Anniversaries, traditionally, are a time for reflection. But Vietnam’s top rated golf course, The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, is fixed on the future as it celebrates its 5th birthday this year.
Since opening in 2014, the Greg Norman-designed course has helped raise the bar for the game in Vietnam in a number of ways.
Over the past half-decade it has proved itself a worthy host for a number of high-profile tournaments, not least the Ho Tram Open, a $1.5 million Asian Tour event that attracted some of the biggest names in the game including eventual champion Sergio Garcia.
The course has also scored a number of top industry awards and has been recognised as one of the best golf courses in the world: ranking No.35 on Golf Digest’s latest ‘World 100 Greatest Golf Courses’ list.
With such a gilded track record, you could forgive the team at the Bluffs for pausing to savour their successes so far.
A philosophy of continual self-improvement, though, runs through the club on Vietnam’s glorious south central coastline. This mantra of refinement can be witnessed via a raft of new enhancements that has the course looking and playing better than ever.
Over the past two years, The Bluffs’ maintenance team, in consultation with Greg Norman Golf Course Design, has removed much of the vegetation that was overtaking many of the dunes that shape the course.
In addition to carving out bushes and trees and peeling away excessive turf between and around many of the tee boxes, the maintenance crew has been working with US-based turf specialist On Course Agronomic Consulting to improve the performance of the playing surfaces, especially the greens.
The result is a firmer and faster links-style track thanks to its ability to breathe again.
“The vegetation was basically suffocating the golf course,” said Ali MacFadyen, The Bluffs’ club superintendent. “Getting rid of those gnarly tangles of viney scrub has allowed for better air flow and depth perception.”
In other words, the rugged, seaside landscape The Bluffs occupies is now more akin to what it looked like when construction on the course began in 2012. The sand is fully exposed again, allowing for an experience closer to the spirit of the original links design.
“It’s lighter and cleaner,” said MacFadylen. “The goal from the outset was to build a natural-looking, links-style golf course on the perfectly sculptured links land that mother nature provided worthy of the global spotlight. By carrying out these enhancements we are confident that we are ‘upping the ante’ to ensure that the course goes from strength to strength.”
The enhancements are the latest chapter in a success story that has seen a rugged, windswept chunk of land evolve into one of the greatest golf courses in Asia.
When it opened for preview play in March 2014, The Bluffs was already the most anticipated club in the region with Norman calling it a “true links golf course” and one that has the potential to reign among the top layouts in the world.
That much has proved to be the case. A string of honours, accolades and rankings triumphs attest to the veracity of the challenge created by Norman and his team.
It’s not just about the world-class course though. Renowned for its well-trained, professional caddies, unfailingly polite front of house staff, first-class changing facilities and the outstanding F&B options at its clubhouse, the Bluffs is well and truly the sum of its parts.
“We’ve got a lot to celebrate this year,” said Gary Dixon, General Manager of The Bluffs. “The enhancements mean the course is continuing to evolve and we are committed to offering the best true links golf experience in Vietnam for our members and visitors to enjoy for now and into the future.
“This combined with the ongoing development of the Grand Ho Tram Resort will, we hope, make us one of the finest stay and play golf destinations in the world!”