Ho Tram, Vietnam: Greg Norman has predicted The Bluffs is destined to become one of the world’s top golf courses.
Speaking at the much-anticipated opening of the spectacular links course, the Australian said: “I absolutely believe The Bluffs has the potential to be one of the top courses in the world.
“If you look at the international rankings, links courses dominate those lists. Courses built fairly recently in countries like New Zealand, Mexico and China have made such lists. So why not Vietnam too?
“Only time will tell, but I think when people play here for the first time they will realise what a special place this is.”
Ben Styles, the club’s General Manager, said: “This course has all the elements necessary to be ranked among the best in the world. It’s golf in its purest, most traditional links form, in a setting that has no rival.”
Some 2½ hours and 130 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip is among several components of The Grand Ho Tram Strip’s first stage of development, having opened in July 2013 as Vietnam’s first luxury international casino resort.
The Asian Coast Development project already features a 541-room upscale hotel, more than 10 restaurants and bars, a spa, night club, convention centre and casino with 90 gaming tables and 600 slot machines.
But dominating the landscape is the par-72 layout of Greg Norman Golf Course Design, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Routed over and around towering seaside sand dunes, the course has significant elevation changes, the highest point being 50 metres above sea level on the 15th green.
Norman said: “As a golf course designer, you only get the opportunity to work with sites as good as this maybe a few times in your career. So we really had to put our time in when we were designing and building The Bluffs.
“In this case it was more about disturbing as little as possible, which put most of the emphasis on the initial routing of the course.
“It took Mother Nature thousands of years to create these sand dunes so we made every effort to preserve the natural character of the site.”
Norman compares the course to Doonberg in the south of Ireland. He said: “It’s no secret that Ireland has some of the greatest links courses in the world. I firmly believe that Vietnam will steadily evolve as another links destination as more courses like The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip are developed along the coastal areas of the country.
“I think the golf course itself will be perceived as very fair and playable by all golfers’ standards. But as with any true links course, the elements – more specifically, the wind – will be the teeth of the course.
“Even on its worst day, the experience of playing true links golf among the dunes of southern Vietnam and having the dramatic ocean views throughout your round will make The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip one of the most unique golf experiences in the world.
“Wind was one of the most significant factors in designing The Bluffs, especially since the direction changes 180 degrees for several months during the year. It has affected nearly every decision from the initial layout of the holes to fairway widths and irrigation coverage.
“Fortunately, we were able to create a good balance of holes for it. But as with most seaside links courses, wind will continue to be a factor in the daily set-up and playability of the course.”