Vietnam Golf Caddies

Have you ever golfed with a caddie? If not, you are in for a real treat golfing in Vietnam. I often try to explain about this with golf buddies and everyone agrees, golfing with a caddie in Vietnam adds another dimension to of golf and is a must experience for all Vietnam golf visitors.

The Vietnam caddies will be of the unique experiences of your golf holiday. However, be forewarned you may like having a caddie in Vietnam, but it won’t be until you return home that you really miss the Vietnamese caddies! Read more

Why Is Golf in Vietnam Lagging?

Vietnam now has 35 golf courses in every corner of the country from north to south. Several of the Vietnam golf courses like Danang Golf Club, Montgomerie Links Vietnam, and Laguna Lang Co Golf Club are world-class standard. However, only a few locals and foreigners know this. The sport’s penetration among locals is a paltry 0.01% (10,000 golfers out of a population of 90,000,000) and foreign golf tourists number less than 30,000 per year. Why is this so? Read more

Vietnam Golf Holidays Add to Vietnam’s History

Vietnam is a country that is full of history, but it is only recently that Vietnam golf holidays have been added the country’s rich stories. Its long history includes revolutions, wars, and unpredictable economies. However, since 1997 foreign tourists have been able to travel freely in the country and golf course development and golf tourism has been on a steady rise. This year Vietnam will host over 7 Million visitors, of which some 50,000 golf holidaymakers in the know will experience Asia’s fastest growing golf destination. It seemed entirely fitting, therefore, for me to detail my own adventure covering some 30 golf courses and more than 1,000 kilometers. Read more

Golf in Vietnam Pros and Cons of Night Golf

Golf in Vietnam can be played day or night as more  Vietnam golf courses are being built with lights or are having lights installed. For example Van Tri Golf Club in Hanoi and Twin Doves Golf Club in Saigon both offer night golf starting at 3:30PM and finishing around 11:00 each weekday night. The front nine is played in daylight and the lights come on just as you would make the turn. Then the the back nine is played under spot lights. The new Diamond Bay Resort & Golf Club is also installing lights, albeit they not completely functional yet. Read more

Golf Carts (Buggies) @ Vietnam Golf Courses

Some call them carts while others refer to them as buggies. In either case these electric vehicles can make life easier for Vietnam golfers and add to the enjoyment of those on a Vietnam golf holiday.
Golfers almost always want to know if golf carts area available in Vietnam because even the most determined walkers may consider riding when playing golf in Vietnam. A golf cart provides shade and a welcome breeze on a hot day. They also ease the burden of walking up steep hills say for example at Phoenix Golf Club in Hanoi and eliminate long walks from tee to green at say Long Thanh in Saigon.

All of the golf courses in Vietnam have golf carts available for rent. Asian golfers may prefer to ride alone, while others can share a car with a buddy, the later being both more social and less expensive.
Golf carts cost around $35 US Dollars a round and are always optional and charged separate from green and caddie fees. The caddies generally ride on the back of the cart, but can also drive should you choose to go solo.

As with most golf courses around the world you sign a waiver saying that you are responsible for any damage for driving carts into lakes or trees.  Believe it or not, this is a surprisingly common occurrence, especially when some Vietnam golfers play early after having a late night out the night before. If this is your case, let the caddie drive and just sit back and smell the flowers.

At certain courses carts are strictly relegated to the cart path. This is the case at Van Tri Golf Club in Hanoi. In other areas, carts can go on the fairways, provided the conditions are relatively dry. All of the Danang golf courses in the Golf Coast Vietnam program follow this later rule.

Golf buggies can be pre-reserved at all Vietnam golf courses, so if you prefer to ride let your golf tour operator know of your preferences in advance and your buggy will be loaded and waiting for you on when you next golf in Vietnam.

Snakes On Vietnam Golf Courses

Recently I heard from an Australian on one of our Vietnam golf tours about the large cobra he saw when golfing at Vietnam Country Club. Previously, I knew that many soldiers had suffered from snake bites while in Vietnam. However in the 50 years since, I had thought that snakes were all but eradicated. In fact, I have had only two snake encounters while golfing in Vietnam.

A few years ago golfing at Long Thanh my slice on the short par-4 17th of the landed near edge of the lake. When I went to check my lie, I saw a large snake basking in the sun next to my ball. Nevertheless, my Vietnamese caddie wooed the snake away and I was able to hit normally. Another time there a small garter snake off the fairway at Van Tri Golf Club in Hanoi. This time it was the snake who was more scared than I and he slithered away after hearing me approach.

