Sungai Long Golf and Country Club



There are two golf courses in peninsular Malaysia designed by Jack Nicklaus – Sungai Long and Legends in Johor. In the East, there is Borneo Golf and Country – but as it is, Gilagolf has never hacked in the east before, so I’ll just stick to West Malaysia golf courses in discussion.

Now, Legends was great. It’s a very nice course and we all had fun on it – the only problem there was that the buggy cost us RM174. And the fact that the people there didn’t tell us that promotion was going on and we could get a lot cheaper than what we paid for with a voucher – like RM2 cheaper. But it was the principle that mattered – and because of that Legends was given a 1 in service and a 1 in pricing and 0 in travel. The people running Legends were twits. But the course itself was really really good and highly recommended.

So what now for Sungai Long? As the first Jack Nicklaus course in Malaysia, where does it stand in the Gilameter?

Why did it take so long to play this, pun intended?  For one, for some time, it was considered a ‘private’ course, that means only by invitation and with a member or again, you will be shot on sight for trespassing. I suppose recently they have seen the fallacy of this concept, because they have opened it up to RHB card members like us. So let the hacking begin!

Travel (4/5)

I honestly think this portion of the review does not have any sense anymore. Now you need to understand this blog was started in 2007, when google maps were not really that great and the Waze founder was still in his mother’s womb. So, generally GPS was not publically available and we used this section to draw crude maps and give crude directions to the course – of course, now with the advent of GPS anywhere and everywhere, only a chimp with Alzheimer will get lost trying to locate a golf course anywhere on earth. This was apparently taken for granted because strangely two of our guys got lost. One guy – excusable, he was on his superbike, so it’s not like he can whip out his phone to check GPS (although I would imagine it’s mountable) – the other guy was a 40 plus fler whom when we ask, don’t you have waze?, looked at us with a general puzzlement you would expect from an Alzheimeric chimp, locked in a cave for 20 years and with a bare recognition that the item he is holding in his hand is more than a phone and not simply a Nokia 5110.


To be fair, he got lost at the Fork of Bamboozlement. The Fork of Bamboozlement (or FOB) for short is this fork in the road when you are taking the Cheras highway to Kajang. It is existing there to simply cause distress and pain to non Cheras residents. Now Cheras is this great place to find food to eat, but it is also home to roughly 3.6 million people, or roughly 15% of the population in Malaysia. It is known as little Shanghai due to the sheer volume of humans gathered in one place.

Of course, the historical accuracy of what I just wrote is a little suspect, since I came up with that history primarily just by watching the cars stuck in traffic jam on the other side of the road going into KL. I swear, Cheras people are probably the most patient people in the entire world.

Anyway, back to the FOB. Once you go past Connaught, you will need to follow the road signs to Kajang/Semenyih. Go under the overpass as shown below:

After the overpass stay far right as you go up the hill as below:

When you come to the FOB, don’t panic, like my friend, who immediately swerve left and found himself inside Cheras and lost for another half hour navigating the traffic to get out. Escaping Cheras is like escaping from Alcatraz or Hotel California. You can check in but you can’t ever leave. Stay far right on the FOB and you will be ok, you should end up on the right highway leading to Impiana/Sungai Long.

From there, follow Waze based on traffic. It will either tell you to turn off at Sungai Long or earlier, depending.

Once you are in Sungai Long, the course is almost next to the entrance. Just turn right after entering the main arc or Sungai Long and you should see the course on the left. Easy peasy.

Price ( 2/5)

The price is this:

RM220 for green fee+RM71 miscellenous all in (caddy, insurance, buggy – assuming buggy fee is split). After the astronomical charges for buggies at Legends, we were really glad the buggy here is RM76. But still, you are paying a weekday rate of almost RM300.

Honestly, we wouldn’t be playing these courses (palm garden, Mines, Sungai Long) without our Infinite Cards, which waives the green fees for us. And once the green fee was waived, and we negotiated not to have a caddy, we paid a grand total of RM56 with a food voucher of RM10 per pax, so effectively it was RM46. The food voucher is forced upon you whether you like it or not.

Now, of course, I am assuming not everyone has the infinite cards, so going by the normal pricing, it’s still way too expensive for a course like this (as later you will find out). However, I am willing to concede a slightly higher score because of the thought they had in allowing us to not have a caddy, but then they offset that with a forced food voucher on you. But hey, RM56 for a Jack Nicklaus designed course? Nobody is complaining!

First thoughts

Standing at the verandah overlooking the course, I honestly can say the first impression was a little underwhelming. We were expecting the course, being private and designed by Jack Nicklaus to be some sort of wonderment to us – with fairy dust twinkling in the sunrise and an amazing spectacle of a course in her full array of beauty before us.

What we got was a rather flat looking course, with a LOT of workers.

I mean, the amount of Bangladeshi workers here was amazing. Even when you drive into the bag drop area, you will see around 8 – 10 bangladeshi lounging around just talking. I think they are caddies, but I am not sure. However, it’s slightly intimidating because you think you just went through a wormhole and came out on the other side of Dhaka instead of KL. Suggestion to Sungai Long – please build a nice area for your caddies to chill, and not have them congregate at the bag drop area.

On the course itself, while flat, we were willing to give the benefit of doubt that it would be a supreme course, and hopefully can get to the Died and Gone to Heaven status that NO COURSE has even come close to achieving. This is definitely a DAGTH candidate and we had such high hopes for Sungai Long.

Service (2/5)

The service and ameneties were not grand. To be honest, the changing room looks a little run-down. The lockers were oldish lockers that were half the lenght of normal lockers, so when you hang your shirt in there, it sort of crumples because there’s no space. No aircondition, which I suppose they purposely built it that way to harness the energy of nature. Compared to Mines, Sungai Long changing room was like comparing Scarlett Johansson to a rear end of a llama.

Anyway, just as we were going off to the course, the caddy master came and ask – would we like a FREE caddy who is a training caddy, accompanied by a normal grade caddy?

FREE??! Hell, yeah, as Malaysians, that four letter F word is our favourite word.

So we took up this young man, and he had an older mentor on the other buggy and off we went.

Note to all Gilagolfers: DO NOT TAKE UP THE TRAINEE CADDY. I know he’s free, but soon you will find that he had it a bargain to NOT pay US for caddying for us. And we ended up giving tips!

The trainee caddy, BY LIGHT YEARS, was the worst caddy we have ever encountered in our collective lives, and if we had past lives and future lives, it would also be in those past lives and future lives. On the first hole, when asked whether we were using yards or meters, he just looked at us blankly.

At first I thought he didn’t hear, but when repeated, I tried using Malay and English and elicited no response, but a blank stare. Great. He was dumb. As in not stupid dumb, but non-speaking dumb. I tried using sign language but then he uttered something non decipherable. Great! He speaks but does no speak our language. That’s a bummer.

So I told him, ok, just make sure you handle our clubs and pass clubs to us when we need it.

Through out the game, we had such a stressed out time teaching him about caddying:

  1. When we were all searching for balls, he would be sitting in the buggy staring into space and day dreaming of his life back in his hometown
  2. When we were on the green, we would be texting on his phone (this is the first time I’ve seen a caddy more busy in business than us)
  3. When our balls are on the green, he would be standing to the side, not bothering to clean our golf balls for us
  4. He constantly brought us the wrong clubs
  5. He could never find a ball – he would just wander around, following you looking at the exact place you are looking and when you ask him to scamper off, he would grin and just continued following you. I hate to demean a fellow human like this, but honestly, my pet terrier who is now dead, took better instructions that he did.

On the 9th hole, my friend flipped. His ball went right and missing and we all went to search including the other caddy. This trainee caddy took the buggy and drove all the way to the green while we were literally all searching for the first drive.

He confronted the caddy and said (in not so nice terms), that if he wasn’t interested in caddying or even learning, he could leave and go back to wherever he came from for the back 9 because he was an utter useless piece of crap.

He improved a little after that, but was still atrocious. He would step on our putting line, forget to remove the flag etc. There was once, I was lining up to hit a provision shot, he literally walked in front of me to search for my lost ball. I had to go Christian Bale on him. Then, when I was still pondering what irons to use, he would GRAB my irons to take it from me before I was done. I was shocked. It was as if he wanted to steal it but he was just trying to be initiated and clean my clubs, but still it was unnerving to be leaning on a club and then suddenly got it yanked away under you.

He also would clamp my clubs under his armpit as he carried them. And not at the shaft but at the GRIP. He would put my grips under his armpit and then once he removed them, there would be a line of sweat on my putter grip which just made me go, “ You know what, just give me the damn clubs and go back to the damn buggy.”

This guy is a legend. If you guys go over there, don’t fall for this free caddy nonsense – unless they are paying you. However, we generally talk a good game, but we are actually very compassionate inside. We ended up tipping him RM40 anyway because we didn’t have change, and because it was Ramadhan and we finally felt sorry for him.

I mean, if I were in a foreign land without my family or girlfriend (whom I am constantly texting while these chinamen putt on the green), and I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink and kept getting barked at by these chinamen in a language I didn’t understand – I would feel suicidal. Being a little generous despite sh*tty service was something we all could do to make things better for this guy.

Fairways (2/5)

Darn, that was a long detour from golf!

Anyway back to playing the course.

The fairways were disappointing. Really. For a course with a price range and expectation like Sungai Long, we expected at least Mines/Palm Garden sort of variety. Instead, we got something a little better than Seri Selangor/Bangi but no where close to the top tiered quality.

At first, I thought these were divots that other groups were playing that day. Until I realize we were the only ones on the course. The multiple sandy patches we experienced through the course were probably because that area of the fairway was bald or grass wasn’t growing. Nowhere close to our expectation at all.

Greens (3/5)

The greens were functional. It wasn’t as slow as the Mines and generally had a good roll, but it wasn’t amazing. It was well kept but something that you would expect in a course with this sort of prestige.

They also had a few shared greens, which makes them slightly interesting when you are faced with a putt that is like 60 feet long or something. The breaks are there, but not subtle like Saujana and generally, there wasn’t too much to complain or be in awe of. Functional being the key word.

