The second course designed by Brian Curley at the FLC Quang Binh development in Vietnam has opened for play.
The Ocean Dunes layout is located within the 2,400-hectare development in Hanoi – just south of Dong Hoi – that runs along a six-kilometre beach. It is the second of a possible ten courses for the complex, with the first – Forest Dunes – having opened last year. “It is a very dramatic contrast of white sand, emerald green paspalum turf, dark green pines, multi-coloured wetlands, and sparkling blue waterways, all overlooking the ocean,” said Curley.
Ocean Dunes begins playing into a native forest from elevated tees that make up part of a man-made dune complex that includes the first, tenth and fifteenth tees, as well as the ninth and fourteenth greens. “This area had been the flattest portion of the site, but excavation of nearby irrigation lakes created the material to create the dune and raise the clubhouse pad,” said Curley.
“I was raised in Pebble Beach near Cypress Point and was always fascinated by what I call the ‘hub’ dune that features greens and tees in the middle of the course, most notably the ninth green and tenth tee. Here, it also doubles as a chance to pick up ocean views.
“The site offered plenty of natural casuarina pine vegetation along with the white sand base. These sandy expanses were also covered with wispy showings of native bunch grasses and pine needles, creating a rugged look. Much of the sand is incorporated not as typical formal bunkering, but as wide swathes of open sand and as up-dunes.
“Ocean Dunes plays along the natural terrain, tying into the surrounds. This pattern is broken in some instances, including the created dune complex for the large double green for the second and fifth holes and the tees for the third. The third plays from atop a high point that was expanded during construction into a large dune and features a deep gouged out low, with a prominent centreline dune slightly blinding the wide fairway.
“Open sand areas feature transitional outer edges that work their way to the natural perimeter and the turf areas, consequently, meander along irregular lines that mimic the natural terrain,” continues Curley. “Great care was taken to naturally drain the turf areas without any need for drains, further pushing the natural look.”
The par-three fourth and seventh each feature backdrops of the primary dune complex that was naturally created off the beachfront.
“The mid-length par-three twelfth plays into the teeth of the wind directly out to the beach, but is followed up by a short, reachable par four with the wind at your back and features a massive ridgeline dune that is largely turf. If carried, the ball is propelled towards the large undulating green,” said Curley. “If not carried, balls will likely roll back leaving a blind second shot.
“The course ends with a stretch of beachfront holes, finishing with pars of 4-3-5, including the reachable par-five eighteenth that plays over a large waterway into a dramatic backdrop of dunes and features a bowled-out green surrounded by open sand.
“In recent designs, I have focused much more on creating greens that accept and hold good shots with bowls, kick-slopes, feeder ridges, slight backboards, etc. In this market, there is a strong demand to bring the visuals off the tee and not dumb down the experience from tee to green, all while keeping playability intact without slowing play.”
Construction was handled by Flagstick Golf Course Management and directed by Martin Moore and his team, which included site manager Joey Cagle and lead shaper Don Page.
Curley remains busy in Vietnam with additional FLC projects planned to start soon. He is also currently adding nine holes at Stone Valley Golf Resort, just south of Hanoi, as well as finishing the fourth course at Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand, set for a late 2019 opening.
This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.