In Malaysia, there are a couple of highland courses that you can go to. Cameron Highlands and Genting have their options, and so does Bukit Tinggi. Generally, highland courses are especially challenging because fairways are usually framed by thick OB forests and streams meander here and there, carrying away golfballs down into the lowlands and into the distant ocean.
Fraser’s Hill is also a destination for golfers hopeful for the killer combination of the perfect course in a perfect weather. I mean, why couldn’t it be done? It’s already cooling, so no worries about chopping a couple of acres of woodlands to make a golf course. The weather, with the thin air that makes your ball goes like 20% further, makes golf almost as obvious as Tiger’s red on Sunday. Actually seeing your ball soar through the air is probably the only reason why highland courses are so attractive, since it gives us a false illusion of our greatness. Now our 250 metres into the right side of the fairway is translated to 280 metres into the jungle instead. Marvellous!
So away we went to Frasers, to have a true highlands golf experience.
There were 2 courses I wanted to try, but I found out the the 18th hole course, Fraser’s Hill GCC had been closed down, probably due to poor maintenance and lack of funding. It has been closed since goodness knows when. Don’t you hate it when sites advertise:
“Frasers Silverpark Resort Fraser’s Hill Malaysia offers two golf courses, the 18 hole championship golf course, rated among the most challenging course in Malaysia. Well manicured greens and tight fairways provide the golfer an ever challenging and exciting round.”
Come on, it’s closed. Update your site for goodness sakes!
So I was left to play the 9 hole golf course at the town centre.
Getting up to Frasers used to be a pain in the a*se, with the frequent turns and narrow windy roads. It’s still a pain, except now the so called Gap has ceased to exist. Instead, they (I guess the tourism board or whatever) became smart after 50 years and decided to make another road up and use the old Gap road to get down.
Basically, get to the North South Highway and turn off in at Rawang turn off. From there, turn right and run through the town, as well as several others. Your aim is to get to this place called Kuala Kubu Baru, or KKB which is at the foothills of Frasers. You’ll see numerous signs there. Just make sure you see Ipoh signs and you know you’re on the right road, on the old Ipoh highway. You’ll see a big Kuala Kubu sign to turn right eventually (watch out for it!) and once you do that you’ll enter into town and you’ll see plenty of signs to point you to Frasers.
The trip sucks. I mean there’s no way around it. Unless there’s like a giant ice cream all you can eat festival up there with the Goo Goo Dolls playing, there’s simply no reason why you’d want to subject yourself, or your poor family (if you have one) to one of the worst, windy travel experience found in Malaysia. I mean, do you want your car to smell like vomit (from your kids), your ears with endless complaints (from your wife) and your life with endless regrets (from your inner self who is committing suicide by the second)?
After an hour of torture as bad as the Chinese middle age implements, you are rewarded by the famous Frasers clock tower, all 7 feet of it in its finest glory. It’s a small round about, consisting of a few stores to buy things, and to eat and of course the Frasers Hill Golf Club. Other than that, there’s a prominent sign pointing back to KL, which after maybe 20 minutes sitting around the town centre, you’ll be packing up and heading home.
The golf better be good.
Frasers Hill Golf Club cost me RM21 to play the whole day. You heard right. Apparently, in this part of the world, they don’t care how many holes you play. This is primarily due to a few reasons
1) It’s an attractive package to promote golf in the highlands
2) They will go by the assumption that you will lose all your balls, and your mind by the time you are done with 9 holes.
Is this a good price? With RM21 I could have watched two movies, or bought 21 Maxfli balls from my supplier, or buy my dog a nice chew bone. I could do a lot with RM21. Was it worth it?
You can’t really fault RM21 for a whole day golf experience, so it’s a 3/5. Good, because it’s a good package that all courses should adopt when I go, but bad, because well, we’ll see later.
Standing over the first tee, you actually feel a little nice about the broad fairway facing you. You feel even nicer when you let your first drive rip and see it soar a whole lot farther than your crappy swing actually deserve. Especially when there’s a gallery watching you, since the entire town has a nice view of the first tee, so don’t get too pressured and duff it. The kacang putih seller might actually burst out laughing, prompting you to quickly jog away into obscurity.
But first impressions don’t last. After crossing the bridge, I squished into what passed as the fairway and found my ball caked with mud.
From there, I kinda knew where this whole thing was going.
I strolled up to the counter to find a half awake lady accepting my money. When asked if there were balls being sold, she yawned and said, “Sold out.” I asked for a card and she looked at me quizzically and said, “What? We don’t have a card!” So how do you keep scores? On a piece of leaf? What kind of course does not bother to even have their own darn card for goodness sake? It’s like having a baby and then going, what the heck, let’s not bother about his name.
