Monterez GCC

Introduction

When you say Monterez, the most likely response you will get is a grimace on the face, followed by, “Short and narrow,” before the said person goes back to doing whatever he was doing. I haven’t found a person who actually liked the course a lot, and I have played a few times on that course, without much memory of it. So armed with a camera and a flaky swing, I decided to give it a try and see how it goes. I had an initial feeling that it was one of those courses that do not offend, yet do not provide the fun we deserve, taking Sunday afternoon off to play.

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Travel (3/5)

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Now that the whole stretch of road at Bukit Jelutong is built up, the easiest way is to take the NKVE and head towards the Jelutong Exit. After the toll, take the second left turning. You will pass a short par 3 course on your left. Keep going straight, stay on the left lane as there will be a sign that directs you to Monterez. Take the left turn, you will hit a traffic light and from there, a right and left will put you in the old Sungai Buloh road. You will pass a petrol station and at the traffic light, take a left and you are there. Travelling was fast. It took us only 15 minutes from the Damansara toll to the front gate of the club. It used to require a 4×4 to get through to it, but these days, the word Sungai Buloh no longer evokes memories of cannibals living off the palm oil trees and preying on the estate workers. Malaysia, at long last, is taking baby steps to civilization!

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Price (3/5)

With AGN, we paid just RM77, which could have been cheaper if we had a fourth ball. As it was, it’s a pretty reasonably price to pay for a weekend round. Without AGN, we probably need to pay about RM120 or somewhere in that region. There were no extras as well, unlike some clubs where they force you to take caddies. Especially talkative ones who can’t shut up.

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First thoughts

Monterez is probably familiar to most golfers in the klang valley area, it being one of the more accessible golf courses around and relatively short, hence quite playable. It’s a narrow course, so it’s not the best course to bring a crooky swing into, like the one I was bringing in when we played it. I knew I would struggle massively as I’m trying to hit straight shots.

Monterez derives the name from the ancient Maya civilization. I read this from their website:

“Monterez Golf & Country Club adopted the concept of Maya civilisation, renowned as one of the most advanced civilisations the world has ever seen.

The essence of these ancient traditions is reflected in Monterez’s architecture, lifestyle and culture. The traditions of an ancient world are rediscovered to create an unforgettable experience in modern leisure living.”

Actually, to a certain degree, ancient traditions of Mayans include human sacrifices via decapitation, and the removal of the heart. After that, the corpse is thrown from the pyramid where it will be skinned and worn by the priest. At the end, that poor guy would be chopped up and eaten by the spectators. I mean, I think that was how it was, according to Apocalypto. Unforgettable experience in modern leisure living? Come on, seriously. It’s marketing babble. Lifestyle? What lifestyle? It’s a golf club for crying out loud!

Nothing on the course resembles the Mayan culture. Maybe the tight fairways do make you (the ones who are extremely violent and sadistic) want to rip out the hearts of your partners, but if you expect something Mayan in Monterez, it ain’t got nothing, except for the clubhouse that looks like a wedding cake. Otherwise this is just another course, with no visible beauty and a very bad naming choice.

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Frankly, if I was given a chance, I’d put some skulls (well not human, silly, I mean goats skull) on the stakes surrounding the green, and have the course marshal randomly throw a spear at us at the tee box as part of the course obstacle. Maya culture? I’ll show you Maya culture, darn it!

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Service (4/5)

I must admit, the service was excellent. I went to register and it took me like 5 minutes. After that, in another 3 minutes we were already on the 10th tee, ready to go. No fuss, no red tape, their idea is to simply get you out onto the course and play golf. It loses a bit of points as it allows people to randomly tee off anywhere they choose. The marshals don’t seem to practice any sort of rules here.

For instance, we were about to tee up our back nine on the first when this Chinese uncle just barges in and announce they are teeing off first, since they started at the 4th. Really, who gives a darn? Chinese uncles who play golf are the worse lots. They are usually either contractors, hawkers, construction workers or retired/jobless elders who doesn’t have anything better to do than to smoke and attempt to whip a golf ball. And talk loudly. And be rude.

Chinese uncles should be tranquilize on sight or better, as the ancient Mayan culture should dictate, be decapitated and thrown into a ditch. I doubt anyone will want to cannibalise them though.

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Fairways (2/5)

Ah, the fairways.

Monterez is build with space issues, so much like the Nameless Course in Seremban 3, so the fairways are tight, narrow and full of OBs. I honestly hate courses that have OBs all over the place. I for one, was already struggling with my drive, so if we could resort to a 5 wood it’d be good, but no, the course has to put in so many holes with 170 – 180 to clear water from the tee, forcing us to go for driver. I understand that’s the course challenge, and I can hit my 5 wood about 190 m, but still a mishit will land it in the drink. I understand the course wants us to manage it, to think our way around, but seriously, most men are wired with one thought, take out the One and hit it. I’m quite smart I think in general, but when it comes to golf, I’m an imbecile. Like Curly, I’ll keep doing the one thing that gets me into trouble over and over and over and over….

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I won’t mind that much if the fairway was at least reasonably maintained, but Monterez is supposed to be a Bermuda course. Instead on the fairway, large patches of cowgrass was growing, showing a lack of maintenance on the course. It also has patches that should be marked GUR due to the mud and lack of grass but instead just left there. Definitely not up to mark.

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Greens (3/5)

The greens have two things here: bad maintenance and good contours. It kinda offsets the other. GUR should be marked in bald patches on the fringe (and we have plenty) but the large greens are a challenge to putt. It wasn’t well maintained, the grass was too long, too uneven to recognize the speed properly. The good challenge was that the greens were large, so regulation play might also mean 3 putting, thanks to the hilly contours the greens are built on.

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Rough (1/5)

Not much to say here. With the amount of OBs around this course, it’s tough to navigate for people wanting to take out their big Dog. As in the driver. Also, sand and water plays a big part on this course. Most of my holes either bombed into the sand or flirted with disaster. The bunkers were also uneven, some were wet and hard, others just kinda wispy. We’ve already decided we’re not into courses that are stingy on their spaces, and Monterez is definitely one course that’s absolutely, the epitome of stinginess.

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Aesthetics (2/5)

Elevated tee boxes do give the course a reasonably nice view of things. Also, the trees and plants surrounding the course adds to its geniality. Is it pretty? No, not really. On close up, you’ll find that the water stinks. Perhaps that’s where the Mayan tradition of body dumping comes in.

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Some holes do stand out a little; but too many holes play too similar, as if the designers have run out of ideas. In fact, the 9th and 18th plays exactly the same, except that there is OB on both sides, so you can’t borrow fairways. I borrowed twice, so I OBed both holes! It’s parallel and everything is just too similar. The par 3s are reasonably short, but the par 5s can be reached in two. In fact, the first par 5 I met, I used driver and a 6 iron and I was already next to the green. Kinda like Bangi isn’t it?

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Fun Factor (2/5)

It’s hard not to have fun when I’m with my normal group; we did play quite well. I struggled predictably with my crooked swing, but at least I scored reasonably and did get an escalation par on the first nine. The weather was great so I don’t exactly know why we didn’t have fun. I think likely, every hole lacked character. If we play Datai Bay or KGNS or Meru, there are holes you know and will remember for this and that. In Monterez, all the par 4s are like twin brothers to each other. We didn’t get any, “Wow, check this hole out!”. I know space is an issue with this course, but seriously, we didn’t find much to have the wow factor going.

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Also, I was stressed with my swing. I kept hitting into the other flights and once nearly killed the group taking their tee off on the next hole. There are hardly any borrowed fairways here, so we just got to keep it straight and long.

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Conclusion

The good: Good accessibility, great service from registration to the 1st tee off, reasonably priced golf course; challenging for accuracy and recovery; putting and bunker play must be sharpened for this course

The bad: Narrow, narrow course; loads of bunkers all over the place; stinking water harboring disease; fairways and greens are not properly maintained, OB is a constant feature and holes are basically similar to each other in design. Also, a lousy name.