Rough (3/5)

The rough was tough. Like Mines, any misses from the fairway and you are punishable by a broken wrist. It was devilish difficult to carve any sort of shot from the rough, let it be an iron, or hybrid or wood or anything. You could just pick the ball and throw it and you would probably get more distance. But that’s what a rough should be. So there are no complaints on it.

The bunkers (and there are a huge number of these suckers) were another challenge, and they littered the entire course. While you would think Sungai Long (Long River in English) would have water as its primary hazard, the bunkers were the ones that will befuddle you a little, making hitting the fairway a definite must in this course (unlike the friendly Palm Garden).

Aesthetics (2/5)

If you are looking for an awesome looking course – Sungai Long is not for you. Which is strange. Because Legends was an amazing looking course. Sungai Long looked like its ugly step brother. Then again, you’ll need to give credit to Jack by sticking to the name ‘Sungai Long’ (pronounced Soong-ai Long, not Sun-Guy Long, for our foreign readers). He could have named the course something like Everglade River Course or something but decided to stick with the not so glamorous name of the township. I think he learnt his lesson because Legends (which was designed later) wasn’t named Kampung Kulai Golf Course or something.

But the looks of Sungai Long was simply not amazing. The first tee was a flat looking par 4, and it doesn’t really improve after that. Again, this seems to be a limitation of a course built within a township – like what I wrote about Perak Golf Club etc, because the terrain there is limited, and basically we will need to depend on the designer to make it interesting.

Did Jack do a good job? Honestly I have no idea. We just played the course as we would play any other course and really had no appreciation that it was designed by Jack. It seemed to play normal except for some inordinately long par 4s and bizarrely difficult par 3s. Otherwise, it was normal – not too bad, not exceptionally great. I have a feeling this is a course that requires a few runs at it to have a better appreciation.

Fun Factor (3/5)

As long as we were playing in our normal group, we would probably still have fun playing a bombed out course in Afghanistan. The course itself offered its unique challenge. The first hole gave us hope, because it was fairly easy. The next hole is very long par 5 which would be amazing if you hit in 2. Hole 3,4 and 5 are the 3 headed hydras that completely monkeyed my game. I scored double/triple/double for an index 5-1-3 combo. The long par 3 at index 5 is one of the tough ones, but could be made easier if you bailed out to the fairway on the left. Since we were all neantherdal men who had not evolved too much in our brains, we declared to go for the tough pin position on the right and challenged the water. Obviously I failed miserably with my shot whirling into a wet grave. The index par 4 is actually navigatable. But because at 400 meters you think you need to whip an amazing drive, I ended up slicing it into water on the right (which technically should never come in play). OB left was more normal. The next par 5, at around 515m was a very long and tiring par 5, which I struggled to a double bogey again.

Strangely, Sungai Long is measured at around 6000 meters. That’s actually considered short based on many standards. I was for the first time carrying a slice which was very strange as my shot shape is usually a draw. So imagine the craziness in lining up right to left and your shot goes left to right, or simply a huge push right. I missed most of my fairways but still managed to recover a fair bit.

Another strange thing we had was the interpretation of ‘flower bed’. We get free drops on it, but when asked, the caddies had no idea about how flower bed was defined. So we generally took a liberal view of a flower bed – if it was a bunch of bushes that had flowers in it, it was a flower bed. Not that we hit a lot (I only hit into one flower bed once), but probably with a better caddy, we could understand the course a lot more. It’s actually a poor excuse, but it’s not like this review is going to make it to GolfDigest so who cares.

Hole 9 is a very pretty hole that I put my second near the green using my wood – I hit a terrific drive and still had 170 plus to go and maneuvering a river running across the fairway.

Hole 15 is actually a nice par 5 and like 9, with a river running through the fairway around 300 yards. I flared mine right again but still managed to get back on the fairway and messed up my sand wedge into the bunker. Stupid.

The fairways are slightly tight, so you need to hit them to score better. It’s really not a difficult course I think. Except for the 3 holes that are tough, the rest plays pretty straightforward, which begs the question on why we still cannot score.

The last 3 holes were played in blinding rain. There are no sirens or warnings apparently so we basically just make our own decisions on our lives. We decided to play in the rain and risk being struck by lighting, and our scores basically reflected that. We did take a temporary shelter when it got really, really bad – as in Hurricane Katrina bad — whereby our caddy decided to have a long chat with the course workers, adding to the suspicion that his previous vocation was probably plucking out flower beds on the same course before being promoted to a non-speaking, non-working caddy.


So how did Sungai Long fare?

Well, it’s functional, but unfortunately functional is not good enough for the price they are charging. The fairway has been taking a fair bit of hit, although the rough and greens are reasonably good. The course itself – and here’s where we give a mulligan – I believe we will need 2 or 3 more rounds here before we decide on whether the design is good. Just because it’s the course that Jack built doesn’t give it a free pass for hackers. Otherwise, the rumour on Sungai Long is that it will go down the road of Perangsang and Kajang Hill: the membership is being bought over by a property developer who will be tearing the golf course down in favour of an eco-development that will benefit the entire world and cure World Hunger. All property developers will generally market their products like that. And you can trust property developers as far as you can throw a cement truck. Of course, these rumours are unsubstantiated, but looking at how golf courses in Kajang area are being destroyed, I won’t be too surprised if this rumour turns out true. So I suppose we will put in a few more rounds in there.

The good: Travel is generally favourable and not too deep in the housing area if you can navigate the FOB properly; greens and rough are challenging, if not just slightly average; it’s a quiet course so you typically can blaze through your round pretty good and there’s always great food to eat around there or just down the road at Balakong area; it’s Jack Nicklaus designed.

The bad: Pricing is still too high, even if Jack had a hand in it; the free caddy is horrendous, and the regular caddy wasn’t that great either; the fairways are very underwhelming with a lot of sandy patches and probably a few grades lower than Tropicana or Palm Garden; aesthetically quite average and no real shout out loud holes to remember.

The skinny: 21 of 40 divots (52.5%).  Like all the over priced courses in Malaysia – IOI Palm, Mines etc, if you are going to fork out RM300 per pax for a weekday, its recommended to give it a miss unless you purposely want to set yourself up for a disappointing 4 hours. However, if you have some discounts or a free green fee like us, it’s a no-brainer and it’s a go. As for the caddy,  the only way I would recommend the free version is that you want to test your patience – for instance if you are going to have a child soon and you just want to see how it’s like; or you adopted a puppy and you want to train yourself to control your anger. Or, if you are feeling particularly evil, just go for the free caddy for comedic value. Send him to the other buggy and you will have barrels of laughter over their misfortune.

Sungai Long Golf and Country Club Scorecard

Palm Garden Golf Club



This is Palm Garden Redux.

A few years back, there was a brilliant course around Kajang area called Palm Garden Golf Resort. We gave it a must-play rating, because the pricing was around RM100 for walk-in weekdays, as it was accessible and it was a great conditioned course.

Unfortunately, golf owners being generally filled with greed, they decided to tear down the entire place and rebuild the course, giving it a slightly different name but marking up the price to some stratospheric pricing that it was no longer sustainable for sane golfers anymore.

So how then did we end up here?

Recently a bunch of Gilagolfers got the RHB Infinite Card and with it came all the goodness that golfers deserve – free green fees at Kota Permai, Mines among others, and then Palm Garden Golf Club. With that, Gilagolf had upgraded from hacking courses like Seri Selangor, KGPA and the God-forsaken Bukit Ungguls to playing excellent, overpriced and usually overrated golf courses that in normal circumstance would have a hunter shoot us down with a bullpup sniper rifle. But with the card, we have gone from eating maggi goreng mamak food to caviar at a Michelin Star restaurant. The downside was summarised in a question posed in our group:

“How to go back to play crap courses like that??”

Travel (3/5)

Travel is more or less the same as previously except now the former clubhouse is a dilapidated hovel that is primarily used as a preferred premise for B-Grade local horror movies. What I did was to use the famous Golfer Silk Road (North South Highway) and turn off at Kajang. After the toll, take the turning heading towards Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. Once you are on that highway you just look for the IOI City Mall Putrajaya.

This section of the review should no longer be even considered, now with the ubiquity of Google Maps and WAZE. If any of you are still using the Nokia 5110, well, probably a good direction is found here on their website. It’s pretty poor even by Malaysian Standards, but here it is.

Price (1/5)

The reason why we never ever stepped foot into Palm Garden since it was modified was simple. The rumour was that management had decided to charge a ridiculous rate for hackers, primarily to discourage grave diggers like us and to encourage the more genteel foreigners from Japan, Singapore, US, Korea and any other country that has a stronger currency than Malaysia – which means EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY ON EARTH RIGHT NOW, except for one of the Polynesian island called Kikitawaku, whose citizens use coconuts as the primary form of exchange. Thank you, 1MDB and our Ministry of Finance for caring so much for Malaysia and congratulations for turning the ringgit into something comparable to my son’s diaper after his daily shitting session.

Anyway, here is the rate for new Palm Garden (weekdays – since I assume for weekends, you are probably one of the said foreigners or a Malaysian who is planning to sneak into the course at the risk of being gunned down by a marshal with a bullpup sniper rifle.)

RM280 for Green Fee

RM110 for Buggy

RM80 for Caddy.

Which means for a single human – RM280+RM55+RM40=RM375+GST=RM397.50. Plus roughly RM25 for caddy tips per person = RM420.

That is RM420.

I checked back old Palm Garden and the rate was RM100 ALL-IN. Means buggy, caddy, green fee (of course, not tips).

In all honesty, the good news was that the rumour of Palm Garden charging RM400 green fee for a weekday was of course, false. The bad news was that, Palm Garden New is still no way worth RM400 ALL-IN for a weekday rate. Let’s compare:

KGNS – RM150 weekday greenfee + RM50 caddy + RM42 buggy =RM242. This means all in, KGNS is still cheaper than the GREEN FEE of bloody Palm Garden.

Now if its a really super, crazy Pebble Beach like golf course, then sure. In comparison, green fee at Bethpage Black in New York, home of PGA Majors is around RM280 Green Fee for twillight tee off. Yup. Palm Garden = Bethpage Black. Come on, Palm. From here on, I refer you as Face Palm Garden for stupid rates and pricing. Your course is nice, but it’s no way worth that much. It’s about maybe RM150 – RM180 green fee weekday, to stretch it if you want.

