An Open Letter to Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang

Dear E & O Management,

I would like to feedback on my experience of staying at E&O Penang, Malaysia for the first time last week (23 November – 25 November 2013), and hope that you will be able to address some concerns I have.

There are basically 2 things I want to comment on your hotel; both of which stems from our (my family) experience there. Last week, we stayed in E&O Penang from Saturday to Monday, as one of our dearest friend was celebrating his marriage with a dinner at your respected hotel, on Sunday evening. Our stay in your hotel was absolutely wonderful and me, my wife and my 17 month old child certainly enjoyed it there. After dinner and all the celebratory pictures, when my wife returned back to our room, she realised she could not find her mobile phone, a HTC One X, that contained not just private and confidential data in her email, but also much of our family pictures, videos and what we regard as precious information. We immediately went back down to the ballroom to hunt for it in case it dropped. The person in charge also did a quick search amongst the waiters but to no avail. We searched for hours and was told perhaps it’s in our room and we accidentally left it in our bags etc. We already turned the room inside out looking for the phone.

It was a depressing time for us, but I thought it was our own carelessness, so there was nothing much we could do. However, my wife was adamant she did not lose the phone, the last rememberance was that she left it on the dinner table while taking care of our very active son and she was convinced that one of your waiters have taken it. Without proof, it was difficult to pinpoint. Thanks to technology, I was able to track the phone using GPS on my computer and found that it was still in the hotel premise. Again we launched a search in the ballroom and hotel room. However, we still could not find it. After many hours, we gave up due to exhaustion and decided to search it again next morning, with at least the confidence that it is in the hotel premise.

Early next morning, I did a search on the GPS function again and to my shock and horror, found that the phone has travelled across the bridge into mainland Malaysia to a place called Pangsa Sri Bagan, still in Penang. This was clear evidence that  it had been stolen from the table while everyone was not looking. I immediately reported this to the hotel, who called up Captain Kunalan, the head of security. I spoke to him, and to cut the long story short, he managed to track down a few ‘casual workers’ that were hired to be waiters that night for the dinner who lived in Pangsa Sri Bagan. One of them have indeed stolen the phone, and Captain Kunalan managed to retrieve back the phone from the thief and sent it back to us (we have gone back to Kuala Lumpur that day) via the groom, who stayed an additional night in Penang.

Unfortunately, the thief had wiped out our data completely, destroyed my wife’s sim card, and damaged the phone and had even installed his own Digi sim card (and taken out before returning) as evidenced by the software changes on the phone.

My two comments are these:

1)      On the positive side, Captain Kunalan went through a lot of trouble to get back our stolen property. Once I gave him the GPS location, we were 100% certain our item was stolen, and to his credit, he did not delay in doing what needed to be done to get it back. He could have easily delayed, or opted not to follow through, but through his persistence, we finally got back our phone, although everything valuable in it is now destroyed. I want to commend him, and hopefully he can be recognised for his efforts. Its only because of him that our negative perception of E&O has somehow been softened. He has given great credence to your brand.

2)      On the negative side, I cannot fathom how a hotel as upscale as yours can hire casual workers who are so brazen in their crime that they STEAL our properties from our table! Of course, you can argue that we need to be more careful and aware, but this is a wedding dinner, with a perception that it is a safe, trusted environment, a family environment…how is it possible that we would be on our guard against thieves and criminals? Plus, if you ever handled a 17 month old boy running around, you will know that protecting your phone is definitely not number 1 in your agenda. We took our safety for granted because we assumed the environment offered by your hotel was safe. We were wrong. You can ask, was there any way at all this could be avoided? Is it E&O’s responsibility if their casual worker steals our goods? I say yes. It does not matter if it is your staff or casual workers. The moment they work for you, they represent E&O, regardless. You cannot escape that accountability to provide your hotel guest with the assurance of our safety. If a crime occurs in your premise by a casual worker, E&O is responsible for that crime. In fact, the innkeepers act clearly states that where any goods is stolen, lost or injured (damaged) through a wilful act of any person under the hotel’s employment, the hotel is responsible for liability. This could just be a phone. I am sure they have stolen before and will steal again. It starts with a phone, a handbag, car keys, and in the future, even heaven forbid, abduction of a child. You must stop this before it escalates into something far more serious than lost data and phone! This theft, that we never think possible, but has occurred, and in our eyes, has tarnished your good name.

What can you do? I am a business owner, and I make sure my customers are always given the best quality service. If there is anything less, I will forsake all regards to my costs and bottom line to set it right. There is a cheap way to do things, and there is a right way to do things. If you cannot control your casual workers, I recommend you to properly source through proper agencies or have more due diligence done. I cannot imagine that you allow any person to just come in, sign their name and they don E&O apparels and represent your company. You then hire crooks and thieves who in turn prey upon your hotel guests without your knowledge. If costs are needed to get the right people in, even 2 -3 times the cost, then sacrifice your margins and stop hiring any street criminals and properly filter these people! There MUST be a change, for the sake of future guests who WILL fall prey to them again. You cannot expect redemption on their side, these are people who are conditioned for crime. You must not allow them to every step foot into your hotel and destroy your reputation that you have so painstakingly built up. As a board of director for companies, I understand fiduciary duty. You must put in operational controls to address this risk, this is management duty and must be regarded with all seriousness. If it wasn’t for my technology knowledge, we would never have pinpointed these criminals and you would have hired them again for the next wedding dinner, and other people would have been victimised!

I have written a very long email, but one that I think is necessary. If it was any 3 star hotel, I would not have spent so much of my time in feedback. I would have gone through the normal channels of complain through social media, which as you know is extremely powerful in brand creation and dilution. But because I believe E&O is one of the most respectable hotels in this region, with an absolutely commitment to customer experience, that I spend so much time in this email to you. Because I know that you WILL make a change. Because I know you will take to heart here this feedback by your guest on how to improve your services and safety of your hotel. Because I know it makes a difference, and that E&O will learn from this and become even more respected as an organisation in dealing with it.

I am not pursuing monetary repayment, even if we have a case – I am not a lawyer and I am in no mood to discuss if we have any case in the innkeeper’s act to pursue or not. It’s irrelevant. What we have lost, we will never gain it back. We have lost memories of our family and friends, precious confidential data, damaged phone and what is supposed to be a joyous weekend, wrecked due to such a awful experience. And this, because we trusted in the umbrella of safety that the hotel should be providing to the guest. We can only hope that we are the last ones who will fall prey to criminal activities under your roof and that you will do ALL you can in your power to improve what all of us have taken for granted: your guests’ peace of mind.

I do expect an acknowledgement to this email to ascertain that it has reached the right level of management, who can make decisions and at least assure me that if I ever intend to stay in E&O again, this concern would have been fully and completely addressed.

**It took them 1 and a half months to formulate a response back to me**

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Port Dickson Golf & Country Club

Introduction

Port Dickson used to be etched in the mind of everyone in my generation. Kids these days only know Port Dickson as a backwater town with filthy beaches and mutated sea water creatures; but back in the 80s, it was a holiday haven for city folks looking to get out of town for a relaxing weekend at the beach. If Brisbane had her Gold Coast, then KL had her Port Dickson.

I remember going there with my dad and brother, swimming or playing on the beach, having church retreats at Ming Court Hotel, or family holidays at the Si Rusa Inn. We would also have our dinners at that restaurant that was next to the beach, I forgot the   name of it, which now has long since been abandoned. Ah, PD, good memories.

However, in the 90s, cosy old PD fell into hard times and many of these well beloved places were abandoned. The grand Ming Court Hotel is an empty shell that looked as if it had been blasted by German airplanes in the world war. Si Rusa is also no more and that unnamed restaurant has only pillars blackened by the smoke of Mordor standing. In other words, the nostalgia of Port Dickson was gone.

Nowadays, we still have some decent hotels there, and the Pantai road can be jammed up as Port Dickson strives to recover back yesteryears’ glory. I hope it does.

Anyway, enough of these ramblings. Back to golf.

Port Dickson, despite it being just around an hour plus away from KL, for some reason, doesn’t have many golf courses. I am aware of 3: Thistle’s 9 hole course, the Port Dickson Golf Course and Royal Palm Springs. I’ve played in Royal Palm Springs before, and my recollection was that it was possibly as good as having a garden hoe stuck up your nose and being electrocuted in you’re a*se continuously for 48 hours. Plus the last time I went there, they discriminated against me saying that a bunch of Koreans had booked out the entire golf course and no Malaysians allowed…even at that time, NO ONE was playing. So since then, I can’t wait to get back there and rate the course lower than TUDM.

For this trip to PD, I decided to go for Port Dickson Golf Course. I’ve heard that it’s in a horrible condition, especially after rain, and I especially took care that I went right after a downpour, to see how bad it really was.

