Vietnam earmarked for rapid golf growth

Growing Golf
A golf resort in Vietnam

Cho Minn Thant, CEO of the Asian Tour, has backed Vietnam to become Asia’s next world-class golf tourism destination.

Speaking via video link at the recent Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) conference, Cho predicted Vietnam will soon rival Thailand and Indonesia as Asia’s leading golf tourism hotspot.

“In terms of scenery, in terms of course conditioning, in terms of the eagerness of the country to embrace golf, Vietnam is second to none in Asia,” said Cho.

Cho referenced the pace of development in the Southeast Asian country, which Forbes magazine called the “world’s fastest growing golf market.”

“I know there’s a lot of new courses being developed in Vietnam. The coastline is beautiful, the climate is great. So, it’s just a matter of time before Vietnam becomes a destination that’s very recognisable in the world of golf tourism,” said Cho.

According to The R&A’s latest Global Golf Participation report, there are 96 golf courses in Vietnam, Asia’s 15th largest country with a population of 97.4 million people.

Golfasian, a leading inbound golf tour operator, says a further 65 golf projects are currently in planning, development and construction; mainly focused on building high specification courses at premium coastal resorts.

Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Robert Trent Jones Jr. are some of the high-profile designers to have opened courses along Vietnam’s 3,260 km South China Sea coastline.

Cho believes Vietnam also has the potential to host the game’s biggest events.

“There’s no shortage of clubs in Vietnam with world-class facilities. There are existing courses that are world-class in terms of turf grass, in terms of clubhouse facilities, F&B and accessibility to a major airport. Vietnam has it all.

"There are some remote locations which are spectacular but maybe just need a little bit more time for the infrastructure to develop. But in terms of ability to host tournaments there are multiple locations and multiple golf courses in Vietnam that can host a professional golf tournament right now,” said Cho.

The Asian Tour International Series hosted its first event in Vietnam last April, at the Greg Norman-designed KN Golf Links in Nah Trang, and Cho says the country will soon start producing homegrown winners on the Asian circuit.

The 2023 AGIF Conference was held in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang, from August 28-31, and covered topics including women in sport, growing golf through tourism and the future of golf course design.