Land reclamation project for Golfplan


Land reclamation project for Golfplan
Sean Dudley

The course architects at Golfplan have stepped up construction of 18 resort holes in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Jeong San Vina Golf Club takes up unique residence on an island in the Saigon River, directly between the city’s expatriate district and its new international airport.

The course at Jeong San Vina GC will stretch out along a man-made waterfront that Golfplan will outfit with a 50-metre natural buffer and overarching tropical garden landscape. The golf will serve as anchor to a high-rise condominium and hotel development overlooking course, river and city.

“The plan is for Jeong San Vina to be a very high-end but still very accessible resort facility, which is just what the golf culture in Vietnam needs,” said Golfplan partner David Dale, who expects the course to open for play in late 2011. “When the hotel component is finished, it will function as an urban golf resort, and there’s nothing like that in Ho Chi Minh City today.”

Dale and the Korean development consortium backing this project, Taekwang Vina Industrial Co, have been poised to begin course construction in earnest for better than a year, but a series of factors had slowed matters until this spring. Most important, the bridge linking the island with the mainland — Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, just north of downtown — was not completed until March 2010.

Secondarily, all course development in Vietnam had been clouded somewhat during 2009 by lingering land-use, environmental and economic issues. This winter, however, the Vietnamese government issued a broad suite of golf course development guidelines that went a long way toward legitimising and codifying future development here. Decision 1946, issue in January 2010, regulates the number of courses that can be developed in Vietnam, without strict caps, while implicitly endorsing golf tourism for the first time. It also stipulates the type of land that can be made available to golf development going forward, while delineating a developer’s obligations to former landowners, the environment and local economies.

In reality, Jeong San Vina’s progress was additionally complicated by the extraordinary engineering efforts the site requires. According to Dale, more than 1.5 million cubic metres of fill were required to build up the site and in some ways create the waterfront landscape.

“All of this sand was dredged from the Saigon River north of our island, then transported by boat and pumped onto the site in a watery slurry, which is spread around the property by a network of giant piping,” Dale explained. “It’s a pretty impressive process. There were some 20 cubic metres of fill per boatload. Do the maths. When you do, you can understand why it’s taken two years to complete the reclamation.”

Spreading the fill around this site, in the context of golf construction and shaping, is nearly as complicated as getting it there. According to Dale, because of the very high water table, no more than four metres of fill are allowed anywhere on the site, lest that spot recede. “This is not the sort of project that can be improvised in the field,” Dale said. “The grades of our architectural drawings must be extraordinarily precise, and each green site will be supported by pilings to support and reinforce elevations that will exceed the four metre limit.”

Jeong San Vina will play 6,595m from the championship tees and feature a diverse mixture of bunkering, from enormous, sandy waste areas that tie into greenside hazards, to the free-standing bunkers that dictate strategy in the fairways and off the tee.

“The golf holes must work in the context of practical environmental matters,” said Dale. “The wetlands at Jeong San Vina, for example, were created so that when the river rises to its highest point, water will be accepted onto the course site and into this network of wetlands. It’s a very attractive, totally golf-centric form of stormwater retention capability. What’s more, our lakes are set higher than the wetlands. When the lakes overflow, they release into the wetland network.”