By: Hal Philips
Danang Golf Club
Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang City, Vietnam
Proper links golf is rare in Asia. To create it, one needs just the right mix of coastline, steady wind (to whip up a compelling dunescape), and a paucity of existing development on and around such rarefied terrain.
Vietnam has just this sanguine combination of elements, and it’s one reason Danang Golf Club is our next choice among Asia’s Top 10 courses you can play. The other reason is Greg Norman, whose design team fashioned 18 superb holes from the dunes and hollows just south of the city.
Golfers directly encounter the beach but once here — walking off the 16th green (past a long-abandoned gun turret) to the 17th tee — and, while 16 is an all-world par-three, seaside golf holes do not a links course make. Instead it’s the windswept, uneven, relatively untamed ground that stretches inland from said beach. Here is the perfect natural setting for, well, everything in golf that matters: compelling putting surfaces (Danang’s are large, flamboyantly contoured and superbly conditioned) and fairways that snake their way amid the various dune formations.
At Danang GC, the formidable par-five 10th is furthest from the ocean but nevertheless a linksy gem, playing down a 500-metre corridor between stunning sand ridges. Every golf course has sand traps, but not like those at Danang GC: imagine huge pods of dramatic bunkering whose clean edges neatly bump up against green perimeters, while the outer edges bleed off into natural, gnarly waste areas.
Danang isn’t a “pure” links. Some of those bunkers bleed off into ponds — and water hazards, along with “beach bunkers”, are links no-nos. Still, this brand of golf quickens the pulse because it’s not the safe, manicured, garden-style environment that predominates in much of Asia. Every once in a while, we owe ourselves a walk on the wild side. Danang GC is our recommended deviation.