Daiman 18


Last year, we headed down to Johor/Singapore to explore some of the golf courses there. I believe there are more than 30 golf courses in Johor itself, possibly making it the Malaysian state with the most golf courses and least work done per capita compared to the rest. With so many courses to choose from, how can you ever get tired of playing golf? Likely, the explosion of golf courses here was contributed by the number of Singaporeans willing to take the drive across the border to play cheap golf. Singapore dollars now trade at almost 2.45RM, making a 100RM golf course rate slightly less than SGD40, which is really a steal. Unfortunately, for Malaysians, we see this contributing to the trend of increasing green fees from this golf courses, even if they generally suck.

After our harrowing experience with the RM100 caddy in Royal Johor, it was with some trepidation that we once again embarked on playing golf in Johor. This time, due to time constraints, we had to choose one that was relatively close to Singapore. There were two choices: golf Courses from the second link exit in Tuas, or golf courses nearer to the Woodlands-JB exit.

We chose the Woodlands-JB exit. The closest was the dratted Royal Johor Country Club, which we will now avoid it like the bubonic plague after our awful experience there. Moving further east, we have to choose Permas Jaya, Ponderosa, Daiman 18, Octville. Tanjung Puteri was a little too far so we’ll need to KIV that one. The norther courses like Austin Hill and Star Hill were also possible selection. At the end, we decided to head to Daiman 18 simply because we have the vouchers from the Top Premier Voucher book…and also because we previously thought Royal Johor was better than Daiman 18. I mean, really, the name of Daiman 18 evokes as much inspiration as watching bat shit dry in the sun.

Travel (2/5)

Daiman 18 is not very far from the JB/Woodlands causeway into Singapore. I am assuming that you would be taking the same way as we did, coming up from Singapore, unless you’re staying in JB itself. From Singapore, there is no way around it. Exiting from the JB/Woodlands checkpoint is as close as intravenous suicide as you can probably get, due to the absolute stupidity of Malaysian organization. Now, I love Malaysia, don’t get me wrong. But when it takes you a few minutes to exit Singapore and the next 45 minutes stuck in a jam, on a Sunday lunch time at the Malaysian side, you seriously need to question the lack of efficiency in Boleh Land. There are only 2 lanes for cars to queue in a snaky route to the checkpoints. Some heroic drivers took the third lane, meant for trucks I believe and ran smack into a group of traffic police and summons. Most of the perpetrators were Singaporean cars, so it’s definitely a welcome to Malaysia present for (from) them.

Anyways, if you manage to escape the checkpoint within this year, here’s the direction to Daiman, 15km away.

1. Head northwest on Singapore – Sultan Iskandar Ciq Jb     1.7 km

2. Keep right at the fork to continue toward Jalan Yahya Aldatar    200 m

3. Turn left onto Jalan Yahya Aldatar            750 m

4. Turn right to merge onto Lebuhraya Tebrau           5.9 km

5. Continue onto Jalan Pandan           3.0 km

6. Turn left toward Jalan Masai Baru 350 m

7. Sharp right toward Jalan Masai Baru          41 m

8. Take the 1st left onto Jalan Masai Baru      2.8 km

9. Turn left toward Jalan Pesona        70 m

10. Turn left onto Jalan Pesona           190 m

There is a small trickiness here, when you need to exit Jalan Pandan. There’s a small left turn before the flyover right at Carrefour (or was it Tesco??) which will allow you to go under the fly over and hit Jalan Masai Baru. We missed this turning and had to take the next left and go a big round behind the supermart. Beware.

Price (2/5)

We played on a Sunday afternoon, and was charged RM110 for our troubles. There’s a special promotion going on, which rendered our weekend top premier voucher at RM120 pretty useless. Now RM110 is about the same price we pay for Bangi on a Sunday afternoon package, which generally puts Daiman in comparison with our beloved Bangi, and which invariably Daiman falls short. I know we can’t expect cheaper prices , but still, from what we see in Daiman and what we compare with Bangi, these courses are world’s apart. Daiman 18 pricing just doesn’t cut it. And what is with the voucher then? Shouldn’t something we pay for allow us to have special pricing? This reminded us of the horrendous pricing strategy of another Johor Course: Legends, which actually cost more to use the discount vouchers than it would be NOT to use them. It makes no sense. Then give further discounts on the vouchers, darn it!

