Nicklaus at work on new course for Royal Golf Club in Vietnam

  • RGC

    Construction is under way on the Queen’s course at Royal Golf Club, designed by Jack Nicklaus II

  • RGC

    The green site for the ninth hole

  • RGC

    “Our golf routing flows nicely from softer contours with lakes and open views to tighter contours with beautiful and unusual rock outcroppings,” says Nicklaus II

  • RGC

    Nicklaus Design is incorporating rock outcroppings into holes to define strategy

  • RGC

    The club expects the course to open in June 2021

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Construction work is in progress on a Jack Nicklaus II golf course at Royal Golf Club near Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Queen’s course, which is expected to open in June 2021, will become the second course at the club, joining the King’s course, designed by Peter Rousseau.

“Royal is unlike any site I have seen,” said Jack Nicklaus II. “It is unusual and extraordinary. Our golf routing flows nicely from softer contours with lakes and open views to tighter contours with beautiful and unusual rock outcroppings. The property at Royal demands our full attention. Unlike a typical land-planning exercise, our site at Royal is dictating the where and how. I am mostly reacting to existing land features with design and strategies. We will find and shape a golf course that will be enjoyed by golf and outdoor enthusiasts for years to come.”

“One of our tasks was to create a unique and challenging golfing experience that would have significant contrast to the existing course,” said Jim Wagner of Nicklaus Design.

“On the King’s course, almost all of the site’s natural rock outcroppings have been overgrown with plant material and rarely do these become part of the strategy. So, exposing the rock outcroppings on the Queen’s layout to help influence strategy was a vision Jack II had addressed during his very first site visit.

“That approach has really allowed us to reduce bunkering on several holes and to develop or enhance the strategy and framing of each hole as rock is discovered and exposed during construction. When golf holes evolve naturally during construction, I feel everyone on the job is having more fun discussing unique opportunities and executing concepts and the result is a far more interesting and engaging golfing experience.”

Flagstick Golf Course Construction Management – led by Martin Moore and with project manager Boyd Bolte on site – began clearing and exposing rock in August 2019. Eleven holes are currently being rough-shaped and storm drainage is being installed.

“I’m excited to see how golfers challenge the rock on several holes to take advantage of more rewarding approach angles into greens,” said Wagner. “You can get yourself into some uncomfortable situations if you fail to execute an aggressive line of play.

“The front nine has more elevation change and therefore some impressive tee shots with distant views,” said Wagner. “The elevation changes on the back nine are more subtle, yet the short thirteenth plays around an isolated hill that blinds out the green, offering great risk-reward. This same hill is where the tees on the long fourteenth sit; the views of the back nine below and the mountains to the west will be expansive and quite memorable.

“The rock is not as present through the middle of the back nine, but holes sixteen to eighteen show it off once again for a dramatic finishing stretch,” continued Wagner. “The eighteenth features a split fairway with a substantial rock outcropping between the two fairway pads that should create some interesting finishes to matches and plenty of chatter within the Vietnam golfing community.”

The project team includes shaper Don Page, irrigation consultant Jeff Stamper of Prevost Stamper Irrigation and project agronomist Cameron Thompson.

“It is truly an honour for me to be part of a great team at Royal,” said Nicklaus II. “The site at Royal is spectacular. If we do our job correctly, the golf experience at Royal will be equally spectacular.”