The skinny: 20 of 40 divots (50%). It’s not the best choice out there, but if you’re in a hurry to finish the round on an afternoon, it’s a course to improve your accuracy golf, not your bombing. It’s a boring course, no ‘WOW’ factor, and we recommend a miss on Monterez. Unless they bring in the goat skulls on the green.

Monterez Score Card

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Monterez Information

Address:

No 1, Jalan Merah Kesumba U9/18,
Seksyen U9,
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor.

Contact: +603-78465989

Fax: +603-78467881

Website: http://www.monterez-golf.com

Subang National Golf Club

Introduction

Courses in Petaling Jaya, the satellite hub of KL, are usually expensive and often times overrated. Premier courses such as Tropicana, KLGCC, Saujana are difficult to get in, and KGNS (which stands for Kelab Golf Negara Subang) is no exception. This translates to Subang National Golf Club, in Malay language, we just need to flip everything around, like how Master Yoda speaks. It’s very easy.

It’s a long story why I am not a member of KGNS while my family is. Suffice to say, at an age of idiocy (about 18), when I could transfer my junior membership to full membership, I stoutly declared I will never play golf and gave up the membership. Six years later, I picked up the game and now there is a 10 year waiting list for the club. Unless there is a major epidemic strikes and half the golfers expire prematurely, I will never get to be a member here.

Thankfully, my brother is, and he brought me in one gloomy morning, with rain pelting on all sides.

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Travel (4/5)

Travel is a breeze. It’s right in the heart of PJ and since the review is based on accessibility, you can come in from Subang side using the federal highway, where you need to turn off before the Sunway bridge turnoff. Or from the LDP, make a U turn at Western Digital and turn left at PKNS field. It gets a minus point for the fact that the usual way to enter s either by Federal or LDP. Both highways really suck on a bad day, especially the LDP. People who built the LDP are the same ones who architected your company’s toilet, meaning, they entirely lack the expertise to build a highway. Two lanes, no emergency lane, and constant traffic floods the LDP at all times. Bottleneck is everywhere, and throw in a silly train stop on the highway and cars piled 3 – 4 deep in temporary parking, has made the LDP win the “Highway most likely to be cursed at” award.

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Price (2/5)

Weekdays is around RM120 per person, and that’s excluding buggy fees. I decided to trolley my bag around to save some money, and that’s one thing good about KGNS, they do allow walking for even the main course. Most courses forces you to take the buggy and some even the caddie, at gunpoint. Unfortunately, all the points scored by allowing walking is lost when KGNS falls into the latter category, where all guests MUST take a darn caddie along.

Now, while I do realize the benefit of a caddie in many cases, especially around the green, it’s quite annoying when you get one who can’t seem to shut the heck up. He seems to have comments on every single aspect of your game, till the point you just want to stuff the driver down his throat and tee him up with the ball. The problem is this: Not only do you need to pay for the caddie, you need to tip him as well and the going rate is around RM30 – RM40.

In this aspect, the pricing in KGNS descends into the realm of stupidity. It’s a nice old course, don’t get me wrong, but seriously, paying RM150 a round per person on a weekday? And for a course with cow grass? Well, you decide.

First thoughts

I remember playing a few times in KGNS. It was never really an enjoyable experience, much like KRPM, where functional golf was the order. I don’t really enjoy cow grass golf, and with rain for the past two days, the course was wetter by the minute.

But KGNS is steeped with tradition and that’s one of the main reasons to play it. It’s like how some people come back from playing at St Andrews and say it wasn’t much of a course, but since it’s the birthplace of golf, it’s like a pilgrimage for all golfers to try it. KGNS is absolutely no where near the magnitude of St Andrews, but still it’s one of those courses which demands respect. Whether you like it or not, you can’t insult it that much, no matter how it insults you, simply because it’s supposed to be a top tier club. Obviously, in GilaGolf, no matter how top tier you are, if it’s a lousy experience, it’s a lousy experience.

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However, the course is also championship material, with a few national opens being held there, so you know if you play well on this course you will survive in pretty much everywhere else. It demands seriousness from golfers, not your typical weekend hacker who doesn’t practice, hooks and who can’t break 100. If you birdied in KGNS, you get at least some respect, as opposed to having eagled in Bangi.

Unfortunately, I was in a midst of a swing funk when we played; and couldn’t seem to fix it, so I fall nicely into that typical weekend hacker category.

In KGNS, a swing funk is a recipe for disaster.

Service (2/5)

Frankly I didn’t really experience much of the service. I know nobody is going to help you take your bags from the car. So everything is judged by the caddie I got, an old dude by the name of Eddy. He has a mouth that can’t seems to stop jabbering and I guess I should have been careful to select any guy by the name of Eddy, Murphy, Chris, Rock or Sienfield. Giving advice is one thing. Commenting on every shot and analyzing your game is another. Why does everyone thinks they know how to fix your swing? It’s crazy. It’s as if they know you for your whole life! “Your first steps, yeah, your first word, yeah, been there. First clubs, yeah, was there. Oh I know you for so long, why don’t you do this and this to fix your swing? Trust me, I know you well. Coffee later, as usual?”

Jeez, you’re a caddy. And I don’t know you. You might play better, but why don’t you just lug the bag and give me my clubs. Save the lessons another day.

And it’s not as if he’s a single handicapper as well. I know some caddies are, and I appreciate it. I saw him swing and it wasn’t that great. As I said, I was in a swing funk at the worst possible moment; where we played with a 8 handicapper that just ran us out and killed us. Of the foursome, another guy was having a more spectacularly hard time than me, but I wasn’t playing remotely well at all, and I didn’t need a caddie to tell me that. I need some quality range time to fix my swing.

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Fairways (5/5)

Much like Tiara Melaka, KGNS experienced a flood of rain over the past days before we played it. Literally, it was raining non-stop and even raining when we played it. Miserable and soggy, we went through the whole course and the fairway was remarkable. I don’t usually rate cow grass fairways high, but the drainage was first class. No puddles or casual water at all. Aside from that, the fairways were challenging, some wide and others narrow, but the design of the course was the main challenge; doglegs to uphill greens, elevated par 3s, blind par 5s. If your drives are ok, you’ll be ok. Unfortunately I wasn’t. Aside from a par-birdie start, when I started missing fairways, my scores shot up. You need to play the fairways here, it’s unforgivable. And you can’t really take out a 5-wood except for one or two holes. Most holes are just too long. Par 3s here average out to 170-180 meters so it’s absolutely critical that you are able to hit straight playing at KGNS.

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It’s a championship course, designed for top players, so there’s no mulligan in the course design. We played it as hard as it can get, with almost no roll due to rain. And as mentioned before, hitting from cow grass isn’t all that fun.With rain, they grow like beanstalks and although the fairway was kept short, once it rolled into the rough, ain’t no way you gonna get out.

Greens (4/5)

The greens were in a very very good condition. Solid roll, and consistent and even due to the rain, reasonably fast. It was well maintained, and a few crucial putts at least gave me needed pars and a birdie. The thing about the greens in KGNS is that once you are on, you’re on. There’s really no great contours here and there. Most are relatively flat putts, so it’s not difficult as long as you get the speed right. Breaks are not usually that severe and most of the time, I overread the breaks too much. There were hardly any 3 putts, but still it was challenging just to find the green.

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Bump and run is not really the option as the cow grass near the fringe will catch your ball, so not only must your drives be accurate, anything 100 meters in or your pitching must be A grade.

None of these were working for me, and it became what I call ICU golf. I was just trying to stop bleeding all over the course.

Rough (5/5)

You want challenge?

KGNS is absolutely a killer when it comes to the rough. This course gets it right. If your drives are awry, there’s hardly a chance to come back, unless you take creative shots. The maturity of the course gives a certain imposing look in some holes. Giant ferns line the fairway. Even if you hit the fairway, you’ll need to shape some shots into the green. Course management and accuracy is vital here, and the rough is just a Punisher. Grass is thick, and most of the solution is simply punching the ball out and working your way to the green over again.

