Teed Off (22-04-2012)

with Robert Bicknell

The boys were back in town…

Last week’s Norfolk Invitational tournament was, once again, a huge success and what made it even more fun, at least for me, was that the old gang was paired up for a fun afternoon.

While we’ve played together in many other events, I don’t remember playing in the Norfolk with Jeff, Lars and Andrew in the same group before. Of course, there are days when I don’t remember my own name, so this could be a bit suspect.

Nonetheless, it was a bit interesting as I tried out a new RBZ (TaylorMade Rocket Ballz driver) and I gotta tell you the results were stunning. The distance with this club is nothing short of ridiculous.

Lars, Andrew and Jeff are all big guys who can hammer it out there, albeit not always straight or even in the fairway, or even on the planet for that matter, but I was passing them by anywhere from 10 – 20 yards.

Not bad for a 53-year old senior player. (My G-d, did I just say that? No, it was a misprint. I refuse to get old. I am not a senior. I am not old….)

Now then, there are a few caveats to that story, namely the driver had an SR (Stiff-Regular 55 gram shaft) so it bombed it out there more than it should. Also, while great with no wind or a tail wind, that shaft with my swing speed hitting into the wind added up to a few “Vietnam Airlines” shots as well.

Unfortunately, this happened on the five holes of the back nine which were all into the wind. Imagine this…two birdies and an eagle on the front nine holes, and zero pars on the back nine. You want to talk about Jeckyll & Hyde golf? That summed up the round for me.

Fortunately, I had a good partner in Lars to save the back nine for the team.

I also found out that if Lars ever decides to stop distributing Titleist and FootJoy products, he could make a fortune as a caddie. If I had him 25 years ago, I might have been able to make it on the Tour.

OK, before you snort derisively, 25 years ago, I was a plus-3 handicap and could make the ball do anything I wanted. My skills were excellent, but the problem was I didn’t have the “head” for the game. I was like a race horse without a jockey.

Talent without direction goes nowhere fast.

To make things more aggravating, as I get older my tools are a bit dull, but the mind is better. Golf is just not fair.

Anyway, the tournament went off without a hitch (as always) and the awards dinner was doubly interesting as the Great White Shark himself, Greg Norman, was in attendance and provided some spectacular items for the auction to benefit special education in An Phu district.

While I am not at liberty to disclose the amounts, suffice it to say the auction was a success.

I was not in attendance at the Greg Norman breakfast on Sunday morning at the SGCCR site, but was informed the attendees (read: potential members and villa owners) were quite happy with what they saw and were basking in the glow that Norman seems to bring with him where ever he goes.

I spoke with him on Saturday night and the poor guy was awake for 54 hours at that point. If you think being a legend or a business mogul is a life of luxury, think again. The Shark is rich and successful because he works his fins off. The same attack attitude he brought to golf in his heyday, Norman applies to business.

It’s a good lesson for anyone who wants to be successful.

Golf in Vietnam continues to move forward, albeit a bit slower right now due to the global financial crisis, which has yet to abate, but projects such as SGCCR are proof that optimism is not dead.

This is all good and speaks well for the future.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and, just like a round of golf, we have to take it one shot at a time and keep moving forward.

Norman’s first company mission statement was two words, ‘Attack Life’.

We can all learn from that. — VNS

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