Before the March 2020 start of the pandemic, the buzz about Vietnam’s golf courses was almost as loud as the motorbike horns that soundtrack daily life in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
And Adam Calver, director of golf at Laguna Golf Lang Co and a driving force in Vietnam Golf Coast — a destination marketing organization that links Central Vietnam’s best signature golf courses — has tipped the nation to become an even bigger noise in golf travel following its reopening to international visitors in March 2022.
“Asia’s top golf destination is not just recovering following the pandemic,” he said. “It’s getting even better.”
In recent years, Vietnam has forged a reputation as Asia’s ultimate bucket-list golf destination. Big-name architects including Sir Nick Faldo (the designer of Laguna Golf Lang Co), Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones Jr. have made their mark with a string of incredible layouts the length and breadth of the Southeast Asian country.
Global accolades for the nation, meanwhile, including the coveted title of World’s Best Golf Destination at the 2021 World Golf Awards, fueled pent-up demand for travel during a period when Vietnam’s borders remained largely closed.
Nobody involved in Vietnam’s tourism industry expects visitor numbers to immediately bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. But golf industry insiders like Calver predict a bright future for clubs in Vietnam following the reopening, pointing to a growing contingent of layouts that are maintaining the country’s reputation for quality.
“A lot has been going on here (in Vietnam) during the pandemic,” Calver said. “New courses have been popping up all over the country so golfers who have visited Vietnam in the past have a number of new courses to experience when they return.
“For example, many golfers won’t have been in Central Vietnam since 2019. We already had five great championship courses here at that time. Now, with the addition of Hoiana Shores and the second course at BRG Danang Golf Resort,” — a Nicklaus design — “we have seven.”
Like other layouts around the country, Laguna Golf Lang Co has been forced to contend with stern challenges posed by the pandemic over the course of the past couple of years. But the club is training its sights on a major resurgence over the coming months.
At Laguna Golf Lang Co, two award-winning resorts — Angsana Lang Co and Banyan Tree Lang Co, as well as the ultra-luxe Banyan Tree Residences and the Laguna Park Golf Villas along the 18th hole just 100 meters from the clubhouse and the beach — round out one of Asia’s more attractive stay-and-play packages. Indeed, the club is witnessing an uptick in bookings from various key international markets including Korea and Europe as well as from domestic travelers.
“Demand is surging here once again,” Calver said. “Before, I would have said that anyone serious about golf travel should be coming to Vietnam at least once in their life. With world-class courses opening all the time, I would revise that to say that you’d need to return every few years to do the place justice.”