CAM RANH, Vietnam — Greg Norman, one of the most prolific and venerated golf course designers in the world, said during his latest visit to Vietnam that KN Golf Links Cam Ranh’s breadth of character will make for an experience unlike any other in the booming golf nation.
"The scale and natural topography of the property lends itself beautifully to a great variety of golf holes," Mr. Norman said while playing with the course’s owner — KN Investment Group Chairman Le Van Kiem — and other influential figures in an invitation-only tournament earlier this month.
"It plays links because there’s a lot of up and down and natural contouring to the layout, so you get these sensational visuals from tee boxes especially and really cool run-off areas where the ball can roll and turn. It’s a lot of fun already."
Scheduled to officially open later this year, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh will be Mr. Norman's third course in Vietnam and the first in Cam Ranh, a new resort destination taking shape along an 8-kilometer stretch of incomparable coastline less than an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City.
The span is dominated by spectacular white sand dunes and is within minutes of an international airport that by May will be home to a new, US $163 million terminal.
Mr. Norman’s 104th creation is located at the southernmost end of that long and gently curving sweep, interrupted only by a ruggedly beautiful headland and where the height of some of the terrain makes for a number of remarkable viewpoints.
KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is routed through many of those spots. Two of Mr. Norman’s favorites are at the 10th and 15th holes, a pair of par-4s that play downhill toward azure ocean waters and three small islands about 10 kilometers offshore.
But what one of the greatest golfers of all time likes most about the 7,165-yard, par-72 layout is its playability.
“You can make a course difficult, but you can also make it so people can get around on their own skills,” said Mr. Norman, who was known as The Great White Shark during his playing days and held the No. 1 ranking for a remarkable 331 weeks. “What’s clear to me here, especially after observing a range of players have a go at it, is that anyone can play all 18 holes.”
Managed with consultation from IMG, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is among 31 courses in Vietnam in some stage of development and the third golf facility developed by Mr. Kiem, whose company also owns and operates award-winning Long Thanh Golf Club near Ho Chi Minh City and popular Long Vien Golf Club in Vientiane, Laos.
“There is a reason Greg Norman Golf Course Design is recognized as the premier signature golf course design firm in the world,” said Mr. Kiem, who represented Vietnam in golf in the 1999 SEA Games. “His design philosophy of ‘least disturbance’ — whereby he effectively utilizes the surrounding environment while highlighting natural features — has given golfers so many world-class courses.
“KN Golf Links Cam Ranh is Mr. Norman’s latest masterpiece, and perhaps his most distinct links-style golf course in Asia, if not the world.”
When finished, KN Golf Links Cam Ranh will be the first milestone in the inaugural phase of KN Paradise, an 800-hectare hospitality venture that’s also slated to include a suite of hotels, an array of real estate opportunities and entertainment options, and at least nine more holes designed by Mr. Norman.
“I could not be more pleased with how this project is coming together,” Mr. Kiem said. “It fills me with pride and I cannot wait for the rest of the world to see it and experience it.”