This is how a rough should be designed.

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Aesthetics (2/5)

Not much points here. KGNS, being smack in the heart of the city of PJ doesn’t boast of any nice scenery or rolling mountains or what not. It has parallel highways running around it so please don’t hook or slice the ball into the cars!

Signature hole would definitely be the par 4 18th, the ending hole that requires a solid drive down the hill which opens up to an elevated green. A good drive still requires at least a 160 meter shot in, so it’s a dramatic hole which thankfully, my game came back and I won the last two holes to stem the losses from building up.

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Par 3s here as absolutely killers. Only one of them was about 155 meters. Others are over 170, or 180 and requires absolute precision in hitting it. I blew up on a few par 3s. It’s a challenging design, absolutely but I was just playing awful and in Par 3s, you ain’t gonna recover at all.

Fun Factor (2/5)

Was it fun?

If I was swinging better, or have a caddie who would just shut up, maybe. But I did play KGNS before when I was on my good day and I never really remembered having buckets of fun at the course. Like the players who play the course, it seems like a serious place, where you hardly hear shouts of joy or frustration or the ever present curse word. Everyone seems so staidly. The 8 handicapper looks as if he’s in a coma. A nice comment on his shot only evokes a bare nod, not a grin or smile. I think everyone starts thinking they need to act like Tiger Woods when they play a good shot, which frankly to me, it’s quite anal. Enough of these snarling, ‘I am good’ competitive spirit. Heck, we just want to play the darn course and have fun after that.

If I played better, I would probably have just the tiniest more fun than I did, I think.

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Conclusion

If you want a good challenge, this course is for you. It’s probably the best cow grass course you are going to find in the Klang Valley. It’s challenging without being pretty, much like Rahman Putra, but the rough here is so much more punishable. It’s championship material, no doubt, but is it a hacker material? Perhaps not.

The good: Travel is easy, smack in the heart of PJ; greens are immaculate; fairways are nicely designed and have excellent drainage; rough is a template for all golf courses to base on, a mixture of long grass, use of matured trees and course angles to punish the wayward drive; championship course material that you can walk and save $ on the buggy fees.

The bad: Blabber mouth caddies; scenery as nice as a public toilet; stupid way for the club to force blabber mouth caddies that you need to pay to annoy you; price is steep for a cow grass course-yes it’s championship material but face it, it’s not exactly the nicest course around anyway; Par 3s are just inhumanly long.

The skinny: 26 of 40 divots (65%). A quick round of golf is great, since it is so accessible. Also, it’s must play course simply because of the history and tradition, plus the upper echelon of society gathers there. But if you want a pretty looking golf course with memorable holes, give KGNS a miss and go outside the city for nicer golf courses.

KGNS Score Card

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KGNS Information

Address:

Jalan SS7/2
P.O. Box 151, 46710 Petaling Jaya
Malaysia

Contact: +603-78760381

Fax:+603-78755267

Website:  http://www.subanggolf.com/

Tiara Melaka GCC

Introduction

Melaka, the historic town of Malaysia, can boast of a few really nice golf courses. Tiara Melaka has always been favourably reviewed, so when I was given a chance to join a group of 8 hackers, I jumped to it. Besides, with Rahman Putra, it was an associate club with 50% off green fees, and seeing that it is Melaka, I don’t expect much traffic on the course.

Unfortunately, one thing that we cannot control was the weather. It was just absolutely horrible. Rain swept the cities the night before and as we headed down south under gloomy conditions, the rain continued pelting down, with no signs of abating. How will the course hold up under such ungodly weather? Will we see a course flooded, wet and dirty like a newborn baby’s diapers?


Travel (2/5)

Melaka isn’t that far but for some strange reason, it took us the whole day to finish our game. We teed up at 10:00 am and ended the game at 3:00 pm. I mean, what the heck? What was holding us up? By the time we reached back to KL, we were all caught in the crazy jam (we played on a weekday. Yes, we are lazy cretins who refuse to work. Sue us!).

Take the north south highway and turn off at Ayer Keroh. You’ll hit the town of Melaka going straight and past the Ayer Keroh Golf Course (which we hope to review soon!). You’ll reach a roundabout, take a nine, hit another roundabout and take a 12. There aren’t a lot of signs, but just follow the old Malaysian adage: “If there are no signs, go straight.”
Tiara is opposite another course, Orna. What I like about Melaka is that all golf courses are so close to each other. You can do a speed tour and play 3 courses in a day with minimum traveling!

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Price (5/5)

I paid RM33. You heard me.

Tiara is one of the participating club of AGN (Asia Golf Network) which I just joined. It’s also one of the obliging clubs that allow vouchers to be used, which most of the people in our flights used, and hence, it’s possible to pay such a minimum fee for 18 holes. It’s inclusive of buggies as well, although the buggies are more likely to kill you than transport you, since they are so old. And, on top of it all, they don’t force guests to have caddies. I mean, clubs that do that are a royal pain in the behind. Why the dickens should I pay for a guy who hangs behind my buggy, make unwelcomed comments on my already crappy swing, and have to pay him RM20 – RM30 on tips? Why is there a tipping policy for Caddies and not for hot looking waitresses in Malaysia? Don’t the latter deserve more of our tips? Isn’t this country such a strange place to live in?

I would like to not tip a caddy one day and see if they maul me with my 7 iron or not.

Anyways, this is a great value for Tiara.

For non-AGN, non voucher holding members, sorry, I don’t know the price. I don’t think it’s that expensive.

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First thoughts

Water, water and water.
I mean there’s quite a lot of water here, and I’ve already had enough of this from that Nameless Course in Seremban 3 we reviewed before. From the clubhouse, we have a view of the 17th and 18th hole of the Lake 9. It’s parallel fairway split by the same lake, absolutely beautiful, but I just knew a few of us will be depositing our nice little white dimpled balls into that lake.

We were more worried about the amount of water and drainage in that course, with the rain coming down non stop. At 10 am, we finally decided to just play in the rain, so with rain jackets and umbrellas, we teed it off.

I promptly hooked it and we are off.

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Service (0/5)

For a club with so little traffic, so much rain, and so much free time, you’d expect people to be jumping around helping us out and breaking into the song, “Be our Guest, Be our Guest, put our service to the test”, and have that annoying candlestick fellow prance around. Actually, that would be quite disturbing. But you know what I mean.

Instead, we arrived and have to take out our own bags, while the workers at the counters just sit buffoonishly looking at us, half drugged with sleepiness and rain. I mean, don’t you think we deserve some respect, even if we are discount grabbers paying RM33 for 18 holes? Don’t remind us of our stinginess! The registration was more straightforward, but as we waited at the buggy station, it took them a long time for to get the bags.

When they finally came, we saw 5 of our bags crammed into the passenger side of a buggy, with my bag straddled across the front panel and the seat. That means, my driver, or one of my woods, is actually holding the weight of my entire bag. How incredibly moronic is that?! The first buggy didn’t work. The second also felt like crap; tyres are out of air, and no grip and basically a piece of junk.

Not the welcome we expect.

It gets a resounding 0 because the halfway huts are also empty, devoid of living beings. I mean, where we gonna get our banana fuel halfway, huh?

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Fairways (5/5)

Thankfully, once we teed off, things got a lot better.

For the fact that almost the entire ocean has been deposited into Malaysia for the past two days, we expected puddles here and there and some ad-hoc lakes housing sea monsters on the fairway.

We walked the first hole and … nothing. Almost perfect fairway conditions, if a little soft.

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We wanted to play winter rules. Not once did I have to extract my ball from the ground or dig it up with my shovel, as I am apt to do in my own club. We weren’t just surprised. We were dumbfounded. How do they make their drainage so dang good? You have to remember the amount of rain we see to fully appreciate the fairway condition, it’s remarkable! We played 18 holes in the rain and only once I had to drop for casual water. Once! And that was right next to the pond so there’s a cachement area there.

