Desa Dungun Golf Club

Introduction

After what seems like FOREVER, we finally managed to play in a course that we have never set foot on and after such a long period, we finally have a review! Our last review was years ago.

We were here at Tanjung Jara during a quick family vacation, which also means an escape from the hustle bustle of screaming kids for a few hours and running over to the nearest golf course to hack a few holes in the shortest time possible. So anywhere I am headed, I do a quick search of the nearest golf course in the vicinity. (Un)fortunately, the closest we had was a course called Desa Dungun Golf Club (or Kelab Golf Desa Dungun, as it might be known), around 15 minutes away from where we were staying. I mean, why not? How bad can it be? So away we went, merrily after breakfast over a Saturday early morning.

Price (2/5)

You will notice that we have given up giving marks for travel. I mean when I started this blog more than 10 years back, there was no such thing as google map, Waze or whatnot. All we had were very cryptic maps over the internet, and guidance from the stars and wind to get to the golf course we were trying to find. However, over the years, these free GPS had basically rendered obsolete the problem of getting lost.

So now, we jump right into pricing.

Desa Dungun gives an initially attractive green fee – RM40 per person for a weekend rate. I don’t know about the weekdays. However, the buggy is RM60, so if you split two people, it becomes RM70 per person. If you are playing alone, you are paying RM100. That’s not so cool, when you realise that with Visa Infinite you can play Mines, Kota Permai, Glenmarie, Sungai Long, Tropicana and Palm Garden all within RM100 range. So really, if you are playing alone, you might want to forget about the buggy. But we won’t recommend it. Because in fact, with the buggy, it is the fastest mode of travel you will wish you have after playing a few holes on this course – you simply cannot wait to get your butt out of the course. So no, I don’t think the price is great. The fact that you will wish you had a buggy sort of makes it imperative for you to have one.

First thoughts

Remember the infamous TUDM course? The review brought so much comments (mostly negative, some vitrolic, and mostly from their own members who can’t seem to take criticism) that I had to sign up for a witness protection program for a while. A lot of TUDM golfers were pissed with what they presumed to be very disrespectful remarks about their beloved course. Unfortunately, call it as we see it. If I see a pile of turd, I am not going to call it Bak Kut Teh. And TUDM is the biggest pile of turd we have in Malaysia. Until, maybe, maybe now.

Are you serious? You remark. What could possibly be worse than the TUDM course? Well, if this doesn’t do it, then I am pretty sure it comes close.

Look, honestly, we wanted it to be good. We woke up 6.45 am for a drive down here, during our holidays. After putting my screaming kid to bed at 2 am and having hardly 3 hours of sleep. I prayed that it would at least be a reasonably golf course to sacrifice our precious sleep for. And you know – this club is the oldest club in Terengganu. So that has to count for something. I mean, RSGC style, maybe?

Rolling into the single story club house, RSGC style was immediately off the table and TUDM firmly back in.

Service (3/5)

The gentleman behind the counter was very efficient. He collected our cash, rolled up with a buggy and seem to be doing everything. And for that, we appreciate it. Other form of services, such as course maintenance, course marshal etc are all non-existent. In fact, the club is now using photostated copies of their score card, so technically they are using score papers. I find the staff quite friendly – and I think its the culture in these parts, the laid back, take it easy sort of style. Obviously we did not try any F&B or whatsoever, but you know, their buggy was actually very new and function very well (unlike the piece of crap you drive around in TUDM). This is already a plus point!

Fairways (0/5)

And now, the real review begins.

It’s hard to review the fairways.

Because there is none. No fairways. All you see is a land of sand, with tufts of grass screaming out for water. It’s, I would venture to add, the worst fairway we have ever experienced in the history of our golf experiments. In fact, we came to a point after the 3rd hole that we played ‘preferred lies’. Meaning, we can pick up our ball and search for any grass available and place carefully on the patched of chosen grass to play. I mean, you need to see it to believe it. Mostly we want to hit the ball in the thick rough instead of the fairway, beause at least, we have grass. This is serious, not a joke. This is the first golf course where fairways are actually PUNISHMENT for you.

So why isn’t it rated -1, like that travesty of a golf course TUDM? Because we played this stupid preferred lies, and you know, we started driving like PGA tour distance. Because the ground was so hard, it was like the ball would hit cement and roll and roll and roll and …. In fact, at one hole, my drive almost drove the green at 340 meters. No joke. I was left with around 50 meters left. Another one, my partner topped the ball, it whizzed past the ladies and rolled and rolled and rolled forever. He was left with a 120m shot to the hole. So, yes, the fairway is HOPELESS, but that’s not to say we detested it so much because we all became Dustin Johnson overnight.

The ground is so hard, it is impossible for plastic tees to penetrate on some holes. Unless you have a Bosch drill with you, you need to do what we did. We gathered up sand and soil and made a Laura Davies kind of dirt tee…i.e just placing our ball on top of a small mound of sand we need to design. Like sand castles. What. The. Flaming. Heck.

