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Top 20 Golf Courses of Vietnam 2017

22 November, 2016
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Top 20 Golf Courses of Vietnam 2017

We extend then re-rank our Vietnamese listings

Vietnam’s golfing success story shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, either at national or regional level.

At the International Association of Golf Tour Operators Awards Ceremony in Tenerife at the end of last year, Vietnam was voted 2016 Golf Destination of the Year for Asia & Australasia and at this year’s corresponding event which was held last week in Mallorca, Laguna Golf Lang Co was recognised as IAGTO’s 2017 Golf Resort of the Year outside the United States and Europe.

For certain, the golfing landscape has been totally transformed since the country opened its doors to foreign visitors less than twenty-five years ago, with the introduction of the nation’s first modern course at the Kings’ Island Resort in 1993. Now, there are now approximately forty courses dotted around the regions, with plans to potentially build another sixty under a national plan that aims to champion golf as a major tourist attraction.

It’s been estimated that even if only 1% of the seven million foreign visitors to Vietnam last year (many of them from Korea, Japan and China) travelled just to play golf, that represents 70,000 people paying green fees and accommodation – amounting to a serious level of annual income from what’s probably still regarded by many as a niche market of elite sporting outsiders.

In this latest edition of our Vietnamese chart, we’ve doubled the number of ranked courses. We started with a Top 10 six years ago so this is the third revision of a listing that has now been expanded to a Top 20. For that increase in coverage, we're grateful to Masa Nishijima, our international consultant, and a variety of other correspondents in Asia, especially Kimi Hoshiyama, who keep us abreast of golfing developments in that part of the golfing world.

It’s fair to say there’s a degree of volatility in the new national chart, with only two courses remaining in the same position as last time, two making upward moves and ten new entries.

Greg Norman’s Bluffs Ho Tram Strip entered our rankings at number 1 two years ago and it retains that spot at the top of our latest revised listings. Another member of our international team, David Davies, played here recently and said in his review: ”the course is set in huge sand dunes and takes the player on a wild rise through, up and over these dunes running along the coast of this resort paradise.” David loved the layout but, for him, “it’s a complete experience, great golf, beyond wonderful service in an idealistic setting full of the exotic Vietnamese culture.”

The only other non-mover in our chart is the course at the aforementioned Laguna Golf Lang Co resort, which is a US $200 million development by the Banyan Tree Group nestling between the mountains and the shoreline of the East Sea on a sandy strip of dune land to the north of Danang. Designed by Nick Faldo, the course is the first in the country to feature Zoysia fairways and TifEagle greens on a par 71 layout that can be stretched to 6,961 yards for competitive play.

The first of only two courses to move upward in our new Top 20 is the 18-hole layout at BRG Da Nang Golf Resort, rising two places to the runner-up position at number 2, and this move largely reverses a fall of three places from the number 1 position in our last chart for 2015. Known as DaNang Golf Club, the Dunes course is a Greg Norman design where, according to a recent reviewer, the location “is perfect for golf with a sand base and plenty of undulations and the layout takes great advantage of these. It’s visually stunning; well-kept by an obvious army of staff… and the design is a great mix of short and long holes.”

The other course to make a modest climb in the right direction is Vinpearl - Nha Trang (up one to number 9), one of four golf facilities operated by Vinpearl Golf, the golf management arm of the property developer Vingroup. Designed by IMG, the course lies offshore on the island of Hon Tre and it’s accessed from the mainland by ferry, speedboat or via a spectacular cable car system that crosses Nha Trang Bay.

A trio of newcomers enter our new chart enter as a Top 10 ensemble, some way ahead of the other seven new entries.

The Ocean course at the new FLC Quy Nhon Beach & Golf Resort (new at number 4) is a Nicklaus Design course that has just opened for play at a new coastal golf complex located three hundred kilometres south of Da Nang. It’s soon to be joined at the same venue by the Schmidt & Curley-designed Mountain course, which has almost reached completion. Combined, the two 18-hole layouts at this very attractive resort will ensure that this particular FLC development becomes one of the country’s top 36-hole attractions.

Luke Donald’s first course design at Ba Na Hills Golf Club (new at number 5) is another new layout that will go a long way to cementing Da Nang’s emerging status as the foremost golf destination in Vietnam. Already endowed with three top class seaside courses that lie just a short drive from the nation’s third largest city centre, Da Nang now boasts the former world number 1’s mountain layout as an alternatively styled course to complement the other three waterside tracks.

The Lake course at Sky Lake Resort & Golf Club (new at number 6) is one of two scenic 18-hole courses designed by a Korean architect at a Korean-owned golf complex that’s laid out on rolling terrain close to Hanoi. The private Lake layout debuted in 2012, with the public Sky course following two years later at an impressive IMG-managed facility.

We’re aware of several courses that have just opened or are currently under development and perhaps one or two of these will appear in the next version of our Vietnamese rankings.

The BRG Legend Hill Resort to the north of Hanoi was unveiled last year and its Nicklaus Design course was developed with two putting surfaces for every hole. This is not a variation of the Japanese double green system that uses different seasonal grasses. Instead, the greens are sited at varying yardages from the tee, so alternative strategies need to be employed relative to the length of tee shot on each hole.

Nicklaus Design also built a new course on the coast at the FLC Samson resort, where the Ma River empties into the East Sea at the Gulf of Tonkin. The holes have been set out on reclaimed land that was once used for fish farming and a seriously large volume of soil had to be shifted to create contours for the fairways before they were fashioned with Dynasty Paspalum grass.

Architects Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt have also been busy on another of developer FLC’s projects at Ha Long Bay, 155 kilometres from the Chinese border at Mong Cai, and the same design company has just started work on the first two 18-hole layouts for an ultra-ambitious ten-course project within a massive 2,000-hectare site near Dong Hoi, some 360 kilometers north of Da Nang on the shores of the East Sea.

Rank/

To view further details of the Top 20 Golf Courses in Vietnam click the link.

We’re always keen to know what you think when we re-rank our national listings so if you’d like to correspond with us regarding our newly enlarged Vietnam Top 20 then by all means feel free to click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page to share your opinion.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses

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