I know – Management looks at us and compare us to beings that is slightly between a centipede and an iguana and generally do not give a crap sh*t about what we think, but Face Palm Garden Golf Course – you are definitely getting a 1 on pricing from us!!

First thoughts

OK – now that we’ve gotten the price rant out of the way, let’s go back doing what we do best. Play bad golf.

The first hole we teed up was a slight dogleg right, blind tee off. It wasn’t a pretty hole, but once we got to the fairway (after one of my few tremedous drive), the thought was – nice. The fairway was like a carpet. It was very good.

Of course, if you were to pay so much, it shouldn’t be so surprising, and after playing Mines for a few weeks, we weren’t so terribly impressed either. I mean, it was good but shouldn’t we have expected that?

The greens as well, I must admit was way better than Mines. Well maintained, and excellent challenges as well.

Service (2/5)

Unfortunately, the caddies we received were extremely poor. At least the one we had was. She seemed very new, very inexperienced, and left us to our own retarded way of reading the greens. I expected her to at least help here and there, but she was slow off the cart to look for balls, and generally did not really find the balls, and we had to all plow in to help each other. A good caddy, now I admit, makes a ridiculous difference. The one I had in my previous 82 at Mines, was like a Caddy God. I think the other caddies probably has his picture on the wall and worship him. His reading was perfect. You think there was a break and he just stands there and says, No boss. Hit straight, trust me, because I am the Caddy God. And he was right.

Palm Garden Caddy was very much like the Tasik Puteri kind of caddies. Slightly slow, no response, no input to the game, does enough but not too much. The bad thing about her was that she almost lost my partner’s pitching wedge. She left it on the green and we all had to wait for her a few holes in front while she retrieved it. Lucky the course was empty!

So, no, sorry, caddies are just poor.

Fairways (5/5)

After such a bad start, the rubber hits the road when we play golf.

And at last, Palm Garden shines. At last.

The fairways were excellent. I would say, similar to Tropicana kind. It’s the type where the ball was simply sitting up, and inviting you to hit your perfect shot (which unfortunately hardly happened).

The undulation of the fairways was also a great challenge as well. Because they allowed buggies into the fairways (surprisingly), the caddy at the back was subjected to extreme conditions as we raced up and down the dunes of Palm Garden like crazy Fast and Furious drivers. This also meant that the ball was either above, below feet, or slanting or sloping, making it a far more challenging experience – though very rewarding once you get it right.

Greens (4/5)

Greens were great. It was much faster than Mines played, and the rolls were excellent.

The breaks for these greens were really really – subtle. It’s almost like Saujana where you think it doesn’t break so much and suddenly it veers 90 degrees and you are like, WTF? Caddy, why the hell didn’t you tell me!!??

Which is why caddies are so important. They need to read for you and none of us got a correct read. None. We were basically just guessing all the way and putting like a bunch of monkeys high on weed. Really. It got to a point of such retardedness that for 3 greens in regulation I hit, I three putted.

These are greens where you go, I will be back to play you again, Suckers.

Rough (3/5)

Rough – not much challenge here. I hit the bunker a few times and it was generally well maintained, and the rough was rewarding as well – you hit it there and it still sits up nicely. Not like Mines, where you are dead meat and you would need a cleaver to get your ball out.

Aesthetics (4/5)

Rolling hills, elevated tee boxes and expansive scenery – these would pretty much sum up Palm Garden Redux. It’s a course where you are definitely glad you took half a day or a full day leave for, or played hookey from work. It’s somewhat similar to the previous Palm Garden, but now, there is less maturity in the course and a lot more ‘expansiveness’ (not expensiveness, though that is also a case). Meaning in some tees, like the last one, you get to view the entire course from the teebox. The 11th Tee Par 4 also has an excellent view.

I guess the only downside of it is the construction buildings happening all around. Like the first hole. I am like, what the heck is this, Bukit Jalil??

However, I am somewhat partial to elevation in a golf course. It gives the course a lot more life, and here are some photos to just capture the essence of Palm Garden a bit.

Fun Factor (5/5)

Palm Garden never lost it.

Sure, they overpriced it, but playing on this course is just fun.

I actually played a lot better than my score suggested. The first hole, I was a Sand Wedge away from the green for my second, and I pullled the devil out of it. I went through a crisis over 3 holes with double, triple and double but mainly because I started shanking the crap out of my irons. I don’t know, I have been shanking a lot lately, so I am not sure how to resolve it. For instance, the best drive I hit was a soaring draw on the 8th, leaving me with a 60 degree pitch to the green. I shanked it way right into the bunker, my third shank of the day. Even my partner shook his head in disbelief and said, WHAT.A.BLOODY.WASTE. Yes. I know.

The backnine steadied somewhat, but was full of missed opportunities. Again, a lot of it was due to bad second shots and a dodgy drive. The best hole was the 16th, which long drivers can really gun for. It’s around 300 meters on paper, but it’s a sloping downhill that if you can catch it perfect, it can hit a slope and run all the way down to the green. No kidding. I hit mine low and with a draw and found myself at the dreaded 30 meter pitch with my 60 degree which I shanked a few times. Luckily I managed to pull it off and hit a perfect pitch to around 5 feet and sank in the birdie.

Again, it was fun. Like Mines, we avoided the excruciating wait for other flights as the entire course was literally empty. We had a great group and great wager going, and after the game had such a ridiculously good lunch at the famouse Dengkil restaurant, we were just drunk with happiness. My next game in Palm, I will take the whole day off instead of half-day.


OK – in conclusion, Palm Garden still retained it’s beauty, charm and fun as previously, if not, even becoming slightly better. The course condition is overall excellent and the fairways are fantastic, but the great letdown of stupid pricing and some poor caddies are really a concern. If you are going to charge premier pricing, you need to be a premier course. The fact is, Palm, you are not. You are just a wanabe, which is what Awana is trying to do (I hear). Please, price yourself slightly lower and don’t be too greedy and money grabbing to local Malaysians who are trying to do our country proud by playing good golf so we can represent Malaysia in Olympics.

The good: Great greens and fairways; the aesthetics are just charming; challenging holes and fun backnine with 3 par 5s and 3 par 3s (like Bangi), and food around the area (Dengkil) is through the roof. Get your favourite flight here and I dare you not to enjoy your game.

The bad: Pricing. My goodness. It’s not worth that much, please. And caddies really really need to improve.

The skinny: 27 of 40 divots (67.5%). Comparing it to the old Palm Garden, it went down a full 10%. It’s still entrenched in the Must Play category of golf courses, alongside KGNS, but it’s now rated lower. The pricing is just irreconciliable. If they remove that obstacle, the course will become more accessible. Then again, for guys like us, we might enjoy it less if shared with 100 other golfers as opposed to just 2 – 3 flights as we did that day.

New Palm Garden Score Card


Horizon Hills GCC


Very few courses actually make it into our most anticipated list of courses to play in. Tropicana. Glenmarie. Templers. RSGC. Saujana. KLGCC of course. In the southern state of Johor, there is one course that’s supposed to rule them all:

Horizon Hills.

I mean the name already evokes awe. The premise of consecutive Iskandar Opens, the place where it’s supposed to be so pristine, that LPGA and PGA golfers would reroute their journeys to come by this little peninsular called Malaysia. Aside from KLGCC, Horizon Hills, near Nusajaya and in turn near the Tuas exit, captures the imagination as the country’s top tiered golf destination.

So, ten of us woke up at 5 am from various locations, to meet the tee off time at 7:22 am, with all other later tee times ‘Taken up’ according to the friendly neighbourhood reception (do note the sarcasm a little).

Travel (2/5)

You’d think that being such an internationally acclaimed golf course, there would be some sense in direction. We came up from Singapore to play and no where near the exit or along the highway exiting Tuas into Johor did we see a sign to Horizon Hills. We had to depend completely on Google Maps. And that turned out wrong, so we had to depend entirely on Garmin, which led us to such a long and circuitious route that our 30 minutes drive turned into a near 1 hour, and we nearly missed the cursed tee time.

More signs would be nice, Horizon Hills, really.

Price (1/5)

Again, I understand the prestige, and the need to draw more money from our Singaporean brethrens of clubs; so we were willing to fork out RM146 per person to play on the course. Never mind it’s a weekday, off peak. Never mind that we had the Top Premier voucher discounts. Never mind that we were forced to take up caddies whom we did not want. It was all worth it, since this was KLGCC of the south, was it not? This was the Pearl of Johor, right?

With that premise, you would straight away have a forebiding feeling that Horizon Hills, instead of soaring to greater heights and exceed all our lofty and admittedly at times, unrealistic expectations—oh how I wish I could have stated it—Horizon Hills instead descends into one of the most inglorious, most ignominious and most underwhelming experience that we ever had in a long long time. If you are in a hurry and you are not interested to read further, here’s our verdict: Is Horizon Hills worth the money you pay for?

Yes it is, just like how it’s worth every penny to pay RM1 million to eat dried cow shit bred specifically to ingest every sort of parasitical worms into your body, which will destroy your intestines through the most painful and excruciating death possible.

That’s sarcasm. Truth is, simply: No.

First thoughts

It didn’t start out too badly actually. From the second nine, when you stare out from an elevated tee with water on the right and a thin strip of fairway, you could just feel the stirring in your veins that you’re going to have a good game. ‘Could’ being the key word, because I didn’t, and proceeded to hack my drive way out into the water right before collapsing into a triple bogey start. I hate those starts. But I don’t blame the course, it’s simply my inability to get to any kind of comfortable start in golf.

The first impression of Horizon Hills was good, because like Bukit Jawi, from the club house, it offers a great vista of the journey you will undertake in the next four hours. Plus, the clubhouse looked as it it belonged to a James Bond flick, with expensive fittings and a state of the art design. It’s a pity we are not reviewing golf clubhouse architecture, Horizon Hills, I’m sure you would be in the DAGTH status if so. Which makes me wonder, why in blue blazes was so much money spent on the club house? Why not put more into maintaining the golf course instead? It must have been a non-golfing senior management idiot that made that decision.