Travel (4 /5)

Unlike the Royal Palm Springs or even Thistle which requires a drive deeper into Port Dickson, the PDGC is located literally next to the exit of Seremban-PD highway. To get there it is the easiest thing to do. Go and hit the Seremban-PD highway, and speed all the way to the end. At the end of the highway, turn right, travel like 200 meters and then PDGC is on your right. It’s so ridiculously easy that you don’t even need to think about it.

Price (2/5)

I wasn’t too chuffed with the price. I paid RM87 to play on a weekday. OK, to clarify I was playing alone so I had to have my own buggy. The pricing is a little weird. If I preferred to walk, it was only RM28, but had to do it after four. So I had to get my buggy, which brought it up to RM60, and then I had to pay an additional 1 and a half buggy to jack it up to 87. I didn’t quite understand it, since obviously the registering lady’s mathematics was way better than mine, she just calmly said, RM87 please. I was like, Jeez, just put me out in the course already, so I didn’t really sit there to argue. But, no, on hindsight, I should have asked what the heck was I paying for, at RM87, it was only RM3 less than Impiana using a voucher! Whaaat….although I did feel ripped off by the time I reached the 15th hole, I was way past the point of dispute, and I was rushing the game anyway, so , what the heck.

First thoughts

I have to admit, I thought this would challenge TUDM as the crappiest piece of trash course in all of Malaysia. This is solely based on unfounded rumours that the PDGC has been taken over by cannibalistic beavers that roam the courses at twilight. So I was a little surprised that even after a huge downpour in the morning, I stepped onto a …. Golf course on hole 1. Aside from the semi-retarded pricing, this was quite unexpected, and once again proved to me that I should never put too much faith on rumours consisting of cannibalistic beavers.

The first hole was an inviting, flat fairway, which I promptly nailed it, and duffed my 9 iron approach again…and we’re off.

Service (2/5)

Aside from the registration and pricing mix up, the maintenance of the course was found wanting…the buggy tracks were horribly patched up. That, compounded with a buggy that does not have auto-brakes, nearly conspired to fling me out a few times from the rattling buggy. I know, I shouldn’t be driving so fast…but a buggy without limits? Wow, how often does that occur? There was also no Marshal to be found, when I found myself growing perceptibly older behind 3 elderly gentlemen who took so long with their game, I was ready to load a pistol into my mouth, if I could find one in the bottom of Port Dickson, since this is where our Police Force usually drop their guns.

So anyways, behind these three elderly molasses, I had no recourse to speed up and they refused to let me through, so I just waited and waited and waited…and weirdly started playing better.

Fairways (2/5)

The fairways were surprisingly sturdy, even after the rain and so I originally put in 3/5. However, as I made the turn to the back nine, there were simply too many bald spots to overlook and although much better than I originally anticipated, the cow-grass fairway was well maintained, and even had tufts of Bermuda around. At least that’s what I think. I’m not a grass expert or a cow. In anycase, the front nine maintenance was fine, but the back nine just had too much hacked up areas to pass for a good fairway. Possibly due to the rain, and the fact that the back nine probably is easier for the walking customers to play on (it plays relatively flatter than the front), probably these were the reasons why the wear and tear on the back nine seems a little more pronounced.

Greens (3/5)

If anything else, the greens were another surprise from PDGC. When I was driving through the road leading to the clubhouse (or what passed for one), I was lamenting to myself the uneven patches of grass colour on the greens. It’s never a wise thing to judge a book by its cover, because the first green that I putted on, I putted so hard (thinking that the green was awful slow), that my ball just keep rolling and rolling for a 3 putt start. The greens, strangely, plays a lot better than other courses like Kinrara, or Monterez or, probably it’s closest local cousin: Kundang Lakes. Well maintained in most holes, they were also consistent throughout, and the final hole 18 green was reminiscent of the torturous greens of Rahman 9th hole/18th hole or take-your-pick greens in KRTU. It was steep, and invited a 3 putt, which I promptly accepted for my final bogey of the day. Overall, well done, PDGC!

Rough (3/5)

The bunkers were generally well kept and hardly any casual water flooding them. You must take into account the morning downpour, which makes the drainage more impressive. I didn’t experience those soggy rough like Perangsang, where you step onto the rough and suddenly, your shoes look like they were dipped in Milo or Teh Tarik. In fact, possibly the most surprising thing (out of many surprises) that PDGC served up was how it played so respectably DESPITE the morning rain. It wasn’t a drizzle, it was a bucket load of water that God poured down into the course and yet, it was sustainable.

Aesthetics (2/5)

It wasn’t so much of the course, than the limitations that it had to put up with. The aesthetics were ho-hum at best. Let’s see. If given an analogy, it’s like a girl who is neither pretty nor god-awful ugly. But growing up, she unfortunately couldn’t afford braces or a good dermatologist, so she ends up at 21 with crooked teeth and pock marks from pimples. She tries to hide it by not smiling so much, tilting her hair over her other part of her face, and goes out with heavy makeup. In some areas, she succeeds, in some lights, it almost makes her pretty…but yet, she’s not.

Port Dickson Golf and Country is like that. This is the girl who will never be beautiful, yet, she tries to be. She attempts at flirtation in an awkward manner, her gait is not correct, her speech is unrefined. She pretends to be calm and collected, yet she fiddles and paces like a bird in a cage. She is plain, but strives to be more.

You can see some parts of the course has a good idea…like the par 5 9th, with a good drive to get you over the hill, that opens up to a good view of the green. Or the final hole 18th, with a great bail out on the left, and a sloping green with a bunker to the front. The pretty hole 16, with flower beds and stone bridge, crossing through an upside down L-shaped fairway. Of the 17th semi-island green. There were attempts at elevation, such as on the 2nd, on the 8th, with a high tee off area looking down.

But yet, aesthetically, it misses the mark. The rivers are muddy, the cart path in dire need of repair, the fairways balding, the lakes still and uninviting, the swamp eating into the par 5 12th, which played like a horseshoe with a double dogleg. It tries, but it has little to work with. It is PD golf club, but it makes no attempt to include the ocean and beach in its design. Instead, it opts for a hilly front nine, and a munincipal flat back nine… it is functional, but plain.

Fun Factor (3/5)

It’s hard not have fun when I got into a run midway through the front, where I played the next 8 holes at 2 under with 6 pars and 2 birdies. I never played such a length of holes like that before. It was like I suddenly turned into Tiger, starting with a long drive on the 5th, then closely missing my 4 foot birdie on the 6th after stiffing in a five iron. I got my birdie in the next hole, when my sand wedge 3rd shot got me to 1 foot of the hole. I got my next birdie on the 9th, when my lob wedge stiffed 4 feet and my put dropped for my first multiple birdie game of….I don’t know probably 3 years? My best par was also my last, where I skulled my nine iron 3rd shot to a bunker of the par 5, and I putted out of that bunker to 7 feet and saved a sandy par.

Then all of a sudden, it was gone. It was as if some sort of magic left, and for the last six holes I played like how I always played: like a nut. Missing easy putts, and duck hooking my drive on 15th and 18th, and shanking my stupid 8 iron on 17th. AUGH! I don’t know what in blardy name is wrong with me, its like after being possessed by Tiger’s spirit, I then proceeded to hack around like a baboon having an apple stuffed up its red rear-end.

I did have  a lot of fun playing with some of the club’s members in the back nine. Very friendly folks, the people in PDGC, we chatted a bit and they gave me some local tips on yardage and clubs to use. It would prove invaluable in a few holes where I would have over or underclubbed.

Feature wise, the course is definitely narrow than some out there, so if crooked drives are your thing, you might struggle a little in this course.

Another feature is that if you do get a hole in one in the par 3s, there will be a tree planted in your honor. No kidding! Ask Mr Eum Seon Hee!

Conclusion

Despite strong rumours that this club is worse than Royal Palm Springs, I am glad to say that it’s not. PDGC is actually a very functional club, and owing to its extreme ease of access, and right next to the exit (or entrance) of the Seremban-PD highway, it can either by a quick round before heading back to KL or a quick round when you come into PD, without having to go through the trunk roads to the other courses. It’s probably the most surprising little club of all, after hearing how bad it was. The downpour had me thinking the worse, but instead it was on the contrary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still by no means a top class golf club, but given it’s little stature in what was considered a backwater town (which now is bustling again), it does very well for itself, and definitely worth a try. If they can sort out the pricing at around RM60 for walkin, it would be even better.

The good: Accessibility is an ease; the course held well despite heavy rain in the morning; greens are excellent in terms of bang for buck; the aesthetics, while plain does offer some interesting challenges, like long par 3s and extreme dog leg on one of the par 5s; members are friendly; holes are also designed some for an accurate 3 wood, as it plays narrow for the most part.

The bad: The back nine fairways are fairly hacked up; pricing is also questionable not so much of their integrity than their inability to count; aesthetics is like eating cornflakes in the morning – no fuss, just function.