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Greens (4/5)

If you got good fairways, you’ll likely get good greens as well.

We got a lot better than good greens. These were great greens.

We thought the ball will run slow due to the rain; but my first putt from 10 feet slid by and by…and by…and by. Suddenly I have 12 feet back up and I am like, if it’s wet and it plays like this, what, when its dried it’s putting on glass?

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I don’t know how they do it, but Tiara has got the right formula of keeping their greens. The speed was quick and bit the ball. A few shots spun back, and we were high fiving like excited kids in the playground. Wow! We are like that half Thai, half African American, half Chinese, half Malaysian World Number 1 player, whatever his name is! Without the consistency! Without the skills! Without the endorsements! Without a hot babysitter for a wife! In retrospect, the only thing we have in common with that guy is we have two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth. The rest is really debatable, since he’s really an Robot, sent by sentient beings from outer space.

But wow, back spinning!

The greens lose a point because one of the green had a pool of water in it. I happen to birdie it, but you can see how unbiased we are with our reviews. We don’t just give a good score, because we’re not pissed off, or because we play well in it (although it’s very rare—the playing well bit, I mean, not the being pissed off part).

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Rough (3/5)

The rough wasn’t punishing enough.

Yes, we are officially insane. And yes, I know you are asking me to play in Frasers and look for challenge that way. But see here, a rough is supposed to be penalizing, or at least force you to play shots that are difficult. Here, the ball basically sits up and can even be an advantage for us to hit a wood off the deck. I reached a few greens in regulation due to this. Of course, we don’t get much spin off it (now we’re bragging like professionals), but hey, whatever works.

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Aesthetics (3/5)

Tiara Melaka’s Woodlands nine was closed. I hear that’s where most of the beauty lies. But what we played at was reasonably attractive. No holes really shoot out at you but I recall a few that had massive trees framing the fairway. The index one is a horrible hole with a huge bush and tree smack in the middle of the fairway. Most good shots will need to negotiate either through, over or occasionally, some attempts under, this obstacle.

I almost reached the Par 5 also in two, but fell 2 meters shot, into the drink. I most certainly would rate the aesthetics higher if I eagled it. Oops, I mean, we will continue giving an unbiased review.

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It’s not a particularly long course. Not mickey mouse like Bangi, but not a monster like Clearwater as well. It’s pleasant to play in, easy if you keep it on the fairway, which is the biggest challenge.

The 8th and 9th in the Lake Nine are the twin terrors, sharing a huge lake. The 8th needs to clear 160 meters or so. No issues (I hooked it in, though), but the landing strip is as narrow as a thong. Too much juice it runs into the trees, and you don’t want to go there with water guarding the green. The ninth is likewise a Thong Fairway as well, a good shot will squeeze in about 6-8 meters of space, with jungle on the left, and water on the right.
You’ll get your share of birdie chances, so make sure you take it.

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Fun Factor (4/5)

We definitely had a good time together. It’s also because our foursome was playing well. I was playing great until triple-triple spoiled the day for me at the end of the first nine. A course that plays this soft, and allows us birdie opportunities is a course that will do well in our estimation. It’s not too tough and remember, we’re reviewing this from a hacker perspective, not a championship perspective. For guys who want championship material course, please ask yourself if you are a single handicapper, 5 or below first. If you are, then you’ll most likely find all reviews from this site utterly meaningless and annoying. In fact, I wouldn’t be reading further if I were you. I’d be out there, training, so that one day you can beat that guy with a hot babysitter for his wife.

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Conclusion

It’s short and relatively friendly, although it’s like an acquaintance kind of friendly, not the, “Hey buddy, we know you suck so this course is to ease your deflated (and obviously, undeserved) ego” friendly, such as Bangi. For a good time, and if you’re near Melaka, Tiara is a good choice, bringing a good blend of challenge, precision, good driving as well as forgiveness. Quite a lot of holes allow recovery, due to the friendly rough and softer greens.

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The good: Great green and fairway condition, challenging end holes involving water hazards, rewards both distance and shorter player with different choices to attack the holes

The bad: Incompetent staff that does not lift a finger to help and then thrashes our clubs by driving with 5 bags in the buggy, rough isn’t tough, halfway hut empty except for scavenging hyenas. Travel is a drag from KL as well, unless you factor in the great food in Melaka.

The skinny: 26 of 40 divots (65%). Recommended to take a day trip to Melaka. Play golf, have a nice chicken rice ball lunch, see A Famosa and eat some seafood there.

Tiara Melaka Score Card

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Tiara Melaka Information

Address:

Jalan Gapam, Bukit Katil
P.O.Box 473, 75760 Melaka

Contact: +606-2312366

Fax: +606-2314122

Website: http://www.lion.com.my/TiaraMelaka/TiaraMelaka.htm

Cameron Highlands Golf Course

Introduction

After the debacle at Frasers, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from the golf course in Camerons. While the Frasers Course was named something cryptic like FHDC, Camerons course has a more imaginative name, “Padang Golf”, or translated, Golf Field. The only other time I’ve encountered such remarkably creative naming is at UPM, a university course that have actual cows as hazards. Needless to say, I hope that I never have to step foot on that course ever again, unless under compulsion of a 9mm Beretta Handgun.

But Cameron Highlands deserve a chance. We already stated the great benefits of playing in the highlands. With the thinner air, your drives can really be ridiculously far, thus giving us the illusion of greatness. I can’t wait till the day we are smart enough to build a golf course on the moon, and find a way there. The travel will definitely suck, but think of the distance you get with the driver!

And of course, more realistically, since we never really got a feel at Frasers, Camerons was the next in line as a highland course.

Travel (1/5)

If you had trouble getting up to Frasers, there’s news for you.

This is worse.

There used to be one way up to Camerons, and that’s via the old Tapah road. Basically, turn off at Tapah from the North South Highway and just follow the signs. Now, there’s a new road up, turn off at Simpang Pulai, turn right at the traffic lights and you’ll be on the old Ipoh road. Watch out for huge Cameron Highlands signs and there will be a right turn eventually. You won’t miss the signs, so do yourself a favour and follow them!

Frankly, both ways are just as bad. The Tapah route is shorter, but if you end up behind a bus and lorry, woe to you, you’re screwed. There’s hardly any way to overtake, so be prepared for a long journey. The Simpang Pulai way is a lot wider, but the turn off is much farther down the highway. Also, the road is longer than using the old way. Still, it could be a better idea since you can still overtake that accursed lorry hogging up the whole road. Basically, you taking a big U-turn to approach Camerons from the ‘back route’.

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Frankly, I prefer the old road coming down. It’s very fun, if you can take the twists and turns, dropping of gears, racing with other drivers and avoiding the occasional falling boulder from crushing your vehicle. I don’t recommend to beginners who like to brake and take it slow, or people who tend to enjoy vomiting; but if you’re with your golf mates, there’s a good chance they are naturally resistant to nausea. (We are usually only nauseated by one thing – the dreaded shank.), so go ahead and drift down the old road. Just be careful of oncoming buses and lorries. You can likely make it all the way down to Tapah in about 45 minutes to an hour from Camerons, mileage may vary depending on level of sanity.

Price (3/5)

For weekdays, it’s similar to Frasers, in fact, better, since it’s 18 holes. You pay only 26.50RM to get a voucher that enables you to play the whole day. That’s really excellent, in fact, I think I’ll lower Fraser’s ratings. The only thing against Camerons was the weekend rate is ridiculous at RM84. RM84??! I can play in a whole lot of better courses with that kind of money paid!

I tried talking to the lady there to allow me in for the weekend at weekday rate, but even in this part of the world, they are quite strict about freeloaders like me. She has probably been briefed to avoid all eye contact with Chinese ah peks like me who likes to bargain anything and everything, from golf fee to underwear prices. If the ah pek continues to bargain, pretend to be mute and deaf or fake epilepsy. If all else fails, spray ah pek with mace and beat him senseless with the handy 7-iron.

