A natural destination

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There are more and more golf courses in Vietnam, but not many keep the natural charms of their surroundings.

The Ocean Dunes Golf Club, however, boasts a natural landscape with a lake, lotus ponds, sea views, sand dunes, hills and big trees, which are home to many species of bird. There is also an old temple located inside the golf course.

Playing at Ocean Dunes feels as though you're free and far away. The landscape changes quickly from windy grassy hills to dunes with big trees along the beach. Designed by Sir Nick Faldo, Ocean Dunes was the first golf course in Vietnam laid out by one of golf design's household names. The idea was to give golfers a taste of the Vietnamese countryside while they play.

Ocean Dunes opened for play in 1996 and was the first new course built outside Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The club has taken full advantage of the country's long and sandy coast line. It was the first golf property to feature luxury accommodations on site, at the Novotel Phan Thiet.

 "At that time, you've got to remember, a joint venture between a foreign company and a People's Committee "” in Binh Thuan Province, no less, way outside the traditional commercial centers "” was unheard of," said Ocean Dunes general manager Glenn Cassells, an Australian whose professional experience in Vietnam dates back to 2000.

OCEAN DUNES GOLF CLUB

1 Ton Duc Thang Street,
Phan Thiet Town
Tel: (062) 382 3366

Ocean Dunes is home to the Vietnam Open Championship, and is the only course to ever hold the event. It is the regular host of the Faldo Series Asia, the most prestigious junior golf series in all of Asia.

The Ocean Dunes Club Championship weekend is more than a mere tournament, with its many divisions, diversions (closest-to-the-pin, longest drive, straightest drive contests each day), gala banquets and lucky draws. There is even a special division for non-members, so that guests might join the fun equally.

"It's actually quite instructive to spend time with members and their guests during an event like the Club Championship," Cassells said. "If you park yourself behind the 9th green, or on the 13th tee, it's wonderful to see the reactions of guests when they first encounter the East Sea and the wide vistas of surf and sand."

Cassells refers to the spectacular 9th, an uphill par-3 of 148 yards to a green set amid the dunes with the East Sea horizon as backdrop. Recently named the country's best par-3, it's also been called out as one of the top 500 holes in the world. Meanwhile, the only thing separating the par-4 13th from the beach is a line palm trees.

"You don't just see the ocean at 13, you hear it," Cassells said. "We have some members who have been with us since the very beginning. They know the course so well, a scene like that can become commonplace. So it's a real delight for members to bring guests and experience Ocean Dunes through different eyes. It fills them with pride."

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