The skinny: 21 of 40 divots (52.5%). PD should be teeming with golf courses if it wants to rebrand itself as a resort town or a getaway, but instead gives us 2 and a half. If there’s a throw between Palm Springs and PDGC, take the latter. It’s worth a try, after the improvements done to the course, and possibly the only decent golf course stretching across PD and Seremban. It’s a go!

Port Dickson Golf & Country Club Scorecard

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PDGCC Information

Address: Batu 5 1/2 71050 Si Rusa, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Contact: +606 64731 123

Fax: +606 6474 949

Websit: http://www.pdgolf.com.my

Posted in Malaysian Golf Courses, Negeri Sembilan | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I broke 90

Once upon a time, I used to be able to break 90 on a regular basis. In fact, not breaking 90 would cause me endless frustration and sleepless night of wondering if my game is going bad.

That was when I still had fantasies of playing golf for a living.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that no matter how much time I spend on this blasted game, I’ll find ways to sabotage my score over and over.

With this new found enlightenment, I found peace and equilibrium in my life and once again, golf was about the laughter, enjoyment and paying the price (literally in the form of bets) for having a swing resembling a gopher doing the macarena.

So, now, when I do break 90, it’s a big deal. I managed to do it today at Impian, which I must say, is getting to be my favourite course.

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The minus points were the double bogeys I created. Hole 6 was just a bad idea…I just got a RazrX Callaway Stiff shaft which I can’t hit, so I used it and promptly skulled the ball 30 meters in front. Ended with a double. The other double was Hole 9, where I duck hooked my driver into the water on left. Index 2 double bogey on 15th was just a bad shot from the bunker which ended into the water as well. And hole 17 was the worst. This easy par 5, I drove my best drive and was only a nine iron away from the green with my second. I had to go through trees unfortunately and landed short of the bunker. I duffed my flop into bunker, skulled my bunker shot to the other end, managed to 5 on and two putted. After a drive that left me with a 9 iron to the green.

You win some and lose some I guess. Impian was in great condition. The greens were still massively good. In fact I managed to sink some ridiculous putts, including a 30 foot bomb on the 7th. The price is a turnoff though, but with the Top Premier voucher, we got 90 bucks each, which is an excellent price for the course. Go for it!

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Thailand Courses – Alpine, Chiang Mai Highlands, Summit Green Valley

Unlike traditional reviews, I thought of just putting in some passing thoughts on 3 courses we played in Thailand last year. Now this was a long time ago, and I had every good intention after the trip to sit down and write out reviews for all the courses we played in. But of course, maybe the Thai shopping or street food distracted me, I don’t know….I ended chucking this one side and not thinking about it until it was, well…too late to think about it.

I think there were 10 of us, so we always had 4 guys in 2 flights and 2 ladies in one flight. It was a great time, I recall. That was even before I got the little guy, so we were obviously more free back then, compared to now, which at this moment that I am typing this, I am at Starbucks with my son sleeping in the stroller next to me and me praying that he doesn’t wake up. And just by dumb luck, a screaming kid had to be sitting next to me with his mom, and another kid running around like a twit, and threatening every moment to crash into my stroller, waking up my kid, and then me engaging into a fist fight with his Dad, who is just sitting reading a magazine while his kid runs havoc. So here’s my life now.

Anyway, back in the days, I can’t possibly remember much about the courses anymore. However, just as I was cleaning my room last week, I happened upon the score cards I collected back then, and on those score cards, I managed to write the ratings down as I felt when I was playing. So I’ll just compile it into a table here.

I think overall, it was quite a good trip for me. Chiangmai had one thing going for it no matter where you play: great weather. The caddies are a little over-rated. They are not too good, and less friendly to Malaysians than to Ang-Mohs. I think because they know we don’t give them nice tips compared to the Ang-Mohs. Please remember that our currency is now slightly lower valued than my kid’s diaper. After he does his number 2.

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Alpine Golf Resort

I remember not playing particularly well in the first course, Alpine, even though I started with a par. It was a pretty looking course, reminded me a little of Amverton. Although they called it Alpine, it wasn’t a mountain course at all…it was just played in a valley with mountains surrounding it. A little flat, if I remember correctly, but quite long. I was carrying a hopeless hook into the game, and the no buggy concept didn’t help me much either. I did managed a birdie on the 17th (I teed off back nine) after a horrible triple-triple-double-triple in the past four holes. I thought I turned the corner, but the back nine was just horrendous. I went bogey free…and that didn’t mean in a good way.

Chiangmai Highlands Golf and Spa Resort (Muang Kaew Golf)

The second game we played was this course called Chiangmai highlands. I would say it bears resemblance to Tasik Puteri 3rd nine, or the Bangi 3rd nine, which generally means it’s not that nice. This was more of a mountain kind of course, but not as narrow as Bukit tinggi. The aesthetics wasn’t that pretty, it was quite sparse for most of the course and the maintenance was poor, with lots of casual water and very damp. The marshal was also rushing us, and the caddies were extremely grumpy. I played a lot better, and even birdied my 3rd hole and went out with a 43. Again, back nine struggles condemned me to a mediocre score, but I enjoyed this a lot more than the first course.

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Summit Green Valley Chiangmai Country Club

Summit Green Valley was the third course, and this played more like a municipal course, located nearer to the city. It was like Glenmarie Gardens in some aspect, with very pretty landscaping and a nice, not so long course for good scores. The condition wasn’t that superb though…I recall hole 1 wasn’t very well maintain, and the fairway was cowgrass with a little bit of bare patches. No 9 hole was nice. I don’t know why, I just wrote it down on the card, now I don’t remember anymore. For the rough, there was hardly any rough…the cut was like the fairway, so for inaccurate piss drivers like myself, we should do ok here. Which for some reason, I also didn’t do that well. I started with a par-birdie to set up what could be a promising day, but like the past two days, the back nine was just horrible. I don’t know why I play back nines like crap. The 3 courses combined for +17, +13 and +15, while my front nine +14, +7, +8 was 16 strokes better, which is average 5 strokes better for each course. What the crap!!

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Summary

Anyways, for those who are going Chiang Mai, I’d recommend Summit and Alpine. Alpine I feel is over-rated in terms of pricing but it’s ok. Chiangmai Highlands, I’d say give it a miss. The trip there is not worth it, as you have to travel as far as Alpine. And the service there sucks.

I guess the only good take-away of the whole trip was that I birdied once in each of the course, which is a big deal for a player of my meager talents.

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Robina Woods, Gold Coast Australia

Introduction

While this isn’t the first foreign golf course played on – The Football Golf at Koh Sa Mui takes it, as well as we hacked 3 courses 2 years back in Chiang Mai during our golf tour there, but I was too darn lazy to review those after having such bad games. Yes, I am an absolutely sore loser.

Anyways, if you google map Gold Coast (the real one in Australia, not the one in Morib) and do a “search nearby” for golf courses, you’ll see literally almost 50 golf courses available to be played on in the Gold Coast vicinity. Australia is blessed with great weather, especially during this time, in the August-September spring months when the cold biting winter is giving way to spring. I loved my time in Australia when I was studying then, but stupidly I only picked up golf after my time there. I was too busy chasing girls I believe, and playing computer games. Aah, those acne filled uni years of loser-hood.

So I found myself here, on a semi-holiday with the family, clocking in some time at the Gold Coast office for some work, and doing whale watching and stuff that my 1 year kid would hopefully not sleep through or scream through. It’s either or. Anyway, I managed to negotiate a 2 – 3 hour downtime away from the family while they shop, and I get to choose the course to play. There were a few courses with special flyers available at where we stayed in Gold Coast. For instance, if you give the flyer to these courses, they will give you a discount on the green fee, free golf clubs hire, free buggy, and at some courses, even free 10 used balls. It’s really a good deal, I guess because there were so many golf courses in Gold Coast.

My tip: go to the nearest hotel, or a service apartment like Ocean Pacific down at Broadbeach, pretend you are a resident and insidiously take as many flyers as you want since all of these flyers are gleefully hanging in the open. Yes, it sounds awful, but have you seen the darn Aussie Dollar against our toilet paper Ringgit??!? Anyway, the golf course won’t mind.

I had to choose my course with the nearest vicinity to a shopping mall. This was either Pacific Fair + Palm Meadows or Robina Square Mall + Robina Woods. Unfortunately Pacific Fair was not open due to renovation, so we had to settle for the latter combo.

Travel (3/5)

I honestly cannot complain about the travel. I am assuming that you have your own rented car to get around Gold Coast. Robina Woods is located at another township, at around 10 – 15 km from Gold coast main area (Surfer’s Paradise). It’s a reasonable distance, a lot nearer than those theme parks we go to. The mall is about 3 – 4 km away from the golf course, which is located smack in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood. It’s like a municipal golf course, easy to accessed, and doesn’t really take itself too seriously in terms of being a golf club (like most Malaysian golf course do, but yet represent a huge pile of guano.) So do note golfers, drop off the wife and kid and zoom out again for a quick round of 18.

