Kota Permai Up and Down

Golf had been pretty solid for the past couple of months  but as witnessed in the last game at Palm Garden, I went into a shanking mode and I’ve been trying to shake off ever since. In fact, I played a 9 hole at KGPA in between that game and this with another beginner and I was like a hacker, because I was shanking it all over the place. I think I shot 51 or 52 which obviously doesn’t bode well.

I am trying to adjust a few things to prevent the shanks, but we’ll see if this works out on the course – Kota Permai! Despite the rain the day before, Kota Permai really looked good and the greens were in great condition.

Hole 1:  Inviting par 5, but I blasted my driver straight right into bunker. In the fairway bunker, I unluckily ended up right inside the rake line so it was embedded a bit. Managed to blast out a 9 iron but it clipped the last branch of the tree into the woods. A punch out and my 4th shot was short. From off the green I opted to putt, but hit it way too long and two putted for double bogey. (+2). I don’t think anything was at fault here, it was simply bad luck and maybe my first putt needed to be adjusted.

Hole 2: Tough hole usually, with narrow fairway. I managed to get my hook onto the fairway, and had a 9 iron in. Because of my shanks, my adjustment made my irons fly a bit shorter and almost got wet. As it was, I was off the green and my putt was short. Surprisingly, I managed to get my remaining 5 footer into the hole for par. (+2)

Hole 3: Another tough hole, but a good drive made things a lot easier and I basically had another 9 iron into the green. This time, managed to get on in regulation. But again, my first putt was short and left me with a similar distance as in the previous hole. Will it go? Yes! Another par! (+2)

Hole 4: The par 3 with water right. This time, instead of 5 iron, I opted to muscle in a 6 iron. It hooked slightly so I had a putt off the green. Learning from hole 1, I managed to hit a much better putt, but had a knee knocker 3 footer downhill left – which I hit, for escalation 3 pars in a row. (+2)

Hole 5: I was slightly feeling it now, with my putter on fire. But this drive, I popped it up and it got hung in the rough – a poor short drive, but thankfully on a relative short Par 4. I still had to hit either an 8 or 7 iron in. I opted for the latter but it flew right to the back of the green, about 40 feet away from the front pin. My lag putt was …. bad. I overshot the hole and had around an 8 footer back.

Amazingly, my putt hit the back of the cup and popped in for 4 in a row. Even I was surprised. (+2)

Hole 6: After we were forced to stop by the wonderful flights who stop to eat their breakfast at this dratted hut, I had a 5 iron to coax into this tough par 3. And I completely duffed it. I wish I could blame the idiots in front who had to stop and fill their bellies and spoiling my mojo. But the fact was, I just had a bad swing and the ball plopped into water. Reteed-and this time found the bunker. From the bunker, hit the 4th shot out, and two putted for a seriously momentum destroying triple bogey. (+5)

Irons=-1

Hole 7: Struggling to shake off the triple, I actually hit a solid drive on this Par 5. But like Hole 1, it got caught into the fairway bunker on the right. Like Hole 1, I was unluckily stuck right at the side and could only coax a 9 iron out. I still could regulation on actually as I had a 130m or more to the green. I shortsighted myself with a pitching wedge (instead of 9) and landed short. Too much grass here to work with (or so I thought), and I decided to chip for my 4th.

Bad decision because my chip is $hit. Total, crap sh#t. I skulled the ball and it skittered into the bunker. From the bunker, I hit a very poor shot due to the water if I overshot the green, and left it in the bunker again. My 5th shot barely got out. My 6th putt, because I had to charge to at least have a chance to tie with my opponent’s team went too far downhill and my come back never stood a chance. Great. Triple bogey. (+8). So after four pars in a row, I had to go spoil the game with two triples back to back.

Chipping = -1

Hole 8: This index hole 1 is long, but it’s not overly complex. I did hit my drive long, but it drew too much. Flew the bunker and I had a pitching wedge I had to carve around the trees. Curled too much and now I had the option to putt or chip off the green. Opted for the chip, but again, fell too short and did not hit the 8 footer to the cup. My first bogey of the day, not bad. (+9)

Hole 9: My drive here to this uphill green actually left me in a reasonable position just short of the bunker on the left, but with an extreme uphill to go. My 6 iron….shanked. Yup. Finally did it and got it out of my system. Thankfully the ball hits a small tree and fell back into the bunker about 30 meters from the green. The dreaded 30 meter bunker shot, which I hit a pretty good out with my gap. I had around 15 feet to navigate for sandy par, but missed. Considering I shanked the crap out of the ball, bogey is a hell of a score. (+10)

For a while, midway through the first 9, I was thinking of really going low. 2 triple laters, due to branfarts on my irons and chipping – and it’s over.

Hole 10: Crossing over to this shady par 4 dog leg left, I cut the dogleg too much and now it’s in the jungle left. My punch out wasn’t great but it was just enough for me to use my 9 iron with a little draw to the green – which was executed perfectly. Pin high, around 10 feet from the hole. Unfortunately I missed it my inches but tapped in for bogey. (+11). Its not a bad hole for recovery.

