from Minneapolis to Houston.
Hanoi, with a dozen or more existing
golf properties, is one of Vietnam’s certified hot spots for development, along with
Haiphong, Da Nang and Phu Quoc Island.
Here’s an overview of what’s happening in
During the past year, communities in the
distant reaches of the capital city have
unveiled Nicklaus Design tracks at Legend
Hill Golf Resort and FLC Samson Golf
Links — the first Nicklaus-branded venues in Vietnam. In addition, BRG Group,
the owner of Legend Hill and other
Vietnamese golf properties, aims to open
Nicklaus Academies in Hanoi, Haiphong,
Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, giving
Nicklaus a presence throughout Vietnam.
Soon, Paul Albanese and Els will debut
their first Vietnamese courses, both in
the Hanoi area. Albanese will produce a
36-hole complex for Yên Dũng Golf Resort,
while Els will create a nine-hole course and
a practice center in a close-in suburb.
But the area’s most star-studded venture
is Cau Duong, a community east of the city
that will feature courses by Gary Player
Design, Faldo Design and IMG Golf. Cau
Duong is being developed by Vingroup,
which calls itself “the leader in Vietnam’s
tourism industry.” Stenson knows
Vingroup’s golf ambitions intimately, for he
designed the company’s Vinpearl Golf Nha
Trang, and he’s working on several others.
“Whatever they do,” he said, “they do it
in a big way.”
These days Haiphong, on the northeastern coast, isn’t much of a golf destination,
but the area’s governments are eager to
capitalize on one of the world’s greatest
natural assets: Halong Bay, whose serene
waters, dotted with nearly 2,000 photogenic islands, cast a spell on tourists.
Quang Ninh Province has been called “a
golden land for tourism and resort devel-
opment,” and its people’s committee is
trying to enlist investors from Russia and
Dubai to build Halong Star, a mainland
resort with a 27-hole complex. They’ve also
encouraged a Taiwanese company to build
a resort with a 36-hole complex on Hoang
But the big local catch is Vingroup,
which has agreed to build a resort on Vu
Yen Island, outside the city of Haiphong.
The 2,170-acre spread will include two
18-hole courses and, if the people’s committee’s dreams come true, a casino.
Da Nang on the central coast, has
gained fame with signature golf: Faldo’s
Laguna Lăng Cô Golf Club, Norman’s
Da Nang Country Club, Montgomerie’s
Montgomerie Links and, soon, Luke
Donald’s Bà Nà Hills Golf Club.
Siegel views the central coast as Vietnam’s
“go-to place for golf tourism,” and Stenson,
who co-designed the Montgomerie and
Donald tracks, said the area has “a lot of
really nice land for more golf courses.”
Norman’s course was created by another
major player in Vietnam’s golf industry,
VinaCapital Group. VinaCapital plans to
add another course at Da Nang Country
Club, and it’s persuaded two Chinese com-
panies to help it build a golf resort south of
On top of that, a resort the size of
Mission Hills Shenzhen might be coming
to the central coast. FLC Group JSC, the
company responsible for FLC Samson Golf
Links, hopes to build up to 10 courses on
7,500 acres of waterfront property north
of Da Nang. The venture could easily sink
under the weight of its ambitions, but it’s
been blessed by Quang Bình Province’s
people’s committee, and the Bank for
Investment and Development of Vietnam
has reportedly pledged to finance up to 70
percent of its construction costs.
Phu Quoc Island
Some travel-industry observers believe
Phu Quoc, an island off Vietnam’s southwestern coast, can compete as a vacation
destination with Phuket in Thailand, Bali
in Indonesia and Hainan Island in China.
It attracted roughly 600,000 tourists in
2014, and government officials predict it’ll
get 2 million or more by 2030.
Today, Phu Quoc has just one course, at
Vingroup’s Vinpearl Golf Club Phu Quoc.
But Vingroup also has a Mission Hills-style project in the pipeline, a complex
that’s been master-planned for 14 courses.
Seven tracks will be signature layouts (the
likely contributors include Nicklaus, Els,
Faldo, Player, Montgomerie and Annika
Sorenstam), while the others will be
designed by Stenson.
“Phu Quoc is going to be an interna-
tional resort destination,” Stenson said. “If
you’re a Japanese or South Korean golfer
looking for a place to play in the winter, it’s
going to be a pretty desirable spot.”
Vingroup won’t have Phu Quoc to itself,
however, as Kiên Giang Province’s people’s
committee wants to build a 1,400-acre
resort on the northwestern tip of the island
and a 5,200-acre resort on the west-central
Robert J. Vasilak, one of Golf Inc.’s
contributing editors, is the publisher of the
World Edition of the Golf Course Report.
He blogs at WorldGolfReport.blogspot.com.
Norman’s Da Nang