Price (3/5)

The price I paid was AUD65, which is a weekday rate, with a flyer…green fee + buggy + golf club hire. They don’t have bullshit like golf insurance that stupid Malaysian clubs do. In fact after 1 pm, Robina Woods had what they term as twilight promotion, meaning you pay 65AUD and you can play as long as you have light. I think this applies only in winter months maybe. I don’t know, I forgot to ask. No harm asking them yourself.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t bring ANYTHING. So I had to buy gloves for AUD20, and the most expensive Srixon balls ever, the new batch of 12 balls for AUD30. So overall, I ended up paying AUD115! Which is around RM350!! It’s a good thing they don’t care about shoes, because I used my jogging shoes, and the aussie bloke said, “Sure, no worries, mate, as long as it’s a closed shoe (meaning no toes showing). So, do yourself a favour, bring along your glove and a few balls. Some clubs gave free used balls, but Robina Woods doesn’t.

At AUD 65, it’s still steep if you convert it to Malaysian Ringgit. But it’s not the club’s fault. It’s our stupid economy’s fault, for rendering our Ringgit as useful as a piece of maggot-ridden wood, festering for 20 hours in a crap of a tapir.

First thoughts

Two things come to mind when I stand at the tee in Number 1. “Gosh, it’s a nice weather” and “Holy cow, it’s so blardy narrow.”. Granted, number 1 is one of the widest fairway you will find. But a stream meandered on the right, and the left is hole 18 approaching, so technically, the fairway strip is still narrow. To compound the matter further, the tall and mature trees offer little refuge for a wayward ball. It’s definitely not one of those flat municipal golf courses that resembles a gigantic putt-putt course. Robina Woods is mature, narrow and from the onset, it looks like my RM100 for 12 balls cache is going to suffer heavy casualties. And boy was I right.

Service (4/5)

You really can’t take away anything from aussie service. These guys have mastered the art of servicing, probably due to Gold Coast being a hub for tourism. The guy whom I arranged with was friendly, and importantly got me out to the course in like 5 minutes of registration. He gave me a reasonable set, the invincible Tourstage set, with a pretty good driver. However, it was an R-Flex, and God knows, I had such a difficult time with that stupid club that after blowing the first few holes I gave up on it and went with my 5-iron, hybrid and occasionally the 3 wood. Even with the 3 wood, my ball kept doing stuff that I never thought they’d do…like a freaking huge slice almost everytime I used those clubs.

No caddies here. I’ll give it a 4 simply because Australia service is always good, and I just had a superb dinner the night before at a place called “Little Plate” run by a lady called Gainor.

Fairways (2/5)

Things started going downhill a little. Aside from skinny fairways that made Kate Moss look like Queen Latifah, the condition wasn’t great. There were tracks all over, and at one hole, 4th I think, I slamdunked my sand wedge to 3 feet from the hole but got showered by mud from my divot. The problem was, it didn’t even rain! I can just imagine if it did. The course wouldn’t be playable I think. You’d need a four wheel truck just to get me out of there. Irrigation is a problem I think, and also, the fairway had patches of grass, Bermuda and what not, growing in uneven patches all over the course, like a teenager with acne. The only interesting thing about the fairways was it’s undulation. There are a few elevated positions, and some hilly fairways. I even blew at one hole where a lake fronting the green was well hidden from the tee box.

Greens (3/5)

I didn’t like it at first, because it was patchy with bald spots all around. The grass itself was long, and wasn’t press down the way you will see KGNS, Trops and even KRPM does. But I guess it’s an Aussie thing. Maybe they want more communication with nature or something. But as the round progressed, I began to really like the greens. They play very fast, and with undulation much like KRPM, some holes I just had to molest the ball (for a want of better word) and off it went like a speed train down hill. The roll would never be true with the grass so long on the greens, but still, I am not sure how they made the greens so fast and firm.

Rough (2/5)

After a reasonable experience with the green, we had another down hill for the rough. Firstly, most of their bunkers are GUR, so non-layable. Those without GUR, they resemble a crater and not exactly appealing…as in, they were not properly irrigated.The rough is similar to the ones you find in Saujana, where the ball sits deep into the rough and peeks out only jurst enough to get the clubhead to the ball. But I am not complaining about that, since it’s a good challenge. Some parts of the course, the rough had kicked up so much mud and the irrigation so bad, I had mud all over my shoes by the time I was done. That’s my biggest beef: The rough rightfully should be punishing you, but with conditions that are fair. I spent 90% of the time in the rough due to my wayward Tourstage driver, so I pretty know how hacked up it is over in regions where no Aussie has gone before.

Aesthetics (3/5)

I really wanted to like the first course I play in Australia. I really do. But sadly, this course wouldn’t make an even average grade back in Malaysia. Which really it wasn’t saying much…Malaysia really have some lousy courses, so if you were to take Robina Woods to Malaysia, it would probably rate around Perangsang’s standard. Which it did. More-ever, it seemed like Perangsang’s cousin, even. The first nine plays narrowly, in heavily wooded area. The maturity of this course makes it quite beautiful, but the narrowness of the fairways just kills me. It does. And don’t say because it’s challenging and I suck and all that. I am a hacker, so for the pros out there, go visit Tiger woods golf blog which is updated only once every six years. The back nine opens up, like Perangsang, and plays more like a meadow feel…where you can see other holes, and play adjacent to them, allowing me to take out the big dog driver…and not improving at all. More on that later.

The final hole is an exception. It’s a beauty par 5, with a narrow tee area but opening into a wide landing area, before challenging the golfer to hit a 3 wood across the pond to a nice green with landing at the back.

The par 3s are also very nice, with great elevation, especially the ones on the front nine. The 17th is another example, where extreme elevation is used, reminding us of the 7th hole in our own Bandar Utama course. It measure 170m, but a nice 7 iron would reach it easy, such was the elevation.

Hole 15th is also a very interesting par 4, with an almost 90 degrees dogleg. It sort of reminded me a lot of one of the holes in Saujana, as well as the stupid index hole in Perangsang, where the 90 degree is protected by a pool of treacherous water. In fact, if you compare Robina, you’d see a lot of design already implemented in Malaysian courses, so nothing seems to jump up.

The course also had a stream meandering around it, and tricky placement of water. Hole 12, there was no way in heck I would have known from my second shot there was water fronting the green. I hit a great 9 iron only to see it sink into oblivion.

I think the word “meander” can be used to describe the whole course, not just the stream, especially the front nine. It is as if the course builders were penalized for cutting too many trees down, so they just winded the course around the forest. And one thing great also, the wild life can get very noisy on the front nine. It felt like I was playing in a zoo at one point…plus having a swing resembling a baboon trying to hump a platypus. It truly reminded me of Perangsang or Air Keroh on the front.

Finally, for a course that’s premium, one of the tee off area was replaced by a driving range mat. I mean, it’s not like it’s bad or anything, but come on, a mat??

Fun Factor (2/5)

Let me explain the fun factor problem with this course, which mainly had nothing to do with the course itself.

a)      Time: I only had 3 hours to hurry through the 18 holes. I teed off around 2 pm, and in Australia, it gets dark by 5.

b)      Clubs: I didn’t bring anything. Nada. They gave me a tourstage Invincible set. While I loved the irons, the driver and 3 wood and hybrid sucked a$$. For the first time in my life, I was slicing every single shot with those whippy, regular flex clubs. They were so flexed I think because 99% playing Robina Woods were retirees with swing speed as slow as crap coming out of a sloth. So the clubs were so whippy, I felt like the shaft was made of rubber at one point.

c)      Balls: Due to b), my slices in the first few holes landed me the next problem: not enough balls. Slice into the woods, slice into the water. I finally gave up after the 4th hole and teed off with my 5 iron from there on.

As you can see, there’s nothing much the course was at fault for, except that when I hit the back stretch I ended up behind a group of 4 old people who played like …. 4 extremely old people. Who were probably on their final legs in life. I felt like I was in Inception, where each dream tier was half the time of the upper tier. They were so slow and awful, that I knew I would never make it before darkness fell and I got lost forever in the woods of Robina. Finally after 6 holes of intense suffering on the back nine, they let me fly through on the 16th, and on the 17th and 18th, I played like the devil to beat the darkness, which I just did, at 4:45, a little over 2 hours 45 minutes to run through 18 holes.

Awful experience, but what else could you expect when the course is built to cater to neighbourhood retirees, right.

Of course, it wasn’t fun at all playing with a crap driver on an extremely narrow course, while fighting the sunset as well as having a limited amount of balls that costs RM8 per ball, and plugging behind a group of old flers who takes 20 minutes to finish one swing. The weather though was a huge +. I wish Malaysia was like that. I didn’t even sweat a drop, so obviously my mood wasn’t as foul as it would have been on normal circumstances.