First thoughts

The course always looked more appealing to me than Frasers, because here, we actually have proper fairways and such. There are holes that resemble a golf course, unlike the Frasers course, where it is a jumbled mess, with holes far apart from each other and looked to be patched up randomly, and holes dug from the ground by gophers, and a flag accidentally placed in there.

Here, we have the 10th fairway, with the 18th fairway parallel, so if you do hook the ball or whatever, you can still play it off the other fairway. There’s a wider area for a golf course, which generally means that they did plan to have a course here, not as if they had a small piece of land and was deciding between a parking lot, an amusement park, or building a mansion for one of the government officials. Clean money of course, how dare we think of corruption in our lovely land?

My last view of this was from a bungalow overlooking the course, and Camerons is not a jungle course; it has wider landing areas and gives more opportunities to play golf, instead of hacking and cursing like the other highland course that we’ve rated as the lowest of the low.

Service (2/5)

I was actually up in Camerons for a company team building exercise and didn’t really expect to have time for golf. I brought my set up just in case, and reaching Camerons in the late evening, we had about an hour or so to kill before the bus ferrying most of my colleagues were to arrive. The plan was to head to the range with two more guys (non golfers who just want to learn) and kill time there.

There was obviously no space consideration for a range, you dimwit.

Feeling defeated, I was planning to trudge back to join a few others in the night market; but finding out that the weekend rate was so high the next day (I was there on a Friday), I decided to pay RM26.50 and see how many holes I can finish before the sun gave out on me. Mind you, no buggy, so it’s all walking. Bring up a trolley, it will infinitely help you instead of lugging your bag around.

I had one hour of sunlight left; and the reception lady gave me a small shake of her head, saying I can probably finish 3 holes before calling it a day.

She obviously have not heard of run and gun golfing.

The only problem is that I didn’t have a camera, so the photos you see is due to me using my lousy phone camera, not a drastic drop in my already limited photography skills.

Fairways (2/5)

I didn’t really expect a lot from this club, honestly. Drainage is a drag for highland courses, due to the amount of water from rain, clouds, dew and what not. And there were no pleasant surprises here either. My first tee shot predictably hooked left, but not so hard that it couldn’t be salvaged. It was on the other fairway but try as I might I couldn’t find it at all. The ball just went right into the ground, never to see the light of day again. Drainage wasn’t as bad as Frasers (I’ll keep bringing up that defilement of a course because that’s the only comparative reference we have so far), but I could still see puddles of water around, and my shoes were like combat gear at the end of the round.

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I hit a few good shots that I completely lost, perhaps due to the added distance and subsequently wrong estimation, but also due in part to plugging into the fairway. The rule for all highland courses apply here: Bring loads of balls, and finish up your old ones.

Greens (3/5)

I was quite surprised at the green; it was pressed down and kept reasonably well, given the conditions. There’s obviously people to maintain the course here, and the roll was quite tricky; a few birdie putts I had just got turned away at the last minute. I think it’s commendable that the grass is kept short, and the wild boars kept at bay from digging extra holes on the green ( I will not name which course has this).

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Rough (2/5)

The rough is extremely tough. Not because the grass is long, but the ball is hard to find. Also, the fact that I’m playing nearly without light doesn’t help anything. And the fact that I am running between shots and not spending more than 10 seconds to look for a ball really doesn’t give me the right to have a fair judgement on it. All I’m saying is that, if you think the ball is good, look properly. A few holes had fairways that dropped off into drains and ditches and if your ball is not plugged, God help you as you try to retrieve it from the rough.

Aesthetics (2/5)

If we were to take a gigantic wok chan and dig up the whole course and put it somewhere in the lowlands or Klang Valley, I’d probably give it a 1 or something lower. There really isn’t much memorable holes here, except for maybe the Par 5 15th, that has a drastic change in elevation. It also gets pretty confusing. While not as bad as Frasers where balls are flying all over you due to the shared fairways and all, there are instances here, such as the 12th, where there are two fairways, borrowing with the 17th. Then after the drive, I saw a green maybe 200 metres away and went for it. After that I realized that I was hitting to the par 3 13th green, where we would tee off above the 12th green, only about 50 meters from where I was. The course itself is quite bare, so there’s nothing really special or scenic about it, but you cannot beat the weather here. Cooling, breezy, it’s a course where you can play 36 holes without any issues at all. It can turn out chilly or have sudden showers, so make sure you have an umbrella handy.

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Fun Factor (2/5)

It’s hard to rate something as fun when you are running around between every shots and taking just 5 seconds to address and hit. I managed to complete 9 holes in 1 hour or so, but skipping one hole. I had two non-golfers tagging around, but aside from butchering the 1st and 3rd hole I played (I teed up from the back), I played pretty decent, with 2 sand saves, a birdie miss, a few good flops with my new Cleveland RTG+ and a monster drive on the 14th that reached the fringe about 280 metres away. I nearly birdied the 17th after a flop over the bunker to 5 feet but missed the darn putt, in the dark.

We reached the 18th tee and there were sparse lighting for the final hole. Very sparse. Anyway, we proceeded to use the hole as our driving range as I taught the other two some basics; hitting balls into the fairway. Suddenly the lights were switched off and we were left looking for our balls in pitch blackness, with only the moon and our handphone lights to illuminate the way. Out of 10 balls, I lost only one.

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Conclusion

Camerons plays much much better than Fraser’s Hill, so if it’s a toss between these two places, Camerons is way better. The problem is the traveling. It’s even more difficult to access and I’m not sure if it’s entirely worth it to drive all the way up there when you can just spend the extra cash and play in Awana or Bukit Tinggi. By all means, if you’re up there, play and take advantage of the weather and the fixed price per entry, but forget about the weekend rates; it’s way over priced and it’s not worth it, unless they offer free scones, strawberries and a glass of Chateau Blanc at every teebox for free.

The good: Superb weather, thin air makes you look like a professional when you hit it flush, wide greens and receptive and reasonably maintained, great price for weekdays, no red tape: you can play in your underwear if you wish.

The bad: Bad drainage on the fairways, constantly plug up balls and make them unfindable, no driving range, too expensive over the weekend, rough makes the ball simply disappear, bland hole designs, difficult drive there, no-bargaining with ah peks policy.

The skinny: 17 of 40 divots (42.5%). If you’re willing to take the nauseating drive to Camerons and want to experience the thin-air phenomena on your golf balls, and too cheapskate to pay for Awana or Bukit Tinggi, then this course is for you.

Cameron Highlands Information

Address:

P.O Box 66
39007 Tanah Rata
Cameron Highlands
Pahang Darul Makmur

Contact: +605-4911126

Fax: +605-4911728

Website: http://www.pahangtourism.com.my/sport/golf/cameron.html

Rahman Putra Golf Club

Introduction

Rahman Putra or KRPM as it is known, has a reputation. It goes like this:

Foursome chit chatting at the first tee while waiting for the fairway to clear.

“So which club do you play at?”

“Rahman Putra.”

“Waahhh. You must be really good.”

I have no idea where that came about because I’m a KRPM member and have been playing there for years and I still am a hacker. The name KRPM invokes respect, fear and awe from other golfers, like how Godzilla used to before a million stuffed toys turned it into a cheap competitor of Barney the purple dinosaur. Is the reputation justifiable?

Yes and no.

KRPM is a tough course because there’s a heck lot of water. And it’s not like drains and stuff, its like ponds and lakes, that houses plesiosauruses and gobble up your golf balls. The famed ending holes on the back nine, 16,17 and 18th plays index 6, 2 and 8 and needs a carry over water for 2nd shots. We call it the Amen Ending (a ‘la the Amen Corner), but most of the words that come from the mouth during the final stretch are definitely not yes and amen.

But if you compare KRPM to the other courses, you see statistically it’s quite mediocre. It plays to 6130 m, about 700 metres longer than Bangi, but falls short of Clearwater’s monster 6482 m. It’s 71.9 course rating is less than Clearwater’s 74 and slope of 129, less than 135 of Clearwater.