No card, no balls, no lockers, no maintenance, no nothing.
I can’t even comment on the fairway. Because there’s no fairway. Either that, or there’s no rough. Everywhere is overgrown, weedy, soggy, muddy and crappy. The fairway eats your ball up. In fact, if they bull dozed the fairways over here, they will probably recover enough golf balls to build the second Taj Mahal. Because the course was narrow, I teed up with a 6 iron. With a higher loft, my ball flight obviously was a lot higher. It lands without a bounce, and the next appearance would be in the centre of the earth. No way to recover it. So, shifting to a 3 wood, 5 wood or driver makes a lower trajectory, but because the darn fairways are so narrow, you can run out of fairway and into the first cut, which is about waist high grass with deadly snakes and a giant wombat with boxing gloves about to knock your other balls off.
Fairways? After a couple of holes, I am trying to avoid fairways and roughs as well, and was just praying my ball will fly 370 metres in the thin air to land on the green. Oh yeah and also for the ball to bend miraculously around the dogleg. Some prayers will probably never see the light of day in God’s prayer queue, and I think this is one of ‘em.
Fraser’s un-fairways get the lowest of the low. 0. What a mess.
What greens? Oh, I get it. They used the fairway grass for the greens because that’s what it is. Someone got mixed up. I mean, there has got to be an explanation why there is a tuft of cowgrass right in the middle of my putting line right? And how my ball will roll anywhere except straight when on the green. I mean what the heck is this? Aim 20 feet to the right and hopefully it will bounce and rebound like a pinball into the hole? You can’t putt, it’s soggy, and we’ve got pitchmarks the size of a China on the green.
Some greens are marked with GUR, so only half the green is accessible. This is because wildboars have actually dug up the entire green in search for grubs, potatoes, acorns, anything that greedy pigs will feast on. Some of us understand that eating pattern quite well. While I do believe wildboars are pests and should be shot and cooked and boiled with herbs, that’s not an excuse as to why the greenkeeper should not be doing something with it. That sign has been so long up that there are moss growing on the board and plants using the sign to creep upwards to the light. The definition of GUR is Ground Under Repair, not Greenskeeper Under Retirement.
Generally, we applaud the rough that makes it difficult for us to hit from. Some sort of penalty, right. But this rough takes the cake. It truly is ‘Rough’. Actually, it’s more like Unchartered Territories of the New World. The lalang grass is so long, it threatens to envelope my playing partners and take forever to digest them. It’s like the Sarlac in Return of the Jedi, you know the one that Bobba Fett fell into. For non Star Wars geek, it’s quite an inconvenient way to die.
And the worse thing here is that there’s no first cut. In fact, the fairway (which as we’ve gone through is long grass), just makes way to longer grass and an obscure drain that threatens to break your ankle. What kind of course is this anyway? Not only do we need to deal with un-fairways in Frasers, we need to deal with roughs filled with potholes, quicksand and the occasional king cobra nesting her eggs (I didn’t see any, but I would guess she’s somewhere in there.) And of course, wild boars digging up the entire course like there’s no tomorrow. I hit flush a beauty on the par 3 sixth for it to land on the upslope of the green.
It disappeared. I mean, the entire upslope was dug up by wildboars, what the heck was I to do? I give up. It’s a ball eater. It’s ok to punish, but to render players half mad with frustration is simply not a golf courses’ job. That job belongs to the new driver you paid a thousand bucks for and play like crap. Or slow flights on a Saturday morning. Or nasi lemak without sambal. It’s simply not done.
If you expect a course that entrances you like the Alps in Switzerland, boy, you’re in for a reality check. After the first hole, you come to the second hole and you realize you need to tee off back into the fairway of the first hole. What? Hey, man walking with your walker, I’m gonna hit my ball back to you, so please duck ok?? What? I can’t hear you, so fore!!!
The course is so tight on budget, it has to use the same fairways for different holes, and the same tee box for different holes. I mean, I could be twacking a 6 iron and beside me, another guy is launching into the next par 3. Did I pay 21 bucks for a freaking driving range? And come on, seriously, what is this, borrow the fairway concept? It’s taking it to another level. Don’t buy into their “Oh, we want to preserve nature so we don’t want to knock down too many trees.” That’s all bosh. They should have thought of that in the first place and built a nature reserve instead of a stupid golf course. No, it’s because the developers decided to stick some cash into their pockets and make us think they designed the course with nature on their mind, while driving their BMWs to the bank and cackling in pure evil. Anyone that advertises golf courses in harmony with nature is officially insane. Really. There’s no such thing. Golf and Nature will contend and war against each other till the Trumpets sound in the second coming.