Hole 11: Blasted this relatively easy par 4 and had only 90 meters left to the green. I hit a poor 60 degree that flew to the back of the green and nestled in the rough. A 60 degree chip shot almost holed it and tapped in for par. (+11)

Hole 12: This par 5 makes me think whoever decided this monster is Index 14 probably made the decision when he or she was drunk or smoking weed. Excuse me? Thick trees and rough on the left, OB on the right, with a sliver of fairway snaking up to an uphill green with a notoriously difficult undulation? Index 14? Hello? On cue, I smashed my driver into the left trees where I can probably take up permanent residence based on the time I visit there. I chunked my punch out (2nd shot) which wasn’t great, and my next punch with a 6 iron from the rough found me around 140m to an uphill green. I used my pitching for my 4th and flew it in. It landed on the green, yes, but due to the severe undulation feeding everything into this deep valley on the left, it promptly rolled off the green. Instead of chipping, I opted to putt my 5th shot onto the green which turned out to be a smart decision and had a 8 footer uphill to save my bogey. (+12)

Hole 13: I whacked my driver but again, like so often today, did not have enough turn in it so it landed into the rough on the right after the buggy track. With no option, I had to carved a punch with my 6 iron to a uphill green about 120m away. It was hit well but still found the bunker on right. 3rd shot was one of the best bunker shot I’ve done, with the lovely “thud” sound of the sand. I still had around a 6 footer to navigate for my Sandy Par, and I did it to a fist pump. (+12)

Hole 14: Fresh from a great par save, I hit my pitching wedge slightly thin on this downhill par 3. It did find the back of the green  with a long lag putt. With my putter on fire, I two putted this hole to maintain a chance for possible esclation again. (+12)

Hole 15: Completely pummelled this ball – perfect right to left and on the fairway.  I still had around 160m to go for this difficult par 4. However, that shank back in 9 was playing in my head and got me so confused, I was like a hippo attempting to do yoga by the time I was addressing and adjusted, and I did not shank — instead I pushed it way left, hit a tree and dropped down around 60m in front. Again, like hole 12, my 3rd shot sandwedge actually reached the green but due to the undulation, it happily spun off into the rough. Unbelievable. From there, I hit a poor chip. With a 12 footer uphill putt, my bogey burned the edge and settled in for double. (+14).

Wedges = -1

Hole 16: In this narrow par 4 (second of the Evil Twins on this course) – I opted a good 5 wood. From there, I only had about 130m to go. I hit my pitching wedge but pulled it (again thinking of shank)into the bunker. While I had been playing great bunker shots, this time, I caught it thin and it flew over the green. 4th shot in wasn’t great and two putted for double. Damn!!! (+16)

Sand = -1

Hole 17: I was very frustrated by now. The last two holes were completely and utterly unnecessary doubles. I could have easily bogeyed them instead. This long par 3 required my 5-iron which wasn’t so bad but it went way too far and had a tricky putt downhill. Too tricky as I ended up 3 putting this damn hole for bogey after regulation on. (+17)

Putter=-1

Hole 18: Hopefully the final hole have reprieve – but no, dragged my driver left into the bunker (again). I did execute a great 6 iron from the bunker to put me around 150m to an uphill green. I opted for a 6-iron, chunked it a bit but it was on the fringe, around 40 -50 feet away from a back pin. From there, I finally did a great lag putt right to about a foot or so and it was super good feeling to tap in for par for the last hole.

Conclusion: Overall, scoring 89 is ok for Kota permai and my putter was really on fire today – more than other clubs. My chipping is still taking a vacation while my super driving habit in October has pretty much reverted back to its erratic self. Looking back, if I didn’t screw up those triple bogeys and double on the back nine, I could realistically shave off around 3 strokes from it. But no complaints. Great round of golf and great weather too!

Challenging Tropicana and an Interesting Hazard Drop

We haven’t played in Tropicana for some time, and from memory, it seems a reasonably easy course for us. After coming out of a sub-90 round in Palm and great driving, I was reasonable optimistic about this round.

Just a note, the fairways in Tropicana weren’t in their usual good conditions. Rain and maybe an iffy maintenance schedule has made it a bit soggy and damp – not terrible, but still, no the pristine fairways we are used to seeing on this course. The greens as well is being sanded, so you expect bumpy, unpredictable putts. But this is generally Ramadan Conditions – courses are taking this low traffic weeks to fix up their courses.

Hole 1: We started out in East Two (cross over to West Three). It’s a reasonable easy par 4, which I started badly pushing my drive right. Under trees, I only managed to chop a poor shot out. Then another poor chop to around 50m, and then a 60 degree in. Two putt for a double bogey to start. Ominous. (+2)

Hole 2: Beautiful par 4 with a downhill drive. Pushed again to the right! This time, I hit a reasonably good 6 iron to keep it under the trees but zipped over the green into the rough, slope behind. Chip! And a very poor one. It didn’t even reach the green. A putt to get on and 2 putts again to start double-double. (+4)

Hole 3: This time, striped a good one down the right side over the fairway bunker. With a pitching wedge, I managed to hit a stupid shot and missed the top tier of the green, leaving me a horribly long putt. Which I three putted. Again. Bogey. (+5)