First thoughts

First thoughts that hit us as we teed up on the back nine: It looks a little bit like KRTU, a little bit like Perangsang. It’s probably a mixture of both; the slight elevation of Perangsang, the oil palm trees of KRTU. First hole was a dogleg left, and here’s where I found out that both my precious 60 degree and 48 Cleveland PW were missing! I must have left it somewhere at the other courses or at home.

Without these two clubs, I was literally incapacitated. Even with these two clubs I play like a monkey being dunked into a boiling vat of fire; what will I do without them?? So, proceeded to hash my chip with my normal PW, which just doesn’t work for me. Because of the weight, the shaft, the feel, the looks: like any good hacker, I grabbed on the first excuse I could find for playing badly: missing clubs. If only I had these clubs, I would surely have scored 75, at least!

Service (3/5)

Except for the awkwardness of explaining to us that the price of the discount vouchers are actually more than the normal price, the lady behind the counter was good enough to get us on the course quickly. She also was very efficient in providing me with a letter that stated that my clubs were missing, for a possible claim, if I don’t find them. The buggies were in good condition as well, so merrily we went on our way for our second stint in Johor golf.

Fairways (2/5)

The fairways, especially the back nine, were bald in many patches, and grass uncut. They looked good from far, but once on the fairway, it was tough to hit if there’s no grass, only soil where your golf ball is sitting on. We groaned if this was going to be the norm, but the fairways did improve slightly as our game progressed. Instead it’s likely due to the fact that buggies can drive onto these fairways.

Greens (2/5)

If anything is more annoying that bald fairways, it would be sandy greens. Number one, the greens were SLOW. As in, it’s hard to judge as well, since the greens are very inconsistent, sandy and slow, and varies quite a lot from hole to hole. These doesn’t make the greens tough, but just difficult to predict. The roll was also inconsistent, and in many occasions, I saw my 3 footer bumping and grinding it’s away from the hole. Hmm. That sounded a little weird.

Rough (2/5)

Daiman will have a lot of rank 2/5 in the categories. Simply because Daiman doesn’t suck as bad to deserve a 1; but at the same time, fail to raise its game to level 3 and beyond. So we see a lot of these so-so course conditions, rough conditions as well. The bunkers were useful enough. The primary rough however was a different tale. The ball sat down in almost all our shots in there, and at some point took us a long time to find the ball: which we all saw dropped and bounce!

Aesthetics (2/5)

I was ready to give Daiman a 1/5 for aesthetics, based on the experience on the back nine. However, once you made the turn, the course became something different altogether. Suddenly there was landscaping and beautification.  This was the front nine. It was as if the management spent all its landscaping budget on the first nine to entice the unsuspecting golfer into thinking this is like an Impian standard course, only to have a reduced budget of RM2.99 to do landscaping in the back nine.

The back nine did have a few reasonable looking holes. The elevated par 5 13th was nice; except that you had to hit it long and straight to navigate it. The par 3 17th was a knee knocking hole, with water all over and a tee off accuracy required. The last hole 18th wasn’t so nice; simply a straight shot pass the lone tree and entrance into a downhill hole.

Make the turn and you see the difference. The first tee box was a very narrow tee off, that opens up at the fairway. It’s like going through a narrow, constipated colon area before getting to the opening, and I’d even have to admit that that was a very strange simile indeed. But you get the picture.

The par 5 2nd is a long, tough monster and the next par 3 was similar to the 17th, in which you have crisscrossing of water at the front from an elevated tee position. It is also at this hole that I noticed that the club is starting to look much better. Some landscaping elements were in play, turning the characterless Daiman into something more palatable. The next par 4 4th also has a tree in the middle of the fairway, and this was followed by the fearsome index 1 par 5, in all its 472 metres glory. Elevated tee shot will stop short of the water. I hit my 3rd into the bunker on the right, but the trick about some of these Daiman bunkers was that the lip was very shallow. In this instance, I putted my ball out of the bunker, over the short lip, and onto the contoured green, watching it turn into the hole for a miracle Birdie.