Anyway, I thought I would do some research and, to my surprise, I discovered that over 3,000 people are bitten by snakes in Vietnam each year, though there are not many deaths. Venomous snakes in Vietnam include pit vipers, cobras and kraits.

Although all snakes seem terrifying, the reality of the situation is that the rare snake on a Vietnam golf course would only attack if provoked. Of course, if you accidentally stepped on one this might be taken as an act of aggression. Therefore, watch where you step and you will be fine. Also, did you know that many bites are what are known as dry bites, which means that the snake does not inject any venom? Most snake bite victims suffer more from shock than poison.

Therefore, there is no real need to be worried about snakes when you are golfing in Vietnam, just show respect and use caution.

Vietnam Anti-Slicing Golf Swing

It is very easy to spot those who favor a slice when golfing in Vietnam. These players stay back behind the golf ball when finishing their swings. I am not sure if this is because of the many on courses distractions such as other players, caddies, or the surrounding scenery. Nevertheless, staying behind the ball leads to an outside-in swing and causes such familiar shots such as slices and tops. This is particularly true on the drive which is often hit with too much power anyway.

Here is an effective drill that I saw a Vietnam golf professional demonstrate recently when I was golfing in Danang. First he used an extra-long tee. When the ball is teed up high, it is easier to swing from the inside to the outside. Then he set his driver club head about three inches behind the ball. This helps hit through the ball and with the head square at impact.

This set-up also delays moving the upper body out of position before impact and stops a falling back motion the lower body. Moreover, with the body positioned properly, there is less of a tendency to steer the ball. Try it for yourself when you go out on the course.

The inside to outside swing plane eliminates weak slices and promotes a slight draw. I bet you can hit longer, shave off a few strokes form your score, and get rid of those nasty OB’s, especially on the tighter Vietnam golf courses.

What To Bring When Golfing In Vietnam

Golfing in Vietnam is different from golf in Europe and the USA and what to bring with you to the Vietnam golf courses is more than the obvious. Other than your clubs I suggest every Vietnam golfer be sure of the five following points before heading to the golf course.

1. Proper lightweight golf attire and socks. Everyone golfing in Vietnam should be aware of the warm tropical conditions. Therefore, to stay cool I wear a modern quick-dry collared golf shirt, knee length short pants, and no-show socks. Vietnam golf courses are more relaxed than those in other parts of the world, but the usual standards of dress still apply. Jeans and tee shirts are not allowed. Everything else is OK.

2. Shoes should be comfortable with soft spikes. Don’t buy and bring new golf shoes as the worst thing that can happen is for you to develop blisters while on the golf courses of Vietnam.

3. The sun can be deceptively strong. Bring and apply liberally a good sunscreen, wear a hat to limit the sun’s exposure on your head, carry a golf umbrella to ward off both sun, and bring a dry towel to wipe away any perspiration from your hands and face.

4. It is a good idea to bring and spray around your ankles and wrists with a mosquito repellent. Malaria poses no threat on Vietnam golf courses, but if you intend traveling outside the main centers or in the jungle make sure you are adequately protected. My favorite repellant is a natural liquid made from lemon grass oil. It smells good and works well too.

5. A good attitude, although strictly speaking not a material possession, it might just be the most important thing to bring along with you to golf in Vietnam golf. Remembering that you are on vacation to have fun will ensure that your Vietnam golf holiday will be one of, if not the most, memorable golf trip of your lifetime!

If you have any additional suggestions on essentials to bring with you while golfing in Vietnam, please do post a comment here or drop me an email at my Vietnam golf holiday company.

Vietnam Golf Resorts

There is a wide range of golf resorts available if you are considering a Vietnam golf tour and selecting the right one for you can make the difference between a merely good trip and one of the best golf trips of your life. From international 5-star hotels in downtown Saigon and Hanoi, to all-inclusive golf resorts with private beaches and spa facilities in Nha Trang and Danang, to basic guest houses and local hotels in every destination you will have every choice imaginable for your accommodations when golfing in Vietnam.

Selecting a suitable resort for you vacation is extremely important as it will form the base for your golf vacation as well as for the most part determine your overall trip cost. A very important factor to consider is that prices and standards of Vietnam resorts in general are more than likely to be superior and less expensive to similar resorts in your own country. This is due to a number of factors including fierce competition and significantly more service staff employed by each resort.

For example, I have found that many golfers look at a certain budget for accommodation then select a golf resort based on this amount. Many fine 4-star resorts are available for around US$100 per night, 5-star properties near to the golf courses going for US$200 per night, and private golf villas available for US$300 and up per night.