Hole 4: Already fuming after the previous hole, this was the supposedly the easiest hole, a Par 3 that we ALWAYS hit short for some twillight zone reason. It states 125 from our tee, but everytime my pitching wedge is short. And yes, it was short again, leaving me a tricky turning putt from the fringe. First putt wasn’t great but my par putt brushed the hole, another missed par for bogey. Two 3 putts in a row. DAMNIT! (+6)

Hole 5: Par 5, played WAY back championship tees. I hit a pulled drive, but no harm. Second shot was a crap, stupid duffed 6-iron, leaving me a huge 220m away for my third. My 5 wood brought me to around 30m, and my 60 degree went over the flag, with a tricky 30 footer downhill putt. Which I probably will miss. Except, this time, I didn’t. It snaked down and horse-shoed into the hole for a saved PAR! (+6)

Hole 6: Feeling good, I promptly pushed my drive right again. Thankfully, found it but was way far away from the green on an index hole. A five wood brought me around 30m, a nonchalant chip left me too much to do and bogeyed. (+7)

Hole 7:This was BLASTED. The drive was long and found me around 140m from the green. I would usually smoke a 9 iron in but the flag was set right the front next to the pond, and I chickened out and used an 8-iron. Promptly flew over the flag to the top tier, leaving me an absolute horror putt to come down. 3 Putt bogey? OK, deserved that. I should have challenged the damn pin. (+8)

Hole 8: Long par 3. An iffy par 5 left me needing a chip onto the green. It’s an easy chip from the rough, but I duffed it again, and had to putt my 3rd on. Two putted again for a horrible double bogey. (+10) So I have duffed two of my chips, leaving me a double on each of these holes. Looks like bad habits coming back.

Hole 9: Par 5, which usually should be easy, but I pushed my drive way right to the other fairway (hole 1). A good recovery with a five wood actually found me on the rough at around 100m. I should hit the green with my eyes closed. Instead I missed it by duffing my sand wedge, skipped the bunker and the ball rested at an impossible angel, where I had to stand INSIDE the bunker and hit the ball at was at nearly my stomach height. It did find the green finally and two putted for another bogey. (+11)

A +11 isn’t great for what is supposed to be an easier course. But it was definitely due to just bad overall decisions and iffy chipping. 3 putts are also killing me.

Hole 10: Cross over, new 9, hopefully new game. Par 4, hit it well, almost into the fairway bunker on the right. The next shot was a straight 9 iron without any draw, which left me a chip away from the green. So I chipped and it zipped past the hole to around 10 feet. 2 putt bogey. (+12)

Hole 11: Finally, a hole that is played WELL. I cut this dogleg so much with a good drive that I was only around 100m away to a downhill green. I should have used my 60-degree but opted for my sand wedge instead. It shot over to around 20 feet from the hole. Two putted for a good par. Only my second one! (+12)

Hole 12: Par 3, sucker pin on the left next to the water. I drew a good six iron in, landed to the front and a very long putt. I lagged to around 6 feet or so and managed to finally sink it for par. (+12)

Hole 13: Just when you think everything is going well, I blocked my 6 iron next hole, hit the cart path and bounched happily to OB. Reloaded, and a 9-iron to the green for 4 on. Two putted for double. (+14)

Hole 14: This is an index 1 par 4 which I just wasted. I hit a good drive, but left with around 180 to the green, I hit a great 7-wood that was literally about 10 inches away from entering into the green. Instead from the front to the back pin, I three putted for an absolutely stupid bogey. (+15)

Hole 15: This is a bit contentious. I hooked my ball a bit and thought it was going into the water. It hit a palm tree and dropped into the flower bed lining the edge of the water. Now, flower beds are free drops in Tropicana (according to caddy, I guess). But unfortunately about 10 feet away from where I was was a red stake. And because there was a flowerbed, we couldn’t see markings of hazard, and the other red stake was far away. I wasn’t in between the red stakes, I thought. But if you draw an imaginary STRAIGHT line, my ball was probably resting on the imaginary line. However, the water edge wasn’t straight. So If you draw an imaginary line FOLLOWING the water edge, my ball wasn’t in the hazard. Or at least, depending on how thick this imaginary line is. So how? Hell I don’t know. We don’t have a rules official. The flower bed is a free drop. But was I in the hazard, based on the hazard line rule? Was there a line in the first place? None because of the flower bed. Usually we should have a line drawn, but in this case, there was none because I guess Tropicana loves its flowerbeds.