Service (3/5)

I am quite tempted to give it lower since the caddies we had were practically useless. I mean we ask for reads and they didn’t get it right. They were friendly, yes, but unfortunately woefully underequipped for the price we paid for them. We didn’t pay them to converse. And why oh why do caddies insist on flirting?? Are we that awesome looking with our six pack abs and bulging muscles? We paid them so they make us into golfing machines that would go all out to secure the testy win that will win us RM2!! Maybe we just didn’t get the A grade caddies. Maybe we just looked like cheap Malaysians instead of high class Singaporeans who would tip them SGD40 instead of RM40.

However, the reception lady, although somewhat grumpy, was quick and the lady was friendly, and got us course bound in no time. Plus, the golf bag handling guy was also understanding when we had a mix up with our bags at the end. So a mediocre 3/5.

Fairways (0/5)

And here’s what the trouble starts. Horizon Hills, if you are going to look like a high class course, price like a high class course; why on earth does your fairway resemble the rearend of an African Babboon?? One word for Horizon Hills fairway on December 2011:


2nd hole for instance, we saw track marks and mud all across the fairway so much so that we had to implement lift and clean…and it didn’t even freaking rain the day before! Come on! I mean it’s not all bad, as in Selesa Hills bad; but for a five-star course to have this kind of fairway is simply unacceptable. The maintenance guy should be dried out for this. It’s like, if I was backpacking and stayed at a Rm10 per night hostel next to a whorehouse, I wouldn’t complain too much about the bed bugs, the rats, the lizards on the ceiling and the occasional corpse in the closet: but imagine you went and paid for the Mandarin, or Hilton, and you get a bed that’s only slightly more comfortable than a coffin; you’d sure to go barnacles, right? You’d complain! You’d not tolerate that you have cockroaches running around the bathroom!

So why isn’t anyone screaming foulplay over Horizon Hills? Charging the way they did and giving us an experience that we could as soon find in the football field behind my house, where the occasional rusted nails and used underwear can be found near the goal post?? And the gall of it all, was when the grumpy registration lady (to do her justice, I believe she was just completely clueless) proudly declared, when I gave my customary complain of ‘wah, so expensive’: “We are increasing all prices next year for Horizon Hills!”

You’d think this is based on actual studies of product development, but no, it’s probably on the whim of some higher ups, who completes the above sentence with “Because I want to drive a new Audi A7 next year also!”

Huge huge, utter disappointment for Horizon Hills fairway and maintenance. They should have given a discount, an I-am-sorry voucher for having a course that has muddy fairways, thank you, come again.

Greens (3/5)

The greens were thankfully in a reasonable shape. The speed was about 9 on the stimp but strangely played slower than that. But overall the roll was quite pure and the challenging contours and largeness of the greens created some good challenges reminiscent of KRTU. In fact, it boiled down to the final green for my team, when my team mate’s game exploded into undetectable pieces and I struggled to a bogey. With all the stakes on the line, my two opponents were already 3 on. Both lag putted their 4th to 3 and 4 feet respectively and I was about to throw in the towel.

But the blessed contours of Horizon Hills green first made the initial putt veer right, and the 3 footer knee knocker molested the edge of the cup before turning away…giving my team the win! Due to unforced errors. But the green was quite demanding, with lots of precision lags, and 3-4 footers of non-gimmes. Lots of par opportunities slip by but we were generally pleased with the development of the greens.

Rough (3/5)

One of the greatest challenges and aspects of Horizon Hills isn’t the greens or the cowdung fairway; it would be the rough and bunkers. It was just a torture to play on. I was driving the ball as well as I could ever drive, but very often, I either run through the fairway or it lands just off the fairway. There’s no first, second cut. Just fairway, and deep deep rough. I had to literally play the ball off the heel of my right, and power a hook to get it out of the stuff. It was no joke, really, I nearly snapped my wrist at one point to muscle the ball throught the thick stuff. This was the pitbull grass, so much feared and revered through Saujana, that has somehow ended up here.

And that wasn’t even the end of it: Bunkers. EVERYWHRE. This course had more bunkers than the Omaha Beach did on D-Day. Believe me, these were not the nampy pampy bunkers we get back at KL areas, where you could put of it. These were SARLAC bunkers, where once you get in, you ain’t ever going to get out without luck and skill. My triple bogeys aside from the first hole were bunker experiences. At one hole, my drive again flew the fairway and into squishy rough next to the buggy track. I powered my 9 iron through on line and fell literally 1 meter short in flight and rolled back into one of the hungry SARLAC bunkers. Third shot into the edge. Fourth shot didn’t come out. Shot five came out only a little. It was crazy to see a guy hacking dirt into the green but no ball, it was that difficult.

The reason why the score isn’t high is the lack of maintenance on the rough. At some parts they were muddy beyond belief. They were unplayable and we had to take free drops in dry areas. Again, it’s such a pity because Horizon Hills could  have offered an amazing and memorable experience, but instead fizzled out like a moon traveler firework.

Aesthetics (2/5)

Again, I would love to say Horizon Hills is an exciting, beautiful golf course and that everyone that comes here would be overawed. I am a firm believer that the golfing experience must take golfers out of the current mundane world we all live in, and transport them into 4 hours of forgetful bliss from work or any reminder of work. That’s why Datai, not just being a jungle course, but a course that provides that escapism, can score so high.

Horizon Hills tries. The first nine (back nine) was reasonable enough with good mixture of nature and functional golf. But from hole 12 onwards, we could just sense the construction going around the course. Make the turn and all the illusions of escapism is gone. The sky line of Horizon Hills is reprehensible. Houses being built by the course, in hole 1, the constant banging and shouting of workers and machinery at work as you putt on the first green. And from there, every hole, almost, houses staring vigil at us hacking up the beloved game of golf. It descended from a KLGCC wannabe to a Bukit Jalil replica. And we don’t like it one bit. Especially since it exthorted money from us the way it did.

Disappointing backdrop to an otherwise reasonable looking course. But really, the house development simply takes away the experience of golfing. It’s just not great to survey the hole from the tee box and have the caddie say, “Target the crane.” As in construction crane, not the nature bird-crane, you know.

Fun Factor (3/5)

Horizon Hills do have some fun holes. Be on your A-Game to tackle the par 5s, expecially the closing and snaking 18th. It has to be the grandest and toughest hole in the entire course. There are islands of landing spots meandering across the lake. The first one on the left, and the second landing spot to the right has a rivulet cutting across, requiring a 230 meter carry, according to the caddy. I borrowed my friend’s R11, and whiplash it across, as did my other friend. Unfortunately, those were our test balls, having already played safe to tee off at the nearest landing spot. We all proceeded to completely unwind in this par 5, and everyone ended up in the water somehow or another.

The fun factor is always there when you have two or more flights and friends just jabbing at each other. There’s a lot of thrash talking going on which I like, and even though the stakes weren’t big, our pride was more than enough for us to become ultra competitive.

Horizon Hills is very contoured,  with the water easier to navigate compared to the awesome Legends Golf Course with all the mass of water around the course. Horizon’s main defence lies in the Sarlac Bunkers. Every bunker is a freaking adventure, and many of our challenges today and assault on the greens were rudely halted by one of the sarlac bunkers dotting the entire course and messing around with our minds. I tried my SW, my Approach wedge, my 60 degree, my chipping 40 degree and still struggled to get anything out of these bunkers. Thankfully I didn’t spend a lot of time in it…the time I spent in there was severely penalized, unfortunately. Some of my other friends had a better time however, including one guy who had a miracle bunker out to 1 feet on a crucial hole.

It was a fun time indeed, and the weather held up it’s end of the bargain by only raining after our game. The only drawback was just the fairway condition, which is absolutely inexcusable for a course of this magnitude.


I will struggle to outright recommend this course to Gilagolfers. Simply due to the price. If you can tag this down to RM100 or below for an offpeak rate, then it would be reasonable. But at RM150 almost, adding the caddie tips, and with no food voucher? You can play Orchard 5 times for this amount and you’re likely going to have more fun there! So unless they discount their prices, or give pristine fairways and not the cowdung they have pieced together so far, I’d say stay away from Horizon Hills, it ain’t worth your money or time. Better go over to Johor Premium Outlet to shop than to waste your hard-earned money on a course that is obviously living off its reputation, but doing nothing to fulfil the same reputation.

The good:Famed golf course, challenging rough and bunkers; countours on greens and fairways offers a very unique gameplay; good looking clubhouse and reasonable service.

The bad: Completely overpriced; the fairways are one of the worst I’ve seen, and this includes fairways on UPM, which doubles up for cows to eat from and shit in; caddie services have no value other than looking like they think they are pretty (they are NOT); travel remains a drag; aestethically more of a Bukit Jalil than a KLGCC.

The skinny: 17 of 40 divots (42.5%). It’s unbelievable that Horizon Hills can only muster up a sorry score the same as these hall of famers: UPM, Kulim, Harvard, Cameron Highlands. Like Glenmarie, Horizon Hills fails to impress and is one of this years’ most disappointing golf course and golf experience. In fact, Daiman, Palm Resort, Palm Villa are all more recommended than this orverpriced and overhype piece of…course. It’s a no-go as far as I’m concerned, but the potential is there if they buck up on their service and maintenance. Maybe try again in dry season next year and don’t expect so much. Don’t expect caviar and lobster termidor, just burger and fries, and you’ll be ok then.

Horizon Hills GCC ScoreCard

Horizon Hills Details

Address: No. 1 Jalan Eka, Horizon Hills, 79100 Nusajaya, Johor Darul Takzim

Contact: +607-2323166

Fax: +607-2323919



IOI Palm Villa – IOI & Putra


I recall in our previous adventure in Johor, we totally got mixed up with Palm Resort Allamanda and IOI Palm Villa. Apparently, naming originality isn’t one of Johor golf clubs’ brightest points. So this time, in our annual pilgrimage to Johor (while the wives battle it out in their Singapore Shopping Spree), we made sure that we will get to IOI Palm Villa Golf, and not another random, similar sounding golf club.

Travel (3/5)

Travel is very simple to IOI Palm Villa. It’s a lot easier to access than the horrendous Legends, or as we will see later, the utterly confusing Horizon Hills.

You can exit at the Kulai exit coming down from KL and go through the familiar Kelapa Sawit township until you hit Kulai. Go pass Kulai till you see a ramp going up that says IOI Palm Villa Golf Resort. Just follow up the ramp and go along till you see a right turn. Compared to Legends, this is a cakewalk.