Another factor in resort selection is location. In Saigon you definitely should get something in District 1 so you can be close to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. On the coast, this all inclusive Vinpearl Resort has its own golf course on a private island and both courses in Phan Thiet (Sea Links Golf & Country Club and Ocean Dunes Golf Club) have on-site accommodations that are attractive to many Vietnam golfers.

Further north in the Hue-Danang-Hoi An area, the accommodation choices are even wider. Many Asian’s like to stay in Danang where there are many inexpensive business hotels with attached spas and karaoke lounges. European and Australian golfers usually stay in Hoi An where there are good colonial hotels like Victoria and Hoi An Boutique resorts. My personal favorite however, is one of the upscale properties located on the beach between Danang and hoi An. The Fusion Maia with all inclusive spas and massages is great for golfers as are the private villas at The Ocean Villas and The Nam Hai.  If you want an all-inclusive golf resort away from the main tourist areas, then the Banyan Tree in Lang Co is a great choice as well.

Nowadays, the internet is a good place to research Vietnam golf resorts. Once you decide, check with a local Vietnam golf tour operator to provide you with specific golf and up-to-date information as well as favorable package pricing. A local tour operator will handle your golf needs and when something arises unexpectedly (as it always seems to when in Vietnam), then your tour operator will be there to help and assure the success of your Vietnam golf holiday.

Laguna Lang Co Golf Club To Open With A Bang

I have played many Thailand golf courses before they opened, but last week was the first time I played a Vietnam golf course pre-opening.  Most times, the pre-opening phase is used to work out the operational bugs in any new golf club. Therefore, it was to my great surprise to experience new perfection at the new Laguna Lang Co Golf Club.

Getting to Lang Co took exactly 77 minutes from the center of Hoi An using the new tunnel that connects Danang and Hue. The arrival greetings at Lang Co were as good as I have experienced. The greeters were expecting us and had our names and bag tags all ready. Check-in at the pro-shop was equally smooth as we all received our day passports that allowed us to use all the facilities and make purchases throughout the Laguna Lang Co resort. After changing into our golf gear we were introduced to our caddies and shown cordially to the first tee.

On the course, things started out a little rough as the last holes to be grassed were the few nearest to the clubhouse. Anyway, getting past the first 3-4 holes things came into light. The course layout plays through 3 distinct areas. Several holes wander through former rice paddies. These are fairly wide open and nothing special. However, moving into the jungle section is where the golf got fun. Playing through forested areas on a new course is most welcome as trees are mature and other than the grass, the holes seemed to have been made years ago. Contrast this to many other new Vietnam golf courses where staked small tress are the rule and old hardwoods are only a dream 5 years down the road.

The final section of the course is laid out along the South China Sea. These holes play as most links courses do with pot bunkers, waste areas, and greens with natural dunes protecting them. Our caddies were able to advise us the best routes to the pins as well as provided needed assistance reading the undulated greens.

Back at the clubhouse the excellent on course service continued. We had a great Vietnamese meal at the golfer’s café and the free Wi-Fi came in handy as everyone posted their Laguna Lang Co pictures online for the world to see.

If Laguna Lang Co Golf Club has been opened for 10 years I could understand how they were able to fine tune the facility and service. However, given that the new Hue golf course does not officially open for another 2 moths, it is nothing short of a miracle to see how well-oiled things are. My hats off to Tim Haddon and his staff for a pre-opening job well done!

Get ready for a bang; Laguna Lang Co Golf Club is set to hit the ground running and don’t be surprised to hear about them winning the best new golf course in Asia this year!

Montgomerie Links Vietnam Gets Even Better

Being the first golf course in a new golf destination is not easy. Everything that most courses take for granted such as labor and materials need to be sourced or developed. Even know-how and golfers are in short supply, if available at all.

Well Montgomerie Links Vietnam was the pioneer course in Vietnam’s Hoi An – Da Nang – Hue region and I have been following closely the development of this project for the past 5 years. Having golfed at the Montgomerie Links course this week, I am very glad to report that things could not be better. Playing conditions are superb; especially the fast rolling Paspalum greens which are now some of the best in Asia that I have putted on. The original white powder bunker sand is all replaced by new golf specific type and frequent plugged balls are a thing of the past.

Next up is the clubhouse. While small compared to other Asian palaces the Montgomerie Links facility is highly functional for golfers. The pro shop stocks not only a wide assortment of logoed items, but even sells new model clubs. Locker rooms feature both Asian and Western showers with a full accompaniment of saunas, whirlpools, and baths for golfers to soak away any aches and pains after their round.  Many other clubhouses around the region start good with all the facilities, but end up in disrepair as operating wear and tear give way to poor maintenance habits.  There is none of that at Montgomerie Links as everything is clean, in working order, and as good as new.

