I have a bit of a love affair with Vietnam.
You see I have been to Vietnam nearly 25 times now and I still enjoy going back every time. For anyone who has not visited – it is a must see…..the scenery, the friendly people, the wonderful food and lest not forget the rich history (good and bad).
I never for once thought Vietnam was…nor would be a golf destination. After all who plays golf in Vietnam? I remember thinking this before my first trip and wondering why anyone would want to build a golf course in a country not known for its golfers and golf courses. Time would prove me wrong of course …..I now believe that the Da Nang region, in particular, is a must visit for any golfer wanting to enjoy great golf in a superlative setting.
In my case I have been very fortunate to work with Sir Nick Faldo as his lead Architect at Laguna Lang Co (located between Danang and Hue). Having attended the grand opening of the golf course this past weekend I feel a real sense of pride and happiness that the golf course has turned out how we wanted to begin. There is sadness also…..I have made good friends along the way and vested much time and energy in this project and knowing now that I wont be making the regular visits to site, to review the progress, is a bit of a knock to the system. Having said this, I am comforted to know that the guys on the ground are intent on ensuring the design remains fully intact which is important moving forward.
The Danang Area now has 3 very distinct golf courses which makes it a must see golf destination in Asia. Perhaps I am biased, given my involvement at Laguna Lang Co, but I honestly can’t think of many golf destinations that have such contrasting golf courses. Many golf ‘enthusiasts’ brush off the thought of Asia as a golf destination and who can blame them, given some of the stuff built this last decade, but there is something a bit different about the new courses in Central Vietnam. Go see for yourself……
In addition to this the Da Nang / Hue region is wonderfully rich in history and beauty. Grand scale mountains frame the coastline……coastlines laced with white sandy beaches, large rock outcrops and coconut trees.
Da Nang is a clean and pleasant city with abundant first class hotels, restaurants and new airport. The ancient city of Hue is a must visit and cluttered with character and charm and somewhat dark history….then there is Hoi An which is only a 30 minute drive from Da Nang. Much like the golf courses in the area there is great variety in close proximity.
In addition I have been lucky to look at golf sites near Cat Ba / Halong Bay which is as dramatic and memorable a place as you can get. I have shared a drink with work colleagues and friends on the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel in Saigon and enjoyed a beer or two in Hanoi whilst being mesmorised at the piano skills of fellow golf architect Mr Tony Cashmore.
Hard to forget all this.
I went to Vietnam over 4 years ago worried about the unknown….who would think today that I would be praising how good the place is for golf and travel.