Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How can I get an official handicap in Vietnam?
  2. Why do I need to submit a minimum of 10 score cards to get a handicap?
  3. Why does it take longer for my handicap to go up than to go down?
  4. Why aren't there any "Bent Grass" courses in S.E. Asia?
  5. How do you measure green speeds?
  6. Is the author of "From The Pro Shop" truly crazy?

How can I get an official handicap in Vietnam?

To get a handicap - which is recognised both in Vietnam AND internationally - you need to register for handicap services at a golf club. Many of the clubs, for example, processes handicaps for non-members who are frequent players at the club.  Fees average around US$25 per year.

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Why do I need to submit 10 score cards before I can get a handicap?

If you've previously held a handicap (within the last 12 months), which was issued by a recognised golf club, the handicap computer will allow the issuance of a temporary handicap based on that handicap. However, to be brutally honest, most clubs in Vietnam prefer not to honour handicaps that cannot be verified due to the amazing amount of sandbagging which went on prior to the formation of this nation-wide handicap system.

A minimum of 10 scores are necessary to allow the computer to accurately judge your handicap potential. After the 10 scores are submitted, the computer will take 5 of them based on scoring differentials and issue a handicap which reflects a player's potential, which is why most players do not play to their handicap, but rather above it.

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Why does it take longer for my handicap to go up than down ?

Handicaps are calculated by "differentials", and are not just a culmination of your past average scores. The USGA Handicap System used by most of the clubs in Vietnam reflects a player's scoring potential. For a more detailed explanation, please click here.

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Why aren't there any "Bent Grass" courses in S.E. Asia ?

Actually, there is ONE course with bent-grass that we've heard about. The climate at the Da Lat Palace golf course in Vietnam can support bent-grass greens and tees. Normally, bent-grass cannot survive in tropical climates without a tremendous amount of care (read: great expense), which is why most tropical courses rely on Bermuda grass or Zoysia for their playing surfaces.

While specialized Bermuda-grass hybrids, such as 419 (for fairways) or Tifdwaft (for greens) make an excellent playing surface, they cannot compare to bent-grass as they are too grainy and tend to develop thatch.

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How do you measure Green Speeds?

Green speeds are determined by use of a "Stimpmeter."

This is a relatively simple device, basically a grooved metal rod around one-metre long. A golf ball is placed in a slot near the top end which is raised off the ground slowly until the ball pops loose (usually around 18 inches off the ground) and rolls down the grooved rod and onto the surface of the putting green. The distance that the ball rolls is then measured (in feet). Usually two or three measurements from different flat spots on the green are used in the calculations. The average of these reading give you the green speed.

Thus, if a green is said to be "9.5", it means that on average, a ball will roll 9.5 feet if released from a height of 18 inches.
While many players are terrified of fast greens, low-handicappers and professionals actually prefer them because it allows a shorter putting stroke - which is easier to control.

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Is the author of "Teed Off" truly crazy ?

As crazy as a loon. He should've been committed years ago, but chose to work in Vietnam instead - which is unmistakable proof that he needs mental help.

In reality, Robert Bicknell, despite being highly opinionated and not shy about it, has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humour and can have you rolling on the floor in hysterics once he gets going. Unfortunately, not too many people take the time to really get to know him - probably due to his habit of having an opinion on everything.

In addition to his Sunday Vietnam News column, Robert also writes for Vietnam Golf Magazine and Vietnam Golf & Life Magazine. He is also in negotiations with a US newspaper syndicate so he can upset readers in the USA as well. Why should people in Vietnam be the only victims?

By the way, Robert actually switched to Soft Spikes because their flexibility made it easier for him to get his foot out of his mouth - a common occurrence.

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Copyright PGA Vietnam. All rights reserved.
Revised: June 22, 2007.

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