Price (4/5)

We used the top premier voucher and paid RM43 for our game. Now, this is a great price, not the cheapest, however. There is a golf course called Orchard golf in Kulai that goes to the tune of RM36 per person, which comes to about SGD15, or more or less USD10, or better still, 8 British Pounds. But at RM43, it’s a good price to pay for a reasonable golf course that’s easy to access from Singapore, and that doesn’t force you to drive deep into the palm oil plantation just to tee up.

First thoughts

Wide. That’s what we thought. We didn’t have any knowledge of this course at all, save for the fact that we had wanted to play it for some time. The first tee is a slight dogleg left, with plenty of bailout on the right of the fairway. The second thought comes as flat. You could see adjoining holes in a flat terrain in what used to be a palm oil plantation ground, and there was nothing special about it. But of course, with memories of another IOI golf course, which seem to be a lot better than the Berjaya Junk Courses, we hope this would match up with the now-decrepit and non-existent  IOI Palm Garden. (Why all the Palms?? In case you are a foreigner wondering if these Palms mean the nice ‘Palms’ you see in a desert oasis, I hate to be the bearer of truth, ‘Palm’ in Malaysian colloquy  means Palm Oil trees. Which is a huge difference in terms of looks. Like between Sophie Marceu and an iguana.

Service (3/5)

Again, I can’t comment a whole lot, but they got us to the course quick enough, which is always a good thing and although we didn’t get to play on the first and second nine, we were forced to play on the 3rd nine (IOI course). Now I know the mantra to never play on the 3rd nine as it generally represents the hideous cousin of the first and second: but we were honestly very surprised at the condition of the course on the 3rd nine. Basically, they didn’t even force any caddies on us, so we’re giving this a fair 3/5.

Fairways (2/5)

The fairways suffered a little from the rain, but it was generally in a fair condition. Strangely, the Putra nine seems a little more worse for the wear compared to the usually neglected 3rd nine. The problem with the fairways was simply that some of the grass was not cut, leaving the ball in an oftentimes awkward position of being embedded amongst long grass even on the fairway. Other than that, the fairways are wide and inviting, encouraging you to rip it as hard as you could. Unfortunately I was just having a horrendous time with my drives and constantly pulled or duck hooked my way through the game. I hate it when this happens, and why oh why must it always always occur when I’ve travelled half my country to play in Johor??!?!

Greens (1/5)

Horrible greens. With one look, we knew this was no IOI Palm Garden. This was the ugly stepsister. This was the Elphapa, the ugly half of the good witch. I mean one or two sandy greens could be tolerated, but almost all? Patches of sand as well as maintenance turf made it nearly impossible to putt across, and this really took the fun out of the game in many instances.

Rough (1/5)

Complementing the greens in horrendousity, would be the rough, specifically the bunkers. It didn’t rain on the day we played, so it must have rained the day before, but still, that gives plenty of time for the drainage to get to work. NOT. Some of the bunkers were turned into swimming pool, and in one hole, the par 3 8th of the Putra Course, my partner hit the greenside bunker and he had to leave his ball in there because there was no way to get it without removing his shoes and waddling in! Ridiculous. And this was not a one off problem, several crucial bunkers were just left stagnant with water, breeding aedes mosquitoes and infecting golfers with dengue. Come on, Palm Villa, fix your drainage please.

Aesthetics (2/5)

Here’s what you can do: dig up Bukit Kemuning, transport it hundreds of miles south and plonk it into IOI Palm Villa and you’ll see essentially the similar course. Wide open fairways, flat as an airport runway, and aesthetically emasculated, with just palm trees (iguana palm oil trees, not Sophie Marceau trees, please) dotting the landscape. It might be a welcome sight for hackers, or even for me, the way I was hooking the ball, but it’s not anything special at all, and no holes really jump out at you and makes you go, wow, not bad, I like this course! If you’re here to just play functional golf, then Palm Villa is good, if you expect something that looks like IOI Palm Garden, or even the butthole of IOI Palm Garden, I’m afraid you’ll be a little disappointed. Nothing special looking at all.

Fun Factor (3/5)

Now it might not be a beauty to look at, but like Bukit Kemuning, you can have loads of fun at Palm villa, simply because of the generosity of the fairway. The greens and bunkers really take you out of the instance though, so a mediocre rating here would be fair. We weren’t playing very well, but yet managed to shoot a decent score, which underline the forgiveness of this course, and it might be a very attractive option for beginners, or hacks like me who doesn’t understand the term ‘Course management’ or ‘play it safe’. We go by the rule of ‘let’s hit the most expensive club in the bag’ or ‘let’s hit the loudest sounding club in the bag so it makes us look professional’. Nice.

One instance did occur when we made the turn into IOI course, the third nine. We waited for a while for two guys to play ahead of us, intending for them to ask us to join them. They were playing a little slow, and you could see there was guy A, who was teaching guy B. And we recognized these boys from Singapore, as they took the same route as us out, and drove a Singaporean car. When they were moving away, my first drive took a huge bounce on the road and must have landed somewhat near where they were, but they have already driven off. We played the hole normal, and my friend accidentally overkilled his third shot into the green and yet again took a big bounce on the buggy track and landed near the next tee box, where these Singaporeans were. Mine was on the green in 3.

As my friend approached them, the guy A started saying:

“Is this your ball?”


“Young man, do you know that you are playing a very dangerous game? Can’t you see we are in front of you?? Play the game as it’s meant to be played! OK!”

“OK, sorry…”

“Look, I give you first warning. One Warning. No more after this! One warning!”

“OK sorry….” He picks up the ball and prepares to go away.

“You won’t be sorry if you do it again, I tell you. One warning! You better be careful, ah! I’ll make sure you won’t be saying sorry if you do this again. Listen, one warning, I tell you!”

He makes a threatening gesture, with one finger raised, his voice getting louder and louder.

I was observing from the buggy, about to get my putter to putt, and I got so tired of this jackass riding my friend over one mistake and kept repeating like a paralyzed llama ‘One warning…” that I yelled at him, “OK, uncle, sorry already, play on! Don’t waste time! Don’t get angry, just play on, move!!”

“You won’t be saying sorry anymore if you do this again!”

At this point, I was ready to unload my new packet of 20 golf balls into his throat. I mean, how many freaking times does he want us to say sorry? And why the he*l does he keep repeating himself by saying one warning, when he’s obviously giving more than one freaking, stupid warning? It was a good thing he drove off after that, and when my friend came back to me, I asked, “Is he an old twit or what?”

“No, he’s only slightly older than we are.”

In disbelief, I looked on as the Singaporean drove away.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not denying we made a mistake. But the ball bounced on the cart path, for goodness sake, it didn’t land into your thick skull and caused a brain fracture, which I’d say would do wonders to you since you can’t freaking count anyway. And we said sorry. We were even ready to buy him a drink. The initial reaction of anger is OK. We are all sorry for that incident.

His reaction was as if we strapped his entire family onto the railway track and let the MRT rolled over all of them, and on top of that set up a bomb to desecrate his entire ancestoral tombs. Now, I have loads of good Singaporean friends, and I suppose a few of them also read this blog; but seriously, it’s jackasses like this twat who gives Singaporeans such a bad name and get stereotyped as guys high on testosterone walking around with their colon pulled out of of their butt and strangling around their neck. I’m certain 99% of Singaporean blokes are good dudes, and would not hesitate to just kick the crap out of this jackanape who had just embarrassed your entire nation.

Doesn’t he realize that he’s a good 60 km into Johor, land of Malaysia, home of people who have high tolerance for everything except idiotic golfers from Singapore who acts like they have their colon yanked out of their a*se and strangling their neck? Doesn’t he realize that we could have been Johor thugs who would have murdered him there and dump his body in the palm oil estate and no one would have missed him one bit? Come on!

We were wrong, he had the right to be angry. Shake hands, play ball. If you want, jug is on us, and let’s share our war stories. But let’s leave it as that. Are you crazy to go threatening two Malaysians in their own country? Is he on crazy pills?? His friend didn’t even squeak a word, probably out of embarrassment of playing with a guy with PMS and too much estrogen mixed into his system or he had the right idea that he could have been killed then and there by two Malaysian thugs pretending to be very good golfers.


IOI Palm Garden’s saving grace is the RM43 with Top Premier Voucher. They will struggle to keep up the crowd if their greens continue to suck and their bunkers represent African Wildebeeste waterholes, but the course show good promises with maintenance on the fairway, a very forgiving gameplay and bailout areas for the beginners or the serial hooker, like yours truly.

The good: Price is hard to beat for a gameplay given like this; wide and flat, reminiscent of Bukit Kemuning; fairways are having good prospect to become better; drive and travel is quite straightforward and accessible from Singapore; 27 holes gives plenty of opportunity of different gameplays and speed of play.

The bad: Horrendous bunkers that are unplayable and has zero drainage; terrible greens that are sandy and bumpy; flat aesthetics might not appeal to some, unmemorable holes; risk of running into crazy Singaporeans who want to pick a fight with Malaysians, and who stroll about with their entire colon scarfed around their neck.

The skinny: 19 of 40 divots (47.5%). You really can’t go too wrong with IOI Palm Villa, if you’re around the Kulai area. Legends is nearby, but it’s more difficult. Orchard is also within reach and is also an option but this is a great course for you to start hunting in golf, and save your precious golf balls. Beware of the water bunkers and sandy greens, however, but for RM43, I don’t think there’s any cause for too vehement of complaints. Recommended a go for this!

Palm Villa IOI ScoreCard

Palm Villa IOI Details

Address: PTD 44500 Jalan Indah Utama ,Bandar Putra , 8100 Kulai

Contact: +607-5999099

Fax: +607-5988101


Email: NA

A Famosa Golf Resort – Rockies & Palm


Finally, A Famosa. I’ve played there several times actually, but for some dang reason, never got down to writing a review about it. I don’t know why…it has always been one of the better experiences that I’ve had, and in early November, a gila band went over to this Melaka course to hack and review. This is the story.

