Officially opened by its designer, 6-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo, in March of 2013, the Laguna Lãng Cô course is situated on the East Sea coastline, midway between the former imperial capital of Hue and Vietnam’s third largest city, Danang.
This golf facility marks another milestone in the development of the Central Coast region as a major tourism destination and it forms the sporting centerpiece at an upmarket resort that includes Banyan Tree and Angsana branded hotels and other accommodation options.
The 26th worldwide design project completed by its esteemed designer, Laguna Lãng Cô nestles between mountain and sea on a wonderfully sandy strip of dune land, with some commentators calling it Faldo’s boldest and best creation so far.
The following edited extract by Paul Jansen is from Volume Six of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy of the book, email Paul Daley at fs[email protected].
“The resort is nestled somewhat privately between sharp, rugged mountains and white, sandy beaches. A hidden gem, if ever one existed. The extent of Laguna’s isolation instantly registered on our initial site inspection (as) we parked off-site and then traipsed through jungle and rice paddy fields to reach the proposed golf course site. Just a few months prior, it was only accessible by boat. We really did feel like explorers conquering undiscovered land.
What we discovered was something special. The site had great variety, interest and it possessed a distinct character. Additionally, we were enthused by the prospect of working on sand; and there was an abundance of water everywhere. I had certainly never seen a site of such variety of features before; the only problem being that so many of the features were hidden in jungle, or were simply inaccessible.
To everyone’s delight, the sand dines – which represented about half of the golf site – had an abundance of movement. Indeed, not unlike what you would find on some of the world’s great links. We felt compelled to continue the rugged theme throughout the golf course, as well as mimicking some of the movement found in the existing dunes and surrounding mountains. We also sought to create a course that embodied certain links-like characteristics.
One of the key goals was to ensure that the golf course remained sustainable, and we aimed to achieve this through a number of methods. All landscaped areas were planted using native scrub and grass, propagated or directly planted from areas on-site. Zoysia Matrella, which accounts for around thirty hectares of the site, requires the least amount of water, mowing, pesticides and fertilisers when compared to other warm-season grasses.
But perhaps the most interesting and sustainable features are the rice paddy fields bounding the third, fourth, thirteenth and fifteenth holes. Combined, these account for around five hectares of golfing grounds, while all are maintained and harvested by the locals at no cost.”
The Faldo course was interesting. It offers a completely different golf experience to Montgomerie Links and Danang GC. Built in sand by the sea, only one hole approaches the coastline- and in the early days the sea/beach was not a feature.
It is a 'jungle course' - where many of the holes weave their way through dense vegetation. Some holes at the start and finish of the round emerge into paddy fields..
The course is located in a valley between some sharply featured mountains and these shapes are mimicked in the course architecture- none more so than the par 3 5th hole with it's 'chocolate drop' surrounds.
I particularly liked some of the 'jungle' holes in the middle of the round. The par 3 8th hole was the stand out hole in my opinion with the green sitting up, beautifully framed by the vegetation - but with an imposing sandy waste to carry...
The infrastructure is very impressive - whether it be the perpetually winding cart paths, or the multitude of bridges, creeks & lakes. I have no doubt it is one of the most visually striking courses in Asia.
However Laguna will not be an easy course to score well on- particularly on first playing! Many holes have hazards bisecting the fairways- and tight landing areas. You will need to be reasonably accurate and know where you are going - or have a great rapport with your caddy for the day...
And the greens offer no respite with some false fronts, and plenty of movement.
After the round we had lunch by the beach and decided we really had better go back again and stay a little longer in order to provide a comprehensive report for our clientele. The Travelling Golfer prides themselves on being thorough, after all!
(Since this report was written we have indeed returned on a number of occassions to play Laguna Lang Co. The course has matured well. The 9th hole is now opened up to the beach, and more changes are on the way..Laguna Lang Co is a fabulous golfing destination in it's own right!)