Fun Factor (3/5)

Fun was again evident, not just because of a blitz of 3 very good holes where I went par-birdie-par, but also because the course sets up quite nicely for my fade/slice shot. I used mostly driver, and the times that I messed up such as the 8th par 4; was when I used my 3 wood and ridiculously pulled it into the jungle. From there, I was like Kevin Na and only got it out near the green on the 5th shot. Two putted for an awful triple. Also, having 3 par 3s on the front brought something more to the game: accurate tee shot. The par 3s are not easy, but at least they were picturesque and it was definitely a fun experience hitting shots in, especially with a wager on the table.

Judgement of distance is key as well. The third hole for instance, the pretty looking par 3 was set as 145 meters with a downhill shot. Because of all the landscaping surrounding this green, one guy from my flight saw it as being like a mile away, and opted not to trust the yardage, instead relied on his experience in the game, which so far has led him to many games over 100 strokes.  He took out a driver and literally blasted the ball 50+ meters over the green into the next fairway, much to the hilarity of all. The distance on the board is slightly off, or they must have moved the blue tees back, because I only used my six-iron and it was stuffed close. Unfortunately, my first shot had already zinged into the fronting water, so I was 3 on and 2 putted for a double. Nice looking hole though, but too few holes were as good looking as this, and Daiman suffers for it.

Also, we observed that traffic for a Sunday afternoon was quite limited. I.e not many people were playing the course, and the only 2 folks we saw were two Singaporeans taking shelter with us from a short bout of lightning. This could be because that many choose to play on other better nearby courses; and also the stupid crossing at the causeway causing the Singaporean golfers to seek out friendlier courses nearer to the second link exit. Of course, these are speculations, but all the better for us to blitz through the half empty course!

Fun was also somewhat limited due to the absence of my wedges. I was doing all I can to use my other clubs, and yes, it’s a poor excuse to use; but like any good hacker, we need to look to somewhere to blame for such lousy golf…because it’s definitely not our super skill level, right? What better excuse than missing clubs??


Daiman suffers the middle review syndrome, like Kulim. It doesn’t suck so much that we hate it, the way Frasers or TUDM does with so much ease; yet, it doesn’t impress enough and we just go along with the course, functional playing, without the critical draw factor, the things that make us go, “Jee, we gotta come back here to play again.” Instead, we were like, “Boy, I’m hungry. Let’s get the heck out of here as quickly as possible as get some chow!”. Should we recommend it? Well, for its vicinity to the causeway, I think it deserves some attention, but with so many courses around, including the Japanese run StarHill course, it needs to definitely do more to draw us back again to play the second time. Furthermore, with the horrific traffic in the causeway, we might from here on play on courses closer to the second link, such as Horizon Hills, Poresia or Pulai Springs.

The good: Daiman is a functional golf course with a few interesting holes; can be quite fun especially with 3 par 3s and a premium on iron shots; first nine aesthetics looks good; but balanced out unfortunately by the characterless back nine; close to town enables those in JB access the course quite easily; but the causeway jam is a common cause of people howling in frustration in their cars and cursing our beloved country’s excellence in efficiency (being extremely sarcastic of course).

The bad: Pricing strategy is reminiscent to the idiots at Legends, where discount voucher costs more than the actual price; travel through the causeway is excruciating; fairways, rough and greens are simply not good (or bad) enough to be memorable, causing golfers to forget how the course looks like or is set up.

The skinny: 18 of 40 divots (45%). Daiman 18 just doesn’t do enough to make us want to try it again. But considering the high price of surrounding courses, with the exception of Royal Johor, (which you should only play if every single golf course in Johor has been blasted to smithereens, and you don’t have anything else to do, such as taking up pottery classes) Daiman might be just affordable for a quick 18, to those who are in JB and the course was pretty empty even for a Sunday afternoon. But if you’re from Singapore, forget about the causeway and play on courses nearer to Tuas second link. It’s not worth going through the horrific crawl from Kiasu Land into Boleh Land.