Travel ( 3/5)

Among all the Melaka courses, A Famosa is one of the most accessible ones. I am obviously extremely biased to the northern folks like me who have to travel south into Melaka. For the Johor flers and Singaporeans, well, you’ll need to drive up further, because A Famosa is right near the border of Negeri Sembilan and Melaka, making it only about 1 and a half hour away…it’s like traveling to Lembah Beringin and back. In fact, it’s about 30 plus km away from Air Keroh, that houses the other 3 courses in Melaka. So, all in all, A Famosa is definitely favoured.

Coming from KL, it’s extremely easy to access. It’s the golf course right next to the highway, and travelers en route to Singapore will often look wistfully at the course from the north south highway, wishing for a one day stop before being corralled by the wife in the maze of Singapore shopping centres.

Exit at the Simpang Empat turnoff, or it does say A-Famosa, so go for it. Once off the toll, take a left and then another left at Jalan Kamus, after the petrol station. Then just go all the way, under the highway and look out for a sign that says A-Famosa. There you have it, you’ve reached it.

Price ( 2/5)

Price wise, we had a bit of promotion. I bought a bunch of vouchers from the MATTA fair that came with a villa for us to stay (more on that later). With the promotion, it was RM20 for the green fee. But wait for it, RM90 for the buggy. Yikes! So it’s RM45 + RM20, and RM30 for the caddie, shared. So per person, on a week day, we paid RM80. Plus tips of RM15 per pax, it came up to about RM95 total.

I only paid RM40 with voucher for Tiara Melaka and the experience was about the same.

A-Famosa’s price is definitely not cheap, but is it worth it? We’ll see.

First thoughts

A Famosa is famous for another thing: Crocodiles. In Malay, it’s called ‘Buaya’. It’s also a slang in golf. To call someone a Buaya is to call him a Hustler. Golfers are a strange lot. There are some who gives the impression that they play worse than your grandmother, and then fishes you a few holes until you up the stake to take advantage of this grandmother, and he finishes you off from there. Buayas always leave it to subtlety…they will beat you by a stroke, or by making an impossible shot, but they will Always. Beat. You.

So anyways, those are the human buayas. A Famosa actually houses a bunch of crocodiles on Hole 7, Crocodile Nine. In fact, it became infamous when a story circulated around that one of the golfers was suing A Famosa after being attacked by a croc. As you can imagine, to all Crocodile Dundee Fans, this was a boon to us, so when I made my way there (not this time, my previous time) I expected to have alligator meat for dinner.

True there are crocs there, but they are all in a deep enclosure just beyond the green, and there was no one on earth a croc could escape unless it flew. Yet, according to the report here:, this man was assaulted by one of the man eating crocodiles. I don’t know how it is possible, but as a golfer to a golfer, we are more than happy to take money from golf clubs…and RM43k can certainly buy you a lot of golf clubs and games! And it’s pretty obvious from the picture, that Hong (the victim) is still playing golf, judging by his clothes (he probably just finished a round) and by the unnatural darkness of our natural Chinese yellow skin.

Whether what really happened was true or not, I’ll need to commend Hong for the herculean feat of ‘prying’ the crocodile’s mouth open with his hands. I don’t think it’s a croc, because a Croc’s bite force is 83% of the bite force of a full grown Tyranasaurous Rex. If Hong can escape from 2 tons of bite force, he is Super-Man. But an Alligator is still half the bite force of a croc, at 2000 pounds-force, which is roughly 7 times the bite force of a full grown, crazy, rabid Rottweiler Hound. Hong is Cicak Man, definitely. He must be driving the ball 400 meters of something.

Anyway, congratulations to Hong for the win in court settlement…we’ll see if A Famosa suffered for losing RM40K by not maintaining their course.

Service ( 2/5)

The problem in many cases for Malaysian golf is simply this: Our service SUCK. There’s no two ways about it. First, finding the villa was crazy. We thought we need to register at the villa right? So we drove around looking for signs to lead us, and found none. We asked a guard, he said register at the clubhouse. We drive all the way back (in a convoy mind you), and the club house says, no, you go to the villa and register. I mean, who trains these guys?

Caddies? Sigh. I love Melaka, but their caddies in all the clubs are just crazy useless. First, we were forced to take two caddies per flight. TWO! WHY?? Why force us when we don’t want?? If they were good, we won’t mind. The tubby one we got was functional, but her reading was completely off. It was just ridiculously bad. After a few times, we gave up and just asked her to clean the clubs. The other caddy was even worse. She must think she was very desirable, because all she did was complain, about us getting her to go back and fetch clubs, or look for ball etc…the fact was she had looks of a mongoose and we were this close to clubbing her and dumping her body into a bunker.

Why do we pay for these hopeless caddies? Is it to recover back the RM40K that Hong won? Can you share the winnings, Hong?

Fairways ( 2/5)

For the price we paid, the fairways were not in a good shape. In some parts, especially the par 5 4th, the baldness of the fairway was very obvious and compared to Tiara Melaka, which had a mat like fairway that day, this was just an insult.  Justifiably, some fairways were still ok, but not good enough to get out of a pathetic 2/5divots.

Greens ( 3/5)

Our games in Melaka started at Tiara Melaka: Super fast greens. Then Orna: OK greens. A Famosa: SUPER SLOW. I don’t know why. I’d like to think it’s because of the morning dew. Or maybe we didn’t really eat breakfast, but throughout the game, it was just slow slow slow. It’s not a bad thing in itself, no, but the condition of the greens were also mediocre, so we’re giving it an ok rating here.

Rough ( 2/5)

The rough wasn’t really kept properly. An unnatural amount of leaves seemed to have descended upon the entire course, and especially the back nine we played on, was spent simply looking for balls that meandered just a little bit off line. Bunkers were the normal Malaysian style, hard packed bunkers…the ones you used either your PW or your LW to whack out, instead of your sand-wedge.

Aesthetics ( 4/5)

If there’s one thing that Hong didn’t take away from A-Famosa with the 40K, it’s the looks. Crocodile nine was unfortunately closed, so we ended up playing on the Rockies and also the Palm. We kicked it off at the Palm and immediately faced with the daunting task of water left, bunkers right. It’s a tough tee off for sure, and with the adjacent 9 hole green, flights teeing up on the other nine would be scrutinized closely at their tee off by busybody putters on the ninth. The palm course is actually very pretty. It’s a pity my game was not. After tripling the relatively easy 11th by losing my ball, I parred the elevated 12th hole and then descended into such darkness that I have never seen before. 13th, 14th and 15th went by in a blur as I dumped into water on the picturesque and challenging 13th, where a good drive requires a ballsy 2nd shot into a green fronted by water; I continued to mess up 14th when a pitch out went into the woods, and messed up the 15th with some amazingly retarded display of a golf swing. I didn’t really get to enjoy the scenery but the par 5 17th is worth a look. A good drive over the hill and you see a tempting elevated green just opening up for you to try it on. If you slice it, you’ll be out in the open road, you pull it, and the heavy rough and trees on the left will swallow it. Certainly an interesting hole.

The last hole in the palm course is a hooker’s nightmare, reminiscent of hole 1. The approach to the green narrows down like a constipated colon, with greenside bunkers waiting impatiently for you to deposit one in, left, right, back.

The Rockies Nine starts with a dangerous par 4. If you drive too long, it rolls down into a meandering drain that splits the fairway. But I don’t think it warrants an index 1 rating, it’s not too tough. I blasted a good one, right to the edge, and an 8 iron in to set up my par. The 2nd hole is a tough par 3, elevated to about 180 meters. The par 5 4th is the one you see from the north south highway, and it’s just long. It’s like the evil twin of the par 5 17th (in fact, both come to you at 524 meters!), and almost set up the same…a drive over the hill, and from there a good look down to a generous fairway and to an accessible green. It’s also a picturesque hole on the course, with nice villas next to it, no doubt collecting wild golf balls every day in their back yard.

The index 3 5th should be the index 1. It’s just an horrifying looking hole, similar to 1 and 9 on Palm, but with an even thinner slip of fairway. Here was where I was sunk, after playing only +1 over 7 holes, I dipped into the water enroute to a double.

The final hole is a fitting end, a drive over a pond and to a very steep uphill green. It’s a tough hole to end, but still a very satisfying golf course. Now if only we can get rid of the annoying caddies.

Fun Factor ( 4/5)

No matter the lousy service or retarded pricing, A Famosa is fun to play. The course set up isn’t extremely excruciating, and it has enough character in every hole to keep things interesting. The undulating fairways aren’t unfamiliar to us, having played Orna the day before, but it has enough elevation in different holes to keep things interesting.

The front nine on palm was nightmarish for me however, but I was just in awe at a good friend of mine who switched to an R11, and completely obliterated the crap out of his golf balls. As in, hole 15, 393 meters, UPHILL, across a pond. He blasted it, cut the pond and get this, the ball was 90 meters away from the green. My good drive still had 160 or so to go. The next hole, he created a hole in the space time continuum after ripping apart his golf ball to—honestly, I was checking the distance markers—the 200 marker, on the 520meter par 5. I mean, he knocked it past the huge ROCK. I don’t know, A Famosa members, it’s awful far. I’m getting that for Christmas. Not the rock. The driver.

I suppose due to the undulations, depending on where the ball lands, it can probably add another couple of tens of meters forward, but you still can’t take away a good drive. For some reason, he drove like a Maserati but putt-putt-putted on the green like a Proton. So overall, it all balanced out.

Myself, the streakiness continues. +13 over first 6 holes. +1 over the next 7. I am just playing horrible in my first 5 holes for the past few games. Then I would inexplicably streak off 3 or more pars in the row before descending into the world of crap golf again. Sigh.


A famosa, with 3 nice nines is definitely worth a go. Palm is slightly prettier in my opinion but hookers will struggle a little, as evidenced in my hooking game. Both nines are reasonably open, and the Crocodile has the novelty of playing with the crocs, I’m sure every golfer will want to have a go with that. Distance wise, it’s not too bad…if you’re thinking of going to that devil of a course Seremban 3 Paradise Valley, I’d advice to suck it up and spend a few more minutes on the highway to head over to A Famosa. The service and caddy (unfortunately a normality in Malaysia) is still as good as a POW camp, and the price is still an evidence of the complete misdirection of their management; but overall A Famosa is a reasonably good bet for enjoyable golf. Now, if only they would also pay me RM40K for writing a nice review for them.