Conclusion

I think overall, I would say it’s a go for Robina Woods simply because of it’s vicinity to Robina Town Square Shopping Mall, where you can drop off the wife and kids and zoom off to play a round. But it’s narrow. And it’s unforgiving. And the maintenance is not so good. I mean, if you have all the time in the world, there would definitely be better courses out there in Gold Coast. Unless you love teeing up with an iron and play narrow courses, then maybe this is for you. Or you are a pro who can easily navigate such winding courses…in this case, you shouldn’t be reading a 20 handicapper’s yapping on this blog, unless you get intense pleasure from other people’s sufferings. There is a term for it: schadenfreude. Our term in Gilagolf is You-Belong-In-a-Nuthouse.

The good: Weather, nobody beats Aussie weather in August; close proximity to shopping malls for a strategic escape from wife and kids; deceiving greens; woodlands play is quite beautiful; the Australian sky someone is remarkably pretty, unlike the haze covered craphole that is Malaysian sky… vouchers for cheap golf comes free; great ending hole!

The bad: A bit underwhelming maintenance; fairways muddy and patchy; bunkers are under maintenance; aesthetic especially back nine is nothing to shout about; a bit of a muni golf course feel to it; if you are caught behind the old blokes, you will be 2 years older by the time you are done. Not fun at all. Also, try to bring your own balls and glove. You save around AUD50 that way and only pay around AUD65 for a rental—remember to grab the vouchers from the service apartments though, utilising the famed Malaysian cheapskate method mentioned above.

The skinny: 21 of 40 divots (52.5%).

Robina has a conditional Go. Condition is based on whether you are alone or with your family. If you are with a bunch of blokes, then other golf course might be better. I wouldn’t know. But if this was one of the best course in Gold Coast, then Gold Coast consists of 50 golf courses that are pretty crap. If you decide to bring your family with you, then this provides a good escape…I mean, it ain’t that bad. It’s just not as good as advertised. Just tell them you need to crap a bit at the toilet or go for a relective walk. If you buy yourself 3 hours you can rush to the course, play 18, and not break a sweat and come back, without anyone knowing. Perfect.

Well, so much for my first golf course in the land of the late Steve Irwin.

Robina Woods Score Card

Robina Woods Information

Address: Ron Penhaligon Way, Robina, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Contact: +617 5593 1766

Fax: +617 5593 2200

Website: http://palmergolf.com.au/goldcoast/

Email: info@palmergolf.com.au

Posted in Australian Golf Courses | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kota Permai Golf and Country Club

Introduction

My goal this Ramadhan was to play in at least one premier golf course that I have not played before. Which leaves KLGCC, Sungai Long, IOI Palm (the new, expensive one) and Kota Permai. After calling, and finding out that promotion values in the first three were still exorbitant and in nowhere near the budget of our normal cheapskate mentality, we grudgingly agreed to fork out RM185 to play Kota Permai on a Ramadhan promotion. The person on the other end of the phone, probably sensing that I was Gilagolf and would crucify the course the first opportunity given, hurriedly added, “Sir, we are hollowtining the green, OK?”

“So why not cheaper?”

“Sir, very cheap already!”

Obviously have not heard of Gilagolf cheapness definition.

But you know, this is probably the last game I’ll be playing this year during Ramadhan, so what the heck, might as well splurge. So away we went!

Travel (4/5)

Travel is honestly a breeze here. If you know how to go Shah Alam and Kota Kemuning, it is as simple as ABC. In fact, just turn into Kota Kemuning turnoff from the Shah Alam highway and at the first roundabout take a right and follow the road all the way. It would take a complete idiot to get lost here.

The great thing about Kota Permai is that it is built literally right next to the commercial areas, meaning after golf, good food is just a doorstep away. Unlike the god forsaken Amverton or the travel crazy Tasik Puteri, Kota Permai accessibility is legendary. It’s like those easy courses like Tropicana or Saujana or KGNS which is built so people can find it easy and will come, unlike crap courses like Bukit Unggul, that forces you to travel so far only to serve you with a piece of turd-ball.

Price (2/5)

I know I am going to sound very unfair here, but I still think Kota Permai is not worth RM185 on a promo price in Ramadhan. I mean, that would mean, I have to literally fork out almost RM300 on a normal day?? For Kota Permai? I mean, what so great here? Is it because it has hosted a few tournaments and boom, that makes it a great course? Don’t get me wrong. I like the course, but it compares itself to Saujana a lot, but the history of Kota Permai is lacking. So what if you have had some PGA pros hack your course? Have you earned the tradition that RSGC, KGNS etc have? OK, you argue, what about KLGCC? Good point. I don’t know because I’ve never played there. But does Kota Permai inspire absolute awe and fascination? Not really. It’s a very, very nice course, but it doesn’t cut to charge RM300++ on green fee. If we had to pay around RM130 or even sub RM150, it might cut it, but at RM185, plus caddy tips, another RM210, it’s borderline difficult to recommend the pricing on a Ramadhan promo.

First thoughts

Teeing off at the first tee, the inviting par 5, you are greeted with a large expanse of fairway. It is a GREAT first hole to tee off with. The condition of the course was sub-par based on its obviously high standards, but my first thought was: Gee, it’s like a Saujana twin. A lot of tee off has elevated status, allowing you to see the course at the tee and giving you a wide view of all the bad stuff that’s going to happen to you. Compared this to the extremely flat Kota Kemuning next door, it is simply not a fair fight. It’s like Manny Pacquiao vs Steven Tyler on the boxing floor. It’s like a pitbull terrier vs a Chihuahua, which is lamed, blind and possibly bleeding on the floor. It’s simply a ridiculous comparison, because Kota Kemuning Golf Course would be like a pile of crap. That is sitting INSIDE another pile of crap, that’s on top of a huge dung hill of crap. You get the idea.

Service (3/5)

The only service we had were the caddies. And the caddies were meh. I could do without. They couldn’t give me any read on the greens, which was annoying, because the greens were like sh*t. They absolutely refused to comment or give me a break, instead giving nonchalant response like, “Break sikit.” Or the world famous, “Aim Straight” at the tee box. I don’t know why caddy schools have to teach the Aim Straight strategy because isn’t that what we are freakingly trying to do all the time? Would you advise a man dying of thirst to drink? Or a dog to bark? Or my stupid crazy neighbor to act like a stupid crazy neighbor? No! Because it’s natural! They offered some reasonable service in terms of ball searching, so it’s not all bad.

Fairways (3/5)

Kota Permai fairways are generally well kept. Broad fairways will greet you mainly, but there are some deceptive bunkers laid in the most diabolically strategic places that eats our balls, especially the fairway ones. The fairways are not as undulating as, say, Rahman, but it gives enough variation to keep things interesting. However, my biggest dislike is that at some fairways, tyre tracks completely spoilt it for me. On a RM130 course, it’s fine. On a premier course? Geez come on. And I haven’t got to the greens.

Greens (2/5)

Again, is this a fair assessment? No. It’s like taking a snapshot of Scarlett Johannsson without her makeup. She still looks hot. Ok, not Scarlett, maybe this one. I believe it’s Khloe Kardashian, who is famous for doing absolutely nothing in her life other than banging basketball players. Oops, I don’t know, I mix all of those Kardashians up actually. So anyway, fine, the greens were hollowtining and we have been warned. But the greens still suck. For RM185. If we take the maintenance away, I do recall it’s an excellent, excellent green, but I guess not today. Nada enjoyment.

Rough ( 3/5)

Ohh. The bunkers. You are going to spend a good while in them. There is the index 2 15th which plays relatively easy, but for one humongous Sarlac bunker smack in the middle, which a 210 – 220 drive would find easily. I was going on one of my hot streaks of pars, narrowly missing a 4 foot birdie putt on the previous hole and looking to take the game away…until the Sarlac got me. From there, it was sort of a downer. My hook came back and that was it. The idea is, though I hate that bunker so much, it was a very nice bunker. The rough itself was challenging, but you could still get out of it, not like the Saujana pit bull grass where it bites and won’t let go your (golf) balls.

Aesthetics (4/5)

Kota Permai is typically similar to Saujana or even Tropicana. It’s not extremely breath taking, but it’s a very nice looking course. Mainly because of its usage of elevation of the tee, smart doglegs and usage of water. I also liked the way they put wooden boards on some of the edge of their bunkers. In fact, my playing partner used one of these boards to rebound his crap shot into the green. There is slight maturity in it, but not so many trees as to actually lose your ball, unless you get an unlucky bounce like I did on my third hole, or you shank your ball so badly. I really like the broad fairways though. These are the ones where you just take out your driver and take a mighty swing at it. One of my favourite holes is hole 10. It has a blind dogleg left,and a two tiered fairway. It drops significantly about halfway through, giving you a great view of the green if you  are at the top tier.

Another nice hole is the 9th, to end the front 9. A mighty swing with your driver to the right helps avoid the Sarlac bunkers, but yet put you in an awkward stance due to it’s undulation. Overall, if you like Saujana, or Trops, Kota Permai will suit your eye very much.

