HO TRAM, Vietnam — 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 storied Royal Troon Golf Club 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.
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.