Seeds of Change: Going Green

  • James Sullivan

Dalat Palace Golf Club
Sketched by a French architect in 1922, the Dalat Palace Golf Club did not begin to take shape until a decade later, when the last emperor of Vietnam spurred the course’s development. Today, this layout in the former colonial hill station of Dalat (a 50-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City) is Vietnam’s preeminent course, due to its provenance, its long views from the tee boxes, and its bent-grass tees, fairways, and greens. The course’s twists and undulations are nothing short of sensuous, snaking through sidelines blooming with bougainvillea, red salvia, impatiens, and hydrangeas. Think of Billy Casper as you walk the course; a month after he won the U.S. Open in 1966, Casper played Dalat on a USO tour of Vietnam. www.vietnamgolfresorts.com

Chi Linh Star Golf & Country Cub
The 18 holes at Chi Linh Star play along the shores of a large lake before venturing up and down the flanks of the adjacent hills. Though designed by an Australian company, the course epitomizes the ancient Oriental art of placement, or feng shui; the hills, the views, and the location–just beyond the Red River Delta, nearly equidistant from Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Hai Phong–are in perfect balance. Chi Linh has hosted the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam tournament twice since the club’s first course opened in 2003. Another 18 holes will be completed in 2007. www.chilinhstargolf.com.vn

Ocean Dunes Golf Cub
With about a half mile of frontage on the South China Sea, Ocean Dunes is Vietnam’s only true resort course. The Nick Faldo—designed track, which borders the 123-room Novotel resort in Phan Thiet, skirts prodigious dunes, lotus ponds, and a venerable family temple where a couple of incense sticks might help rein in a wayward game. But beware the solar winds, which can whip as fast as 60 knots in the afternoon. www.vietnamgolfresorts.com

Vietnam Golf & Country Club
This 36-hole club, the closest to Saigon, is 13 miles from downtown in Thu Duc. Holes on the West Course run gauntlets of narrow coconut tree—lined fairways. The Lee Trevino—designed East Course is wide open by comparison, although its dazzling suite of white-sand bunkers leaves ample room for error. The automatic weapons fire you might hear on the sixth hole is not cause for concern; it is only the Vietnamese army practicing at the adjacent shooting range. www.vietnamgolfcc.com

Photo by James Lipman
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