The good: Nearest of all the Melaka courses to KL; located right next to the highway is a good point; nice food around Seremban on the way back (this suddenly came to mind and became a very important factor); the course setup is interesting enough; Crocodile novelty for those who have never putted next to a real croc before.

The bad: Pricing is not very attractive, especially when you force buggies and unattractive, lazy caddies onto the flight; the services, while not abysmal, isn’t what you would expect from a quality golf club; the course condition wasn’t spectacular either; nice aesthetics; crocodile can bite your leg. Unless you are the Cicak Man. Then it becomes a good thing.

The skinny: 22 of 40 divots (55.0%). A Famosa could have been a lot better in the gila ranks, as it is, they just scrape in as a Not Too Shabby course, with plenty of room for improvement. I’d say go for it, but if price isn’t your thing, might just want to head to Tiara Melaka.

A Famosa ScoreCard

A Famosa Information


Jalan Kemus, Simpang empat,

78000 Alor Gajah, Melaka, Malaysia

Contact: +606-552 0888

Fax: NA



There’s something about Kajang Hill

I know it sounds a little presumptuous to say that there are courses that “doesn’t quite fit our eye.” That expression was made famous by a dude called Martin Kaymer when describing the hallowed Augusta, drawing universal derision from all sectors, including his own mother. Augusta doesn’t fit the eye?? It’s like a full blooded male saying, “Scarlett Johansson  doesn’t really fit my eye. I think Caesar from the Planet of the Apes is heck prettier.” But you know, whatever Martin’s inclination is, that’s personal. The fact is, he has the right to say those things because, ummm, he’s good. He’s not great, but he’s a lot better than me or my respected readers…no offense.

Where as for us, Hackers, to say something doesn’t fit the eye is even more ridiculous, because (speaking for myself), I suck at this game. I don’t have a consistent swing or a predictable ball flight, or even a guarantee that I would be able to hit the dang ball…there is no way a course set up has any inkling to my game, because at times it flies left, at times it flies right, at times it doesnt make past the red tees.

But if I were to say a course that doesn’t ‘fit my cock-eye’, it’d be Kajang Hill. I don’t know what about it…I just suck more than usual playing this course!

We teed up on the first nine and I actually played very well…aside from starting the 3 holes like a monkey, I know why: The first hole, a good drive saw my ball plugged into the rough. Playing competition, no way I could get it out. Double. Second hole, pull near the trees. Instead of being in the bunker or at least on the ground…it was literally perched on the roots! It took 3 shots to get out!

The back nine…Oh gosh. I was 11 over 4 holes. I OB-ed the first 3 holes with massive pulls, and almost OB-ed the fourth when my ball was stuck under the ledge in a bunker. WHAT THE…after that, I played good golf, but my gosh, what a string of lousy first 3 holes in my nines!

And this is not the first time. Previous adventures in Kajang Hill yielded the same result…white tee, blue tee no difference. Blue I struggle with the length. White, I struggle with the accuracy, constantly blasting my ball over the fairway OB.

I’m not saying Kajang Hill sucks. It doesn’t…but it’s slowly degrading since nobody bothers about maitenance. It’s closing down end of this year due to housing development I believe. What a crap-shoot. I need to play one more time here to redeem my pride!

Puasa Gilanalysis 26 – 33

Due to the puasa month, it was perhaps the most golf I’ve managed to played in years, including two tournaments, which I didn’t do too well. Here we go:

Gilanalysis 26: Rahman Putra

I hardly have any good outings in a course that I have been playing since 2005, and in all my games in the championship course, I don’t recall anytime that I broke a 90. Again, it was not to be, but having played an iffy front nine filled with bogeys, the back nine of 44 was a welcome sight.

Gilanalysis 27: Impian

It’s annoying when the game doesn’t come together after a good outing. I started very badly on the back nine, thanks to atrocious putting, which plagued me the entire game, with six three putted greens and 3-4 feet misses at least on 3 occasions. The course was great, the game was a wreck, even 5 pars couldn’t save it.

Gilanalysis 28: Danau

The mallet putter came back in play and was immediately proficient in Danau’s undulating greens, with just 30 putts. Played Danau’s familiar and easier back nine without any major issues, but the front nine was horrible. The first hole itself was a lost cause, with two balls into the drink. The second hole was perhaps the finest par I have, having landed my drive down into the valley of death on the right, and a SW onto the green.

Gilanalysis 29: Glenmarie Valley

Took Advantage of the great pricing at Glenmarie at RM80, and played the valley, where previous score had soared to 102. Teed off the back nine and had complete possession of my game, shooting in 43. For some unknown reason, that possession turned into crapnut on the front, having had my sandy par on the first, proceeded to play like a monkey on weed, shooting +10 in the next 4 holes, before steeling with a lucky 300m drive on the index 1 8th hole, skulling my SW which luckily got caught inches away from the water and parring it. +10 over 4 holes? YUCK.

Gilanalysis 30: Glenmarie Garden

Tournament play, but from the white tees, which really brings up the reality that no matter which tee we use, we will still suck regardless. Due to the white tees, a lot of hazards came into play but it was just a breakdown in the second nine, especially on the easy first, where two shanks led to a triple. On the Index 13, was left with an 8 iron after a great drive, and shank the devil out of it into OB. It’s true that once you shank once, you never really recover from it. I shanked 4 times in the back nine which is the golf equivalent to strapping yourself with TNT and jumping off a rocky cliff into a shark infested boiling water.

Gilanalysis 31: KGNS

The next tournament wasn’t that bad, even though the scores are about the same. At least there were no shanking involved. KGNS and I never really agree on any matter, and that might change, as I might be getting a membership there by the end of the year if all things go ok. It was a shotgun start, so I kicked it off at the par 3 fourth, promptly double bogeying my first two holes with some sorry putting, then steadied somewhat. It all came apart at the par 3 15th, a devilish difficult hole, where I thrashed my 3 wood into the water behind the green. I proceeded to hook my next tee shot into hazard, 3 putted the next hole for bogey. Basically, I was +11 over my first 11 holes and +11 for my next 6 holes before parring the last. How to win?

Gilanalysis 32: Impian

Thanks to the Puasa month, weekends were spent hacking golf courses that we wouldn’t otherwise even dream of going. My final outing in Impian for this Puasa was a good one,  but yet again, one nine was good, the other nine was absolutely poor. I seem to struggle a lot these days to put together two good nines. My first nine was just riddled with poor play, only eeking out a par on the final hole, but the back nine, started to play a lot better even if I wasn’t hitting fairways. The par 5 17th for instance, I hooked the ball so bad into the woods, I punched out with a 7, and found myself only 120m from the hole. It’s a weird and extremely easy par 5. I’ll miss Impian. Good greens and thank God we didn’t need to have caddies in all occasions we played there this year.

Gilanalysis 33: Nilai Springs Mango + Pines

Final game we squeezed in was Nilai Springs. After a good outing at Impian I was reasonably optimistic that I could at least break 90 on a relatively easy course. I started very well, +3 over 5 starting on the 10th. Then completely lost concentration over 15,16 and 17, due to some misunderstanding with my flight mate (we made up after, since we’re so easy going!), but the game never recovered after that. The main problem was easy: IRONS. I was completely messed up in my irons, not hitting a single good iron shot in and compounding that with 3 3-putts. Ah well. There’s always next year then.

To all muslim Gilagolfers, Selamat Hari Raya, drive safe, and welcome back to the golf!

Orna Golf & Country Club


Melaka has always been somewhat of a hidden gem for Malaysia Golf Courses. For such a small state, it boasts of 4 well known courses in Ayer Keroh, A Famosa, Tiara Melaka and Orna Golf Club. There’s also one more obscure one called Golden Valley course which is along the highway, which we don’t really know anything about.

And of course, the great thing about Melaka is that the courses are all located within Bubba Watson Drive from each other (meaning within 300 – 400 meters, give and take. We obviously failed our maths, but it sounds nice: Bubba Drive). With each courses so close, organizing a 36 hole blitz is a piece of cake. Orna – Tiara Melaka – Ayer Keroh are options. A Famosa is a little out of the way though.

We decided on Orna simply because many of us have not played there before, and from the website (again, we say with some caution, having experience the inordinate amount of BS encountered in these so-called websites), they seem to be a little full of themselves, having served as the Davidoff qualifying school venue for 2001 – 2003, which until now, I can only relate to Davidoff as the deodorant I put in my armpits every morning. At least, it isn’t as full of crap as some of the information on some golf club sites; this actually served to be quite informational. I won’t repeat it here, but the designer is Andy Dye, the brother, I believe of Pete Dye. Now if you haven’t heard of Pete Dye, you probably heard of the famous course he designed: The TPC Sawgrass. If you haven’t heard of it, you probably know about the famous 17th on the Stadium Course. If you haven’t, you should just give up golf, wear a tutu and take up ballet instead, because you’ll be very good at it.

While Andy ain’t Pete, we still were pretty excited nonetheless to try out this so-called ‘championship quality’ course.

Travel (2/5)

Like the notorious Tiara Melaka, signs leading to the golf course is as scarce as blue spotted jackals.  For some reason, perhaps due to it being a national heritage, Melaka refuses to put signs up to direct tired golfers coming from KL to Tiara or Orna, or perhaps those cheapskate clubs refuse to pay the Melaka town board to put these signs up. So you need to trust your instinct, or now, in this time and age, the good old GPS.

Orna Location Map

Turn off the Ayer Keroh exit, if you’re coming down from KL. Please tell me that you know how to get to the North South Highway bound for JB and Singapore. If you don’t, perhaps you should ask your mother’s permission for reading stuff on the internet, and go back to studying for your Std 3 tests. I’m kidding. This is a family friendly blog. But I am still not gonna direct you to the North south since it’s obvious you don’t know how to drive.

Anyways, once you’re off, go past the toll and head straight on, until you see the zoo and the Ayer Keroh golf course on your left. Then stay left, and at the main interchange, turn left, go straight all the way, past Tiara Melaka Golf Course on your left, and about 2 km later, Orna is there for you!

