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VietNamNews

Teed Off (Oct 26, 2014)

Update: October, 26/2014 - 21:23

with Robert Bicknell

It's not often that a golf course can officially open and instantly become the number one course in the country, but The Bluffs at the Grand Ho Tram Strip did just that, and considering the heavyweight competition of Danang GC, Montgomerie Links and Laguna Lang Co, that says a lot about the project.

Yes folks, The Bluffs is now officially open.

Last weekend saw the ultimate launch of the newest Greg Norman-designed golf course in Ho Tram, The Bluffs. When you have the kind of activities they did, the kind of celebrities, both foreign and local, and over 600 VIP guests and media, its gonna be a huge blow-out.

And it was.

Topping the list, of course, was the Great White Shark himself, Greg Norman, who was, unfortunately, unable to participate in the Charity Exhibition match due to losing an argument with a chainsaw. However, former US Open winner Michael Campbell and Robert Rock stepped up to join with two Vietnamese lady professionals, Ngo Bao Nghi and Tang Thi Nhung in a team event.

Surprisingly, the ladies held their own and made a few key shots for their teams. In fact, one of them was actually responsible for keeping their team alive in the match on many occasions. No, I won't mention who (Michael Campbell, you owe me)…

Henry Epstein, a trick shot artist who has a Guinness World Book record for spinning a golf ball on the face of a putter, was on hand to demonstrate a few of his more famous tricks (you can catch more on YouTube) and amuse everyone with his antics. Note, you can also see him totally destroying Michael Campbell on one of The Bluff's par 3's with his commentary. Yes, also on YouTube.

Heading out poolside for the first evening's White Party (yes, everyone was supposed to dress in white in honour of The Great White Shark), DJ's Angie Vu Ha, Hang Milk (is that her REAL name? Sheesh!) and Vy Cherry kept the place rocking with their tight… mixes. They also appeared in Club 9 throughout the weekend, upstaged only by the lady pole dancers are in amazing physical shape. Money in the gym well-spent.

The first gala dinner to top off the Saturday tournament featured a string orchestra and a FOX Sports interview with Greg Norman, who was quite effuse with his comments on The Bluffs as well as Viet Nam in general. He appreciated all the efforts of the government to improve golf in Viet Nam, but also believes we are only at the beginning stages and have more to do, especially in the way of junior golf programs and finding ways to make it more affordable for the kids.

Sunday saw yet another Greg Norman press conference, this time with local and foreign media asking questions (I only piped up once, which is unusual, but most of my questions had already been answered by the Shark in an interview for Vietnam Golf Magazine earlier). Once again, Norman reiterated the need for improvement in junior golf and making the game more accessible to everyone.

This was followed by more trick shots, a putting clinic by Norman, and another tournament, this time with yours truly paired with trick shot artist, Henry Epstein (who also plays on the Asian Tours, Korean and Japanese Tours). We had a boombox in the buggy which was cranking out some hilarious golf themed tunes, albeit not so loud as to upset anyone around us and, as we were only a two-ball, decided to play off the back tees. Later, we found the other local pros played of the blue tees…yeah, that figures.

While I truly love playing at The Bluffs, I have never been a fan of six-hour rounds, but this was a grand opening and with so many players out there, of course it would be slow. Therefore, forget score and just enjoy the day.

And we did.

I honestly cannot remember when a course opening generated this much excitement, but its testament to the growth of the golf industry in Viet Nam and the continued improvement of golf courses in the country.

The Bluffs opened at number one in the country and, judging by comments of the foreign golf media, will be easily Top 10 Asia and, perhaps, Top 100 in the world.

I completely agree. — VNS

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