I would generally think this is fine and free drop, but because we were playing for money $$, I think it’s a little too liberal to just not penalise myself, so I had to interpret it as such: if in doubt, be conservative and penalise. Besides, my partners were all on the green and I didn’t want to call them back on a ruling. So I did penalise myself. I dropped for three, bashed my 8 iron near the green. Hit an ok chip over bunker to 4-on and two putted for double bogey. (+17)

Hole 16: Reachable par 5 and I hit a solid drive, followed with a good 5 wood, if a little pulled left. Now, I was around 30m away from the green, an easy 60 degree should do it. Instead I blasted it over to the top tier and with a fast roll down to the pin, I conjured an amazingly stupid 3 putt for bogey.  (+18)

Hole 17: Its so frustrating. You know you aren’t playing that badly but the scores are not reflecting it. So on a downhill par 3, I finally hit a great pitching in, almost slam dunked into the hole an rolled to around 10 feet away. It was now an extreme right to left slider, downhill. Not an easy one, but one that I somehow miraculously managed to navigate, fist pump – boom, a birdie. (+17)

Hole 18: All the adrenaline from the last hole gave me a lousy drive. Blocked on the left, my 5 wood almost landed into the water. Third shot 6-iron from the water edge went into the greenside bunker. Out was poor and from the front of the green, three-putted my final green for a double bogey. (+19)

Overall, the strange thing is that it wasn’t as if I played badly. Fine, the first two holes put me in a hole already, but again, I had 6 three putts. SIX! And I had a few bad chips that didn’t do me any favors. The putts is something I need to improve, 100%. If I can half my three putts to 2 or 3 per round, i gain 3 – 4 strokes, that means moving me to a 12 – 13 handicapper as opposed to the 15 – 16 I am playing now. The chips – people may look and say I am chipping like a tapir, but really, I’m happy with it. You must understand where I was a few weeks ago. I was completely UNABLE to chip. UNABLE. So now, I need to chip more during the game, get into the groove of chipping during play and I will be fine. Not worried about it. Worried about my putting.

As for the hole 15 rule, the closest I can get to is from here: http://www.barryrhodes.com/2013/05/water-hazard-margins.html.

Part of the Definition of Lateral Water Hazard states: When the margin of a lateral water hazard is defined by stakes, the stakes are inside the lateral water hazard, and the margin of the hazard is defined by the nearest outside points of the stakes at ground level.

This is a very interesting situation. Because where my ball landed, it was clearly UNCLEAR whether my ball was in the hazard or not. It was NOT PLAYABLE, correct, but because it was in a flower bed which is an immovable obstruction (according to caddy, and I did not check the scorecard). So imagine if the flower bed wasn’t there, where would the line be? The distance between the red stakes were far because of this flowerbed between them, so there was no clear line markings for hazard, neither was it easy to draw an imaginary line. So unfortunately, because it was really a 50-50 matter, I had to declare it on the conservative interpretation and declared  penalty drop. Incidentally, if I had bogeyed that hole instead of double bogey, my partnership would have won the hole, and won the game. Instead we lost. So that one stroke cost me my lunch…but I think it was the right thing to do, and like life, golf should be done in the most ethical way possible.

Desa Dungun Golf Club

Introduction

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

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

Price (2/5)

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

So now, we jump right into pricing.

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

First thoughts

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

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

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

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

Service (3/5)

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

Fairways (0/5)

And now, the real review begins.

It’s hard to review the fairways.

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

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

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

Greens (1/5)

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

Rough ( 1/5)

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

Aesthetics ( 0/5)

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

Fun Factor (0/5)

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

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

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

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

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

Did we have fun?

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Amverton Cove Thumbs Down

As the year winds down, 12 Gilagolfers headed off to Amverton Cove, a previously reviewed golf course with a ranking of Not Too Shabby. Well, we are revising it. It is VERY shabby. You can tell from the picture that it has been badly photoshopped. The golf ball is the size of a basketball. And the fairway looks nothing like that.

It was supposed to be the ultimate golf game to end all golf games for 2014, so we decided to take the day off and head off far into the outer reaches of civilisation to Amverton Cove. Now, we have already mentioned how far this Amverton Cove is, but the previous experience of it has been reasonably good. It wasn’t a great course and certainly not worth RM138 they want to charge unsuspecting golfers, but we had a bunch of seniors with us who could get cheaper and we dumped all our premier vouchers in there so the game itself was around RM110 per person. Which is still pricey but I thought should be fine.

I scored a birdie and overall 90. This included a triple bogey out of nowhere on a par 5. I played reasonably OK – it wasn’t the worst game ever, but again, about 4 -5 iron shots I had were from the fairway into the green and I just completely mishit it with my MPs. These suckers are really hard to hit. But when you hit it, you hit it.

The other problem was the course. There is a difference between a course set up to be tough and a course neglected. Amverton is the latter. It’s pretty sad to see a promising golf course turn into a turd-bath just because

a) There is not enough money, so no maintenance

b) There is enough money but not enough maintenance

Of course b) is speculative, if you know what I am getting at – but in either case, the once reasonable looking course turns into a UPM look alike. Still, black waters like the ones you find in Mordor litter the course. One hole, I swear, the whole black pond (which is not moving at all) is probably full of shit – because that’s what it smelled like. My ball was near it and I just couldn’t hit because of the smell – it was like my 2 year old’s diaper filled with 2 weeks worth of crap. The rough – unhittable – if you can find it. It was just allowed to grow so there is no first cut – fairway and then bam – ridiculous rough that is so heavy you cannot get out nor find your ball. I am sure whoever owns Amverton will say that this was purposely done – but yes, in the same way North Korea purposely set up their country so they can test how human beings have limitations to nuclear exposure. Of course. Come on – it’s neglect. Let’s just call it that. Setting up requires effort. Neglect means, let’s forget about this darn course.

