I was invited to a game at Paradise Valley Golf Resort located at a township in Seremban 3. Usually when I hear about Seremban (it’s in the state next to the state I live in), I’ve got good memories of Staffield and SIGC, and some fun games I’ve had with good friends over there. With the name like Paradise Valley, images of Meru Valley obviously comes to mind and I immediately agreed to take a day off to play in a game consisting of two flights. Usually games with two flights of golfers are extremely fun, since you are able to blast a ball on the green while the front flight is still putting and not get sued or killed in the process. They will probably tee up right on the green itself and blast the ball back but come on, seriously, what are the chances of a silly white ball actually hitting a person from 200 metres out, right? It’s a thousand to one!
Paradise is quite accessible from the North South Highway. It’s not too deep in, and quite easy to find. It’s in fact right at the new toll leading into Port Dickson town. Take the Seremban-Port Dickson turn off, turn right at the traffic light and just follow the road. You’ll eventually pass a few petrol stations and there’s Seremban 3 on the left. Turn into it, like Meru Valley, it’s a golf course that’s situated inside a township, I suppose as part of the feature. Hey, we really enjoyed Meru, right, so this is starting to look pretty promising.
The stupid thing about this is when you exit (and as you find out later, you WILL want to exit in a hurry), you can’t get back on the road you came from without U-turning. And there’s only one U-turn. At the PD toll, a small opening between the dividing poles to cut back. You miss that turning and you will need to pay for the toll to Port Dickson, and drive all the way into town and make a U-turn there. There are no signs, so it’s just really up to your observation. I mean would it kill them just to make an opening in the divider in front of Seremban 3 for cars to turn back into the main road without going to the toll? Jeez.
The price for weekdays is about 70RM all in (with buggy and insurance) but our flight had a special voucher and I only ended up paying 50RM for the day. Weekends are slightly a bit more, around 90RM. I think it’s pretty reasonable, at least they are not charging like cut throat pricing the way Datai Bay was doing.
Right on the first tee, images of Meru Valley were immediately replaced by images of Gunung Raya. Elevated tee box, sharp dogleg left, narrow fairway with OB right and hidden green. We looked at the course and there was just this sinking feeling (which was correctly justified later) that this was going to be a long day, filled with missing balls.
We struggled through the first hole and immediately get whacked by an Index 1 on the second. Now, I’m not too much of an advocate with bringing out the toughest hole on the second hole of the day. Obviously the designers thought it would be fun, the way how pulling out fingernails and placing your face in boiling water was considered quite fun in the middle ages; but no, I can’t say I found it very amusing at all. The second hole was a long carry over water about 180 metres, and then an elevated green (and I do mean elevated, it’s like trekking up a freaking pyramid) all for a par 4. Oh yeah, water on the right too. And OB right. Add to the fact that you haven’t even warmed up from the long journey, you really know you will screw up this hole. Which all of us did.
If you think Rahman Putra has a lot of water, Paradise is a course with patches of land in the midst of a giant mining pool. The water is not even nice to look at. At least, in KRPM we have water lilies and some plants to brighten up the golfers day after they have lost their entire cache of balls within. Paradise’s water just sits there gloomily, devoid of life, sucking the very soul of golfers who draw near. And you will hit a lot into the water. The fairways are built as if they only had space to build a nine hole course but instead wanted to suck more money out of unsuspecting golfers, so they crammed in 18.
Long day, long game and a whole lotta balls to play it.
I didn’t like the service. Ordering food was excruciatingly slow. I mean we were the only clowns in the whole club you know; why does it takes half an hour for fried rice to come? And the car park was like a 150 metres away from the entrance, so it was a long walk back to the car from the club house. Why did they do it like this? I suppose they expected like thousands of people to flock to the club and hosting the Ryder Cup or something, to make the car park so huge. Hey, it’s just our cars and the observing maintenance guy in his beat up buggy, why can’t you make the car park NEARER??! I mean, its ok if I am headed to play golf, but after 5 hours of extreme torture, under extreme heat, you want me to trek back to my car and risk dying of dehydration along the way? I don’t think so.