More importantly is the staff. Coming from nowhere, all Montgomerie Links teams now speak English, know the game of golf, and have a friendly service mindset. This just compliments the course itself turning a good resort course into a great Vietnam golf experience.

Give the Montgomerie Links a try on your next trip to golf in Vietnam. The total experience is now better than ever!

How to Select a Vietnam Golf Package?

The Vietnam golf season has begun and many are interested in golfing in the 2012 best golf destination in Asia-pacific this winter.

When arranging a Vietnam golf holiday, it is always wise to compare offerings from more than one tour operator. Unless getting quoted for exactly the same package, where upon the choice would purely be down to price, then care must be taken when evaluating the details of the trips being offered.

Tour operators offer packages consisting of golf, accommodation, and transportation. It is important to be clear what exactly is included.

For example, various category hotels may be mentioned to make one quote look like a particularly good deal, whereas the actual accommodation offered may be of a low standard. An example of this may the age of the hotel. With many new hotels in Vietnam catering for golfers, some longstanding favorite hotels now seem a bit tired and there is nothing worse than taking a Vietnam golf holiday and being disappointed with the resort.

Room styles can also have a big effect on price. In Vietnam, a superior room often is the lowest category, which can be misleading. Deluxe rooms are better, larger, and often have a balcony and sea view. Upgraded rooms can make a difference between an average Vietnam golf vacation and a great golf holiday.

Golf would seemingly be the most important point in any Vietnam golf trip. However, there are only a few golf courses in each Vietnam golf destination so usually this aspect of a golf tour is very similar from one package to the next. The only real factor is how far you are willing to drive between your hotel and each golf course. Normal commutes in Saigon are around one hour and Hanoi golf courses can be located up to two hours or longer from your hotel, depending on the traffic. The golf in Danang, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiet however is much different. Commutes in these seaside resorts are normally 30 minutes or less.

With regards to transportation, most companies provide private transfers using vehicles that accommodate 3-4 people. Try to clarify the exact type, age, and safety record of transport and driver that will be used. Vietnam golf tour operators will often use new mini-vans while generalist leisure companies may use sedans that have no space for golf clubs. Insist on getting the drivers telephone number ahead of time. This is important in the event of any transfer delays or when needing to return ahead of schedule.

Finally, make sure to inquire about the level of support available during the actual Vietnam golf holiday. When questions arise, it is always good to know who the contact person – morning, noon or night.

All of these points are relevant whilst evaluating a Vietnam golf tour offer. Cheaper is not always better. A golf package that provides the level of service to match preferences would be the best choice for most Vietnam golfers. A Vietnam golf holiday can be one of the best ever. Sticking to first principles, staying in top hotels, not traveling too far, using comfortable vehicles with easy to communicate with drivers is all that is needed to ensure a memorable golf vacation!

Vietnam Golf Etiquette

Vietnam is fast becoming one of the leading Asian golf destinations. There are now over 25 courses with new one’s opening on a regular basis. However, golf in Vietnam can be different to how golf is played elsewhere. Certain aspects of golf etiquette are unique and characteristic of a country that has special culture and customs.

Vietnam style is more relaxed when organizing things, and although this brings great joy to Vietnamese golfers it can also lead to great frustration for Vietnam golf holidaymakers. When in doubt, a simple smile and show of courtesy goes a long way to resolving any issues.

When playing golf in Vietnam remember you are a visitor and should give way to the local golfers. Golf is still a new sport here and Vietnam golfers are not so familiar with the etiquette that we have been taught. For example, I had never come across playing in a 5 ball before golfing in Asia. Vietnamese locals sometimes take 2 caddies each (one for the umbrella and one for the clubs) meaning there can as many as 15 people walking up every hole. This is quite a sight in fact.

Oftentimes, Vietnam golfers will not let other golfers play through as they are not so familiar with this golf concept. However, if they are playing slow a polite request may solve the problem. Getting frustrated and hitting balls into the group in front is certainly not the thing to do.

Caddies are a unique feature of Vietnam golf. They are predominantly female and perform many tasks in very tiring conditions. To get a great service always be courteous to a Vietnam caddy. Tips are greatly appreciated by the caddies with $15 US or more recommend for good service.

Call holes at par 3’s are also interesting. After all balls are on the green, caddies will mark each ball, then golfers stand aside and let the group behind play their tee shots. Afterwards the group on the green will putt-out. This is meant to speed up play, but it does not always work. Nevertheless, it is a local rule on many Vietnam golf courses and should be followed.

