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VietNamNews

Teed Off (Jul 6, 2014)

Update: July, 06/2014 - 18:28

with Robert Bicknell

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas wrote a powerful piece where he urges the people to "not go quietly into that good night / rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Well, apparently, the members of Ocean Dunes Golf Course (aka Phan Thiet GC) are refusing to go quietly into that good night and have decided to take the fight to Rang Dong Corporation through a series of legal maneuvers at top national government levels.

For those of you living in a cave, ODGC has had many different owners over the years, many of which didn't have the money to maintain it properly and was eventually sold to Rang Dong Corporation, owner and developer of Sea Links GC, also in Phan Thiet.

While Sea Links Golf Course has a nice location, it is not amongst the favourite golf courses of most players in Viet Nam. The course was designed to be ridiculously difficult and both the owner and the architect point the finger of blame on each other for the problem, but the problem remains… it is not an enjoyable round.

On the other hand, ODGC is a Nick Faldo designed golf course that closely resembles Pinehurst No 2, which hosted the last US Open and is considered one of the top golf courses in the world.

While you can "see" the ocean from Sea Links, ODGC is actually an oceanfront golf course, and that is what presents the problem. Everyone wants beachfront property to develop…especially Rang Dong Corporation who has since closed ODGC to build an "urban area".

While I haven't actually seen the plan that Rang Dong Corp. is putting forward, when I hear the term "urban area", I envision low income housing for poor people.

However, we all know that there is no way in Hell that anyone is going to take prime beachfront real estate and give it to poor people.

Heck, you can build five huge oceanfront mansions on the ODGC beach front, or 20 - 30 high end bungalows there. Either of which option would result in US$50-100 million in return to the developer, which is why I simply cannot envision an "urban development" for poor people ever happening there...

Unless we have redefined "poor" as those people earning less than $10 million dollars per year.

The "Members Committee of ODGC" has also met to discuss the situation and, for the most part, have rejected the offer from Rang Dong Corporation to convert their ODGC memberships to Sea Links memberships, and for very good reason.

One is a Nick Faldo course which has been the site of many well-known tournaments, brought the "Faldo Series" international junior golf tournament to Viet Nam, has one of the world's "Top 500 holes" (Golf Magazine) and is recognized overseas as a top golf tourist destination.

The other course (Sea Links) is one that most people dislike playing.

Personally, I'd recommend that Rang Dong Corp keep the Faldo Course and bulldoze the Sea Links course to build more high end villas because the view from up there is fantastic with lots of cool breezes. They could have the best of both worlds and everyone would be happy - especially the Sea Links members…

Unfortunately, ODGC has always been in a borderline state of disrepair due to the lack of investment by the different owners and, since being closed in April, has fallen even further. The good news is that golf courses are not buildings which need to be condemned when falling apart. Golf courses are alive and can be returned to good health with some expert care.

Ocean Dunes GC can compete with any of the top golf courses in Viet Nam, providing that whoever owns it hires the right people to operate it; puts money into proper maintenance and repair of the irrigation / drainage system and puts together a good marketing team.

The other problem, of course, is the traffic police in Dong Nai province who seem to have a never ending love affair with speed traps. With the opening of the new highway, visitors and tourists should have an faster and easier time getting out to the club.

If the hotel and golf course work together, everyone can have a very enjoyable time at a course which helped to put golf on the map in Viet Nam.

And that would be a good thing… — VNS

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