Daiman 18 Score Card

Daiman 18 Information

Address: No.18, Jalan Pesona,
Taman Johor Jaya,
81100 Johor Bahru,
Johor Darul Ta’zim, malaysia

Contact: +607-3516813

Fax: +607-3533100

Email: daiman18@daiman.com.my

Website: http://www.daiman.com.my/golf.html

Cinta Sayang GCR


Northern Malaysia is the home of a few possible gem of golf courses, and we’ve revealed courses like Bukit Jawi, despite having such atrocious service harking back to the service levels in the days of early neantherdals, as a picturesque and pleasant golf course to play in. Or Kulim Golf, with its neither here nor there kind of experience, but yet managing to evoke a positive review from our difficult to please, and not so talented Gila Golfers.

So this round, I’ve managed to include one of the top golf courses in this northern region into the family of Gila Golfed courses – Cinta Sayang Golf and Country Resort. Cinta Sayang in Malay means, Love and Affection, and although this sounds a little on the feminine side, the course by no means is a pushover. Whether it invoked Love and Affection from the affected golfer remains to be seen in this review.

Travel (3/5)

Unlike Permaipura, getting to Cinta Sayang is a snap, due to extremely large signs leading you, with an extremely generous font size to tell you exactly where to turn and how to get your itchy golfing butt to the course.


Simply, take the Sungai Petani North exit, and after the traffic light after the toll, turn left. Once you’re on that road, the signs will lead you through. Follow them like the wise men following the star to Jesus. Eventually, you’ll be led to a road where Cinta Sayang is and watch out for a right turning into Cinta Sayang Resort, and bam you’re there. It’s easy.

Price (4/5)

Initially, I called up Cinta Sayang and they said for a single golfer, having to pay for an entire buggy alone would be RM140, which to me, is simply quite expensive for a weekday golf in a region that’s so remotely up north, in a town that resembled New Zealand’s human population, which is slightly more than the number of tapirs found in the wild. I think. I might have slept through that National Geographic program on tapirs in the wild, but you get the idea.

But I called again and this time, bless her generous soul, a chirpy sounding girl on the other end said, “We have promotion today! Only RM122 for everything in!” RM122 is inclusive of the RM50 for the buggy, which generally, if you have 2 players sharing the buggy, you’d pay half of that, making the actual price about RM97, which is the price you get for Kinrara or some of the mediocre courses back in KL. In fact, even Monterez charges more expensive than that, probably with the entirely mistaken view that the course is actually worth that much. It’s not. It’s still a Mickey mouse course that will eventually cause the death of a golfer by having so many fairways adjacent to each other.

Anyway, Cinta Sayang’s pricing wasn’t extremely cheap, but still for a golf with this much reputation, it was a good price to pay.

First thoughts

Taking in the first look of the course on hole 1, you see an extremely inviting fairway just looking back up at you, with fairly matured trees lining both side of the fairway and not a single drop of dreaded water. This is a Ginnifer Starting hole. For those at loss for this sort of description, please refer to our Staffield writeup. It’s one of those holes that doesn’t cause you to buckle at your knees because you know even with the ball in the trees, it’s still sparse enough for you to navigate a little to save the hole. So with confidence, you stride up to the tee and let fly a confident 210m drive straight down the reasonably manicured fairway.

So far, it’s Love and Affection still.

Service (2/5)

I think generally the service is fair. It took some time to get to the course because there wasn’t anybody at the counter for a while, but that could be a toilet break or something. Otherwise, the marshals etc were polite and understood the general urgency to get grumpy golfers on their way to the first tee. Two gripes that really took a bite out of the service quality: The conditions of the buggy were terrible and the course management is questionable. The former: Like the excruciating experience in Harvard, I was dumped into a buggy that was as responsive as a rotting corpse of an iguana being rolled over continuously by speeding tankers. As in, it’s those old school, petrol smelling buggies that persist in not starting until you press on the accelerator for 3-5 seconds and not stopping after you jam the breaks for 3-5 metres. I exaggerate on the second point, but the point is, the buggies are old. Not as terrible as Harvard’s ridiculous buggies, but it’s like comparing a 300 kg and 270 kg guy and talking about which one is healthier. I.e they are both probably not going to live past their next birthday if they don’t improve.