Refreshment kiosks that are located every 3 or 4 holes are a great Vietnam golf concept. However, do not fall behind the group in front when stopping for a drink or the groups behind may complain.
Being familiar with these quarks of golf in Vietnam and showing on course courtesy and politeness will go a long way to ensure success of all Vietnam golf holidays.

Why Golf in Vietnam?

Here are 5 reasons why Vietnam is a world-class golf holiday destination.

  1. The courses: With many courses having been developed by leading golf architects of the world such as Greg Norman (Danang Golf Club), Nick Faldo (Ocean Dunes Golf Club & Laguna Lang Co Golf Club), Ron Fream (Long Thanh Golf Club & Sea Links Golf Club), and Peter Rousseau (Van Tri Golf Club & Twin Doves Golf Club) quality golfing is never far away.
  2. The locations: Vietnam is a beautiful and fascinating country that offers a variety of different golf destinations. The cities of Hanoi and Saigon are bustling centers of commerce, industry, and colonial history. The costal resorts of Danang, Hoi An, and Nha Trang have some of the best beaches in the world. The fresh mountains of Dalat have excellent year-round golf on offer at a perfect 20 degrees centigrade temperature.
  3. The history and culture: Only the past 50 years or so of Vietnamese history is familiar to most travelers. Moreover, Vietnamese culture is for the most part still mysterious and unknown. However, today more and more people are traveling to golf in Vietnam. Getting to know Vietnam’s history and Vietnamese culture is interesting and fascinating. Historically, fist recorded evidence dates back to 200 B.C. and is rich and varied ever since. Vietnamese culture is one of the most exotic and complex in the world. It is hard to find such an authentic and interesting place for golf travel anywhere!
  4. The caddies: A unique and truly memorable part of golf in Vietnam. All females, they provide excellent day service at $15 US Dollars a round. Greeting you upon arrival at the clubhouse, Vietnam caddies take care of everything before teeing off, during the round, and after finishing 18 holes. With a constant smiling face, they give yardages to the green, mark and clean golf balls, advise of the breaks on the green, keep their golfers cool during the round, and always provide great enjoyment.
  5. The food: Like with any other cuisine, Vietnamese food is influenced by its geography and history. Vietnamese food has retained its distinct identity, despite influences from Chinese and other Asian cuisine. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables. As such, Vietnamese food is often ranked as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Where else can a golfer travel to and eat as much as he/she wants without worries of putting on extra pounds/kilos? That is except for the beer!

There are endless other reasons to golf in Vietnam and I could go on, but that will spoil all the additional surprises in store when you golf this fascinating country.

Vietnam Tee Time Bookings

Many who golf in Vietnam like to book their own golf tee times. Here are a few tips to insure your golf in Vietnam proceeds well.

1. There are some excellent Vietnam golf courses and some that are more suitable for locals. The 3 best Vietnam golf courses for visitors are Danang Golf Club, Laguna Lang Co Golf Club, and Montgomerie Links Vietnam. All of the courses north of Hanoi and south of Saigon are probably better left to local golfers. The Saigon and Hanoi golf courses are good, but crowded.

2. When booking a Vietnam tee time, it is unlikely you will be able to make reservation on the Internet as none of the Vietnam golf courses are set-up for online bookings. Furthermore, all Vietnam golf courses require a written voucher to play. You should receive these in advance from the course itself. If not, your tee times may be given away to other players.

3. Phone the course the day before you are scheduled to play to be sure your tee times are confirmed and to avoid any double or missing bookings mistakes.

4. How do you plan to get to the golf course? Local taxis are cheap, but often the drivers do not know the location of the Vietnam golf courses and may not speak English. If the course is busy and you are late for your tee off time, chances are you will not be allowed to play. Hotel transportation is a good option, albeit expensive. Some golf courses have their own shuttle service, check when making your tee time booking.
5. Make sure there is no ongoing maintenance when you plan to golf at the course. Most Vietnam golf courses do not give any details or warnings regarding their greens coring. Phone the golf course ahead of time to check playing conditions. Better yet, get a Vietnamese speaking person to do this for you. He or she can speak directly with the superintendent as sometimes even the reception staff does not know.
These are some of my tips that you must be aware of whilst making your own Vietnam golf tee time bookings.

Of course you could avoid all of this completely and book your golf through a Vietnam golf tour agent that is set-up to handle everything in advance and ensure your golf in Vietnam goes smooth. Whichever path you choose, have fun and enjoy your golfing in Vietnam!