Sea Links Golf Course - Heaven or Hell
Since it’s opening in 2006, Sea Links has been the topic of conversation of many golfers in Vietnam. Located in the popular tourism area of Ham Tien, Mui Ne, Sea Links has been voted on many occasions as the most challenging golf course in Vietnam. The writer has been involved with Sea Links since the appointment of the golf architect, Ron Fream of Golfplan.
Ron reckoned that this was one of the last golf courses he would design – he was well into his 60’s by then and had already designed over 150 golf courses world-wide – and would make it the most challenging he has ever designed. And he certainly has achieved that!
As a golfer who has played this links style golf course on many occasions, I can tell you I have lost many golf balls and for sure played well over my handicap most times.
So what makes this championship course so demanding? When you first arrive at Sea Links, you have no idea what you have in front of you. Your first view of the golf course is undulating fairways with beautiful views of the ocean. The impressive club house and welcoming receptionists greet you with a smile. You change in the large, well equipped locker rooms and then meet your caddie, waiting for you by your buggy.
The driving range is to hand and provides the opportunity to warm up before you set out on your adventure. The caddie will automatically take you to the blue tees, because, regardless of playing ability, these are the “Asian” tees – the ones which all Asians play off. You do not want to appear inadequate and you make no indication to go to the fairer and more enjoyable white tees. The forward or red tees are the least demanding, by the way. You see in front of you fairways the like of which you have never seen before. Severe undulations, huge bunkers and then the fear factor comes in.
Your caddie will tell you where to aim and you do your best. Having got over your nerves, you then view the enormous greens, with awaiting bunkers. And the greens are huge!! The distance from the front to the back of the green can be a difference of two or three clubs. But it is the bunkers that can destroy your game, especially the monster on the right hand side of the second green.
When you arrive at the seventh hole, you will be amazed and delighted at the view over the East China Sea and with clear visibility, you can see the famous Ke Ga lighthouse. The views will take away the difficulty of the hole, a dog leg right with out of bounds on the right and a bunker just where you would like to hit your drive to. The eight hole, a par 3, has been voted as best par 3 in Vietnam and the sea breeze makes club selection very difficult.
There are no easy holes at Sea Links but I have to say, it is well worth the experience of playing. Forget the rows of villas that make it look like a housing estate, ignore the condominiums that block the views and let yourself in for the challenge of a lifetime and I bet you will do like everyone else – come back and play the golf course again.
Because the next time you know you will do better, the same as everyone else. One day I am going to tame this course and afterwards raise a glass of beer to the devil himself, Ron Fream.
It is heaven or is it hell? Play the course and decide. Let us know your thoughts!
Sea Links is located in Mui Ne and is part of the Sea Links City Group, with a hotel, villa and condominium complex.