By Robert Bicknell

January 2008

Another year of hope and cover girls...

As you might expect, like you, I have been looking forward to this months issue of Vietnam Golf & Life magazine simply to see what the cover is going to be like.

Personally, I will be very disappointed if we dont have a beautiful girl seductively posing as one of Santas naughtier elves teasing a reindeer with a 5-iron, or perhaps posing as the New Years baby (wearing a only diaper, high heels and the requisite Foot-Joy glove) will suffice just as well.

I did have a dream the other night about being Santa Claus and having the last 12 issue cover models dressed as reindeer pulling my sled. Cute antlers, heels and FootJoy gloves.

Just dont ask whats in the toy sack, ok?

Ok, now as this issue is a combined Christmas / New Year edition, I figured Id kill two birds with a single shot.

Christmas is an almost magical time, especially if youre a child, but what about the adults? We still have dreams, well I do anyway, but if by some miracle, some freak of nature, some time warp, you could play golf during Christmas with any three players, living or dead, who would it be?

In my case, the choices would be easy...Sam Snead, Payne Stewart and Fred Couples. Id save Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet for the following year.

But, seeing that a lot of people have them listed under "Dream Foursome", just in case, my alternates would be Bill Murray, Moe and Curly Howard (yes, two of the Three Stooges)...just for the fun of it.

If we could play a five-ball, Id have to throw in Jeff Puchalski as well. Hed be perfect in that group.

Now, when it comes to Christmas shopping for yourself, a good place to start is within the pages of this magazine.

Open it, gaze at all the high-priced goodies and dream, If you find yourself drooling uncontrollably, it means you skipped by the merchandise page and went straight to the cover models again.

Try to find the fashion accessories, golf equipment or automobile pages.

The cars we show in the magazine are simply unbelievable, especially the Callaway Corvette and while I am on this subject, I just read that Porsche is opening a distributorship in Vietnam.

While I have always preferred Ferrari over Porsche for styling, I saw the Porsche SUV the other day and was suitably impressed. Pity I dont have a fairy godmother with an Amex Platinum card...

The problem is that a high-performance car in Vietnam makes as much sense as playing golf on roller skates. Youd never get it out of second gear in the city and opening it up on the highway only ensures that neither the car nor a wayward buffalo would survive the inevitable high speed collision.

Still, we can dream.

Coming back to reality, most of the golf shops, such as Zone Golf, Nike Golf, et al, are holding Christmas sales, but I have always found the best deals are after Christmas when the player finds he hates the club his mother-in-law bought for him and tries to sell it at the club.

I once got a great putter for $20 that way.

If youre buying a golf gift for a friend or family member, the best thing to do is get a gift certificate from a golf shop and let them choose for themselves.

While I sit here contemplating the last year, I cannot help but be amazed at how the golf industry changed, but it will be nothing compared to when I do this again at the end of next year.

During the last 12 months, a few new golf courses began construction, a few more received project licenses and approximately 60 others were "announced" (which is a nice way of saying "if we find partners with a lot of money, well consider building it").

To date, over 100 courses have been "announced" for Vietnam, but if only 40 of them get built, it will still be a major change in the golfing landscape.

The Vietnam Golf Association was finally launched, much to the relief of all parties concerned and we are all hoping they can help get the junior golf programs on track so Vietnam can produce a Tiger Woods of our own someday

Van Tri opened its doors to become the first real "private" course in Vietnam and, by doing so, set a standard for the others to beat. Colin Montgomerie launched a signature course project in Da Nang and Greg Normal signed on as the designer for a course in HCMC.

So, what does the coming year hold in store for us?

Well, for one thing, my own course, Dam Vac Golf will finally open its first nine holes for play and, with any luck, will have the second nine ready before summer.

Dai Lai Star, sister course to Chi Linh, will open its first nine holes, bringing the total to four courses in the Vinh Phuc area (if you count Tam Dao as well), which will rival Ha Tay as the "golf capital" of the north.

All in all, 2008 is shaping up to be pretty good for both the country and the local golf industry.

So, to all of you, from me and mine... I wish you a very safe and prosperous New Year.

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