Situated less than an hour’s drive from Phu Cat Airport, FLC Quy Nhon Beach & Golf Resort offers visiting golfers a fabulous 36-hole experience, with two courses fashioned amidst a thrilling landscape of pine forest and dunes by the reputable companies of Nicklaus Design and Schmidt & Curley.
Overlooking Nhon Ly Beach and the South China Sea, both layouts were built in record time by Flagstick, one of the region’s foremost golf construction companies, who have extensive experience working in China, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. The Nicklaus Design Ocean course was first to open for play in 2016. The Schmidt & Curley-designed Mountain course opened in February 2017.
The returning front nine on the Ocean course plays through woodland then the back nine holes are routed around more open terrain, separated by pine trees from an element of residential properties on three of the holes. Platinum paspalum grass is used on every hole, presenting golfers with a consistent playing surface throughout the layout.
Jim Wagner from Nicklaus Design kindly supplied us with the following exclusive comments:
FLC Quy Nhon is a special resort project. There are luxury villas overlooking golf on the back nine with views to the sea. There is also a large resort hotel on the property which I believe has 400 rooms. Schmidt and Curley have designed a second course above ours on a more challenging site in terms of elevation change.
The Ocean course is built on a tremendous site. To put it in perspective, it’s quite possible I will never work on a site this good moving forward. The front nine is carved through a pine forest at a higher elevation than the back nine and five holes on the front side have ocean views so it’s spectacular stuff.
Our concept was to have wall to wall fairway with no rough, but we did expand the width of the fairways to allow for fair and friendly play. Off the fairway, you go into a sand and pine straw look, which is very nice and very natural. We also brought pine straw and native material into the back of bunkers to enhance the visual interest of the course.
The site is all sand and it percolates
extremely well. In fact, the only wash outs we had during grow-in were areas
coming off the cart path. We have no storm drainage apart from maybe
fifty sumps throughout the golf course. We also didn’t need to develop
USGA greens so, like our other new course at Samson, we have straightforward
The back nine is open to the ocean with the left side of 10-12 having a pine buffer between golf and the luxury villas. We have superb ocean views on every hole on the back nine. We did import thousands of shrubs, which were found across the road from the property and we planted more pines to fill some voids.
We didn’t move much material at all during construction. I think we had four or five areas with 2-3 meter cuts over 100 meters or so to help us achieve necessary visibility into features and green sites. I would wager we moved only 50,000 cubic meters, if that.
Once we cleared the trees, we discovered amazing natural movement. All we did was massage it so it could be mowed. We preserved everything we could out there. All bunkers were cut into natural features and it just so happened they worked wonderfully with the strategy, which was all developed in the field.
The green sites were basically just lying there and we manipulated them to create pin areas and feed in slopes in what was a truly unique experience. I believe Quy Nhon could easily be seen as one of Asia’s best courses.
This is the first of two courses at a new resort situated on a peninsula about 20km out of Quy Nhon this is a very windy location blowing in excess of 35km/h each of the four days I was there, speaking to the staff they told me it was like that more often than not and while I enjoy playing in windy conditions these were quite extreme.
The front nine of the Ocean course is situated at the bottom of the mountain below the Mountain course and is more sheltered from the wind than the back nine that runs down toward the beach between villas.
The problem I had with this course is that it doesn’t really take into account the prevailing wind particularly the back nine which starts with 4 holes in a row directly into the wind including a par 5 followed by the longest par 4 on the course then when you finally turn around and have the wind at your back you are greeted with par 3 this stretch of holes is screaming out for a short par 4 but there is none to be found. There is also a very strange 100 yard drop shot par 3 with the wind at your back on the front nine this hole looks jammed in and entirely out of place the Ocean course also lacks the width that the Mountain course provides. It seems to me they were eager to build holes closer to the beach and while this photographs well it certainly doesn’t help the playability. I realize many people would be thinking windy conditions by the water is exactly what they are looking for but Driver, 3 wood, 3 wood on consecutive holes gets old pretty quick and to put things in perspective I hit my PW 180 yards on the par 3 with the wind at my back.
On the plus side this course has large greens with considerable movement many of them have large undulations which breaks the greens into sections the course was in excellent condition and there are several interesting holes including the par 5 17th with a sunken Biarritz green there is a manually operated traffic light that gives you the go ahead to approach the 17th. There are also splendid views from many parts of the course.
Overall I wouldn’t put this course in the to 5 in Vietnam and if I had 10 rounds at this resort it would be a 7/3 split in favor of the Mountain course.
The resort itself is still expanding the hotel is very nice and quite cheap but there were very few people staying there and the only people playing golf aside from myself was a Korean youth team on a training camp I found the lack of players strange as the other courses around Vietnam were packed with various nationalities escaping the winter. Quy Nhon is difficult to get to unless you are travelling from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi the 300km from Danang turned into a 7 hour drive however they are building a new airport which will have flights from more places.