South course opens at Legend Valley in Vietnam

  • Legend Valley
    Nicklaus Design

    The par-four seventh on the South course at the new Legend Valley Country Club near Ha Nam, Vietnam

  • Legend Valley
    Nicklaus Design

    The Nicklaus Design layout has water on almost every hole

  • Legend Valley
    Nicklaus Design

    From the elevated back tee on the 197-yard sixth, players hit to a green perched above a five-metre-high retaining wall

  • Legend Valley
    Nicklaus Design

    Mountains frame holes and provide backdrops to greens

  • Legend Valley
    Nicklaus Design

    The North course will enter construction in August 2023

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

The South course at the new Legend Valley Country Club near Ha Nam, Vietnam, has opened for play. The layout is the first of two from Nicklaus Design planned for the resort.

Located an hour’s drive south of Hanoi, Legend Valley (the resort previously had a working title of Rose Canyon) is the fourth collaboration between Nicklaus Design and developer BRG Group, and its North and South courses will be the seventh and eighth Nicklaus Design layouts in the country.

Water is in play on 13 of the 18 holes of the South. “I had visited the site initially in 2016 and walked a few sections of the property that were accessible,” said Sean Quinn, senior design associate at Nicklaus Design. “Although I had a good feel for the topography and rock formations, and the routing worked well on paper, we had very little idea what we would find when we accessed all the areas.

“What dictated our design was the complexity of the rock formations and mountains that the course meanders through,” said Quinn. “The back nine has an abundance of water; lakes were created to generate fill material to elevate the fairways above the flood zone. To mitigate the abundance of water, the playing areas are very generous. However, to score well, players need to negotiate the strategic water carefully.

“The layout was routed entirely on paper as most of the site was inaccessible and waterlogged due to it being an old rock quarry and full of water. During construction there were many pleasant surprises, as sections were elevated and dried. Virtually every hole was a revelation. The owner allowed us the flexibility during construction to make minor adjustments to optimise key features of the site.

“The abundance of large rock boulders provided us with the opportunity to create retaining walls throughout the course. These walls are a key visual feature of the course, adding to the spectacular vistas.” WR RockGroup Construction harvested enough boulders to create 2,400 metres of the dry-stacked walls.

With BRG’s other courses hosting an average of 60,000 rounds per year, Nicklaus Design specified very large greens and a minimum of four large tees per hole, ranging from 5,281 to 7,317 yards, to cater for players of all abilities.

For Quinn, the par threes are a particular highlight of the round. “They are really exciting and varied,” he told GCA. “The fourth can be played anywhere between 145 and 280 yards. You hit to a semi-Redan-type green, which played into the prevailing wind on opening day.

“From the elevated back tee on the sixth, which comes in at 197 yards, players hit to a green perched between a cliff and a five-metre-high rock wall. This will be one of the most photographed holes on the course.”

The eleventh requires a forced carry to a large green and the fifteenth plays over diagonal water to a green defended by a single pot bunker.

With the South now open, work turns to the North, where Nicklaus Design will work with the same team of Shang Yih Construction, Toro, Jeff Stamper, Jebsen & Jessen, BRG project manager Gavin Reid, and Brett Saggus, golf course superintendent at BRG Legend Hill and BRG Ruby Tree Golf Resorts.

“The North is marginally shorter than the South at 7,023 yards, mainly due to site constraints, but is every bit as scenic,” said Quinn. “The eighteenth hole will require partial blasting of an 80-metre-high mountain to allow the hole to return to the clubhouse.”

Many holes on the North will also require fill to elevate them out of the flood zone, so there will again be several water hazards. “Lakes will be excavated as deep as possible to generate fill,” said Quinn.

Construction of the North course will begin in August 2023 and is expected to be complete within two years.