Golf legend’s new course ‘as good as it gets,’ says former U.S. Open champ Michael Campbell
HO TRAM, Vietnam (Oct. 20, 2014) — The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, the most ambitious golf course ever built in Vietnam, officially opened for play Saturday with its designer and former world No. 1 golfer, Greg Norman, presiding over a match featuring 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and two-time European Tour winner Robert Rock.
On a picturesque day along Vietnam’s south-central coast, less than two hours outside the country’s commercial capital of Ho Chi Minh City, Norman, who injured his left hand in a chainsaw accident last month and has not played since, watched as his good friend Campbell engaged in a battle of links golf prowess with the sweet-swinging Rock and two of Vietnam’s finest female golfers — LPGA Tour pro Tang Thi Nhung and US college star Ngo Bao Nghi.
All participants impressed the throng of spectators, some of whom traveled from destinations as far away as Spain and South Florida. But the day’s biggest star was the venue itself, which has come a long way since the principals of Canada-based Asian Coast Development Ltd. asked Norman to build a ‘Top 100’-caliber course for them back in 2006.
“I’ve played a lot of courses around the world,” said New Zealand native Campbell, whose U.S. Open victory came at storied Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, “and this (one) is as good as it gets.”
Routed over and around towering seaside sand dunes — geographical traits that course architects dream of — The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip (www.thebluffshotram.com) offers a golf experience that’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is a challenge to tame.
Put the course is the diversity of hole-by-hole experiences,” said Norman, whose design firm is responsible for more than 100 championship quality layouts worldwide. “As designers, we’ve worked a theme onto the landscape here, but the twists and turns of Mother Nature provide one great surprise after another.”
While Saturday marked the official opening of a course former PGA of America president Pat Rielly recently called Norman’s best work and “an experience that will soon be the envy of all Asia,” it also signified the debut of another major component of The Bluffs: the clubhouse.
Imagined by Graham Taylor Designs, the elegant, 2,300-square-meter structure houses an array of sleek dining outlets including Infinity, which features a sprawling balcony overlooking the back 9 and ocean.
The clubhouse is also less than a minute from the PGA-staffed driving range, a secluded practice area with more than 3,000 square meters worth of tour-standard long- and short-game training facilities.
Prior to his departure yesterday, Norman held a putting clinic at the range, where the two-time British Open champion demonstrated how he reads greens and answered questions about how to play shots crucial to success on links-style courses.
“This is a very fair and playable golf course, but to shoot a good score, you’re going to need a well-rounded game,” said Norman, who also designed the acclaimed Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club, also on Vietnam’s coastline. “The average golfer is going to encounter a number of things they probably don’t on a regular basis, such as strong winds, tight lies and variable waste areas. But you couldn’t ask for a better place to prepare for it all than this practice facility. It’s just phenomenal.”
“To be recognized in such fashion without truly being open until now speaks volumes to this course and the job everyone here has done,” said Ben Styles, general manager of The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip. “We can’t wait for the rest of the world to come tee it up.”
The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip is among several facets of The Grand Ho Tram Strip’s first stage of development. The ambitious project already features a 541-room upscale hotel, 10 restaurants and bars, a spa, nightclub, convention center and casino with 90 gaming tables and more than 600 slot machines.
Vietnam event scoops top spot in the Asian Tour official awards
HO TRAM, Vietnam (March 4, 2016) — Few events can lay claim to creating such an impact in their first year as the Ho Tram Open, and the success of Vietnam’s richest sporting event has today been recognised by the Asian Tour.
Members of the Asian Tour vote annually on their top performers through the season, and it was the Ho Tram Open that proved to be the standout event among some of the world’s best golfers.
“We enjoy such a great roster of events on the Asian Tour, but what we experienced at Ho Tram was exceptional,” said India’s Himmat Rai, who was part of a four-man playoff ultimately won by Sergio Garcia.
Asian Tour Commissioner Kyi Hla Han added: “Billing an event as ‘Asia’s Grandest Stage’ immediately sets a high expectation, but from the moment we touched down to the moment we left, the hospitality and service were off the charts, leaving us all excited about returning for the next event.”
The Ho Tram Strip is an emerging destination on Vietnam’s stunning south-east coast. The beachfront property is home to a 541 room five-Star luxury hotel, The Grand, which is embarking on its second phase, adding another hotel tower and luxury condo development. The Bluffs golf course, recently voted ‘The World’s Best New Golf Course’ by the World Golf Awards and ranked 74th in Golf Digest’s ‘World’s 100 Greatest Courses,’ sits on unspoilt dunes next to the nation’s East Sea, and has recently seen the addition of The Gallery Villas, a state-of-the-art real-estate complex, carefully placed throughout the golf course.
“This award is the icing on the cake for us,” commented Ben Styles, Vice-President Golf & Residential. “The Ho Tram Open is an advert for all stakeholders within this exciting new destination, both on a local and national level. Vietnam has ambition to grow its golfing prowess and we feel we have played our part in increasing awareness, sparking interest with the global golf community, who will consider Vietnam and Ho Tram a must visit destination.”
The event was promoted and staged by a unique team of golf specialists, Performance54 and world’s leading management group, Troon Golf, providing the pathway to deliver the innovative vision from the ownership group, Asian Coast Development Ltd. ‘Where-Golf-Meets-Entertainment’ became one of the events leading themes and with black-tie gala dinners, concerts and a unique fight night, it certainly lived up to its billing.
