly dysfunctional family of not-too-tightly-wrapped individuals and we tend to show friendship for another in some rather bizarre ways... like holding memorial events for the living, but we also help and support each other when necessary.

Lars Holden took time out from his hectic schedule of running Chi Linh Star and building Dai Lai Star to attend, I dropped what I was doing at Dam Vac Golf & CC, Gopala put his lesson appointment book on hold and Michael Moh scooted out of the Hanoi Club.

Even the new Director of Golf at Kings Island, Joe Millar, joined in the fun and festivities as it also provided a great opportunity to meet the rest of the "family".

As most of the ex-management of Kings Island was there...namely, Lars, Ian Fleming and yours truly...it was nice to meet the man who would be taking over the reins in Dong Mo and we were happy to see that he will fit in perfectly.

Heís slightly nuts too.

Now, before you get the feeling that weíre all sentimental old fools, the truth is that Van Tri offered us free golf, food and beer. No professional worth his salt is gonna pass that up, barring an amputation of a major limb, although Lars shocked everyone by admitting that he stopped drinking for 10 weeks and has been working out like a crazy in the gym.

Just what we need...to see him hit 400 yard drives which will make us feel even more old and decrepit. We get older and he gets stronger...there is no justice.

The weather was great and Van Tri was in its usual condition...excellent, and, despite having just cored and top-dressed the greens, they putted very well and I cannot complain about anything as I had an excellent round going until the last three holes when my batteries simply died.

Itís tough getting old.

Joe Millar, also had an excellent round going until he dropped three balls in the water on the 17th and then the wheels came off on 18. Welcome to Vietnam, Joe!

Yet, nobody can blame him because Hole #17 is one of those diabolical par 5ís which can tempt you into going for it in two, but unless you have course knowledge, you donít know the water is before the green in two places.

While I love the 8th hole, the Par 3 16th hole simply blows me away due to the mind-bending shaping work they did. It truly is a work of art and should be on postcards or brochures for a mental health clinic.

Grahame isnít the only one to depart as Michael Moh from the Hanoi Club is leaving there to open his own golf tour company.

Hanging up the clubs, even temporarily, to open a business is a serious act and one that cannot be considered lightly...especially as it will invite scorn from the rest of us who are too chicken to do it.

So, if youíre gonna play a round at Kings Island Golf, remember to say hello to Joe Millar and make him feel welcome. If youíre in Da Lat stop in to see Grahame Harris, and if you want to bring friends to Vietnam for some golf, call Michael Moh to arrange it.

After all, we have a family to support....


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