Recommendations for 2015 – avoid Amverton. It’s not worth the trip and it’s trying to pass as a premier course. Let them knock the price down to around RM80 and then it would be more of a fair shake of a course that is slightly below the standard of KRTU. Amverton people – you have a nice course in your hands. Why don’t you manage it and get your maintenance program going? And get rid of that darn shit-lake!

Gilanalysis 17: Rahman Putra Lakes

Handicap:20

Gross: 95

Net: 75

Verdict: Irons really cannot make it….

What Happened

It has been a somewhat long lay off and whats better than to go straight into Rahman Putra and try to score better than 99, which was eerily my score on this same course for 3 times in a row.

Rahman is in a pretty good condition lately, and teeing off the front nine is always welcoming. Except for hole number 2, I’d consider the front to be a lot more friendlier than the back nine. I was actually hitting the ball quite well front side, but the stupidest iron plays completely betrayed me. My eight iron in was massively disappointing, from duff, top and at one point, shank.

My best hit was probably on the par 4 6th, a blind hole that drops from fairway down to the hole. I cracked my 3 wood solid and it caught the hill, leaving me about 90 metres from the hole. I duffed my SW so bad that I still had about 20 metres to chip, which I did ok, and sank in a good 10 footer to save par.

Crossing over, my irons became a lot better, but then it was my driver that started acting up, especially in the last few holes. My 3 wood was longer and better than my driver, which kept slicing, and of course, once that happens, it’s survival mode, especially at the closing 3 holes in Rahman Putra.

Why I Sucked

It’s like my driver and irons are taking turns on shifts, like how I used to take the night shift when I was IT support long time back. So driver kicks in, irons check out. Irons sorted, driver checks out. Not one time in my memory did these two jokers come in together. If not for some good putting on the back nine, I would have blown a 100, or at least settled for my twillight zone score of 99.

Not So Sucked

I was re-using this old putter I had, a Bettinardi Baby Ben Hogan that looks like a murder weapon from Cluedo. It’s a nice putter that I havent been able to sell, and it was the putter that Jim Furyk used when he won the 2003 US Open. I don’t quite like the set up but man, does it roll straight.

What to Work On

At least I improved a little in Rahman. You’d think it being my home course and all I’d play well there, but never. I’m thinking of changing the driver. It hasn’t been the same since the day I reshafted (when I broke it at Danau and claimed insurance.) Incidentally, I broke that driver in early February and claimed it with Danau, and until today, each time I call that club, Danau folks will say, “Umm, tak tahu-lah, you try balik another month” translated in English to: “You are a complete moron to try to claim anything from us. You deserve a thousand deaths for your absolute stupidity.” I guess that’s what happens when you expect a little bit of customer service from a university course. Note to all: NEVER CLAIM ANY INSURANCE at Danau…it will probably come in time when I need to put my kids to college (and to note, my kids currently are not even created yet.)

Gilanalysis 16: Kinrara

Handicap:20

Gross: 92

Net: 72

Verdict: Two Birds, Two Pars and a Whole lot of Misses

What Happened

Kinrara. I played there earlier this year, had two pars and one birdie. And scored 92.

And my scores were 46-46. Which. Is. Exactly. The. Same. Score. Today.

Yikes, there’s some kind of twillight zone going on here for me!

The first hole is a Ginnifer Hole (meaning, wide, welcoming, you-will-never-mess this-up kind of hole), and yet, I managed to snap hook the heck out of my ball and into the big monsoon drain like 30 miles off from the fairway. I whacked a Triple on a Ginnifer. Crap start. I don’t remember EVER tripling this hole. Ever.

It was a rough start, but things turned around on hole 5, which is fast becoming my favourite hole, although it’s bloody difficult. A six iron was stuffed 3 feet from the hole, today, an accessible front pin. The thing is from Hole 1 to Hole 6, there is only one semi difficult hole, which is the par 5 second. Others are scoring holes. The 4th and 6th are baby par 4s. The 3rd is a baby par 3. But yet, in two games in Kinrara, I am +6 and +8 over these easy holes respectively. WHY SO LOUSY-LA??

I steadied the ship a bit with two pars on the ending holes, but the back nine was just a tale of misses. Miss drives, miss chips, miss putts, and mostly miss irons. The only high point was hitting a hybrid to 10 feet on the devilish hole 17, and sinking the uphill curler to take the game.

Why I Sucked (or WHY KINRARA SUCKED)

I usually don’t blame the course, but Kinrara really sucked. It has gone down the toilet since the last time I played. The fairways are HORRIBLE. An idiot forgot to turn off the sprinkler on hole 2 on the fairway. I think it has been weeks since it has been flowing, because the grass underneath has changed to moss (the ones you see in the monsoon drain), and turned to deep red. Like blood. What the heck?? The entire fairway was squishy, and the greens were not pressed and were in terrible need of maintenance. The rough? Holy cow. Almost Beruntung-like. Toilet seat standard. Terrible. I hit a good shot on the 11th over the trees to the left of the bunker and boom, 4 pair of eyes couldn’t find it. On hole 8, my 60 degree second shot flew the flag into a crowd of Bangladeshis just standing around a tractor chit chatting. They were literally standing on the green, and refused to move even when we shouted fore. Jeez! What the heck is wrong with the people here?!?!

