Closing a business deal does not happen overnight. It takes hours of talks, dozens of powerpoint slides, a ton of documents and mastery of the art of negotiation. And when it finally happens, chances are, it’s in the midst (or after) a good round of golf.
Business and golf have always had a connection. Both value honesty and integrity, and both take a lot of willpower and focused mindset to be successful. Many entrepreneurs even say that they can tell a lot about a prospective partner’s character from how they play the sport.
“Remember that more often than not, people make investments in people. A round of golf is a great time to demonstrate you are a smart, competent, and likeable person. If you are a thoughtful golfer who engages in good conversation on the course, you will increase your chances for closing a deal,” George Souri, founder of US-based LQD Business Finance and networking expert, once told Forbes.
He was right. Playing golf, or just being in a golf course, provides businessmen an enormous opportunity to talk and build their network. Being a game that takes an average of four hours to finish, it offers a great amount of idle time between shots that allows for wide-ranging conversations.
In Vietnam, where golf and business have not been necessarily closely linked yet, a growing fondness for the sport is evident. Golf magazine Links even named Vietnam as the fastest-growing golf nation in the world, competing against the likes of China, Japan, Korea and Thailand, where the sport has long been established and golf courses abound.
Over the last decade, or at least after the Vietnam Golf Association was formed in 2007, Vietnam has seen a steady growth in the number of layouts, designed by some of the biggest names in golf, opening across the country. Big hitters like Greg Norman (who is also Vietnam’s tourism ambassador), Robert Trent Jones Jr and Sir Nick Faldo have created gold-standard designer courses that slowly put Vietnam into the radar of avid golfers.
Vietnam as golf destination
Just recently, Vietnam has been nominated for Asia’s best golf destination in the 2021 World Golf Awards, the most prestigious awards program in the golf tourism industry. The winner will be determined by votes from industry professionals as well as golfers. Voting is open until September at worldgolfawards.com.
Vietnam has already been named Asia’s best golf destination at the 2019 World Golf Awards, further cementing the country’s name in the industry. It’s numerous layouts have also been regularly ranked among the best in the region.
Golf experts said it’s Vietnam’s diverse landscape and tropical allure that makes it an ideal golf destination. As the sport is considered relaxed and slow, what surrounds a golf course is the biggest factor why golfers come, play and stay.
In 2018, Golf Digest ranked The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip as the 35th best course outside of the US. Designed by Greg Norman, the course is one of the few championship-caliber links courses with significant elevation (with its highest point set 50 meters above sea level), offering a panoramic view of the national forest and the expansive shoreline.
“Golf is a global language and Vietnam has seen tremendous continuous growth over the past decade. Vietnam has the potential to reach new heights, attract new tourism and direct foreign investment and with the support of the government, grow the next generation of Vietnamese golfers to support a sustainable long-term plan for the country,” said Greg Norman on his website.
Another award-winning golf course (consistently named as Asia’s best Golf Course since 2017), Ba Na Hills Golf Club is strategically located at the foothills of the famed Ba Na Hills in Danang. The property features par 77, 18-hole championship course that caters to golfers of all levels. It was designed by English professional golfer Luke Donald.
Laguna Lang Co, set in the tranquil central coast, has also been named one of the best courses in the country. The 18-hole, par-71 championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo is surrounded by tropical jungles, mountains and a three-kilometer private beach. It is one of only three golf courses in the world to be EarthCheck Gold Certified and is listed as one of the most sustainable golf courses.
Vietnam has more than 30 regional and international-standard golf courses and over 70,000 players, a huge increase from only 10,000 a decade ago. The government already included in its plan to improve the country’s golf tourism industry, approving plans to design more layouts and promote golf both as leisure sport and as tourist puller.
Incorporating golf into education
This is probably the reason Vietnam National University is including golf in their physical education program. The university has collaborated with a golf academy for investment into equipment, facilities and training for teachers, according to a report from Vietnam Net.
Nguyen Viet Hoa, director of the Center for Physical Education and Sports of the university in Hanoi, said golf will be a trial subject in the 2021-2022 academic year. If the results are positive, it will become an official PE offering, along with football, swimming, badminton and table tennis to name a few.
“Studying this high-end sport at school will help students feel more confident, because golf is a specialized sport. If other sports require competition, golf is primarily based on the score set by oneself. This subject also helps people learn how to surpass themselves. On the other hand, golf will also be useful for the future, to help students communicate and expand social relationships,” Hoa told Vietnam Net.
Vietnam National University is the first public university to include golf in its academic program. While there has been excitement among teachers and students, the university admitted the lack of equipment and facilities in Vietnam are currently a setback.
Hoa added that it will take time for teachers to master the sport and be capable of teaching it to students. “But I believe that most PE teachers will take up golf quickly.” Once it becomes an official part of the curriculum, the Center for Physical Education and Sports will provide all equipment for the students.