No wonder we were struggling like twits playing in Clearwater!!

Travel (3/5)

KRPM used to have a travel rating of -100, as one of the ways was to go through the Sungai Buloh trunk road, pass Sierramas and Valencia, or take the NKVE and turn off at Sg. Buloh. I used to push off at 12 noon to reach there for a 2 pm tee off, and that too after running over a few motorbikes on the way.

They have finished the new freeway and now traveling is cut down to hardly 30 minutes. The road condition is still bad, since heavy lorries still ply that route and you’ll get potholes and an occasional falling boulder from the truck, but otherwise, its accessible now.

Price (3/5)

KRPM has a lot of generous packages. It’s a ‘package’ course. They’ll package in a meal, or an early tee off, or half price off the buggy, or women’s day, or happy hour, or senior citizen package…everything you can shake a stick at, KRPM has done it. It’s reasonable, but it loses points for weekend rates. It’s good for members like us, but the problem is that its too expensive to invite people to play over the weekend, guest have to fork out close to RM200 for a weekend flight. It’s a nice course, but its still cowgrass and its not a brilliant experience.

First thoughts

Newcomers to the course will be shocked at the opening tee. Both 1st and 10th tee requires a carry over hazard. Long drivers can bomb it but they will soon find out that KRPM rewards the placement players in most of the holes, and have trees blocking even on the fairway.

The shorter hitters sometimes resort to a 7-iron tee off which will usually find the fairway but they will forever be classified as wimpy mama boys who can’t handle their big stick (or lacks a big stick), which brings forth a thousand connotations that the person might not be able to live with. It’s better to hit a driver into OB and say, “It’s hard to control my big stick,” or into the pond and say, “What to do, my big stick always finds the wet places.”

Both jokes and several thousands similar are common on the golf course, and it seems bad taste jokes are generally accepted as the norm here. The problem is when golfers come out into society with the same tastless jokes and expect a laugh, instead procuring a glare, a slap or a well deserved kick in the nuts by the more genteel gender.

KRPM is a matured course, therefore you’ll find plenty of shade. However, carts are not allowed to roam on the fairways and because the setup is that we have parallel fairways, the strategy of borrowing fairways come in play here. So there’s quite a long walk from the cart over to the next fairway. This can slow down the game considerably.

Balls can fly all over like WWII as well. There are many blind spots aside from parallel fairway, and in some occasions I’ve seen balls zoom over my head and we’ll be hitting the ground.

Service (5/5)

The service is generally very good. Reception staff is friendly and they know me by my name, which means either I am a lifeless golf nut or they are very good at remembering people. The food there is very good, surprising for a golf club. The members generally have quite a lot of clout in the club and we can submit complaints over almost anything from fixing the darn drainage to wearing turtle necks to play. The only minus is that they force guests to have caddies, which I think is just silly. The caddies are new, so they don’t really add any value to my game. They can’t really contribute much in terms of course design or strategy, because I’ve probably played there longer than them and you don’t really lose too many balls in KRPM due to the lack of OB in most holes.

But there’s one person in KRPM that perhaps is the most important individual and best friend in your golf career. He’s the ball seller found at the green on the par 5 3rd/tee box on the 4th. He sells all balls flat at RM1, which is about 0.3 USD. I get ALL my Maxfli Blackmax there. I know a person who buys all his PRO-V1s there and these balls are generally 8/10 or above in terms of condition. Very well cleaned, looks very new and an honest chap who gives free balls for every 10 you buy. I even have his mobile number to place orders. He’s the best of the best in terms of deals.

Fairways (3/5)

The fairways are not Bermuda. It’s what we call cowgrass. There’s a reason it’s called cowgrass. These are the grass cows eat. It’s tough and it doesn’t sit your ball up like Bermuda or twiff. In fact, some people will find cowgrass harder to hit on than real cows. It catches your club if you dig too much, resulting in fat shots, too much divot and you might break your wrist. Take too little and you might skull it into one of the waiting ponds. In fact, standing over your ball with a 180 m carry over water for second shot can be downright diabolical. It’s not uncommon for golfers to break down weeping after depositing ten balls into the lake. They usually have to be carried away by the marshals and then the group behind can pass through.

Fairways in KRPM are undulating, you’ll be hitting balls below, above your feet on down slopes, up slopes. Any sort of position except straight and flat. So get ready to compensate for slices, hooks and the omnipresent duff.

Greens (3/5)

The greens are usually what KRPM-ers are really proud of. Like the fairways, the greens are undulating, hilly and have like 20 breaks before reaching the hole. In fact, the 18th green has such a slope that a ball landing at the back of the green can funnel all the way down and off the green. Putting can be downright painful. In fact, it’s better to play short and chip and putt as opposed to hitting in regulation with a 40 footer. Generally, the greens are slow, but some are inconsistent. It doesn’t catches the ball the way Meru or Impiana green does, so approach shots must come in high. For golfers with lower trajectory like mine, expect the ball to fly off tabletop greens, or roll into the bunker after hitting what you think is a good shot. I’ve never seen a ball spin on KRPM and there are some bald patches here and there. It’s not bad, but not something I’ll shout about. I like the undulation but the inconsistency throws me off.

Rough (4/5)

Ah, the famed KRPM rough. Hit into one of these and that’s it. You’ll be lucky if it sits up. In fact you’ll be lucky if you can find it! It really puts a premium for fairway hits. In the rough, it sinks in and I’ve found many lost balls while looking for mine. There are also natural elements that makes it harder, like fire-ants that crawls up your pants. There are no giant lizards, hardly any snakes, but those ants are devilish. Great care needs to be taken as you enter into the trees to punch the ball out, because when they bite, you better wish it ain’t where the sun don’t shine.

Aesthetics (2/5)

KRPM is a course built from palm oil plantation. It’s like a wizened woman past her prime, but would still punish you for all your wayward drives and lackadaisical approach shots. There’s nothing really beautiful about this course, it’s functional, its tough, its challenging, it’s like a 40 year old marriage. It’s not a course I’d bring my investors or customers to, let’s put it this way, but it’s a course I’d go play alone to get better at golf. It gets a low grade also due to the lack of wildlife except for fire ants and stray dogs running around the fairways. Ever heard of ball in a foot print in the sand? Well, we’ve got dogs sleeping in the bunker and creating a crater for our ball to land on!

Fun Factor (2/5)

Perhaps it’s because I’ve played it so many times over the past years that the fun factor is simply no longer there. I do recall the first time I played there, I was so frustrated with the course, I vow I would never come back again. I obviously did, but I can’t recall a time I had total fun on the course. Most of the time was functional golf, getting better, putting better, but not going crazy like what we did in Datai Bay.

Conclusion

There’s really nothing much to complain about this course. It’s not as long, but it does take some strategizing because of the amount of water that comes in play. Long drives are sometimes rewarded with a splash, or you’re swinging like a baseball batter at some holes with the ball so much above your feet.

Even though its shaded, you’ll go through your water, because you’ll likely be walking a lot to your ball. Also, traffic over the weekend is crazy. We need to have at least 5 hours to finish 18 if we’re lucky. Booking for the weekend is impossible if you call too late on a Monday. Because it’s accessible, the course can get pretty hacked up, that’s why maintenance is very much vital in this course. The people here are generally friendly and would invite you to join, if you can play a decent game.

Just keep the golf jokes to yourself.

The good: Greens are good challenges, food is superb, best deal in used golfballs in the world found here, the rough really punishes, walk in rates reasonable on week days, 36 holes allow each nine to be maintained and recovered.

The bad: Not a very pretty course, parallel fairways makes it dangerous to hit and be hit by stray balls, table top greens hard to hold and inconsistent, fairway cow grass tough to hit and predict, weekend rates are inhuman, too many people on the weekends, hard to find a flight time and long wait between shots.

The skinny: 25 of 40 divots (62.5%). Functional and challenging course, not much of a wow factor.

