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Get golf ready

Slow play is a problem all around the world, but here in Vietnam it has almost been raised to an art form.

Where, in many countries (with the exception of Japan), if a round of golf took more than 4 hours and 15 minutes, complaints would be filling the manager’s office to the roof.

But, in Vietnam, if a round of golf takes 4 hours and 15 minutes, players would be singing in the hallways, swinging from the chandeliers and praising the manager to the moon.

If you’ve ever been in a tournament here, you would have the exquisite displeasure of learning with a 5 ½ – 6 hour round of golf in 36 C degree temperatures feels like.

I gotta tell you, it ain’t a lot of fun. You look for every possible way to amuse yourself between shots. Calling Dominos pizza and getting a delivery on the next hole is actually possible, providing they get it there in 30 minutes or less as promised.

Yes, I know many clubs have a “No outside F&B” rule, especially at my club which is quite strict, but this simply means the staff will have to bring the offending pizza to my office where it will be disposed of properly… With a Coke.

And don’t think I wouldn’t do it…I love pizza.


I have played in these marathon tournaments where just finishing and not needing hospitalization is considered a form of winning. Yes, I have needed rehydration salts and the occasional I.V. afterwards because I always forget to drink enough water.

It’s hard when you buy two bottles of water and end up wearing one because it’s so hot.

The biggest problem with slow golf is that you cannot develop a rhythm. Hit your drive, walk to your ball as slowly as you can, then wait for 10 minutes for the group in front to finally hit their shot. It is a form of torture that even the Marquis De Sade could never envision.

Ever wait so long you feel like you have to warm up again before the next shot? Bingo.

The most aggravating part of this situation is that it is avoidable. There truly is no reason for ultra slow play, but the clubs (especially the Marshals) are so terrified of offending players and losing business to a competitor, that they hide in the trees instead of actually speaking to players.

Sadly, many players in Vietnam love to try and play the “I’m important so don’t talk to me or I’ll get you fired” card, so the Marshal suddenly develops a case of amnesia and goes completely blind, then drives his buggy deep into the trees until his sight returns.

Of course, there are also those Marshals who accept a little “gratuity” for looking the other way, such as when a group is slow, wants to play a five-ball…or bring a Dominos pizza onto the course.

Sorry folks, but that’s not the way to run a golf club and, even if the management turns a blind eye because the owners are holding an anvil over their heads,  the members should know better.

Slow play benefits nobody.


The clubs actually lose money because slow play restricts how many players they can push through the system in a day, usually a weekend which is their prime time and need to maximize their numbers.

At my club, (Trang An Golf & CC) we do things a bit differently.

For example, we pair one player with one caddie and one buggy. We also allow them to drive on the fairways. Yes, you read that right.

Far too many clubs have the mistaken belief that golf cars are meant to be kept on cart paths only. This is the biggest lie in golf. The truth of the matter is that golf cars were designed to ride on grass. They have low-pressure tires to avoid damaging the grass and by allowing them to do what they were designed to do, you speed up the round considerably.

Yes, you have to keep them on the path when conditions are too wet, but that is really the only time.


Some superintendents, who have very limited budgets, cry every time a buggy goes onto the fairways because they are afraid they will have to aerate more often. They also worry about areas near the tee boxes and greens getting worn out.

Avoid worn areas is a simple fix – simply put up ropes and change the on-off areas every week. As for aerating the fairways more often, the amount of revenue you gain by both renting buggies and letting them on the grass far outweighs the cost of aerating.

Golf cars, when used correctly, are a huge profit centre for the club. You get a nice rental fee and you speed up play to allow more players each day.

But the bottom line is still the player. They have to care enough to follow the rules of golf and of the club. If the club says you should play 18 holes in 4:20, then they should strive to do so.

The biggest offenders are the big betters who regard every putt as if were the back nine at Augusta during the Masters. They should realize that playing faster allows them to make fewer mistakes because most errors come from over- thinking.

Play ready golf. Be ready to hit when it’s your turn. Don’t over think every shot and most importantly, have consideration for the players behind you.

If enough players do this, slow play will be the exception rather than the rule.

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