Greens (1/5)

No. It’s horrible. It’s similar to TUDM style. No greens are the same. Some greens have six different type of grass growing. Your ball will spend more time in the air bouncing like a pinball than on the green. We in fact came to a point that if the ball was in flagstick length, we would pick up the ball. Now, its not to say there is no redemption. Two or three greens were actually playable, so this is better than TUDM, but still, it’s a suffering akin to pulling off all your nostril hair at once.

Rough ( 1/5)

Aside from the course doubling up as a junkyard, the rough is also not great. Rubbish everywhere, plastic bottles strewn across some fairways, tumbleweed tumbling by, with an Irish Leprecaun cackling with delight at your stupidity of playing this course. Now, the sand is playable, hence the 1. The bunkers are a lot better than TUDM…Sorry, we need to run comparisons of these two courses due to both being in the East Coast and both chasing for the absolutely crap , worse course in Malaysia title. Additionally, because the fairways were so horrendous, it made the rough looked like the beautiful grass of Augusta. It’s like you see an ugly painting, and you put another painting which is basically cow crap splattered all over it in random fashion, immediately, the first painting looks like Van Gogh, right? Same same.

Aesthetics ( 0/5)

I don’t really recall anything about any hole in this course. It’s very flat. Very. There is hardly any undulation and they might try to advertise this as a ‘links’ styled course, but no, it’s anything but a links styled course. The only link you will find is the chain link fence near one hole that is basically torn down so that the neighbourhood can basically throw all their garbage in It’s more like a field where cattle generally will graze and they suddenly decide to create a golf course to reclaim the land. The cattle is obviously still grazing since all the grass on the fairway is GONE. Absolutely nothing to recommend. If they were to choose a signature hole for this course, I would select one of the many iguana holes that are being burrowed all over the course by these cute little lizards.

Fun Factor (0/5)

In one fairway, as I was preparing to hit my second shot, I heard my partner yelling, “Wait Stop! Car coming!”

I looked up, shocked, thinking he meant “CAR-T” as in Buggy cart, from the maintenance coming. No, he meant CAR. As in AN ACTUAL CAR that’s supposed to be on the road, and not on the golf course. It rumbled through our fairway, over our line of sight of the green and happily chugged to the hut nearby. You have heard of buggies, but you will now experience the fairway where cars are actually allowed.

We also have one hole (I think the 10th hole) which is literally right next to the main beach road where all the cars are zooming back and forth. You’d expect some netting to catch balls slicing out. But no the only boundary you have is a dilapidated wall that is about 5 feet high, effective to catch balls if a colony of termites decide to play golf. We were so afraid we will kill someone on the road that we aimed so far left, we played the other fairway on purpose. I mean we are all out of towners. If we killed someone, I am not sure what’s going to happen to us here.

And speaking of which, the entire design of the course is senseless. We end up making huge u-turns to the next tee box, or crossing other people’s fairways to reach another tee box. In more than 3 occasions, we were searching for the next tee box like a bunch of treasure hunters. It’s as if they created a golf course and then remembered golf courses had 18 holes, and not 15, and the other three holes are basically randomly plastered all over the place.

And maybe it’s the laid back culture here, but we were stuck behind groups that were so slow, I could actually feel my stubble regrowing again on my chin. And I am Chinese. This means, my stubble grows at the speed of 1/20 of normal people growing a stubble.

Did we have fun?

Let’s put it this way, we were very happy that we had a new-ish buggy to haul ass as quickly as possible.

The only positive I have out of this is that my chipping continues to improve. The last hole, I almost chipped in. And many other occasions, I am actually chipping properly. Obviously this has nothing to do with the golf course, but it still made me a slightly less grumpier human. Can’t wait to play golf on an actual golf course again.

Conclusion

Oooh boy. Look, if you are in the resort where we were, you don’t have much of a choice unless you have the whole morning to spare. We teed off around 8 and played speed golf and finished 10.30 am. It could have been less if we weren’t stuck behind a few groups. Unless you are willing to drive far, you can probably experience better courses out there. But as it is, this is the only golf course that’s near enough and if you play speed golf, you can finish it quickly and get back in time before the breakfast buffet concludes. Do we recommend this? Oh God, no. You are better off spending your time on the beach, or in the pool, or sleeping, or just siting down, watching the grass grow.

The good: The history of the club – at least you can say you played the oldest course in Terengganu, survived and lived to tell the tale. I mean, look, compared to the TUDM we reviewed years ago, this is better. So, I suppose that’s saying something that its NOT the worst course in Malaysia.

The bad: Fairways feel like you are playing golf in a desert; greens are hopeless, they are actually fairways quality in other courses; aesthetics is as beautiful as staring at a gibbon’s ass, and fun factor? Look, we need to be fair. If you weren’t rushing like us, or you hadn’t played Kota Permai, Mines, Tropicana etc and be spoilt brats like us in golf, you can probably work out a bit of fun here. Because the walk is leisurely since the course is so flat. And you know, it’s still near the beach and you can get a fairly good exercise in.

The skinny: 5 of 30 divots (16.6%). So, while it escaped the wonderful honour of being the worst course in Malaysia, its still firmly set in the absolutely crap course you will want to visit only as a novelty, like how you would like to see a guillotine work, but probably do not want to put your head under it. Take a buggy, zoom as fast as you can, play as fast as you can, and get back to wherever you come from and have breakfast.

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