The Dragon Turn - night golf at Vattenac Golf Resort
There has been quite an explosion in golf in Cambodia in recent years. There is a huge desire to develop the tourist trade and enhance the prestige of this remarkable country.
The country is a hot destination and at its mildest in January, with temperatures for golf in the low 80’s, but move up to the mid 90’s in April. It is a monsoon climate, so carefully select your dates before booking a trip. The country is poor with a low GDP and multiple problems associated with poverty and as it emerges from the dreadful and brutal legacy of Pol Pot forty years ago.
But Cambodia is very beautiful, with much to offer the intrepid tourist, and is embracing golf. Golf is a great unifier and it is hoped that the country will gain much by encouraging visitors to some stunning courses and remarkable scenery.
Vattanac Golf Resort, one of the most anticipated properties in Asia, has become the second Cambodian venue to join the Faldo Design portfolio, following the opening of the East Course.
Measuring over 7,500 yards, the golf course has unique design features taking inspiration from the Bayon temple at Siem Reap, as well as actual on-course replicas of other pre-Angkorian structures, including the Preah Vihear and Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world. The design sets the innovation standard for golf in Cambodia, offering a unique combination of culture, leisure, and golf.
Located only 20km from the centre of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, this is one of two unique championship-standard golf courses sitting at the heart of the luxury resort, with the West Course having recently been completed.
Over the past decade, Cambodia has come into its own among Southeast Asia golf destinations, pairing championship-quality courses alongside the rich cultural attractions of the ancient Khmer civilisations, in addition to leisure activities and historical tours.
Local identity was the focus for Sir Nick Faldo and his team during the design phase of this project. The end result is therefore made all the more impressive by the fact that during the first site visit, there was nothing but flat, featureless land within clay basins, requiring large scale earthworks that were initially hampered by severe flooding in 2013, delaying the East Course’s construction.
Andrew Haggar, Faldo Design Lead Architect, said: “Vattanac Golf Resort has been one of the more challenging but rewarding projects Faldo Design has undertaken, as we literally had a blank canvas with one or two trees on a flat plot of land that used to be occupied by rice paddy fields. The opening of the East Course was a proud moment for the design team – the golf course looks absolutely superb and the design features will soon become a talking point around the world.”
Sir Nick Faldo commented: “I’m very proud to finally see this course open for play, delivering on the bold development vision we were tasked with. After what was a detailed and bespoke creative design process, I am confident it will offer a strategic and memorable test to players of all standards and I look forward to seeing the impact it makes on the region’s golfing landscape.”
Since the opening of the East Course in May, it has become clear that Vattanac will eventually become a key competitor to Faldo’s additional Cambodian design, the award-winning Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap.
Including one of the best clubhouses in Cambodia, the Vattanac Golf Resort development master plan will also eventually see the addition of residential villas, a resort hotel, retail shops, an international school, and other sports and recreation facilities in order to attract international visitors.
The Vattanac Golf Resort is also proud to celebrate the opening of the spectacular “The Dragon Turn” night golf. The night golf is an exciting addition to the recently opened West Course and offers golfers a unique opportunity to play in the breathtaking surrounds of Phnom Penh under the cover of darkness. Night golf is a good fit for Cambodia, as the heat for much of the year is quite intense and paying after dark is much more comfdortable.
“The Dragon Turn” is aptly named by the lake’s shape that sits in the middle of three holes of this exciting 9-hole floodlit course. Inspired by ownership’s vision to create a venue with significant character, this lake is yet another unique feature that this resort plays host to. Night golf will be available for play from sunset with the last tee time at 9pm, creating a very special addition to Vattanac Golf Resort.
The launch of “The Dragon Turn” night golf comes after a successful end to 2020 for the resort following the opening of the second Faldo Design course, the West Course, and the East Course being named ‘Cambodia’s Best Golf Course’ at the 2020 World Golf Awards.
With imposing character and striking identity, the East Course has received high praise from golfers the world over. Set within captivating natural surroundings, the East is a strategic golf course that utilises dramatic water features, creative bunkering, and various forms of native fauna to challenge golfers of all levels. Over and above the highly enjoyable golf experience, the East pays homage to the marvels of Khmer architecture and the country’s rich history, with magnificent scale replicas of the world-renowned Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and Preah Vihear Temple.
The West Course will certainly contend with the East Course as not only one of the best in Cambodia, but also one of the best in Asia. The West Course has distinctive differences from the East Course, of which are defined by narrower and more undulating fairways, a variety of unique water features and testing Paspalum greens. Cultural sculptures and stunning landscaping attribute to the striking scenery of Cambodia’s newest golf course.
The West is a rewarding test of skill for players of all levels, featuring 5 sets of tees, starting at 4,935 yards, right through to 7,249 yards.
Karl Whitehead, General Manager at Vattanac Golf Resort, commented: “It’s been an incredibly exciting end to 2020 and start to 2021 for us at Vattanac Golf Resort. The announcement of the 9-holes of night golf on the West Course showcases how we, not only want to compete to have the best championship courses in Asia, but we also, under Mr Vattanac’s vision, want to offer golfers a fresh and exciting approach to the game. The dramatic landscape of “The Dragon Turn” under the night sky will hopefully provide golfers this.”
Cambodia’s luxury golf resort continues through the next phase of the integrated resort development to soon include a world acclaimed Golf Academy.
For more information on Vattanac Golf Resort, visit www.vattanacgolfresort.com.
The first Cambodian golf course opened in December 1996.
• The Cambodia Golf & Country Club is located 33km west of Phnom Penh. Set among 120 acres the 7,000 plus yard Cambodia golf course was designed by Japanese and Taiwanese and lined by sugar palm trees, native fruit, and evergreen plants, flowers and rocks.
• The Dara Sakor Golf Club is Cambodia’s first international casino complex with an associated golf club comprised of 54 holes: an 18-hole Ocean Course, an 18-hole Mountain Course, and an 18-hole Links Course.
Dara Sakor Golf Resort lies 200km down the coast from and east of the major southern Cambodian city Sihanoukville and Koh Kong province. It is a two and one half hour drive from the Sihanoukville International Airport.
• Garden City Golf Club opened in April 2013 and immediately emerged as one of the best golf courses in Phnom Penh. The par-72 golf course is laid out on 240 acres 15km northeast of downtown Phnom Penh. The course conditioning from the use of Seashore Paspalum turf and operations management consulting by IMG is excellent and comparable with the top courses in the region.
• Grand Phnom Penh Golf Club is a private members club and part of the Grand Phnom Penh International City. The golf course is located 20 minutes northwest of Phnom Penh and on the way to the airport. With little development away from the city, the air and climate tend to be fresher and well-suited for golf.
• The Sofitel-managed Phokeethra Country Club is one of the best courses available in Cambodia. The golf course hosted the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic and 2010 Cambodian Open. Major renovations in 2018 have brought up the course standards to those set when first opened.
• Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club close to the capital of Phnom Penh and only 8km from the Phnom Penh International Airport is the Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club. The 7,075 yard golf course is spread out over 200 hectares and nestled in amongst rice paddies and coconut palms. Being so close to the capital it is a favourite with locals and expatriates.
• The Siem Reap Booyoung Country Club (Siem Reap Lake) is the third international standard golf course opened in Angkor Wat. The $150 million US dollar course was designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Kentaro Sato and took one year to construct and is located 6km from the centre of Siem Reap town.