The signature hole 8 is an elevated tee off to 240 m. It’s a par 4 you definitely can drive. Only problem is, right below you is the 7th green, at the left side is the main road, winding down next to the horse paddock, so you have tons of cars parked there. And you are actually using part of the fairway of the 7th. Imagine if you topped the ball, you kill the guys on the green. You sky the ball, it lands on the guys on the fairway; you hook the ball you either cause a major death on the road, or you kill Black Beauty. You push the ball and you will kill the guys teeing up on the 9th. Either way, you’ll be tried and sentence 40 years for negligence and insanity, or animal abuse. Standing over the tee shot, it’s like your entire life of freedom flashes before you and you know, this is your last tee shot as a free man.
There is also a dog that will follow you around. This is especially annoying since you’ll be on your backswing and he comes bounding out of nowhere to sniff at your balls. Golfballs, that is. I nearly mashed its head a few times. The positive thing is that he would chase after the lost ball like some kind of retriever, but not go into the long grass due to the cobras. I mean, if you chase it, chase it all the way, right? And I don’t remember paying for a dog!!
And also, what the heck is it with F.H.D.C? Shouldn’t it be FHGC for Frasers Hill Golf Club? What’s D.C? Did someone order the wrong alphabet and now they call it Frasers Hill Death to all Clubbers? I know it doesn’t fit, but seriously, what is it with FHDC??! It bugs us, because it’s like a treasure hunt clue that does not make any sense whatsoever.
Argh!! Now please proceed to Tee Box 8, and go and kill Black Beauty.
Fun Factor (0/5)
It’s rare that we don’t have even one single bit of fun on a golf course. The drivable hole 8 would have provided enough drama for us to actually give it a decent rating, but the setup is too dangerous for the world at large. There is simply no way I am going to play that tee shot again, unless I want to go on the lam and be hunted down like a wombat. The other holes played too narrow, too unforgiving. There’s a difference between challenge and sadism. This is the latter. The designers of this course clearly has no idea where the line is. For example, hole 8, a par 3. Elevated tee box, 100 metres away. Couple of trees, well, that’s normal.
No, the trees are in the middle, as in, we have to hit OVER these trees to hit the green. Either that or aim far right and hook the ball back into the green. Since we are clearly not PGA professionals (and if we are, we are probably terrorists hostages forced at gunpoint to play on this course), we have to resort to hitting it over the trees (which usually ends up rebounding back and cracking the skull of our partners). I am not kidding, we have to hit OVER. And these are not your tiny trees found at the roadside of a highway. These are trees born and bred to destroy your golf balls. Standing massively high, these pines grow every day, year by year, bigger and bigger. I wonder what the course superintendent (who is probably the kacang putih seller at the entrance) plans to do. Soon, we won’t be able to see the green anymore and we can abandon the hole for dead, or use our 7 iron to chop it down.
Seriously, do they actually think that’s fun? It’s possibly one of the worst designed holes ever! I managed to fly my PW over the trees but forgot to calculate elevation and thin air and sent it crashing into forest oblivion beyond. I just hope I killed a wild boar with that shot. Curses to you, wild boars, our eternal foes!
I think one of my playing partners succinctly described the course. “This is by far, the <expletive> course I’ve ever played on.” Expletive here means it’s so bad, the words are not fit for consumption. We usually want to find at least one or two positives about the course, but we’re hard pressed to do so. It would have been ok if the course was in your backyard and the golf balls you would be missing be funneled back somehow into your garage by some sort of magic. Other than that scenario, I cannot see who would be crazy enough to drive all the way up here to play on this sorry excuse of a course. It’s not a golf course, it’s somebody’s backyard that so happens to have a few flags sticking out of the ground and a hole you can attempt to whack your balls into.
You will lose a lot of balls, seriously. Don’t bother searching for lost balls, because it’s too dangerous and it’s not worth it. Take the oldest balls you can find and the oldest clubs you have as you will subject them to much humiliation in this course.
If you have 2 hours to kill in Frasers, I’d think sitting at the clock tower and watching flowers grow by the nanometer is more satisfying than playing on this piece of highland junk.
The good: Good weather. For a cup of tea!
The bad: Too many. Everything here basically sucks. Don’t waste your time on this course. If you want highland golf, skip Frasers and head to Genting. At least, no wild boars, borrowed fairways, death trap tee box and par 3s that require you to hit over trees. And no stupid dogs that don’t collect our lost balls from the rough.
The skinny: 4 of 40 divots (10%). It’s impossible to recommend this course to anybody, except people who intend to commit suicide. Terrible, terrible experience.