The guy handling our bags didn’t come till we called. And he didn’t move a muscle to drive us to our car until we insisted. Nobody was at the counter for inquiries when I wanted to get extra score card; in fact, I am so anal now that I’m peeved that they didn’t have someone salute me when I drove my car past the guard house!! What kinda service is this? Hey, a little respect here would be nice, even though we are cheapskate golfers with a voucher to get RM20 off from normal price!
The fairways in some holes weren’t too bad actually. Condition wise, it was maintained reasonably well. Other fairways totally sucked though, with cart grooves all muddied around it and no GUR sign or chalk to indicate a free drop. Another thing I didn’t quite like about the fairway was the occasional dog shit lying around. Ok, that’s fine, because KRPM also has that. But huge chunks of cow shit? I mean, what is this, a zoo? What am I gonna see next, a mound of triceratops crap I gotta hit from? Give me a break.
The challenge was that the fairways were tight. I didn’t think they were unfair, like Frasers, it’s just the feature and the characteristic of the course. If you like tight fairways and precision hitting with the 5 wood and wimpy irons off the tee, the same way you’d like your feet fitted into a shoe 3 sizes smaller than yours and made to run a marathon in it, hey, you know it’s your call. For me, I am supportive of huge fairways with a little leeway to land on another fairway in case my shots go awry, which of course, doesn’t happen too often, maybe 17 times out of 18 drives. But I’m a hacker and if you’re Mr Tight Fairways, you must be a PGA pro, which begs the question: Why are you even reading this? Shouldn’t you be making tons of money right now? Go away!!
The greens in some holes were very well manicured. It has that unmistakable spongey feeling to it when you walk on it and you just know your ball is going to bite when it hits the green. However, just when you think you got it figured out, on the next hole, the roll changes and it becomes quicker and faster and more three putts are on the way. There were a LOT of 3 putts because we just didn’t know if it was going to be fast, slow or whatever. That, coupled with the undulation makes these greens less than fun to putt on. Most of the time, it’s putt and pray, that the speed was right, since we couldn’t really gauge from the previous hole. I don’t think they had a lot of control over how consistent the greens were.
You just pray you don’t hit the rough.
Lalang, the grass that we have been introduced to in Frasers makes an unwelcomed return. As we’ve mentioned, rough that allows us to hit from but penalize us somewhat is acceptable. Rough that virtually grabs your clubs with the explicit intention to break your wrist is another story. There was a par 5 (which I thankfully found fairway, fairway, green), where one of my playing partners took 4 to get out of the rough enroute to an 8.
If this was Canoustie or St Andrews, we will readily overlook this point. But this happens to be Paradise Valley and (later we will see), it does not match up to one iota of the standard of those courses, so there has gotta be some redeeming factors in it. You make a course that’s this hard, with so little maintenance, and don’t give us eye candy for it, and you’re definitely gonna score low.
We always try to look for a signature hole.
This course has one signature hole.
And it ain’t the Datai Bay type of hole 19. It’s the hole 19 where you sit under a fan and eat fried rice and drink gallons of soya bean with cincau (the de facto golf drink for Malaysian golfers to the uninitiated)
I don’t remember playing a golf course that played so difficult, so long, and so hot. This makes Gunung Raya feel like Antartica. Seriously. I don’t know why is it so hot. The course is not matured, so there’s no grow in of shade and trees, I guess, but I’m not a golf garderner. I’m just a hacker, so I don’t need a reason to call this golf course the hottest course on earth. I just need to show them my first degree burnt marks from the sun.
I see those blasted trees around, but most of them are not even remotely close to the fairways or rough. They are just sort of standing around there, the shade out of reach from us, like some kind of mirage in the desert. We are mainly left to fend for ourselves against the extreme heat with our caps, umbrellas, portable fans. The ponds, as we’ve mentioned, doesn’t make the course any cooler. In fact, it just reminds you, reflecting the glaring sun into your eyes, how nice is it to sit at home with your air condition and a huge mug of root beer in front of you.
