Golf News for Tuesday, December 9, 2008 | Awards

Dalat Palace Golf Club earns honors as Best Course in Vietnam

SHENZHEN, China -- For the second consecutive year, the title of 'Best Course in Vietnam' belongs to Dalat Palace Golf Club.

The venerable Central Highlands golfing venue became a back-to-back recipient Dec. 4, when Asia's top golf publication, Asian Golf Monthly, announced the winners of its 9th Annual Asian Golf Monthly Awards, a compendium of the best and brightest golf lights across Asia.

Last year, Dalat Palace edged sister club Ocean Dunes for the No. 1 spot — the first time the competition included 'Best Course in Vietnam.' This year, Dalat Palace's sternest challenge came from the East Course at Vietnam Golf & Country Club, fellow Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail member and site of last weekend's Hana Bank Vietnam Masters, a $500,000 Asian Tour event.

As in 2007, the magazine's many readers and subscribers determined the results. An online poll at www.asiangolfmonthly.com registered votes from more than 15,000 users over the past three months.

"This award trumpets our ability to withstand change," said Jeff Puchalski, Dalat Palace's director of golf. "In the past year, several new courses have come onto the landscape in Vietnam, while others have raised their games. But voters were still compelled to rank Dalat Palace at the top. That's tremendous testimonial."

Asian Golf Monthly commands an enormous following among the region's most passionate and knowledgeable golfers. The publication reaches more than 150,000 people per month.

Widely regarded as Asia's golf course 'Oscars,' the awards were handed out in front of the golf industry's top developers, owners, general managers and architects on the final night of the Asia Pacific Golf Development Summit at Mission Hills Golf Club in China.

As could be expected, top honors for 'Best Course in Vietnam' went to Dalat Palace, the only track in Southeast Asia with bentgrass greens, and one of the most storied designs in the world.

The mile-high gem in the resort town of Dalat was laid out in the 1920s for Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, and has hosted the likes of former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman and three-time Major champion Billy Casper, who played the course on a tour organized by the U.S. State Department in 1966 — the same year he won the U.S. Open.

"There's no question players are drawn to Dalat as much for its steeped history as its collection of challenging holes," said Southern California native Puchalski, who traveled from Vietnam to China to attend the summit and accept the prize. "Throw in a rolling landscape rife with tall pines, vibrant bougainvillea and views of majestic Xuan Huong Lake and you've got the golf experience of a lifetime."

Dalat Palace first opened in the early 1930s and has led several lives — as the course of choice for Vietnam's imperial court and colonial elite, as well as the playground for U.S. Army officers on wartime 'R&R.'

The course has piled up the accolades since being restored to its current glory in 1994. In its 2003, 2005 and 2007 Planet Golf surveys, Golf Digest (USA) rated the course best in Vietnam.

For more information on Dalat Palace, contact the Vietnam Golf Resorts sales and marketing office at (84 8) 3520-2045, or visit www.vietnamgolfresorts.com.