Cam Ranh, Vietnam: Greg Norman believes KN Golf Links Cam Ranh’s breadth of character will make for an experience unlike any other in the booming Southeast Asian golf nation.
“The scale and natural topography of the property lends itself beautifully to a great variety of golf holes,” said Norman, while playing with Le Van Kiem, Chairman of KN Investment Group, the course’s owner, in an invitation-only tournament.
“It plays links because there’s a lot of up and down and natural contouring to the layout, so you get these sensational visuals from tee boxes especially and really cool run-off areas where the ball can roll and turn. It’s a lot of fun already.”
Scheduled to officially open later this year, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is Norman’s third course in Vietnam and the first in Cam Ranh, a new resort destination taking shape along an eight-kilometre stretch of incomparable coastline less than an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City.
The span is dominated by spectacular white sand dunes and is within minutes of an international airport that by May will be home to a new, US$163 million terminal.
The 104th creation of Greg Norman Golf Course Design, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, is located at the southernmost end of that long and gently curving sweep, interrupted only by a ruggedly beautiful headland and where the height of some of the terrain makes for a number of remarkable viewpoints.
KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is routed through many of those spots. Two of Norman’s favorites are at the 10th and 15th holes, a pair of par-fours that play downhill toward azure ocean waters and three small islands about 10 kilometres offshore.
But what the two-time Open Championship winner likes most about the 7,165-yard, par-72 layout is its playability.
“You can make a course difficult, but you can also make it so people can get around on their own skills,” said Norman, who was known as The Great White Shark during his playing days and held the number one ranking for 331 weeks.
“What’s clear to me here, especially after observing a range of players have a go at it, is that anyone can play all 18 holes,” he added.
Managed with consultation from IMG, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is among 31 courses in Vietnam in some stage of development and the third golf facility developed by Kiem, whose company also owns and operates Long Thanh Golf Club near Ho Chi Minh City and Long Vien Golf Club in Vientiane, Laos.
“There is a reason Greg Norman Golf Course Design is recognised as the premier signature golf course design firm in the world,” said Kiem, who represented Vietnam in golf in the 1999 SEA Games. “His design philosophy of ‘least disturbance’ – whereby he effectively utilises the surrounding environment while highlighting natural features – has given golfers so many world-class courses.
“KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is Mr Norman’s latest masterpiece, and perhaps his most distinct links-style golf course in Asia, if not the world.”
When finished, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh will be the first milestone in the inaugural phase of KN Paradise, an 800-hectare hospitality venture that’s also slated to include a suite of hotels, an array of real estate opportunities and entertainment options, and at least nine more holes designed by Norman.
“I could not be more pleased with how this project is coming together,” Kiem said. “It fills me with pride and I cannot wait for the rest of the world to see it and experience it.”