Because the course was so narrow, with severe drop offs from the fairways into the rough, a good part of our time was spent hiking up and down the terrain, which contributed to fluid loss and an occasional heat stroke, or epilepsy. But still we had golf to play, and when someone says, “Gosh my knees are so wobbly,” on the 13th hole and it has nothing to do with the beer girls, you know it’s about time we checked out of the course.
And as we’ve pointed out, we are very anal about the name. We don’t like names that mislead us. If you call it Clearwater, I wanna see water so clear you can peer in and watch a giant crocodile feeding on a cow at the bottom of the lake, if not, it’s not gonna cut it. If you call it Paradise Valley Golf Resort, you have a few things to live up to.
Paradise: No, it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite. Unless it connotes that after playing this course, your next destination will likely be in heaven when you die from that heat stroke or epilepsy. As for it being a Paradise, come on, let the golfers decide before you name it that way, ok? This is definitely not a paradise, with its lack of wildlife, lack of beautiful trees, lack of shade and lack of character.
Valley: No, it’s not. This is a big lie. I don’t see rolling hills like Meru, I don’t even see why is it called a valley? All I see is a characterless course with 18 holes jumbled together in a mess, with lots of brown, murky water. Where are the hills? Why the dickens is it called Valley then? It’s next to Port Dickson, the beach place in West Malaysia. Do they think we are actually stupid?
Resort: No, it’s also not. A resort means it’s a place you can stay, or have an attached hotel, like Equatorial at Bangi or IOI at Palm Garden or Mines at, well, Mines. This is not a resort, because it just has a club house that is too far away for the car park and crappy service! Unless if it means staying inside one of the garden sheds would qualify it as a resort, this is another blatant misuse of a naming convention.
So out of the 4 words about this place, only one is true: Golf. And that too is contentious because that’s also a struggle, playing in a place where the cows and buffaloes roam, depositing their crap on the fairways.
We’re so annoyed at this naming heresy that we’re going to give it a 0 for aesthetics. Take that, you Paradise Valley liars. We’re going to call you The Nameless Course in Seremban 3 from here on, or the Nameless, for short.
Fun Factor (1/5)
It almost gets a 0 for these points:
1) Course that is so hot, most of came out looking like lobsters. I’m serious, we looked like someone just magic inked us red or black and we were the same colour as the maintenance workers. They almost passed us brooms to get us to sweep the cart path.
2) Fairways so tight that we were almost killed by balls from another hole. Which happened to be also our friends. But that doesn’t matter.
3) Carpark so far away we need to hitchhike to it.
4) What the heck is cow dung doing in the course? You mean there are freaking cows hanging around here? Actual cows??!
5) Messed up fairways with cart grooves and bad drainage.
6) Murky water breeding disease. The next epidemic will happen right here. We need to contact WHO and blast this course out of the face of this planet as soon as possible.
7) Inconsistent greens and lalang rough. And reminding us of that jackal of a course in Frasers.
8) A name that misleads and woefully, absolutely woefully falls short of its lofty suggestion.
9) Thinking that us golfers are stupid. Actually the golf course can’t think, but we mean the designers, or the guys that named this course.
It gets a point just because we still had a bit of fun, with two flights. You really can’t beat a morning hanging out with golfers (even if you don’t know them at first), and having a good time jabbing each other after that.
The Nameless Course in Seremban 3 requires a lot of precision, patience and energy to play it. It saps you like a sponge, drawing away your soul with every shot until you struggle up to the last hole, devoid of life or remembrance of the past.
Did we enjoy it? The consensus was a resounding no. Will we return? We can’t wait to get the heck out of there and blot this memory forever from our lives.
And it’s not finished. We still have that long, long trek back to our cars.
The good: It’s pretty accessible, just watch the U-turn to get home; price is reasonable, very challenging to some and attractive for precision hitters who are also known as the officially insane.
The bad: Terrible choice of names, all the above points under Fun Factor.
The skinny: 14 of 40 divots (35%). Play without expecting too much and you might find it tolerable. For us, this is the first, only and last experience with the Nameless Course of Seremban 3.
Paradise Valley Score Card