Situated on Vietnam’s eastern seaboard, overlooking Nhon Ly Beach and the South China Sea, the FLC Quy Nhon Beach & Golf Resort is a 36-hole facility that opened its doors to visitors in 2016, when the Nicklaus Design Ocean course made its debut. Schmidt & Curley’s Mountain course was then unveiled the following year.
Both layouts were constructed in record time by Flagstick, one of Asia’s leading golf construction companies, as part of an ambitious project that incorporates a magnificent 900- bedroom hotel with spa, five hundred villas and a two-floor international convention centre.
The all-Platinum paspalum Mountain course is built on a sand-based, pine scrub hillside with ocean views from sixteen holes, with wide playing corridors and optional lines of play over sandy expanses that transition into native dunes. Open access to putting surfaces allows the ground game to flourish, which is the perfect way to combat the exposed location and often windy conditions.
“Out like a lamb, in like a lion,” is how architect Brian Curley describes the course, referring to the relatively straightforward opening four holes on the layout versus the same number of more challenging holes at the end of the round. “There are big wide fairways, because of the wind, and big differences in elevation. It’s not often you find land for a golf course where wind is a design consideration, especially in Asia, but it certainly is here.”
The uphill 385-yard 6th is a feature hole, where a small dune dictates the line of play and most golfers will aim for a plateau on the right then fire a long approach into the green. Other notable holes include the 452-yard 2nd, which plays to a distinct fall-away green, the spectacular 197-yard 14th, with its fabulous views across the resort, and the 383-yard 15th, where an interesting ‘half-pipe’ dip lies in front of the green.
I played the two FLC Quy Nhon courses back to back in August 2019 - the Ocean Course on Day 1 and the Mountain Course on Day 2. As I remember it, it was a long long buggy ride to get to what was the 10th tee. The caddy assigned to me mentioned that the Mountain Course is much wider so it is not so difficult. I was wondering if that translated to a weak course. The first couple of holes did not betray that sentiment but then things turned out completely differently. The wind seemed to get stronger and I remember quite a few holes that were steeply uphill. On other occasions the wind was a massive factor - whereby I was aiming to the right end of the fairway so that I'd stay in the fairway for a perfectly well executed shot. Although I did have a buggy, I did try walking. It wasn't easy. Incredible golf course, Incredible views. But was left wondering who all this development targets - a top notch golf course with practically no one on it.
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The Mountain Course is an intriguing design. It is routed on the slopes of some massive sand dunes, and at times it reminds one of The Plantation Course at Kapalua- it has those distant ocean views on 16 of the holes, and everything has been built to scale with the grandness of the surrounds dictating wide fairways, large greens, and constant slopes and movement.
I was immediately struck by the enormous tracts of sand throughout the course- one could imagine you were playing in the desert in Arizona, or Mexico, perhaps?
The fairways are very wide and forgiving, but at critical moments the sandy wastes tighten the landing areas, keeping you on your toes. This course has been designed for wind, and when she blows the wide fairways will be needed.
The wind has also dictated that greens be large, and they are- but like The Old Course in St Andrews, bigger greens need more movement to make them interesting. What Schmidt & Curley have done here is provide large greens with a number of sections of each green quiet enough to reward accurate approaches with very makeable putts. But it is the movement between these quiet sections that provides the entertainment. The half pipe on the front of the 15th green is the most dramatic, but a number of greens have some really fun movement in them- punchbowls, backstops etc...
The tees are also interesting- rather than individual tee boxes, the tee system is more like a mini fairway, so various tees can easily be moved back or forward depending on the wind conditions. And on holes two and seventeen the views over Nhon Ly Beach are gorgeous!
Holes to note are:
Hole 5- a longish par 4 cape hole arcing to the right, with sandy waste to carry rather than water. How much do you take on?
Hole 6 is a shorter par 4 with a steeply uphill tee shot. Again you can be brave and try to shorten the journey by taking on vast expanses of sand, or you can play the long way around.
Hole 10 is a short par 4 in a lovely setting. The tee shot plays down into a valley framed by sand and pine trees, and the short approach to the elevated green is well protected by more bunkering..
Hole 13 is another short par 4 steeply uphill, and again you have the choice to try and carry the sand, or bail out right for a longer shot in.
Hole 14 is a downhill par 3 with a wonderful ocean backdrop. Club down and swing smoothly. It's a fun hole to play
Hole 15 is a medium length par 4 with an amazing green structure. The green itself is positioned beautifully running left to right to the fairway, and surrounded by sand to the rear and the right. It really looks like it is a natural site, and is a thrilling approach. But it is the 'half pipe' dip at the front of the green that will have everybody talking!
Hole 18 is an outstanding closing hole- a strong par 4 with another wonderful green setting. Your target sits on a ledge above a dramatic large bunker set into the hillside. You will have to hold your nerve to post a score!
The Mountain Course is a resort style course, with wide fairways- designed to accommodate carts, as well as the walking golfer. In fact I think the way the green walk offs tie in to the next tee is a feature. You will remember the vast sandy wastes, the outstanding views, and the impressive green complexes.
'The Mountain' is well designed, has some wow factor, and is fun to play.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
The Mountain course is the second of the 2 courses at the new Quy Nhon resort and in my opinion it is significantly better than the original Ocean course. The Mountain course is built on the hillside above the front nine of the Ocean course this location provides more cover from the extreme winds that are common on this peninsula.
The course features wide fairways and large undulating greens it works its way up, down and across the hillside in a clever manner so most of the holes into the prevailing wind play downhill. The course was in great condition, the rolling topography produces a variety interesting holes and there are spectacular views of the bay and the resort below.
Although this is a very good course and would be the main reason for me to return to this resort I believe it is ranked too high on this list I would have it 4th behind Ho Tram, Danang Dunes and Ba Na Hills