Rahman Putra Score Card

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Datai Bay Golf Club

Introduction

Datai Bay. We’ve been hearing people telling us different things about Datai. It’s a beautiful course. It’s a links course. It’s next to the ocean. It’s in the jungle. It’s in the mountains. It’s like Pebble Beach. It’s crap. It’s overrated, so on and so on and so on. We know it will cost us a lot, but since we are irresponsible, unaccountable gentlemen of this prestigious, money sucking game called golf, we were ready for the damage.

Travel (3/5)

Like Gunung Raya, once you get to Langkawi, everything is pretty much accessible. Datai is a bit out of the way though, but the trip there is through some of the most scenic parts of Langkawi. It’s a nice drive, just watch out for the darn cows.

Price (1/5)

I know it sounds crazy to rate 3/5 for a course that cost RM340 just to tee up a ball, but the fact is, we felt it was money well spent, as later it will show. It wasn’t going to be cheap, but was it worth it? Lets put it this way, I rather put 340 RM in Datai than to pay RM140 for Gunung Raya. It’s not the best deal in the world, but quality has a price so for once, stop being so cheapskate in your golf!!

First thoughts

You feel as if you are part of royalty when you get into the club. They really treat you well, from registration till the time you tee it up.

Standing on the first tee (we teed up from back 9), one thought comes:

I’m gonna lose a lot of balls.

It’s a jungle course. Don’t let the ‘Bay’ in the name fool you. The only Bay we get to see is on the 19th signature hole. Other than that, it’s trees, jungles, monkeys and baboons as your fans.

Not to say it’s like KGPA quality jungle. Somehow, even the jungle has an air of class. I half expect a baboon to be sitting on a branch smoking a cigar and saying, “Jolly good shot, old fellow,” on the first tee. The course is deceivingly long. It’s doesn’t look long on paper, but perhaps the air is heavier, or simply because of the jungle framing the sides, and the fact that 5-wood comes in the tee off, makes my approach with 7-irons or 4w a lot more difficult. It’s quite intimidating to have trees all around you. There were a few holes where a tantalizingly super shot was on its merry way to the green only to have one rogue branch deflecting it into oblivion.

Interaction with wild life was great. I felt like I was part of the Animal Planet series. There was a hole where 5 feet long lizard was ambling its way about 3-4 feet from my ball. Play as it lies? It might think I was going to 9-iron his egg and start attacking me. A few holes we had to chase away monkeys from invading our buggy. We would be lining up to putt when suddenly one of us would be whooping and screaming and running towards the buggy flailing our putter like a mace while the monkey scampers away chattering. The smaller ones are fine. It’s those big black monkeys with white tipped arses, sitting ominously and staring at us silently that scares the dickens out of me. Ever watched the show Congo?

Never bring food in a plastic and leave it in the buggy. Most monkeys will go for that, and some might even collaborate and drive away leaving you to walk back to the clubhouse alone. It’s considered very embarrassing to lose your buggy to monkeys, so be careful!! Either plant a plastic explosive in a bag or purchase a putter that can be changed into a 12 gauge shotgun, to blow these mammals back to Monkey Heaven.

Above all, if you’re terrified of lizards, it’s best you stay out of the rough and be prepared to start screaming.

Service (5/5)

From the time they took our bags, the service was top class. Registration was a breeze.They gave us drinks , bright smiles and sent us off to the first tee, like seeing their children off the first day of school. We didn’t have time to check out the changing room but I’m sure there’s an OSIM chair for us and a masseur at hand. It’s a 5 of 5 also because we have staff/marshals driving around the course, looking for things left behind. My camera case and cap was retrieved like 4 holes after I lost it by one of the marshals. When we finished, they would clean our clubs and shoes and not beg for tips, (unlike those hooligans at Bangi), and they would send us off by breaking into the song, “So Long, Farewell” a’la the von Trapp family. You don’t get any better than this.

Fairways (4/5)

This gets 4/5 divots. The turf here is even and a delight to hit from. Diggers like me tend to struggle a bit, but it sits up and there’s a premium hitting from the fairway. The toughest part is actually finding the blasted fairway! It’s narrow, challenging and really gives you the go for broke-easier approach or play it safe-long approach tradeoff. I tried the latter approach but when your 5 wood is hooking, you might as well gun with the Big Dog. Pars are not as easy as it looks, and its imperative that you are playing fairways on this course. The drainage is generally good, but the natural undulation makes it really challenging to play your approaches.

Course management is also essential. Because it’s a jungle course, a good tee off too far might have one of those blasted trees blocking your approach. Plot your landing areas, as there are many blind spots that you’ll need to hook or slice your way around.

Greens (3/5)

Perhaps the only poor quality of Datai are the greens. I would have liked the greens to be smoother and more spinnable. Perhaps it’s the salt air or the soil that makes it harder to have closely compacted greens but it was generally not pristine. It wasn’t bad or anything but because we paid so much to play, the measurement standards are always higher, and in that respect, the greens in Datai were a little disappointing.

Rough (5/5)

The rough was an adventure to be in. There’s a meandering stream that snakes its way through the course that gobbles up your shots when you think you’ve hit it flush. The rough snatches your ball, even on the first cut, and be prepared to hit hooks out of the rough. The grass really catches your club so grip it hard to open it and not turn over. It adds a lot of good elements in the game and severely punishes wayward drives. It also adds the danger of a monitor lizard chomping off your leg or a hoard of monkeys holding you hostage with your shotgun putter.

Aesthetics (5/5)

What can I say? The scenery is absolutely fantastic. But it’s the par 3s of Datai that really take your breath away. One of the holes I liked was the par 3 15th, an elevated tee shot through jungle foliage to a small green 140 m down, fronted by still lakes and framed by jungle. Most of the holes are crafted around the contours of the jungle, so you hardly get parallel greens running together, and each hole seemed to have its own personality, its distinct character. You don’t get the feeling you’re in a golf course, because every hole is self contained, in its own drama, in its own adventure, its own story to tell. There are holes that dares you to gun for it like the 18th with a fairway so broad you can land a Boeing 777 on it, and which I proceeded to triple bogeyed it. There are holes with narrow fairways but rewards high risks drives, like the 9th, which I also proceeded to triple bogey it.

Of course, the famous hole 19th is not part of the course (well, you can play it as 17th) but most of us KL people would play both 17th and 19th. When you finish 17th, track back across the road to the 19th hole BEFORE you tee up for 18th. Be prepared to lose your flight spot but you won’t regret the 19th.

It’s to a small green, carrying about 170 m of the Andaman Sea. To your right, the waves lap the base of the tee box, and in the distance, mountain peaks from the other islands stands as your gallery, bearing testimonies of horrendous golfers all over the world. The scenery can’t be explained, but it just blows you away, I guarantee it. Standing there, you feel that this could be the most exhilarating golfing moment of your life.

Fun Factor (5/5)
A course that gives you 19 holes instead of 18? Hey you cant beat that. We were running around like kids in a candy store, every hole was greeted with “Wow”, “Super!” or “Oh, I am so screwed”. The wow factor was off the charts. The fact was we played at Gunung Raya the day before and almost passed out dehydrated. In Datai, the jungle is so cooling, you think you’re playing somewhere in England or something. We were shooting pictures everywhere, and it was a little disappointing as we came to the last hole and had to finish our round there.

Conclusion
Datai Bay is the best course I’ve ever played on. Of course I haven’t played yet in a lot of courses but in terms of challenge, hole design, scenery, overall fun factor. Everything is excellent, except the exorbitant price. I would think it caters towards tourists who earns in US and who looks at us with impunity. It’s cooling, it’s challenging and it’s not short like resort courses. The 19th hole is a must play. It’s like Pebble Beach 17th, one of the most famous holes in the world. We can’t get Pebble Beach (as a note, there IS a Pebble Beach in Langkawi, but it’s a beach filled with…yep, pebbles, literally), so Datai 19th is as good as it can get. If no one pressures you from the back, feel free to whack 3 – 4 balls in there. We spent almost 20 minutes around the 19th hole just fooling around, hitting multiple shots and donating balls to the Andaman. After all, when would be the next time we come back?

