Vietnam’s most iconic tourist destination, Ha Long Bay three hours east of Hanoi, is set for its first serious golf course, with news that the Brian Curley-designed FLC Ha Long Bay is now grassed and set to open.
Ha Long Bay, with its 1,600 limestone islands and islets, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage listed region, and the golf course occupies a steep, clay-based hillside directly above the main town. As explained in the press release below, almost a million cubic metres of material was moved to turn side slopes and steep ridges into somewhat playable golfing corridors.
Planet Golf toured the facility in December, and confirm that the views from the short holes, in particular, are beautiful. It appears, in some ways, that the routing was devised to accommodate these holes, with their stunning views and obvious marketing appeal.
After designing twenty courses in China for the Mission Hills Group, the Ha Long Bay project is Schmidt Curley’s third for FLC in Vietnam. It is expected to be followed by as many as 10 new courses near Dong Hoi.
Schmidt Curley Press Release:
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Award-winning Schmidt-Curley Design has completed grassing at their latest course in Vietnam, named FLC Ha Long Bay, set high above the old town of Ha Long and overlooking the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage-listed region of Ha Long Bay.
This is the third project the company has designed for the emerging golf powerhouse FLC Group and its operations arm, Biscom. The other two projects include the newly opened FLC Golf Links Resort in Quy Nhon, and they are under-construction on the spectacular dunes-land coastline of Quang Binh where a multi-course layout of rugged, natural golf is set within towering dunes and along the beach.
Ha Long Bay is a three-hour drive from Hanoi along the north-east coast of the country and has long been regarded as the number one tourist destination in Vietnam. The course is part of an overall development featuring a world-class resort hotel, convention center, and dramatic hilltop villas with commanding views of the bay. The development is well underway and set to be completed later this year.
Featuring spectacular views of Ha Long Bay, the course plays atop a hill within the center of town that rise some 130 meters above the bay. This elevated setting creates stunning long-range views of the spectacular, vegetated karst rock formations that emerge from the sea and tower above Ha Long Bay. The 6900 yard, Par 71 layout plays up and down strong elevation changes that create very distinct holes and demand accurate play. The course was built to offer wide fairways yet they are punctuated with a strong showing of dramatic bunkering to create strategic play options. Three incredible par threes offer views that will soon become known throughout the golfing world including the 120 yard twelfth and its stunning views that may soon be known as one of the great short par threes in golf, along the lines of the spectacular seventh at Pebble Beach.
A common design concept that was incorporated often was to create extensive fairway-cut, mowed side slopes, and punchbowls to help contain shots and keep the ball in play and create strong gravity-induced roll. Bunkering is often deep and dramatic but the design team felt that the views were not to be competed with so there is often a restrained use of sand.
Construction, headed by Martin Moore of Flagstick Construction Management, was not an easy task given the dramatic elevation change and difficult material associated with the dirt move. Just short of one million cubic meters was moved to transform the severe hillsides into quality golf holes that offer playability for all levels of golfers, especially the traveling golf tourist in search of a unique experience.
"We are very enthusiastic about the Ha Long Bay Course" states principal and lead designer Brian Curley. "It is certainly one of the most photogenic properties we have ever had the pleasure to work on and I believe many of the holes will soon be known throughout Asia and the World". "Hundreds of thousands of tourists come each year to venture into the bay on iconic wooden boats to experience the rock formations but those views pale in comparison of what is seen from high above on this course".
Featured holes include:
- Number 8, a mid-length par three with a massive view of Ha Long Bay.
- Number 10, a short, driveable par four with a strong showing of bunkering.
- Number 12, at 120 yards, one of the shortest par threes in golf but offering a jaw dropping view of Ha Long Bay.
- Number 13, A long drop-shot par three (the second of back to back threes) with another wonderful view of Ha Long Bay including a backdrop of stunning vegetated mountain slope.
- Number 18, A long, uphill, demanding par four finishing hole with a dramatic punchbowl back-slope set beneath a massive vertical natural rock wall.
"We are very fortunate and honored to continue our maiden efforts into the Vietnam golf market with the FLC Group, a team with enormous vision that has its sights set on creating fantastic golf on world-class properties that will soon be at the forefront of the traveling golfer's list of must-play destinations".
Schmidt-Curley has cemented its presence in Vietnam with the establishment of new offices in Hanoi. "Our past success in China was intrinsically tied to a strong customer service effort with local offices and hands-on attention" said Curley. "We intend to bring the same effort, drive and professional service to our Vietnamese clients in the same manner in order to fully execute the most successfully designed and constructed courses possible with the greatest economic potential."
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