Price (4/5)

RM59 per person. Yep. There’s a promotion and yet again, our stupid Top premier voucher booklet is useless, since it’s more expensive with the voucher. Although it’s a dumb pricing strategy, it’s still a ridiculously low price to pay for a round of golf (later, we found from Tiara Melaka, with the voucher is only RM44!! Man, I love MELAKA!). This is good pricing, but then again, RM59 for a piece of cowdung in the middle of nowhere, like TUDM or Frasers might make you wish you invested that RM59 into buying discarded bottle caps instead. As we found out later, thankfully, Orna does not resemble a piece of dung, so it’s definitely worth the price.

First thoughts

I don’t really know what ORNA means, but I suppose it’s supposed to be some Greek sounding name for beauty or something. In my opinion, it’s probably derived from the desperate shouts of golfers who are trying to clear water, bunkers, wastelands in this course to put it on the green: “ON! ON –AH!!” with the ‘ah’ colloquially used by chinamen uncles who think they can clear 230 m of water to put 2-on to the par 5 greens, and failing miserably for the 4,567th time.

Anyways, we teed it up on the back nine (West Course). We avoided the mickey mouse North Course (as was told to us) and decided the championship combination of East and West course was where the bang for the buck was.

Standing on the first tee, it was a short par 4 that had a slight dogleg right. Immediately, you can see the undulations on the fairway, and know that this is NOT a Ginnifer Course, and it’s probably going to eat you up the way KRPM eats up golfers, gargles their blood and spits out the carcass later.

Service (3/5)

Not much experience with the service, except our buggy was awful and we needed to ‘Flintstoned’ our way (using our legs to help move the vehicle) in the last couple of holes. As there were no living souls in the course except for our flight and probably one or two more, we didn’t have any congestion as well, except for the first few holes when this couple took their own sweet time, and played as if they were just waiting for rapture to come. We’ll give a middle score for this one.

Fairways (2/5)

From a far the fairway looks to be in a pretty shape. But on closer inspection, you’ll find it in a below average state, mostly evidenced by the infamous bald spots. Sparsely growing, the Bermuda fairway was mostly pockmarked by sandy spots here and there. On the regular turf without the bald mark, the Bermuda grass was just HARD. As in, for habitual diggers like myself, I end up bouncing back up the grass and turn my ball right to left with a closed face. At least that is what I think. It usually happens in a blink of an eye, and before I know it, my poor golf ball is skittering away to the left into the drink. And ORNA punishes a lot of right to left misses, due to some ridiculous undulation. You will probably never get a flat stance in Orna, so your iron game better come prepared.

Greens (2/5)

Like the fairways, it wasn’t that the greens started out bad, but simply because of the lack of maintenance. Bald spots littered almost all the greens, speed was inconsistent, sometimes slow, sometimes faster (but still slow!), and while the undulation and breaks were fun; still, the lack of maintenance really annoyed us. Another thing, and this has nothing to do with the ratings; don’t even think about putting off the green. I usually practice that, if there’s about a meter of grass to clear before the green, I’d putt it. I’ve done that in other courses, in Rahman Putra cow grass even, and it works. Not in Saujana. And now, definitely not in Orna. The grass around the green literally catches the ball and chokes the spin out of it and spins the ball away from the targeted line. Again, this is more of a characteristic than a feature, but the greens themselves offer an underwhelming experience for us hackers.

Rough ( 3/5)

We spent an inordinate amount of time in the rough. This is primarily due to the undulating fairways, and as well as the gigantic bunkers sprinkled liberally over the course. The rough was generally ok, it wasn’t very difficult to escape from it, but Orna’s bunkers are really a feature itself, and offered some very interesting challenges. Starting from hole 10th, you need to navigate across twin bunkers on the fairways and fronting the green. Even on the par 5 11th, a sandy stretch of bunkers await the wayward hooker on their approach to the green. The index 2 14th is a monstrous par 4 at almost 400 meters, but with a Sarlac sized bunker smack in the middle of the fairway, which one of our unfortunate hacker managed to find enroute to a triple bogey. This is an extremely testing par 4, with a driver and 3 wood to barely find the front of the green.

Again the par 4 15th also has a gigantic greenside bunker which took our guys 2 – 3 shots to extricate.

By now, we had the grim feeling that while water was more or less a feature for Orna, the bunkers were the real culprit to high scores. And nothing is more distinct that the GARGANTUAN strip of bunker found in the par 5 16th, at the side of the water. It’s almost 100 meters long and I had the misfortune of slamming into it with my second shot hybrid, and could only get out in 3 to six on and two putt for a triple. Yikes. The ending holes are memorable, with each having strips of bunker hugging the water, and as you will see later, has an impressionable aesthetic.

The issue is that the bunkers are not very well maintained. In fact, playing into the 8th par 3 and landing into the bunker, my second shot skulled the ball due to the HARD mud under the sand. My third dug too shallow and popped the ball into the water on the par 5 preceeding hole. Drop for fifth, two putted for a quadruple bogey and lost the game. This wasn’t a one-off…lots of the bunkers were in need of proper maintenance. If you’re hitting from Orna’s bunkers, be careful of the hard mud underneath, it’s death to most hackers.

Aesthetics ( 3/5)

Orna is one of those courses where you hate it or love it. The one thing good about the aesthetics is that it really offers an open course for you to view. And we’re very partial to such a view, with the undulating fairways, undulating greens, and bunkers spread around the course, you can really look and say the design is quite nice, given what they had to work with. Especially nice (as long as you avoid it) are the bunker strips around the lakes, and from some good elevated tee boxes, it was an enjoyable view.

And of course, the signature hole 12th on the West Course, a’la the 17th at Sawgrass, Andy Dye copies his brother and gives us the closest resemblance. This is the island green very similar to the one in Sawgrass, a 157 m shot from the blue tee to green. Standing on the tee shot, the whole conversation will surround on the key question: “Eh, what iron you use ah?”. In fact, we like this hole so much, we’re gonna give an aerial shot from the recently launched Gilagolf satellite camera.

So aesthetic wise, there’s much to enjoy…until the weather gets the better of you. The advantage becomes a disadvantage when you hit the 10 am – 12 noon stretch because Orna is HOT. Barely any mature trees surrounding the course, it becomes a killer at the final holes, when you play that stretch of index 7,9,3, 11 and 5 on the east course. And mind you, that index 11 is a elevated 170 m tee shot to a small green with water fronting and that Sarlac bunker waiting to chomp your (golf) balls. So that stretch is really a tough one. If only Orna had managed to keep some trees before chopping all of them down, it would actually be quite a beautiful looking course, especially the design itself is worth mentioning. I don’t know why there are so many mature trees in Tiara Melaka next door or Ayer keroh golf course down the road, but Orna has almost none.

So bring LOTs of water, because you’re going to a fried duck by the time you are done with Orna.

Fun Factor ( 3/5)

The start of the game was quite fun. We hit the west course, and getting past hole 10 and 11, we reached the famed 12th, the copycat of TPC Sawgrass and played good shots in. An eight iron should actually suffice, but it’s just that the water really psychos you.

The fairways are reasonably generous, but slicers do beware, many of the holes have OB right, so take a healthy aim to the left…except that the undulation often bounces your ball into the water or Sarlac bunkers.  The undulating fairways are also another feature to deal with. Depending on where your ball lands, you can either get another 30-40 m roll or a -5 meter roll, as you watch in anger as it hits the upslope of the undulation and rolls pathetically back. And also, the undulation slopes towards the hazards, and in more than one occasion, notably the par 4 10th, where slight draw of the ball lands on the wrong side of the slope and it will bound merrily into the waiting water.

In fact, there’s probably not one spot in the course where you’ll find an even lie, so it truly will test your skill, patience and resistance to start chopping your 7-iron into the fairway and howl in anguish.

The East Course plays shadier, but by then the heat had really gotten to us so much so that we’ve had mirages of Oompaloompahs serving us ice cold Coke and ice-cream chocolate cakes on each green. A notable hole is the horrendous par 5 7th, which demands a good tee shot, and another to the landing area before an accurate to the elevated green.

The course does have character in each of the holes, but I swear as I was chopping out of the largest bunker in the world on the par 5 16th, I’d think some golfers probably didn’t make it out of the bunker alive and had been buried there for posterity’s warning.

Was Orna fun? In part due to the design and undulation. But the lack of shade, trees and the exposure to the sun feels like we’ve just landed in the Sahara and by the last few holes, just couldn’t wait to get our sun-baked bodies into the clubhouse.


As mentioned, there is a love it or hate it feeling for Orna. Some liked the challenge and the undulation and the bunkers, while others probably would want to avoid such torture and sadistic course in the future. For me, the driving was doing fine, as I hit 10 fairways. But with only 2 GIRs, it really brings to pressure the approach shots,  and putting (both my GIRs, I three putted for bogeys). Undulation and bunkers really do play a huge part in Orna, and it’s definitely not an easy course to play in, unlike the neighbouring, friendly Tiara Melaka. It suffers from the lack of maintenance, but it’s a course I wouldn’t mind playing on again.

The good: Pricing is a big advantage, with RM59, it’s worth the travel; undulating greens, fairways add to the challenge of gigantic, Sarlac bunkers; the island green 12th is worth playing for the closest resemblance of TPC Sawgrass 17th; interesting “Mr Dye” design worthy of it’s boast as a championship looking course.

The bad: Maintenance is lacking, causing the fairway to be as hard as tarred road; bunkers will be unavoidable, but it’s densely packed with mud under the sand; without trees, after a while, those Oompaloompahs with coke will hopefully get to you before you collapse in dehydration and carted away to the Melaka hospital.

The skinny: 22 of 40 divots (55%). Orna faces the challenge of the nearby Ayer Keroh and Tiara Melaka, but it stands on its own. It doesn’t force idiotic caddies on you the way Ayer Keroh does, and the character of the course is definitely different from the much friendlier Tiara Melaka. And of course, the bunkers and undulation gives it a distinct feel and personality. If only it wasn’t so dang hot, it would have been a great recommendation. As it is, we’re a little on the fence; love it or hate it, there are some holes you definitely will have fun in, so it’s a recommendation if you haven’t tried it yet. After that, it’s up to you whether to return or not!

Orna GCC  East + West Course

Orna GCC Information

Address: Batu 16, Jalan Gapam,
Ladang Gapam, Bemban 77200 Jasin,
Melaka, Malaysia.


Fax: +606-5210222