Handicap set for new golf courses

VietNamNet Bridge – Investment authorities are mulling over the decision to turn the golf course business into a conditional sector, which would mean that golf course planning would no longer be a necessity.

FLC Group, golf courses, Phan Thiet golf course

Stricter conditions for building golf courses are expected

Within the past year, two golf course development projects were removed from the current planning scheme by the local authorities, while another 19 projects filed proposals to step in, indicating an instability in regard to golf course planning.

According to Bui Tat Thang, director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s (MPI) Development Strategy Institute, the removal of planned golf courses from the southern central province of Binh Thuan and Ho Chi Minh City was ‘unprecedented’.

At this point of time, the premier has agreed upon the removal of Phan Thiet golf course of Binh Thuan from the planning scheme, while the one in Ho Chi Minh City is still under consideration.

“Two golf courses were removed and 19 others are keen to step in. This is likely to keep on happening. We probably need a clean slate when it comes to golf course planning,” Thang said.

The MPI is considering making the golf course business a conditional sector, which means they must satisfy a list of conditions. This intention has not only been lauded by investors and economists, but also by the Vietnam Golf Association (VGA).

“Golf course building must  be rooted in market demand and shouldn’t follow a static planning scheme. Therefore, annulling current golf course plans would be a smart move,” said Nguyen Van Hao, VGA’s general secretary.

Nguyen Mai, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, also believed there should be a rational approach to golf course planning. “We should not make plans without knowing how this sector might develop in the future. The matter must be developed scientifically, and we should outline a suitable development orientation,” Mai said.

Thang from the MPI said that the premier had assigned the MPI to amend Decision 1946/QD-TTg in 2009 approving the planning of Vietnam’s golf courses until 2020, and the MPI was penning a plan on turning it into a conditional business.

“A draft to the Law on Planning is in the making, and one of key proposals is that the government will make development plans for certain fields and areas, but it will not include golf courses,” Thang said, because they will be henceforth regarded as a conditional business.

Major tasks ahead include surveying and making scientific arguments about the necessity to annul golf course planning as it currently exists, as well as presenting the conditions relevant to golf course businesses and investment.

“As golf course businesses demand the use of vast land – national property – the conditions for golf course businesses will be stricter than some other fields,” Thang said, adding that “investors are often given clear land. After two or three years, if little progress is made, the government should take back the land without refunding the investor which was injected into a delayed project. This will make investors think twice before committing to making a golf course,” Thang noted.

Under Decision 795/QD-TTg dated May 2014 on amending and supplementing golf course development planning, 96 golf courses were included in the planning scheme. However, after Phan Thiet golf course was axed from the planning list last October, the number dropped to 95. Notably, less than one third of those included on the list are actually operational.

Some recent positive signs were that the VND3.5 trillion ($163.5 million) FLC Samson Golf Links project with scope of nearly 200 hectares is being deployed in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa by property developer FLC Group. Efforts were ramped up to bring it into operation next month.

Last October, Canada’s Asian Coast Development Limited (ACDL), the developer of the $4.2 billion landmark Ho Tram Strip project in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau inaugurated its premier The Blueffs Ho Tram Strip golf course.

In the same month, private Tuan Chau Group and Him Lam JSC kicked off construction of Tuan Chau-Ha Long golf course at Tuan Chau world-class resort in Halong City in northern province of Quang Ninh.


FLC Group, golf courses, Phan Thiet golf course