The latter: Cinta Sayang has a very unique tee off area. Usually, the 1st and 10th tee can be adjacent, much like Staffield. Cinta Sayang has the 1st tee, 10th tee and sandwich in between them is the 14th tee off. Now, this is unique in some ways, but annoying in other ways. I was blazing through the course on this particular instance. As in BLAZING. I finished my 11th hole in 1 hour 45 minutes. I was on a record speed of finishing 18 holes in 2 and a half hours. The course was empty, nobody in front of me at all.

But bam, once I hit the 14th tee in just over 2 hours, as if beamed into existence by Scotty from Star Trek, I saw a full flight in front of me. With two caddies. As in out of nowhere. I caught up with them and had to wait on the 15th and on the par 3 16th as they were teeing off and I observed to the caddy politely that I didn’t think there was any flight in front of me, and the starter has already mentioned that I was the first guy teeing off that afternoon.

You know when people are guilty of wrong doing? They avoid eye contact with you entirely. The caddy muttered some nonsense about too many afternoon flights, and after the last guy of the flight shanked his ball into the water, all of these 4 fellas started talking loudly, ignored my penetrating stare into their souls, and ambled away past me as if I did not exist. And for the last 3 holes, it took me as long to complete them as I did for the first 9 holes. As in, it was almost as if they were purposely playing slow just to skewer me.

I don’t really blame the flight, but more of the course management. They allowed a flight to tee off on the 14th hole simply for convenience. I don’t know if this is a club rule or not, maybe some Love and Affection fellas can correct me, but it’s annoying. And you can’t simply just cut into a flight like that and ignore my pleas to allow me to pass like I am some kind of Martian without any clothes on. I know 4 ball is priority, but come on, I was blitzing through the course, let me pass instead of juggling golf balls waiting for you to finish shanking.

Fairways (3/5)

I never thought fairways would be super for any courses that allowed the dreaded buggies to go onto them, and Cinta Sayang suffers from that fate. The fairway over all was well maintained and manicured, but no way resembled the perfect mats found in Tropicana, the former IOI Palm Garden or many of the top notch golf courses. I am not asking them to disallow buggies on the course, because that would mean we need to finally use our legs to move, which is very annoying as well: but simply, courses with buggies on the course is not going to be very nice. But aside from that, and from occasionally tracks on the fairways, it was well kept and well maintained, a healthy firmness and sponginess and lacking the bare “botak” spots in some other courses’ fairways.

Greens (3/5)

A premier course is always identified with exampalary greens: Saujana did a remarkable job back in Impiana, in of course, Saujana and in Beringin. Sorry, Berigin is not a premier course by any stretch of imagination, just the greens are nice. Cinta Sayang greens are OK, not amazing, but expectedly well maintained for a premium golf course. Variation wise there’s not much to be found, compared to the undulation of KRTU, the massiveness of Templer or the invisible breaks of Saujana. Character wise, the greens are simply functional, pretty straight forward putting. On the other hand, the consistency is very welcoming. The greens played fast, and was more or less similar in all the holes. It was great, but at the same time, started to give me the yips, once you know if you miss, your return putt might be longer than what is generally most comfortable (which for me is a 2 inch return putt).

Rough (4/5)

The rough was tough. The primary rough had heavy grass that latches on your club face to turn it and rough that allows your golf ball to settle in: all contributes to the fact that hitting the fairway is important to have Love and Affection on this course. But the good thing was the first cut of rough was more forgivable and many, many holes I played, I played from this first cut. The 4 fairway hits is not really indicative, because I played mostly from the first cut in most of the holes. Sand was in perfect condition so much so that I could actually use my sand wedge instead of my 60 degree or pitching wedge unlike most courses when the sand was hard and the sand wedge bounce would cause me to skull the ball into oblivion. Also, even with so many matured trees, you will hardly see the rough littered by annoying leaves that hides your balls. Through out the game, I could see the maintenance crews working hard to clean the course in these small but important areas. Unlike the idle gallery in Kinrara, these guys actually do their job. Good work, Love and Affection course.

