All photography by Christian Berg
Golf course architect Greg Norman says designing the layout at KN Golf Links was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Utilising a philosophy of ‘least disturbance’ the course takes a minimalist approach, with natural contouring from the dunes and little shrubbery. However the design has a way of delivering through dramatic contrasts: the sweeping blue bay, the white sand of the beach, and —most of all — the massive dunes between the brilliant green fairways.
“My first look there, the scale was beyond belief. We had to ask how do we capture all this scale, magnificence and panoramic views, and incorporate a golf course that would challenge everybody from a hacker to the best golfers in the world.”
“Not a blade of grass out of place” is how some golfers describe the maintenance on the greens and fairways. KN Golf Links is the first 18-hole course in Vietnam planted with resilient Zeon Zoysia grass, which allows the ball to roll and take the contours imagined by the team at Greg Norman Design. The management at KN Golf Links is laser-focused on taking course conditioning to new heights. Buggies are not allowed on the fairways, and greens are meticulously maintained. The result is a new standard of playing conditions within Vietnam and the region.
KN Golf Links offers nine enjoyable holes at its Oasis Course, but it’s the 18-hole Links Course that is routed to the most remarkable viewpoints. Experienced golfers may gravitate to the challenge of Hole 9, which boasts a 60-foot sand dune wall, no less than seven tees, and remarkable views of the clubhouse from the green. The 10th Hole is an undulating, short right-to-left fairway that cascades down toward the East Sea; and the much-photographed 15th Hole, flanked by a 380-yard bunker, serves up spectacular views of Cam Ranh Bay.
One of the great attractions of the links course at KN Golf Links in Cam Ranh is the variety of challenges it presents for golfers of every level. A wide array of tees lets golfers still building their swing to enjoy the course alongside well-travelled pros. For golfers with the control, the course calls for all shot shapes to be used. Fairways run uphill to downhill then back again, left to right and right to left. Some take double dog formations and others present huge wasteland bunkers. As well, the wind off the East Sea is always a dynamic factor in rounds at KN Golf Links.
Three months after opening in August 2018, KN Golf Links snagged its first award for ’Best New Golf Course in Asia’ from Asian Golf Awards. Others soon followed. Golf Digest Australia listed the links course as the best new course in Asia in 2019, as did Golf Magazine US, underscoring Vietnam’s evolving journey as a globally recognised destination for golf. “We were part of creating something so symbolic of the change Vietnam has seen in recent years,” said Greg Norman. “It’s a world-class golf course with a world-class academy.”