Growing Vietnam’s Golf Course Maintenance Industry

In the second and concluding instalment of a special feature on course preparations for the BRG Open Golf Championship, Mark Donohue, Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, Rain Bird, and a Board Member with the Asian Golf Industry Federation, offers an optimistic outlook for those seeking to embark on careers in golf course maintenance in Vietnam.

Jon Wall BRG Super
BRG’s Courses Superintendent Manager Jon Wall.

Danang, Vietnam: Prior to this month’s inaugural BRG Open Golf Championship, there hadn’t been a major international golf tournament in Vietnam in seven years.

Certainly there had been nothing of the magnitude of the Asian Development Tour event at the BRG Danang Golf Resort in the six years since Jon Wall assumed the role as BRG’s Courses Superintendent, Manager GCM (Golf Course Maintenance staff).

Given his past experience, however, Wall was well equipped to cope with the many and varied challenges that came his way in the build-up to – and during – the tournament over the Nicklaus Course at BRG Danang Golf Resort.

For five years, he maintained the Old Course at Fanling, one of three 18-hole tracks at the 133-year-old Hong Kong Golf Club, site of the UBS Hong Kong Open. It’s where Wall cut his ‘TV’ teeth.

Wall is one of the few Asian-based superintendents to have graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Turf Grass and is truly passionate about golf. However, with the 2021 addition of a daughter to his family, there is little time to test his three handicap.

Being so well known in the Vietnam golf community can have its surprises. After the first round of play, China’s Chen Guxin spotted Wall driving by the practice green. 

Chen knew he was ‘somebody’, and as Wall approached, the player waved him down, telling him he needed a new shaft for his Titleist driver! Wall was a little confused, yet realised he was sporting a Titleist hat and had just been mistaken for being the Titleist Representative. 

Ever resourceful, Wall took the request in his stride, contacted the necessary parties and hand delivered the shaft within an hour of the encounter.

Chen went on to win the tournament with an eight-under-par total, demonstrating the quality set-up of the Nicklaus Design course. Apart from the fact that the 10th hole was changed from a par-five to a par-four, the course played to its everyday set-up. 

Wall believes there is no reason why golf courses in Vietnam cannot produce conditions and events that rival and exceed those found on larger, more established professional golf Tours and destinations.

With the correct infrastructure, support, equipment and management, an event can go above and beyond expectations. Thankfully, BRG possesses these attributes and hopes to show more in future years.

BRG staffers considering a career in golf just got their first taste of the big leagues. For those that aspire to grow in the system there are endless amounts of opportunity and education available. 

The Asian Golf Industry Federation will be operating Vietnam’s first Certificate in Greenkeeping (CIG) programme in the final quarter of 2022. The CIG courses are presently being translated into Vietnamese, allowing for needed growth in local expertise. 

In partnership with the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute and with backing from The R&A, the specific aim of the CIG has always been to improve the professional knowledge of greenkeeping staff and provide an educational framework for the golf greenkeeping industry in the region.

With young dynamic leaders like Jon Wall available to learn from, there is great hope for the growth of domestic talent within the Vietnam golf course maintenance industry.

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