First hole is a beauty. You love it immediately as it opens up a slight dogleg left. Second hole is what I fear the most, water on the left. Thank goodness I avoided that but in turn sent my drive into the trees. I punched my second out and navigated a bogey on a green surrounded with water on right.

My two blown holes has very similar stories. 3rd hole, I drove well, but horribly misaligned and sailed into the trees on left, and wicked bounced through the fence into another house for unplayable. CIS!! My other 7 is the 16th. Nemesis type of hole with water left. As usual I hooked mine into the water promptly.

Other than those, I actually played well but due to some awful decision making, my scores unfortunately didn’t reflect it. Which I guess is why we often want to come back and play golf…the belief that we don’t suck as much as you think.

Fun Factor ( 4/5)

Kota Permai doesn’t play difficult. Or maybe because we were having so much laughter that it loosened my swing considerably. It’s a huge difference who you play with. I play with my brother’s group on Saturday at KGNS: and they are all so freaking serious. It’s like I am attending someone’s wake. Or a funeral of my golf swing. My brother himself is a fun chap, but you just sense the entire joy of playing golf ebbing away into a sludge of despondency. It’s because they are good. They are so darn good, it bores the crap out of me, who in turn, did not play good because there was no chatter, no ribbing someone, no making fun of someone’s shank, no screaming because you miss a two footer for RM2…it’s just…golf and goodness, it’s so hopelessly bland. My normal group however consist of clowns who are often the noisiest flers in the course, constantly surfing of waves of joy, elation and sudden depression in the game. I don’t know, everyone prefers something to his or her own taste, but for me, bet a little, wager a little, but everyone should have fun.

The course itself had its nuances. Like the 5th. After a great drive, I was 130 away. I took out a pitching wedge and completely sailed my shot into the river behind the green. Without course knowledge, there was no way I could have judged correctly. And the caddie were useless in given any sort of help in yardage, frankly.

The par 5 12th had some major fairway problems, which shouldn’t be for a course like this.

I like the par 3 14th. It looks easy, but it’s not, because you have surrounding bunkers and a creek. My partner landed his ball inside the creek and guess what, he played from there! Inside the stream! Obvioulsy I wish he found success but he blasted over the green and then went on to a triple. Mine was a 4 footer for birdie which I retardedly missed.

The ending hole is one of the more enjoyable ones on the course. Again, elevated tee, the fairway is deceptively difficult, with bunkers hugging the left and water on the right. Amazingly I hit the water on my first drive that sliced the whole day…and hit a three wood from the drop to about 80 meters from the green and stuffed it to 4 feet and again missed my stupid par with some ridiculously bad putting!

Conclusion

It’s difficult to say no to Kota Permai. Like Glenmarie, we do think it’s a little overpriced for a middling experience….but it’s Kota Permai. Once the greens start getting better, I have no doubt the experience will increase exponentially. The fairways are already nice, the holes all have different characters, but it’s just the awful expensive pricing. If you have spare change to kill, go ahead. And don’t forget the food around Kota Kemuning. Plenty to eat, even the Bidor Duck Noodle, which is really nice.

The good:

Broad fairways are forgiving to the crooked swing; great location and travel; nice bunkers and well kept; different characters for each hole; it’s not a tough course, so hackers can look to score if you play reasonable.

The bad:

Mainly overpriced; hollowtining greens make it an awful experience; ‘Meh’ caddies and I am not relating to how they look, which is an even lower ‘Meh’; some parts of the fairways were not great, not at this price!

The skinny: 25 of 40 divots (62.5%).

I wish they’d make it an easier decision and just move down their price bracket to around RM150 on promotion. Unfortunately it is the range of Tropicana and Glenmarie and often times play similar to it as well. Is this a good deal? Frankly the hollow tining makes a great deal of difference, so if possible avoid playing under maintenance. Then again, this is when cheapos like us start hacking the course!

Kota Permai Score Card

Kota Permai Information

Address:

No 1, Jalan 31/100A, Kota Kemuning, Section 31

40460 Shah Alam,

Selangor

Contact: +603-51223700

Fax: +603-51223702

Website: http://www.kotapermai.com.my

Posted in Malaysian Golf Courses, Selangor | Tagged | Leave a comment

Amverton Cove Golf and Island Resort

Introduction

After what seemed like an eternity, Gilagolf is back to doing what this blog was set up for ages ago. Reviewing crappy golf courses in Malaysia, sprinkled with some really good ones. But mostly crappy, because the crappy ones are the most fun. Anyways, I’ve always heard about Carey Island Golf Course long way back. It was always described in no uncertain terms, as a 9 hole stinkbomb that makes cow dung taste like Baskin’s Ice Cream. With Oreo topping. So I never really ventured there, unless perhaps if it was the final golf course on earth, and committing suicide was no longer an option.

However, a few months back, I began to hear rumours of another world. Another golf courses, set up like ‘the links in old St Andrews’, with beautiful lakes and oceans, and the wind caressing your hair as you launch a perfect 8-iron into the air, only to see it whipped around like a mongoose going after a cobra due to the high winds. Where you have to aim to the ocean, so that the wind can blow your ball back into the fairway. Where mastery of the Stinger is key, to  keep the ball under the wind. Most of us have mastered that anyway, except our Stinger is a top ball and our ball is just under the wind, it’s also skimming along the ground to only about 20 meters. This place was called Amverton Cove. At first, I thought this was a mistake and this referred to place possibly in England or perhaps a custom golf course created in the Playstation Game Tiger Woods 2013. I mean, aside from the insidious practice of naming it a very western sounding name “Amverton” – in the same way caplang products like Bonia, Giordano, Milano sound Italian — which world does anywhere in Malaysia ever represent a ‘Cove’? A cove is like a coastal inlet (according to Wiki). The last cove I experienced was called Lulworth Cove in the Isle of Purbeck when I was doing the Thomas Hardy experience walk with my wife 2 years back. It looks something like this:

This is a cove. It’s a beautiful cove.

The Carey Island I search in Google got me this:

View of Carey Island

In terms of beauty, it’s like a comparison between this:

And This:

I know. They are not even the same species. But you get my point. Anyways. It’s a free country to name anything you deem fit. Amverton Cove it is. Armed with these precious rumours, a group of intrepid golfers took the chance on a gloomy morning to head out, where no Gilagolfer (from our group) has gone before.

Travel (3/5)

I heard of Carey Island when I was a kid, and even been there before. However, I’ve probably not gone there for close to 25 years or so, so getting there itself is an adventure. If you’ve been to Tasik Puteri before, it’s more or less the same philosophy. Create a golf course deep inside and far away from the highway. However, unlike the god-forsaken location of Tasik Puteri, Amverton has really benefited from the SKVE highway at Saujana Putra, which is a direct highway that goes straight into the heart of the forsaken lands of Banting and Carey. I don’t know exactly know why google maps doesn’t have it, and instead forces you to go through Shah Alam, but the best route is to take the NKVE out of PJ, and exit at Saujana Putra. It’s not that far, especially if you’re like a friend of mine who lives in Putra Heights, which is next door. Once there, go straight past the roundabout and you immediately end up at the SKVE toll and there, you can access it. Once you’re at the SKVE, go till the end at you’ll need to turn out into the smaller roads. From there it’s pretty straightforward. Amverton turnoff is just about 1 km or so away from the old 9 hole stinkbomb golf course.

Over all, it was a welcomed drive. Just be careful with your speeds, as the SKVE has a lot of dips and bumps and not at all flat. Otherwise, I’d say travel was surprisingly easy.

Price (3/5)

I’d say it’s pretty worth the RM120 I paid to play in Amverton. The crux of the matter here is that you need to have 2 flights in order to pay 120, or you end up forking RM138, I think. This hardly makes sense to me, because all I have to do if I had one flight, was to just go to another flight and say, can I join you guys? As in, can my flight just register with you guys? I mean, if they have one flight also, sure, they will be of course ok. Even if they had 2 flights, Malaysians being such cultured and social animals, they’d also generally say yes, so we had 3 flights, and hence ok for the promotion. It obviously is a gimmick from Amverton to get more flights, like bulk purchase or something. It’s a pretty stupid idea, and only serves to annoy the crap out of your customers, Amverton. Nobody does this. Stop it.

A good thing is that for senior citizens, you are further reduced to RM108. Yaay! 15 more years for me to go to get this privilege!

First thoughts

I’ll be honest. My first thoughts were: “I’m glad I took the day off.” I mean, it was just a welcomed sight. Some golf courses do that to you and Amverton, after the dreary drive through the rain, looked great. It was so strange, to come upon this golf course after driving through a patch of land that looked horribly desolated and boring.

