Vietnam’s Golf Offerings Unite

The new Vietnamese Golf Association focuses on tourism’s golf niche

By: Marissa Tinloy

On the weekend of Aug. 18, Vietnamese course owners and officials gathered at King’s Island Golf Club to discuss and celebrate their commitment to the formation of the new Vietnamese Golf Association (VGA).

The association, which will be the first formal governing body for golf in the country, is aimed to begin functioning in 2008 and will be responsible for uniform course ratings, handicapping services and nationwide tournament administration.

According to Vu Khoan, former deputy prime minister, “The birth of the association is a new milestone in Vietnam’s international integration process.”

It seems most appropriate that the VGA-organization meeting was held at Kings’ Island, one of the seven Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail clubs and the oldest in the country’s northern tier. Formed in 1994, the 36-hole facility began renovations on the original Lakeside course (designed by Robert McFarland) earlier this year and continues extensive refurbishment, largely focused on reshaping fairways and enlarging greens.

According to Kings’ Island GC’s operations manager Thomas Benefield, “Tourism is increasing, and golf interest is increasing, so it’s vitally important that course quality increases with it. Visitors want international standards, and they want it all to mesh the lodging, the attractions, the golf. We’ll leave no stone unturned. Grass, irrigation, tees, bunkers &You name it, we’re upgrading it.”

The Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, a conglomerate of seven clubs, routes north to south through Vietnam and highlights the country’s growing golf and golf-accommodation industry.

Besides the Kings’ Island location near the capital city of Hanoi, the Golf Trail’s other locations include Chi Linh, Dalat Palace, Dong Nai, Ocean Dunes, Tam Dao and Vietnam Golf and Country Club (near downtown Ho Chi Minh City).

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