Quy Nhon, Vietnam, Feb 23: In the golf business, Vietnam has become known for punching well above its weight.
With an estimated 100,000 golfers and fewer than 40 courses, the country might seem a lightweight as a golf wannabee.
But first appearances can be misleading. For a start, Vietnam is the only country actively building and opening multiple new courses. It is also high on the list of international golf travellers – evidenced by the upcoming Asian Golf Tourism Convention to be staged by London-based International Association of Golf Tour Operators in Danang, Vietnam in May.
And when it comes to staging amateur golf tournaments, Vietnam can show the rest of the world how it’s done.
There is no better example than the 2017 FLC Golf Championship, held last weekend in Quy Nhon, on Vietnam’s south-central coast.
Held over three days, it attracted 1350 golfers – mainly from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with a sprinkling from other domestic markets as well as Japan and Korea – making it easily Asia’s largest and most successful amateur tournament.
Now after its sixth tournament, no other event in Asia comes close to matching the event for size, organisation and golfer appeal.
For about USD200, each participant played one championship round on the Nicklaus Design course at FLC Golf Links Quy Nhon, another practice round on the new Mountain Course that has just opened, and were treated to a gala dinner with prizes and entertainment.
Oh yes, the prizes. One lucky player, Mr Phuong Tran came from Ho Chi Minh City with friends for the tournament, scored a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole and went home with no fewer than three luxury cars, a condole at the FLC Quy Nhon Beach and Golf Resort and USD10,000. Not bad for a weekend outing!
Mr Luu Duc Quang, the chairman of Biscom, the company that operates FLC Group’s golf resorts, says the tournament, now in its sixth year (the second year at Quy Nhon), becomes more attractive and professional.
Initially held at external courses near Hanoi, the advantages of bringing participants to FLC’s own resort and strong promotion to the Vietnamese golf community results in sold-out attendance.
This year, sponsors, including FLC Group, provided luxury cars, a condotel, cash, golf equipment and golf stay-and-play vouchers valued at almost 7 billion Dong (approx. USD300,000) while live scoring of results allowed players to follow their fortunes as they came off the course.
The tournament also raised money for charity – 150 million Dong (approx. USD6500) was collected for schools damaged by storms last year in Binh Dinh province.
Next year’s tournament is planned for the new FLC Golf Links Ha Long Bay, which is scheduled to open for play in mid-2017.