Both hotels have beautiful restaurants and you can watch the food being cooked for you. The chef's are great fun and love to chat to you while they prepare your food and the breakfast buffets are just stunning you, could spend all morning there, trying to choose what to have, from fresh fruit, freshly cooked breakfast, pancakes, plus meats and cheeses.
Par 5 10th through the dunes
Par 3 11th so close to an ace Small long green at the 12th
I couldn’t get the sound of Robin Williams waking up the US troops with his “Gooooood Mornnnnning Vietnammmmm” in the film depicting DJ Adrian Cronauer’s time there, when I was told I would be going on a press trip to Danang in Vietnam. I was to play two tracks, one designed by Greg Norman, who is now as well known for his golf course designs as he is for winning two Open Championships. The other was designed by winning Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who is also making a name for himself around the globe with some impressive tracks under his belt.
I arrived at the Nam Hai, one of the two impressive hotels I would be staying in, as well as the Lifestyle resort. The Nam Hai is a villa-based resort, while the Lifestyle resort is room-based with a couple of villas. I am writing this section of my review in the Nam Hai from a desk behind the raised bed looking out of the opened french doors of my villa, as the waves crash on the shore. I have not long come back from a yoga session followed by breakfast taken on the terrace beside the pool.
I have an outside shower in my villa's enclosed garden, (there’s an inside shower if you want, but where is the fun in that?). Showering outside is a very liberating experience and one I would truly recommend. I would also recommend staying at least one night in the Nam Hai or the Lifestyle resort; they are both worth the money for the breakfast alone. They have local chefs that you can watch produce some stunning dishes in a beautiful environment, or treat yourself to a relaxing massage and spa after a tough day at the course, in tranquil surroundings. What a great way to unwind after a three putt!!!
Back to the golf, the first course I played was the Greg Norman-designed Danang Golf Club. I was welcomed by Phil Wright, the head professional, an Aussie lad from Melbourne, which gave me a chance to get a dig in about the Ashes; and Howie Roberts, a Welsh lad - both quality guys. Phil showed me around the course both days I played. Phil caddied for Ian Baker Finch while he was on tour and was his bagman at Augusta, but missed out on carrying his clubs when he won the Open at Royal Birkdale. He is training the caddies here, so by the time you decided to make the trip, you know they will be well worth the recommended tip.
You have a choice of four different tees to play from ranging from 7,160 yards from the Shark tees, to 5,684 yards from the Reds. The first is a nice gentle opener, a slight dogleg right of 407 yards from the Shark tees, the tee shot is played over a ridge and if you catch the down slope you will have little more than a wedge in. This is where the fun starts, the most important shot is your shot into the green, if you are on the wrong side of some of the ridges that run through the green, you will have little chance of two-putting.
All the greens here are tough and if you put your ball in the wrong position you are looking at three putting if not more, that’s why a lot of emphasis is placed on the pin position card that you are given at the beginning of your round. I would recommend you take a lot of notice of it before you play your second shot, some greens are 40 yards deep, which depending on pin position, could be the difference between playing an 8-iron and a 4-iron into the green.
Stand-out holes for me were all the par threes, I really didn’t think there was a weak one among them and the signature 16th hole, at 148 yards from the Shark tees, is truly breath-taking. With the ocean waves crashing on the shore and the Chem mountains as a backdrop, you need to make sure you keep focused, as again position on the green is vital. Make sure you look out for the Viet Cong pillbox between the 16th green and the 17th tee.
There are some great par 4s on the course and all the tee shots just inspire you to play well. I really don’t want to name just a few holes, because they all deserve a lot more detail than I can give you here.
The Danang Golf Club reminded me a lot of the tracks around Liverpool and the North West coast of England and in particular Formby, but with more sand dunes and bunkers. The tight-cut grass on the fairways and the way the ball sits up, just waiting to be picked off, as well as the whispery grass around the bunkers, will make anyone who loves links golf feel right at home.
Next up was Monty’s track, which is just a couple of minutes from Danang Golf Club but is a totally different design. I think the two tracks complement each other very well. Colin has designed more of a resort course which looks a lot greener, but don’t be fooled, this can be a beast off the back tees and at the par 5 12th you will have to navigate your way around 14 bunkers on just that one hole.
What I did enjoy about this track was the opening and closing holes both being par 5s, giving you a great chance to start and finish with a birdie or better. Again there are four different tees to play from and they measure 7,063 yards from the Monty tees to 5,085 from the reds. Both nines have some stunning holes and I really enjoyed the run of holes from the 3rd to the 8th. Make sure you take time out after playing your second shot to the 4th green to go and look at the brightly coloured little prayer pagoda. There is also one behind the 13th green, you never know it may help your score!
The short but tough little par 3 5th hole is only 118 yards off the back tees but is all carry over water. Behind you are paddy fields where you can see the locals working away, a lot of the caddies used to work in those fields before the two golf courses were built here.
I really enjoyed the tee shot at the 6th, you aim at the far bunker and carry the first and just let your ball drift right to left so you can pick up the slope on this well designed par 5.The extra length will help you hit a mid iron into this green where the water cuts in from the left-hand side. Not far from the tee you will again find one of the old Viet Cong pillboxes.
The back nine is longer than the front nine and I really enjoyed the run of holes from the 13th to the 17th and then the birdie chance on the 18th is a really true test, but one you will enjoy.
Danang and the historical city of Hoi Am are only 20 minutes apart and separated by a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline where a number of resorts are being built, the Nam Hai and Lifestyle resort among them. This is set to become a great golf destination with some stunning resorts to stay at. That’s not to say there aren't some great cheap hotels as well that cover all budgets, but Danang is somewhere I would recommend. It's got everything you would want for a golf tour, great courses, great food, fantastic night life and at 65p for a beer, great value when you get there.