Situated on a sandy peninsula at the southern end of Binh Dinh Province, the FLC Golf and Beach Resort at Quy Nhon is an enormous resort and residential development built adjacent a pristine beach. There are two courses here, along with a towering seaside hotel shaped to resemble a dragon or a series of boats rocking on the sea, depending on whom you ask. Residential hotel blocks and beachside condominiums complete what feels an ambitious project for this relatively remote locale.
Designed by Brian Curley, the second golf course completed at Quy Nhon is known as Mountain and was formally opened for the play in 2017. Unlike the Nicklaus Ocean Course, which gets down by the beach, the Curley design is set entirely within the elevated, pine-covered sand dunes. The course is a much tougher walk than the Ocean, but golfers are continually rewarded on the downhill holes with stunning views across Nhon Ly Beach and over the resort complex.
Aside from greater elevation changes, the primary difference between the two courses here is width and playability. The Mountain Course has some of the most generous playing corridors in this part of the world, and its holes are generally arranged to advantage those able to position their tee shot in the preferred part of the fairway. There is some neat throwback architecture on display, such as at the almost-Biarritz 15th, as well as the sort of ‘push the envelope’ innovation one has come to expect from Brian Curley.
The opening holes set the tone for the round ahead, the par five, par four starters sharing a spacious plateau separated, in part, by a small wasteland. Your first significant climb comes at the 4th hole, which like other steep areas brings with it considerable reward. In this case the prize for climbing the long 4th hole is getting to play the terrific cross-ravine 5th, where those able to bite off the hazard from the tee are sensibly left with a shorter, easier approach.
Even the near vertical climbs are similarly worthwhile, particularly the 13th and 16th, which lead golfers to the most spectacular holes on the entire property. The plunging par three 14th features a magnificent view over the hotel and the surrounding beachside areas, while the 17th is a strong dogleg par four with one of the more exciting approach shots on the course.
Other noteworthy areas include the Tobacco Road-esque par five 11th, with its glorious bare dune backdrop, the violently collapsing 15th green and the steeply rising 6th which, though memorable to play, can be tough to decipher without visual assistance.
Across the Mountain Course Brian Curley deserves credit for building a fun set of holes out of difficult landforms and for the manner in which his uphill holes are both playable and able to transition comfortably to the more dramatic areas. Humps in the elevated 10th and 18th greens won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the greens here are good and only those really hard to please would fail to enjoy their round here.