Team Europe’s crushing victory over the US in last month’s Ryder Cup embodied the leadership skills of captain Luke Donald.
And clues to the Englishman’s flair for strategic planning have long been in evidence on the Vietnam Golf Coast (VGC) in Central Vietnam where Ba Na Hills Golf Club is Donald’s first — and so far, only—golf course design globally.
“Everyone here at Ba Na Hills Golf Club is immensely proud of Luke,” said Gary Dixon, general manager of Ba Na Hills Golf Club, one of the driving forces in the VGC, a freshly rebooted destination marketing organization that links the region’s best signature golf layouts.
“His captaincy demonstrated all the qualities that he has displayed as a designer at Ba Na Hills. It’s a course where patience and clever tactical planning can pay enormous dividends. We saw all those attributes on display in Rome as Team Europe outthought and then outplayed the Americans.”
While Team US looked disorganized and unprepared — especially during an opening 0-4 foursomes’ session reverse that set the tone for the rest of the event — Team Europe was a harmonious unit.
The home side eventually ran out comfortable winners over the US by a 16.5-11.5 margin. And key Team Europe stars like Rory McIlroy, Bob McIntyre and Shane Lowry have alluded to the thoroughness and attention to detail that marked out Donald’s captaincy as special.
And a similar feeling of completeness elevates Donald’s one and only global golf course design, which unfolds over rolling foothills amidst the dramatic peaks that back the coastline in Central Vietnam.
The topography of Vietnam is just unbelievable,” said Donald. “There are courses built around mountains and on sandy soil next to the ocean. The land is hard to match.”
Indeed, the course at Ba Na Hills Golf Club capitalizes on the spectacular terrain with Donald’s crafty utilization of natural elevation changes, ravines, streams, and mountain backdrops.
The front-nine contains several highlights, not least the par-3 8th, a gem of a downhill short hole. The closing stretch of the course is, if anything, even better. Winding its way through the twists and turns of the surrounding hillside, this section offers outstanding vistas and golf in equal measure. The short 16th with its island green is eye-catching so too is the following hole – a dogleg par 4 with water guarding the green.
Donald’s zeal for the golf options in Central Vietnam — not to mention an array of off-course attractions ranging from endless beaches, world-renowned cuisine, and luxury resorts — bodes well for the destination as golf travel returns with a vengeance.
Stunning tracks such as Ba Na Hills Golf Club and Laguna Golf Lang Co, home to a Sir Nick Faldo Signature Design, are among Asia’s best courses.
Indeed, the two venues were recently named among the 11 top resorts in Asia by Golf.com, one of the world’s leading golf titles, that also encompassed top golf destinations in Korea, China, Thailand and Indonesia. Not only were the two clubs ranked among the cream of the region’s golf resorts, but their inclusion in the Asia list also guaranteed them spots in the overall Top 100 Golf Resorts in the World standings.
Other highlights for play, meanwhile, include courses designed by luminaries including Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Jack Nicklaus.
“Few places on earth have such a high concentration of fantastic golf courses designed by some of the biggest names in the game,” said Stephen Banks, Director of Golf at Laguna Golf Lang Co. “Luke’s success as Team Europe Ryder Cup captain just highlights the caliber of what we can offer visiting golfers in Central Vietnam.”