Few sports cling to their time-proven traditions like golf. Despite massive changes in technology, phenomenal growth of the game around the world and huge money for top players, one constant remains: links land on which the game began 500 years ago is as revered today as it ever was.
Generally speaking, the world’s best courses are on classic links land close to or beside the sea. Think St Andrews Old Course, Ballybunion, Royal Melbourne, Bandon Dunes and many other courses in the British Isles, Australia and parts of North America.
Asia, too, is embracing links golf, even if you can find true links land in few locations. One is the central coast of Vietnam where the East Sea washes onto low-lying sand-dunes that create a buffer between the ocean and productive agricultural land – just as in Scotland, Ireland and parts of England too.
Here you’ll find Danang Golf Club, 15 minutes’ drive south of Vietnam’s fourth largest city, located on classic links land that its designer, Greg Norman, described as the perfect environment for a golf course. “You would be doing a very poor job not to make a great course out of a site like this,” he said before the course opened in 2010.
Of all the world’s current top designers, The Shark knows good links land as well as anyone. His Doonbeg course in Ireland ranks as one of the world’s great links layouts.
Independent judges appointed by the Vietnam Golf Association (VGA) and Singapore-based Asia Pacific Golf Group (APGG) also have recognised the merits of Norman’s Vietnam creation.
This month the VGA named Danang Golf Club as the best course in Vietnam for the second time in a row (the awards are announced biennially), while the APGG placed Danang GC in its listing of the top 10 courses in Asia Pacific. Others in the Top 10 include such acclaimed layouts as The Club at NineBridges (Korea), Kingston Heath (Australia), Fuji (Japan) and Nirwana (Indonesia). Very good company indeed!
Danang Golf Club’s placing in Asia Pacific’s elite group follows a 2011 award, also by APGG, as the region’s best new course.
As logical as the course’s inclusion may seem to aficionados of links golf, there is never any certainty about such judgements in Asia, where fastidiously manicured resort courses are often preferred. But the times are changing.
It actually says a lot for the growing maturity of Asian golf and its acknowledgement of traditions of the game that a course like Danang GC can reach the top echelon. After all, before Danang GC’s opening few Asian golfers had ever seen a true links course and even now, with just a handful of others, they remain a rarity.
Understandably, general manager, Joe Millar, is delighted with his course’s recognition. “We are honoured to receive these two awards amidst all the tough competition in Vietnam and the Asia Pacific region,” he said after the APGG summit in Jakarta.
“The Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club is a great Greg Norman design that marries natural seaside beauty with a challenging championship layout. It’s a course players can play every day and still find exciting because there are so many looks and different types of shots that can be played. Our staff takes great pride in creating a consistently memorable experience by paying close attention to detail. These awards are very meaningful to us, not only as recognition for our efforts, but also as inspiration to continue to raise the bar in service and quality.”
Danang Golf Club is open to visitors, who can book tee times in advance. Stay and play packages are also available with the club’s sister property, The Ocean Villas, that is linked to the course by an under-road cart path, providing easy 5-minute access from one of many villas in the complex to the golf clubhouse.
Danang Golf Club www.dananggolfclub.com