Aesthetics (4/5)

Cinta Sayang is a mix of Impiana and Staffield. Staffield for playability, Impiana for looks. The first hole was a ho hum looking hole, but once passed that, Cinta Sayang unveils herself and you go, Wow. Second hole is a pretty par 5 crossing water, and coming to the first of many white bridges. It’s a nice touch. Instead of rotting wood colour, they painted all their wood bridges white. Like in Rivendell. Which does not really exist except in Middle Earth. For those wondering what the heck am I babbling about, never mind. Hole 5 had a paddock for horses to the left of the par 3. It’s empty now, I believe the last horse was finally killed by a random hook shot from a guilty golfer, but it’s there for historical aspect and quite pretty if there were only some white horses complimenting the white paddock.

Cinta Sayang opens up herself slowly. She doesn’t expose everything at first glance, the way some courses do, but as you play each hole, you glimpse some picturesque view of the course. And it’s not easy as well, because Cinta Sayang doesn’t have too much elevation, which usually contributes to the wow factor. It plays fairly flat, but it makes good use of the meandering lakes and rivulets and the criss crossing of white bridges all over the course. I always wanted to use the words meandering and rivulets in my reviews. It makes me sound like a novelist. Or a male Enid Blyton.

Fun Factor (3/5)

The fun could have easily been higher if not the the bad wait and traffic jam on the 14th onwards. It would be acceptable if it’s in the normal course of play. But these guys cut in! Is it legal in Cinta Sayang to just start your game on the 14th??  Is it legal to ignore the poor chinaman who wants to play quickly? Is it legal to smoke pot and drink petroleum?

Anyhoos, this time brain farts were minimum but still present. After a great first drive, my approach with a PW was woeful to start off a bogey. A hook into the woods, a second still in the woods and a third out, and a bad hybrid shot on the second hole par 5 set me up for a double. The 3rd was really a very good drive, so good in fact that I plopped it into the water on the left. From there, I played bogey golf until ending with 3 straight pars, thanks to two greens in regulation on the 7th and 8th hole. The 13th hole is really tough, its an uphill par 3 that requires almost two clubs more and hitting it accurately is the key, because the up and down is tricky due to a huge knoll on the green.

Beware the par 5 14th. I drove well but due to a blind drop on the fairway I had no idea how far it was to the water fronting the green. A good hit with a six iron was too good. Water. 4 on, two putt for 6. 15th and 16th are reasonably easy holes, but I missed a two footer on the 15th and a 3 footer on the 16th and was ready to throw my Rossa into the drink. At times, the hole looks smaller than a Fijian tadpole, which is 50x smaller than your normal tadpole, according to an unrecorded and unsponsored study of Fijian wildlife…anyway,the ball just refuses to go in!!! Ending hole 18th is a tricky dogleg right where if you push it too far right, you’re blocked. I still got up and down through some luck from there for Bogey. I know, up and down means par for most of you. I suck, so up and down for bogey and I’m ready to do a pole dance. Which I won’t, for the sake of humanity’s innocence.


Cinta Sayang didn’t disappoint. It sets itself up as the premier course in this region, and although Gilagolf still hasn’t hacked many courses up north, it can be safely assured that Cinta Sayang would be a great course to find yourself in. The pricing, taking into account splitting the buggy, is really competitive with the KL prices and you get better quality here. Really, with all the good courses in KL looking to cash in foreigners and marking up their price, it’s good if Cinta Sayang remains sub 100 for a walk in golfer.

The good: Get the promotion prices and you’re safely sub 100 if there is another person to split the buggy; very pretty course, generous fairways, and good design of the course requiring a variety of shots from the tee in terms of placing, accuracy or just plain bombing the big fairways;rough is well maintained and greens are consistent in speed.