All over, Kinrara is really in a bad shape. I’d advise gilagolfers to go somewhere else. They’re doing some maintenance in the clubhouse till October, and even the dressing room is in a sorry condition. No aircond. That’s just stupid. Most of the showers are not working. No water. The ones working (about 2, smelling like urine and faeces) had water that smell and taste like rust. On top of that, the renovation work is being hammered on top of the changing room, so you are suddenly filled with this awesome phobia that the roof will come down on top of you and you die, naked, in the a shower smelling like shit and urine. Come on, Kinrara, that’s just pathetic.

Ok, I played badly also, I admit, with my driver struggling as usual, and my irons and chips in such a crap state that I don’t really know what to do, except to continue doing what I do: duff, top, thin, fat. Sigh.

Not So Sucked

Let me see….not so suck….umm. Birdies were good, so the putting was reasonably ok…then again, I was experimenting with an old putter. I am a promiscuous putter-er in that sense, I like to change putters and experiment with blades, offsets, inserts, and what not. Oh yeah, I also was striping it with my hybrid and 3 wood, traditionally my bogey clubs. Feels good to hit 180 off the deck.

What to Work On

Wow, ok, let’s start with the driver. Fix it, please. I will figure it out on the range I guess. Irons are just up and down, off and on. I sound like a broken record, going about these two areas of the game over and over…..and over…and over…..

Seve Ballesteros was truly Gilagolf

In our group, when one of us manage to pull off a great sand shot that lands within a foot of the hole, another guy in the group would routinely squawk, “Phil Mickleson!” in tribute to the fat guy that once challenged Tiger and who can pull off ridiculous shots with his wedge, in his sleep, while having grandular fever.

However, when we manage to pull off an impossible escape shot (which to us, so far, counting is about 1 in 6,456 swings of the blasted club) we have a term for it. We ‘Ballesteros’-ed it. Or, the same squawk will come, only with the more awsome: “YOU ARE THE SEVE BALLESTEROS…”

It’s amazing how much us hackers pay tribute to a guy that most of us have not even watch before…I mean, Seve was way before our time. When we started guy, it was for the black guy in Sunday red, not a Spanish matador in bell bottoms. But as Ballesteros passes away this week, I managed to look at some of his shots, and realise that this is the guy that embodies Gilagolf. He’s an inspiration to the hacker because he misses as many fairways as us! Granted, he can do probably a trillion more shots than the average hack, but hey, he seems like a fun dude to play with. He seems like a guy you’d want in your sixers team. He seems like a guy that would compete and kill for a 15-5-5 game not for the money, but for the pure joy of thrashing the living daylights out of the competition.

So here’s Ballesteros in all his top 5 hacker glory:

1) Fall on your knees: How many times have we always tried to attempt this shot, only to completely whiff it and break our spine? Countless….

2) Nightmare to play against: How do you hate a guy like this when you think you can one-up on him only for him to mock you with save after save? It’s like: “Golf is so bloody boring, let me level the playing field with these losers by playing from all the bushes and jungle….”

3) We’ve seen this guy called Kevin Na shoot 16 from a similar position. Seve? He bogeys it. Take that!

4) This is the most ridiculous save ever. And there’s so many more like it from this guy.

5) And finally, the famous birdie from the parking lot “Parking Lot Champion”, truly the a gila shot reminiscent to 99% of our drives. To all the hacks out there: Never give up on your golf, no matter how crap we play, in memory of Gilagolfer Seve.

Bandar Utama Golf Course

Introduction
After a long lay off, I finally dusted off the dirt from my clubs for a quick nine in Bandar Utama. It was a simple golf game, basically with a couple of beginners, and also to get the rust out of my system. And what better place than our old hunting ground, what we know as BU course, or BU9 or sometimes, in our best mood, that piece of cr** that disguises itself as a golf course. So on a cloudy Sunday morning, we teed up on a course we haven’t seen for more than a year.

DSC00319.jpg picture by gilagolf

Travel (2/5)
This is obviously a very contentious point, because if you’re from Penang or something, it’s absolutely pure insanity that you would want to drive down all the way to play on this course, as you will soon see. I mean, it’s like paying a billion dollars to buy a Preda, Louis Vitton or a Gutci handbag, and those are the correct spelling. Or a Rollex, Tag Higher or Ohmega wrist watch. In other words, absolutely pure insanity.

But you know, as mentioned before, the rating system is obviously very biased in terms of convenience to the one actually writing it, and for this particular person, a drive to Bandar Utama is a breeze.

It’s one of our courses that probably don’t require a map but we’re going to put it in anyway for the sake of looking professional.

bumap

OK, so take the sprint highway heading towards the Damansara Toll (for Pj folks, that’s the one that you hit when you want to go to the airport). Go up at the Sony flyover to get into Bandar Utama, and turn right at the lights. Go straight till you see Bandar Utama College on your left, and take that turning leading to the college. On the map, it’s called Persiaran Utama.