“Golf has the ability to shape a destinations economic profile,” commented Jed Moore, Managing Director, Performance54. “When you are given license to create and develop unique initiatives, you can drive far stronger returns with more immediate effect. The leadership from Asian Coast Development Ltd gave us the freedom to do something different and lay the foundations for the destinations future success. This award gives us great confidence for what was achieved and the future of the event.”
A thrilling four-man playoff provided the most dramatic of climaxes, pitting the wits of global star Sergio Garcia, against Thaworn Wiratchant, one of the Asian Tour Godfathers, India’s Himmat Rai and Lin Wen-Tan from Taipei, who had entertained crowds all week with his colourful on and off-course display. Ultimately, it was Garcia who held his nerve to claim the title under the severest of pressure.
“The Ho Tram Open was one of the real success stories for me personally and for golf in general,” commented Sergio Garcia. “To bring together such a great field, at such a great resort and create a weeks’ worth of world-class entertainment certainly made it a unique week for the players.
“This was a wonderful advert not only for Vietnam, but also the great game of golf. The staging of the tournament was as good as anything we have seen in golf in Asia over the past 20 years. Members of the media certainly have something new and exciting to talk about and Vietnam has a new-found status as one of golf’s most exhilarating new destinations,” commented Spencer Robinson, Chief Communications Officer, Asian Golf Industry Federation
The announcement of the second Ho Tram Open will be made shortly, with expected developments that will see the tournament set out to further establish itself as one of the player’s favourites.
For more information contact;
Jed Moore: [email protected]
Vietnamese course vaults to No. 35 in latest World 100 Greatest Golf Courses ranking
HO TRAM, Vietnam (Jan. 8, 2018) — The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip has retained its status as one of Golf Digest’s best golf courses in the world — only now it’s 39 places higher than it was in 2016, when the planet’s most widely-read golf publication released the follow-up to its inaugural ‘World 100 Greatest Golf Courses’ ranking.
Revealed last week, the latest edition has Vietnam’s most acclaimed course at No. 35, five spots ahead of nine-time Open Championship venue Royal Troon in Scotland.
“It’s been an astonishing past few months,” said Sonia Huong Mai, General Manager of The Bluffs, which was hailed by Vietnam’s leading golf authorities in October and at the World Golf Awards in November. “All I can say is we’re fortunate to have an ownership group like Asian Coast Development Ltd. (ACDL), which continually provides us the resources and support necessary to make this world-class product better every day.”
Designed by legendary golfer Greg Norman, The Bluffs opened to great fanfare in October 2014 when former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell played an exhibition match against two-time European Tour winner Robert Rock.
A year later, the spectacular seaside track less than two hours from Ho Chi Minh City won ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the World Golf Awards and served as site of 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.
Despite its already lofty standing among the world’s elite layouts, The Bluffs is undergoing a multi-faceted enhancement project designed to further elevate its profile.
In addition to reducing the amount of vegetation that has overtaken some of the dunes and removing excessive turf between and around many of the tee boxes, the maintenance crew is working with U.S.-based turf specialist On Course Agronomic Consulting to improve the performance of the playing surfaces, especially the greens.
The project is expected to be complete well before December, when the Asian Tour is scheduled to return to The Bluffs for the Ho Tram Players Championship.
“Our goal from the outset was to build a natural-looking, links-style golf course worthy of the global spotlight,” said Michael Kelly, Executive Chairman of ACDL, which owns the entire Ho Tram Strip including the 541-room Grand hotel and casino, a prestigious residential development called The Gallery Villas and a 244-key, nautical-inspired resort currently under construction. “It goes hand-in-hand with what we’re doing here, which is making the Strip a world-class tourism destination and Vietnam’s entertainment capital.
“The latest Golf Digest ranking is confirmation that we have done a good job so far. Now the question becomes, ‘How far up the ladder can we go?’”
Golf Digest’s ‘World 100 Greatest Golf Courses’ is produced with input from certified course raters from all around the world. The 2018 ranking excludes U.S. courses for the first time.
The top spot in the poll belongs to Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down, followed by Scotland’s Royal Dornoch and Australia’s Royal Melbourne. Two more Scottish courses — Muirfield and the Old Course at St. Andrews — round out the top five.
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About The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip
THE BLUFFS Ho Tram Strip is located on the East Sea and in the town of Ho Tram, 120km southeast of Vietnam’s commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh city. It takes less than two hours by car reach The Bluffs, which along with The Grand Ho Tram Strip luxury casino resort comprises the first phase of the extravagant Ho Tram strip project. The 18 hole, par – 71 layout is designed by legendary golf course designer – Greg Norman, set on genuine links land and features stunning ocean and forest view.
About The Grand Ho Tram Strip
Just a two-hour drive from Vietnam’s largest metropolitan city, Ho Chi Minh City, The Grand Ho Tram Strip is the first of a group of integrated resorts and residential developments located on more than 164 hectares of land along 2.2 kilometers of pristine beach in Ho Tram. The resort opened its doors in July 2013 and includes: The Grand, a 541-room five-star hotel; a world-class entertainment facility; 13 food and beverage venues; high-tech meeting spaces including a 1,800-person ballroom; a ‘putt-putt’ miniature golf course; a 3D cinema; a game center; karaoke rooms; and a variety of beach-front recreation activities. A second hotel — The Beach Club — is under construction and will add 559 rooms to the resort (bringing the total count to 1,100) and more leisure amenities including a waterpark and 2,000-person amphitheater. The Grand Ho Tram Strip is the most awarded resort in Vietnam and is adjacent to The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, a spectacular Greg Norman design that has also won countless awards.