Stone Highland Golf & Resort, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, has opened an 18-hole golf course designed by Brian Curley, the first of two planned layouts.
The 36-hole project is built and owned by Truong An Golf Company, the same firm that developed the 27-hole Stone Valley Resort, also designed by Curley.
“The mountainous site is unique in that it is located near a vast area of flat rice fields,” said Curley. “The property abruptly stands out above the fields and features tall, very steep mountainous slopes with a significant amount of rock, yet we were able to craft holes that challenge players with creative solutions to elevation change and cross slopes.”
The northern boundary of the site is 100 metres higher than the lowest point and therefore meant abrupt cut slopes were necessary. “This is one of the most difficult sites I have ever dealt with but the result is a number of holes with massive top-of-the-world views over the vast valley floor,” said Curley.
Read more: Brian Curley spoke about the challenges of designing on steep sites in the Winter 2022 edition of By Design
Curley adds: “The front nine certainly was most difficult as it was rocky terrain within the heart of the mountain grades, while the back nine is on much more golf-friendly land, as holes march along the lower toe of slope. My first design intent was creating adequate width and, from there, to craft holes with memorable features, especially with a wide variety of green complexes”.
Two holes from the back nine highlighted by Curley are the sixteenth and eighteenth. “Sixteen is a mid-length par four that doglegs left to right with sweeping views of the valley floor to the right and a nice backdrop of pines,” he said. “The green has a fall-away, lower back lobe tucked behind a slew of bunkers.
“The eighteenth is a par five that plays from elevated tees to a bunkered landing area, then slightly uphill to what is one of the most severe greens, featuring a significant dip in the centre. The backdrop mountain view is the site of the second course, exhibiting the severe terrain we dealt with, but also showing the elevation change that offers the sweeping views.”
The second course at Stone Highland is in construction and will play over a less severe terrain but still offer commanding views from high above.