The sign that it was the right thing to do to neglect all other responsibilities in life and just play golf was when we saw a full rainbow over the golf course, and the sun breaking through the morning rain. It was a promise, that although our golf will no doubt suck as usual, it would be the right choice to come to Amverton Cove. Even though it’s representation of a cove is the same as my golf skills representation of Tiger Woods.

Service (2/5)

Don’t get me wrong. The staff was friendly enough. The same way as someone who is about to take your money and your kid’s education fund is friendly about it. I mean, we though of having breakfast at Amverton Cove first before heading out to play. Amverton not only uses English names and English landscape to describe the golf course, it also uses pricing from England to describe its menu.

RM13 for fried rice? RM17 for breakfast?RM5 for a toast??!?  And the toast was basically toasted Gardenia bread with a cheap butter and no knive. I had to spread with my spoon. And it sucked. The kopi-o was also about 5. Our breakfast for 3 ended up to be RM40. And this was with two guys eating the RM5 toast and another guy eating an RM15 nasi lemak. Is this crazy, Amverton? Like your two flight promotion, this crosses the line between mildly annoying to brain-numbingly stupid. I guess they have to travel pretty far to get the bread in and all prices are jacked up like in Genting.

Skip the club food and go straight for golf.

Fairways ( 3/5)

Amverton has Bermuda grass for fairways. Which is generally good, except that maintenance is not going to be easy. As this is a new course, the conditions were still good, if not mildly runned over because of the rain and because they allowed buggies on the fairway. There were a number of spots where the Bermuda was completely balded out and sand has replaced the grass, but I will take it as a new course trying to mature itself, which would probably take some time. So, let’s give it the benefit of doubt. It’s not easy trying to maintain these fairways in a palm oil estate. Plus, with the rain, drainage was pretty darn good as we didn’t have any casual water anyway (but plenty of water otherwise!).

Greens (3/5)

We enjoyed the greens…but it narrowly misses out because a number of these greens, on 11th or 12th, was being sanded. Again, we take it as a new course, and maintenance is still ongoing, but from what we see, the greens are going to be in very good condition soon. It’s fast, and enough undulation to give us the yips—generally, anything with 1 cm of undulation or break gives us the yips, but you get what I’m saying. I think Amverton got this right.

Rough (4/5)

There was not much rough to contend with. Basically if you’re spraying your tee shots like morning piss like me, miss it on the side of the rough instead of water. I know it sounds like a stupid advice, but say, you know your miss is a hook. Instead of aiming it on the fairway, where a hook will bounce off to the left water, aim it way to the rough, so even if you flush it, you end up in the rough with plenty of recovery options. The grass isn’t thick, and the bunkers are very well maintained, even after a solid splashing from the rain. Actually, the bunkers are great. But of course, not while you’re in it, but if you saw the rainfall, you’d think other courses like that stupid Beruntung course, the bunkers would have become swimming pools.

Aesthetics (3/5)

OK. Amverton Cove is nicer than we thought. I liked it, but it depends on your type of course. Calling it a links course shows how little people know about links. It’s NOT links. It’s just a flat course that is immature, hence you have little shade and trees, and not much wind and it’s flat as Kate Moss. In fact, the advantage here is that it gives a feel like RSGC, where you can just see the course and everyone playing on it. It’s like a big playing field, where you can shout “Hi!” to your pal on the 1st tee while playing on the 15th tee. Unlike ‘sandboxed holes’ in courses like Ayer Keroh, where each hole feels like you’re completely isolated from the other hole, there is a relatable sense in Amverton, where flights can interact with each other easily. I think having a tournament here is going to be F-U-N. On the other hand however, because there is literally NO elevation, the aesthetics, after a while becomes somewhat of a downer. Every hole plays almost similar with dogleg here and there, water on the left or right, some hidden lake in the middle of nowhere, and basically no sense of awe that you get like if you played in Johor’s Legends course or Saujana Cobra. Elevation makes the course more beautiful, and in Amverton’s case, this is a minus. Overall, it depends on the type of golfer you are. I personally like the hilly types of terrains you find in Rahman Putra, but it still doesn’t detract the fact that Amverton is a nice looking golf course.

The surrounding environment isn’t so good looking however, but these are all being constructed, so it’s not so fair to make a judgement until the resort gets fully operational. I might be able to trick my wife to come here for a ‘family outing’ with a couple of Gilagolfers and their similarly tricked family….

Fun Factor ( 3/5)

We really enjoyed Amverton. It’s been a while since we had a lot of fun, but basically, we had two of the noisiest flights on the course. Because it was so flat, our yells and laughter was heard all over, which makes it, I guess, quite unethical but ah well. I didn’t have my best game, but I didn’t think I messed up so bad. We teed off at 10. The par 5s here are delectable. You can reach both in 2 on the back nine. But they punish wayward shots. On hole 10, I had only 180 left after a long drive. I sliced it, and boom, it goes into the river on the right. I didn’t even know there was a river because the course was so darn flat. Double.

The 11th was bad for me because of water on the left. I topped my drive and with another 180 to go, I proceeded to pull my 3 wood into water. Stupid 3 wood now has cost me two holes. Triple. Hole 12, par 3, what can go wrong right? Over-drew my 8 iron and it bounced on the fairway and trickled to the left. I didn’t even realize the water ate into the fairway near the green…and you will get this a lot because you can’t see crap at the tee box due to the flatness—if you can get a caddy, well go for it maybe they can help. So my first three holes, I was +8. After that, I played much better, including the par 5 14th, where even if I OB-ed my 3 wood from the fairway second shot, I still put my next 3 wood shot onto the green from 190 out and two putted for bogey. I like the par 5s.

The signature hole is the par 4 18th, where you can challenge the lake to carry about 220 – 230 to cross. We played safe, but all attempted mulligans to see if we could cross and all failed miserably. From the fairway I don’t know how I messed up so badly to double bogey it but ah well.

The second nine was way better. The only letdown was the index 1 hole, which is a 289meter par 4 6th. The only problem was right water, but landing space on the left was plenty so 3 out of 4 guys from our flight parred that easily. I think they need to change that index 1 a little, it’s too easy.

Every hole has water. But unlike Rahman where you need to cross them, most of these are not fronting the teebox but lay to the left and right, treacherously eating up your wayward shots. There’s even a hole where you have to go onto a wooden walkway to walk across a swamp to the teebox, I think hole 6.

Out of 18 holes, 12 holes have water to the left, and potentially terrible for hookers like me. In fact hole 10 – 18 features 7 of 9 holes with bad news for hookers. Ironically, the only two times I ever sliced my tee shot all day ended up in the lake, when water was on the right. It. Was. Retarded.

Conclusion

We’ll definitely make another trip here. The travel wasn’t half as bad as we thought. And the course itself was worth the trip and the fun we had. It’s one of those courses where you just know that the second time you play here, you’ll play better because you know the courses slightly better. You know where to miss, whether to go for it or not. And of course, who doesn’t want to come back to a course with a rainbow over it?

The good:

Huge potential for Amverton Cove. Of course, if I could, I’d change the name because it ain’t a cove. But let’s give it a break. It’s a good course in Carey Island and recommended to go. The greens are well maintain, the fairways hold up to rain, the rough is also good and if you like water, hey, this is as watery as it gets. Every hole has water!

The bad:

The pricing is still a little steep for a course that is not elite. It’s in the middling range like tasik puteri, just above dog crap courses like Kinrara and Holy-Crap-This-Is-Awful-Sh*t courses like Beruntung, but at RM120 on a weekday? It’s high. And why is the food pricing like eating in Ben’s in Bangsar? Also, aesthetics is a hit and miss…the lack of elevation, immature trees, flat features is a minus. It’s like a girl who will be considered pretty but never beautiful.

The skinny: 24 of 40 divots (60%).

Of course, recommended to give it a try. Most of you will probably enjoy this course like we did, and once it starts maturing, it will get better. Give the food here a miss though. Down the road, there is a very good seafood restaurant (halal) called Kang Guan (I think)..it seems to be very popular. Play golf only and don’t stay a minute longer than you need to.

Amverton Cove Score Card

Amverton Cove Information

Address:

PT673, Jalan Pulau Carey, Mukim Jugra,

42960 Pulau Carey,

Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Contact: +6019-3382233/ +6019-3832233

Fax: NA

Email: enquiries@amvertoncove.com

Website: http://www.amvertoncove.com/

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Ramadan is coming

At the risk of sounding a little offensive to all my muslim friends who will be fasting, Ramadan is something I look forward to because of the food and the golf.