Keep going straight, go past a few bumps, ignore the first left and take the second left, despite warning signs of danger and death. It’s going to look as if you’re going into a mining site, or some kind of POW camp, but you will emerge and see a parking lot on your right and a small little hut that passes off at the club house. Remember what we said about telling a golf course from it’s club house. Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the Bandar Utama Golf Course.

Price (2/5)
We forked out RM53 for 9 holes, which on a prime time like Sunday morning, is pretty decent, I guess. It gets down to about 40 plus during the afternoon. It’s of course a little premium for the convenience, but we need to temper that price with how the course is, and matching price for course, it gets a below par 2. I mean, think about it, if RM53 gets us 9, RM106 gets us 18, which is more than we pay to tee up at Kinrara on a Saturday morning utilizing our AGN membership. And you know sometimes you’re fat and you stand next to a fatter guy and everyone starts thinking you’re thin? This Bandar Utama course makes us think that when we die and go to heaven, Kinrara course will be waiting for us. We begin to yearn for the course which, as we have already reviewed, is a pretty much extended copy of a moderate to frustratingly crappy course as well.


First thoughts

Ok, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even want to review this course in the first place, that’s why all the pictures are taken from my camera phone. It was until the second hole that I decided to review it and let you know what me and my buddies think.

First thoughts when you see the club house, especially on a weekend, is:

“Wah, so many people one ah?”

In fact, it often seems that the entire population of PJ has decided to gather on this tiny plot of land for the sole purpose of cangkuling the ground and making life a miserable, living hell for other jokers who have also gathered for the sole purpose of cangkuling and miserabling. It’s one big pile of mess, because of it’s convenience, every Tom, Dick and Sally, Aunties and construction workers are here to pitch their new found skill on this game of golf.

It’s generally a lose-lose situation here. Because as beginners, having a huge gallery looking at you is probably not the best way to get to your first tee. But you have to tee up and with sweaty palms, and knocking knees you stand over the ball which suddenly looks smaller than a plankton and you proceed to skim the ball 20 feet in front of you and embarrass your family name. This slows down the game, but there’s no way out of it, as you go on and cangkul onwards miserably. And this repeats itself as flood after flood of beginners pack the starting tee.

And as long as we are here, we’re all beginners, so there’s really no point in getting overly frustrated over the lack of skill displayed.

DSC00310.jpg picture by gilagolf

Service(1/5)
OK, the service sucked. Signing in is easy itself, but we had to wait additional 40 minutes because they ran out of buggy. I mean, ok, fine, I get it, your course is so popular than all your buggies are snapped up by 730. So, if you come at 8:30 am, you’re in deep crap because you don’t have buggy and you have to wait till at least 945 for the first flight to complete.

We thankfully came about 9:15 ish so it wasn’t too long before we haggled over a buggy and drove off to Tee 1. The buggies are new, which begs the question of “Who the heck is investing into this forsaken place anyways?”

On Tee 1, it gets worse. You will see a long line of buggies in front of you. And because these are typically beginners, no one has any idea of any ethics. There was a flight in front of us with 2 people. And in front of them, a flight with 2 people. And in front of them was a fourball.

What’s the rule here?

The two balls join together right? I mean, balls here mean the flights, because my statement there might get some of the more depraved readers chuckling. Two guys just say “Hi, can we join you” and make a fourball and everyone  gets moving along.

But due to the lack of governance on the course, and the obvious lack of any marshal whatsoever, all rules are thrown out the window. The two marsupials in front of us absolutely did everything in their power to avoid eye contact with us, who threw them dirty looks and when one of us said aloud: “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if it was all fourball instead of two balls, right?” they pretended they were Micronesians who didn’t speak a word of English.

I mean, come on, would it kill you to say hi and join the darn flight in front? Would it kill you to actually learn a little about golf ethics? Would it really kill you if for once in your life, you become a little more considerate and stop making life a miserable, living hell for the rest of the PJ population waiting for you to get out of the way?

DSC00303.jpg picture by gilagolf

Fairways (0/5)
From here on, be prepared for a free fall down hill. With that amount of golf newbies on a course with 9 holes, there is absolutely no way that the fairways can even resemble anything close to a golf turf. Most of the time you’ll find your ball either stuck in mud or simply sitting on a patch of sand. In fact, we recommend you steal a driving range turf and just carry it around with you and use it, because with the ground blasted to bits by relentless golf clubs coming too steep, it resembles Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Also, aside from hole 1,3 and 5, the rest of the fairways are forbiddingly narrow. It’s not due to the intelligence of the designer, but rather the limitation of the land. Like its big brothers Seri Selangor and Monterez, BU Course is another reason why so many beginners give up the game in the first place, after losing 60 balls into oblivion.

DSC00315.jpg picture by gilagolf

Greens(1/5)
The greens fare slightly better, but it’s not to say it’s good. It’s just better than the fairways. The greens are not pressed or maintained, so it’s just there, with different speeds, mainly excruciatingly slow and unpredictable. There are a few undulations or interesting greens like the massive one at the par 5 third. Or it can resemble a temporary green like the one on the 4th. Needless to say, I have never seen a green mower in my life in BU course, so I am guessing that they train gerbils to nibble away and trim the greens to its current, low grade condition.