The good: Super scenery and hole design, challenging layout, well cared for and undulating, natural fairway, cooling jungle environment, interaction with Wildlife, signature 19th is a must play, and staffs that really treats you like family.

The bad: Greens are disappointing for a premier course, price sets you back to eat Maggi noodles for a month, watch out for snakes in the rough, Monkeys are aggressive and intimidating, especially the ones with the white tipped arse.

The skinny: 31 of 40 divots (77.5%). One of the best course out there. Dig into your pockets and spend on it if you call yourself a golfer.

Datai Bay Scorecard

Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort

 

Introduction
We’ve been talking about Clearwater Sanctuary and how super the golf course is for ages. Magazines lauded it, golfers talk about it, mothers fuss about it. OK, maybe not the last bit but it has gained an impressive reputation of being the best of the best in West Malaysia, synonymous to the most pleasurable golf experience of your life, the most memorable course you will ever play in, indeed you would wish to relocate to sleepy Ipoh just to play this course.

So me and my mates decided to experience it.

Travel (3/5)
Despite our initial fears, Clearwater is actually quite accessible so it gets 3 divots from 5. It’s about 1 and a half hours away from KL, depending on how fast you drive. Either turn off at Simpang Pulai or Gopeng Interchange and take the road heading to Batu Gajah passing Kellie’s Castle. There are plenty of signs, so you won’t miss it.

You probably want to eat breakfast before the interchange, because townspeople here only start work at like 12 noon or something. Not one coffee shop was opened and we ended having breakfast at a malay stall about 300 metres down the road from ClearWater entrance.

Price (5/5)
Drive up to the clubhouse and enter the pro shop to register. We were charged 70 RM for walk in, all inclusive of the buggy and insurance. I had an affiliate with KRPM and ended up paying RM50 for a buggy!! So the 70RM package was a heck of a deal. The greens were being sanded we were told but who cares? We were playing in the second best course in Malaysia! Excellent bargain here!

First thoughts
Right on the first tee, we were staring at a dogleg left tight fairway, the sprinklers still turned on. A maintenance guy slowly rode his scooter to turn the sprinklers off as we waited, and when we were ready, we predictably screwed up our first tee shot.

Double bogey.

2nd tee was a lot more promising, a 5 wood found the fairway. Second shot using a 4w hybrid pushed right. Bye bye. This would eventually be the norm for the day.

Clearwater is extremely unforgiving, especially to weekend hackers like us. Now it’s important to understand that this is from the perspective of hackers.

Clearwater isn’t that great.

I mean, for a course rated as number 2 in Malayisa, we kinda expected a course that blew us away. Well, actually, it did blow us away – our scores that is. But in terms of scenery, fun, playability and such, we give it a ‘so-so’ shake of our hands.

We don’t mind if the course kills us. I mean, Datai Bay killed us, but we had a lot of fun getting killed. Face it, most courses out there (except for maybe a Mickey Mouse par 3 pitch and putt) will be killing us anyway. But Datai Bay made us go away talking about coming back again. We went to each hole like kids waking up on Christmas to find presents under the tree. Clearwater just got us talking about going away.

Service (2/5)
The service gets 2/5 divots. I liked the fact that they sold sharpies at the counter. Sharpies makes us look like pros, as if we have lots of fans who needs our autograph, or we would mark our ball with a special sign. The fact is, we have 0 fans except for the occasional maintenance guys waiting for us to clear the green, and we definitely don’t hold on to a single ball long enough to bother marking it.

What bugged me was the fact that they had the sprinklers turned on for the first tee, as if they did not expect us to tee up at, like what, 9 am??! And they had sprinklers turned on at the 18th, as if they can’t wait to get rid of us. I mean what is that about? I proceeded to duff my SW approach on the wet fairway. I would have holed an eagle if not for that sprinkler!!

Fairways (3/5)
This gets 3/5 divots. It’s nice and well maintained but had splotchy grass here and there, and uneven on some holes. Of course the random sprinkling also made the fairways a little inconsistent. The fact that it’s number 2 in Malaysia goes against it. I expected immaculate fairways, and tiny Oompah-Loompahs running around sprinkling magic seeds to make the grass even.

Greens (2/5)
To be fair, we were warned that the greens were being sanded. So it wasn’t tip top condition but I am going to blast it anyway. Number 2 in Malaysia, I expect the greens to perform better than Impiana, I expect my shots to spin back, I expect it to be consistent in speed and roll. I expect the greens to be so good I’d want it to be my bed at home.

We played to an extremely SLOW green. I mean, it almost looked as if we were putting a bowling ball or something. We needed a hammer to hit the ball forward. There were some dead patches here and there. I’m not good enough to explain if it affected my roll, but I give it a 2/5 because I three putted like half a dozen holes. Rats!!

Rough (4/5)
The rough does what its supposed to do, it eats up your ball. It just sinks in. There’s no way you can ply it out without a shovel. I don’t know what kind of grass it is, but I will name it Pitbull grass, because once it gets hold of your balls, it ain’t letting go. Of your golfballs, that is.

Aesthetics (3/5)
If there was a signature hole, it’s the 18th. It’s a hard dogleg left par 5, about 170 m to cut the dogleg and carry the water. There’s an annoying tree in the middle to eat your balls. In fact, CW has loads of holes that allow you to cut the doglegs with a good drive. The fact that there’s water all over the place, it’s a swashbuckling grip and rip it mentality vs wimpy, gutless 5 wood to fairway and long approaches. Guess which approach we took? Just bring loads of golf balls because you’re gonna lose them.

The holes in CW are long. You either get better with your driver or be prepared for 170m plus approach shots into the green. And if you miss the greens, you’re either in the water, sand trap or a monitor lizard will be chomping on your balls. Golfballs.

Fun Factor (2/5)
I am really reminded of the time when I went to watch Star Wars Episode 1. You really want to enjoy yourself, and you really want the movie to be good because of the tradition surrounding it. Face it. Star Wars 1,2 and 3 sucked. I hated the movies and signed up on the diejarjarbinks petition. Anything without Han Solo and Donut hair Princess Leia in a golden bikini is not gonna cut it.

Likewise, I really wanted us to have fun in Clearwater. But as we approached the last hole and the sprinklers turned on, I shrugged. We had a bit of fun, but really the whole experience was a little bit of a letdown. 2 of 5 divots.

Conclusion
The purists will like the fact that holes are long, par 5s are not reachable in 2, water is all over the place and there’s nobody in the halfway huts to sell drinks. Purists are also known as crazy people who likes to feel pain. I forgot the scientific term to it.

For us hackers who like to enjoy golf, Clearwater is a reasonably good course, but as number 2 in Malaysia and the fact we had to wake up at 5:30 am to drive up north for 2 hours, we expected more. On the 15th hole we were like, we drove all the way for THIS??!?

And another thing that bugged us. The name. Like, why do you call it “clear water” when the water isn’t even clear? I see some websites talking about the shimmering lakes like it was a feature of Rivendell in Lord of the Rings. Are they intoxicated with Ipoh white coffee? Have they even been there? We just saw mining pools. Where’s the shimmer? Where’s Galadriel, Elrond and the gay hobbits?!?

It’s like me calling my son Tiger Eldrick Woods and find out he prefers to be professional ballet dancer when he grows up. It’s just too much pressure in the name, you know.

The good: Few people, good rewards vs risks, well designed holes, some nice wildlife, Pitbull grass makes you really want to hit the fairway.

The bad: Overrated scenery, Pitbull grass makes you regret you suck at your driver, so-so greens, no Oompah-Loompahs on the fairway, deserted drink huts, holes might be too long for a hacker. And badly behaved sprinkler systems. And no Galadriel.

The skinny: 24 of 40 divots (60%). Number 2 in Malaysia? Don’t think so. Disappointing.

Clearwater Scorecard