The food? Nothing beats Malay food. Trust me. I am Chinese, but I don’t eat pork. Hate it. So 90% of the chinese food is unpalatable to my taste. I love Indian food especially their vegetarian food. But my great weakness is good old Malaysian food. Nasi lemak, of course. But Ayam Percik grilled over charcoal, nasi kerabu, apong balik…even simple fried chicken…and I have a great weakness for Malay Chow Kueh Teow. The one that they fry in the morning and leave it out in a big pile and you take it in the afternoon. One that has lots of spring onions and taste nothing like the Penang style. I think I got addicted to this kueh teow when I was in secondary school and I was a really stingy guy who saved a lot of money to play arcades, so I didn’t have money for food. For 50 sen, I could get this dish from a lovely Malay makcik in my canteen in Sultan Abdul Samad, PJ. I would eat about 3 for RM1.50, and the rest of my allowance, I’d blow it on playing arcades at Rasa Sayang or Eighty-Eight at SS2.

And Ramadan, of course, the golf. I know I haven’t updated much lately. Tiger is awful, Rory is pathetic and even Federer sucks. And I am depressed because San Antonio Spurs lost in the NBA finals. So every single person or team I support is going down the nuthole.

But someone told me, that while he appreciates my nonsensical posts, he missed my reviews, which I have stopped simply because I haven’t played in new courses. So my wishlist for Ramadan is to play in some courses I’ve not played before and hopefully start reviewing again! I’m sticking to courses in KL/Selangor, because you’d think Gilagolf would have covered this by now!!

1. Amverton Cove - I heard a lot about this sucker. Expensive, but I don’t mind trying it out. It’s a new course at Carrey Island, played like a links, according to a friend. Hopefully we can head there soon.

2. Awana - Yes, it’s quite unbelievable I have not played there before. Everytime we plan, it goes down the drain, either weather, or someone pulling out.

3. Port Klang - I did play this before, but it was before this blog started. I don’t recall much about it, but really need to play it again!

4. KLGCC - Um. Who wouldn’t want to play there. I am hoping with Ramadan it goes down below RM200 to tee off there…then I will go!

5. Kota Permai - Again, I played there before once long long time ago when it was still reasonably cheap to play…now I probably need to be an organ donor before I play there…but Ramadan, please make it cheaper!!

6. Titiwangsa PDRM - I don’t know if this still exists, but someone told me there’s a 9 hole somewhere here.

7. Kuala Kubu Bahru - OK, fine, this is probably not one of the finest course on earth, but I played here once long time ago and only remembered one tee off over the road! Gotta play again

8. Valencia Golf Club - I think this is a private club at the gated community in Valencia. Anyone wants to bring Gilagolf in?

9. Sungai Long - Jack Nicklaus designed isn’t it? But again, pricing is a big issue here and unless it goes down…plus, I believe you need a member to get in here.

10. Kelab Darul Ehsan – I think around Ampang there is a club called KDE with a 9 hole golf course. I was brought here back in college when I didn’t play golf  but pretended I did, because I was absolutely crazy about this girl who was a member there and who asked me if I played golf, to which I replied immediately, “Hell, yeah!” and proceeded to make an absolutely ass of myself in front of her and her friends. Aah, good embarrassing memories. At least we’re good friends now, still, but she’s married to someone else and so am I…so that ended my craze for her. I hope.

Anyhoos, that’s about that list. Serendah Golf is unfortunately gone so I’d love to review it but can’t. There’s also a 9 hole course in Bangi in Uniten which I played before..have to walk one. And someone told me IOI Palm is back up refurbished, but cost even more than Mines…are you serious?!?

So yeah, altogether, there should be 12 courses I’d like to review in Selangor/KL area. Honestly, even if I strike off 2 – 3 by the end of Ramadan, I’ll be happy.

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Fried Chicken and Colour Comments

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Sergio Oh Sergio.

When he starting bitching earlier about Tiger and wouldn’t stop, it would probably take a train wreck to bring his whining to a halt. And it took that much. He made the Fried Chicken comment. Sometime back, a guy called Fuzzy Zoeller (no, that’s not his pornstar name, it’s a real name, given by his father who obviously thought his son was a joke), made the same remark about Tiger, about serving fried chicken and collard greens.

And we all know what happened. The world of golf descended into a racist pantomime for the next week or so. The Euro tour CEO George O’Grady first defends Sergio by saying, “A lot of Sergio’s pals are colored folks.” Or something of that nature. And boom, he lands into hot soup. Don’t say “colored”. It’s discriminatory.

And now, the biggest idiot of all, a guy by the name of Colin Montgomerie steps in to defend both Sergio and George O’Grady by saying it’s a mountain out of a molehill. And he said, the European tour is a big happy family, he felt for Garcia and claims all this fried chicken talk is nonsense, and now everyone is afraid of saying something that isn’t ‘kosher’ in 2013.

Now, we all know Colin Montgomerie is a racist. This is proven fact. So obviously he wouldn’t find anything wrong with calling Tiger the N word and eating fried chicken and collard beans. Colin Montgomerie is also overweight and diabetic, and impotent, although he cheats regularly on his wife by making out with a Scottish pig.

Do you see how it hurts to say things or write things like that, when it’s not true (or part of it anyway)? It hurts, Mr Montgomerie and it’s not making a mountain out of a molehill. It is because you don’t understand the connotations of fried chicken and slavery in America, so don’t talk about it.  Read this article

http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/5-chickwatermelon/index.html

Maybe you can understand a bit more on the furore your stupid lad Sergio Garcia caused across America by stating racist remarks. You might as well go to the next PGA tour event wearing a white hood and a burning cross. Seriously, Sergio and George, get educated.

Colin Montgomerie, you never deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. You are a joke, a fat piece of crap who shouldn’t even be playing golf right now because you are such a hopeless loser. I agree with Tony Jacklin. If we allow Colin to be a hall of famer, then you might as well get anyone to be be a hall of famer.

So, before making anymore remarks and showing how bigoted and racist you truly are, Colin Montgomerie, please do the world a favour and just disappear forever from the golfing landscape.

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Did Tiger Take an Illegal Drop?

Now, before starting this, there are two things I need to point out:

1) I am a huge Tiger fan. Everyone reading this blog knows it. So, obviously I am extremely biased for him, and for the record, I thought the drop he took at Augusta did not matter a fart whether it was one or two meters back or front, because he would dialed in the same anyway.

2) I suck as a golfer. I play to 19, and usually on Saturday games I take illegal drops all the time, usually because I am too lazy to walk back to the tee for a lost ball shot, or simply because I don’t want to dirty my shiny shoes. That being said, we don’t bet in our Saturday games, so we are very loose with the rules. So suck it, golf nerds who think I am a cheater. The loose-ness becomes tight when there’s a bet on the line, because, then we are a little bit more anal on ball drops, because we’re playing for RM1 or RM2, which is like USD200,000 per hole when converted.

Here’s the problem with the ball drops.

For OB or lost ball, even when we’re betting, we’re generally OK with the rule that you can drop your ball on the fairway and take a 2 shot penalty. But drop it parallel to where you think you lost your ball. Now, there’s no such rule in reality. Reality is that you were supposed to hit a provisional ball anyway and play. But sometimes, we see the ball land but when we search for it, it disappears. So that’s legitimate. Now again, I’ve played with golf nerds who insist to go back to the tee. These are the sorts that constantly walk around their lives with a seven iron stuffed up their ass, or oldish fellas who thinks everyone has all the time in the world to play golf and a 6 hour round is perfectly fine for golf. No, it’s not. Most of us have what we call a Life to go back to, so hurry along please.

Tiger faced what we call a lateral water hazard. Red stakes. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. At times, you can definitely drop the ball where the water is taken out of play which was where Woods dropped it.

The argument here was that he likely dropped the ball wrongly because you can only technically dropped where he dropped if he did a giant hook.

Let’s illustrate here:

The red line is where Tiger Woods and his partners said he hit. It’s a big hook that flew across the fairway and veered left into the water, where he eventually dropped it at the red arrow. He hit an amazing shot, a 3 wood with ball above his feet, to the fringe of the green and made double bogey. However, replays from an overhead blimp showed that his ball flight was much straighter and less hook (blue line) and likely crossed the hazard at where the blue arrow was, which meant he had to play it around 100 yards or so further back, which might cause him to triple, and tie the second guy for playoff instead of outright win.

Now, watching the overhead blimp, it does seem like the ball never hooked the way Tiger said it hooked. Which is why it’s contentious. Because the playing partner (I forgot his name) said Tiger was right. Now, Tiger is Tiger. Everyone except Steve Williams will kiss his ass, so I am thinking if Tiger said, the ball turned into an elephant halfway down the fairway and flew into the sun in a yellow horse, this playing partner would have agreed. But this is golf, as long as the playing partner agrees, and the caddies agree the ball flight was the red one, Tiger is OK to drop it. Since no one can see the ball flight better than the guys from the tee-box.

You could probably ask a spectator, but then again, everyone would have a different view at it. From the blimp, it’s hard to see how the heck it would have crossed where the red line is, it was more of the blue line.

So, even if I am a hardcore Tiger fan, it does seem very iffy to drop where he dropped.

Then again, if he had asked me, I would have said yes, it did turn into a pink elephant and flew off into the sun in a yellow horse, Mr Tiger. Yes, Sir!

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