DSC00313.jpg picture by gilagolf

Rough(-1/5)
I can only post up these pictures of horror for your viewing.

DSC00305.jpg picture by gilagolf

The problem with BU is that it seems to be in construction all the time. If it’s not one condo, it’s another office block. It generates a foul stench, especially at the unplayable second. And come on, look at this piece of crap. You’re kidding me.

It gets better as you ‘cross over’ to the 4th (literally, you need to cross over the road), but the same soggy ground is prevalent. Your ball goes into the rough, it’s bye bye. It’s either plugged or stolen by those darn maintenance gerbils.

DSC00302.jpg picture by gilagolf

Aesthetics(2/5)
Why do we give this a 2, despite everything points to a -10?

To be fair, if you can get past the second hole, BU course can pass off as an acceptable looker. The same way as how any normal human with 2 eyes, 2 ears, a nose and a mouth will generally not draw gasps of disgust, BU course is typically a narrow, constipated, forest surrounding course, with very typical scenes. The ugliness is in the construction around it.

To be fair, they’ve made some changes in terms of beautifying the place, by placing proper embankment on the par 5 3rd. They also seem to be investing to build a community center with swimming pool at the side of hole 1. Without a side net however and one of our group promptly shanked his second shot into the currently unoccupied pool.

And to be also fair, the par 5 3rd is quite a good challenge. A good drive puts you about 180 from the green but you need to float up a 3 wood over water to an almost inaccessible green with water in front, right and back. A small bailout is to the left but pull it, it lands into water.

The par 5 sixth is also reachable in 2. It’s a curious hole with a cliff on the left for your wayward balls to rebound from into the fairway. In fact, in our flight, two guys careened their balls from the walls safely onto the fairway. Mine also pulled but landed inside a bush instead. Bollocks!

DSC00317.jpg picture by gilagolf

Of course, the signature is the par 3 seventh. It’s an extremely elevated tee box looking over the next two holes. It’s quite enjoyable but serious hard work in gauging the distance and keeping your ball from yanking left to OB. It’s also OB right, with a pond in front, and a steep drop off to the back.

A lot of people overshoot the green because it states like 165m or something. In fact, go for your 150m club, like your 7 and you’ll get it on safely. This is pretty much the saving grace of the entire course. Feel free to pile in 3-4 balls to the green while you’re here, because after this, it’s going through the slog again.

DSC00323.jpg picture by gilagolf

Fun Factor(1/5)
Fun? Nobody has fun in Bandar Utama Course. Due to its constipated heritage, it’s sheer torture to go through it and also to watch those marsupials in front of you go through it because they take so long to look for their darn ball. In fact, the flight in front of us actually went into the construction site searching for balls. I mean, are your balls studded with Tiffany diamond rings or something? Golf balls, I mean.

This course also carries the distinction of a 9 hole course that takes an 18 hole duration to play. We teed up about 9:45 and finished almost at 12:30 pm. It took us an hour plus to just slog through the first three holes. They should advertise it: “Make your 9 holes feel like 18 holes!” Half the time you will spend waiting, ball juggling, playing chor tai tee, watching movie on your ipod video or generally wondering how you could have spent your morning sleeping instead of standing in a stinking golf course waiting for the fellas in front of you to hit their diamond studded balls.

In our group the two beginners had their share of joy when one hit the flag pole to get a par and the other bombed a 25 footer through sheer luck to get his birdie on the par 4 eight. He leapt up and screamed in joy, as if he scored the winning goal in the world cup, and finally started smiling, after shooting about 110 on the first six holes.

DSC00308.jpg picture by gilagolf

Conclusion
Despite of it being graded a complete waste of time and money, it escapes the dreaded AAC (Absolutely Astoundingly Crap) grading due to its location. Like it or not, people and us included will probably return now and then to play it because of its convenience and the fact that it’s the course that all beginners will start with. It sucks, but that’s life right. You most likely will enjoy it as much as having your wisdom tooth extracted with a BOSCH drill, but if you last to the par 3 seventh, then at least you can have some fun there.

But once you are a decent player, or once you record your first par and birdie, make arrangements to flee the place. Consider yourself graduated and look forward to a lifelong struggle with more worthwhile courses like Kinrara or Bangi or Seri Selangor.

DSC00307.jpg picture by gilagolf

The good: Location, location, location. Also par 3 seventh signature hole is worth playing a few times; the de facto beginner’s course, so most people will forgive you for hacking the ground to death and playing like a complete nut.

The bad: Boy, there’s a lot. Wait time is crazy; no governance on course; no golf ethics; stinking fairways; absolutely awful rough; and be prepared to lose a dozen balls or so, so please take all the old driving range balls and use them, and keep your diamond studded balls at home.

The skinny: 10 of 40 divots (25%). If you just started golf, you can’t escape this. It’s like ragging, a rude welcome to the game of golf. You won’t enjoy it but you will need to go through it and get stronger as you level up, like World of Warcraft. Once graduated, don’t look back to this heinous piece of course ever again…unless you need to accompany other beginners.