The bad: The idea of allowing a flight to cut in on the 14th is simply not good practice any way you look at it; the buggies are on life support at the moment; greens aren’t extremely challenging; course lacks elevation; fairways struggles in patches to deal with skid marks of golfers driving like F1 racers.

The skinny: 26 of 40 divots (65%). It’s easy to recommend Cinta Sayang, especially if the price maintains. It’s a Ginnifer looking course that’s inviting, that’s pretty and welcoming to the golfer that hooks, claws, slice and splices his way through his game. Love and Affection time, baby.

Cinta Sayang Golf Card

Cinta Sayang GCR information

Address: Persiaran Cinta Sayang, 08000 Sungai Petani,
Kedah Darul Aman.

Contact: +604-441 4666 (12 lines)

Fax: +604-441 5600

Email: cintasayang@cintasayangresort.com

Website: http://www.cintasayangresort.com/cs_golf.html

Cinta Sayang Golf Card

Cinta Sayang GCR information

Harvard GCC


It’s been a while since I got to play on any new courses, hence the gilagolf updates have been generally about analysis and random nonsense about anything under the sun, that probably have left fellow gilagolfers feeling a little delusioned about where this humble site is heading…fear not, as long as there remains a course to be hacked in (and if budget or sponsors permit) and out of Malaysia, gilagolf will continue to exist, to bring realistic reviews and crap courses to the light of day.

And here we have Harvard Golf and Country Club, the pride of Kedah. And just in case you’re wondering if there’s any association with this Harvard:

This will set your mind at ease:

The vast difference of class is only obvious if you scrutinize the awesome tradition in their entrance into their respective hallowed grounds. For the thick headed, I am obviously being incredibly sarcastic.

Actually, to give Harvard (the Kedah one) credit, they do have a reasonably OK website, which means it’s far better than most of the courses reviewed on this site. But they can forget about a random googler ending up in their site by searching ‘Harvard’, because it’s probably number 1,128,453 on the search list. More on the website later. Now, to the course!

Travel ( 2/5)

OK, if you’re gonna start a website, for goodness sakes, put some decent direction to your place. It’s not as if we know where the heck is this elusive Harvard golf course by reputation…or is it considered so exclusive that it needs to be hidden from the world?

But I’ll be honest here, I was actually searching for Permaipura Golf course to play, but because of Permaipura’s inability to place any obvious signs whatsoever to the transient golfer to see, I ended up shooting past and after seeing the Harvard Golf Course sign, quickly turned into it before I ended up at the border of Thailand. Great signs Permaipura..you haven’t even been reviewed and your travel is already a 0.

Anyhoos, there’s always GPS (which I did not have) and it’s a straightforward, if not a little long: North South Highway. Head towards Sungai Petani. Pass Cinta Sayang on the right, wish you were playing there, then drive straight on and exit and the Sungai Petani (U) turnoff. ‘U’ stands for Utara, meaning North.  Once turned off, turn right at the traffic light, and keep going the trunk road. You will pass a small town eventually and just look for the signs that says Harvard on the right. Turn right and boom, you’re there. It’s a 2 for being straight forward and for collecting all the lost souls looking for that dratted Permaipura sign.

Price ( 2/5)

Saturday morning, I know, it’s not easy to get cheap price, even in KL. In kinrara, it would be around 100 plus with a voucher, and in Harvard, I got to play for RM60, with a buggy as well using my special voucher. It’s reasonable, but as we would later see, if it’s a reasonable course, but for a course that resembles UPM or worse, that horrendouse Royal Johor Crap Course we just played in late last year, RM98 (without voucher), is a tad bit steep.

First thoughts

The course is really old. In fact, it was built in 1927, making it one of the oldest golf courses in Malaysia…Royal Selangor could be the oldest at 1893, but I am told there is another older course, I don’t know where. But hey, 1927 is 84 years old, which is pretty long, so there’s gotta be some pretty good tradition here and hopefully the review won’t bash the course up too badly.

First of, the course looked extremely familiar….it could have been UPM, or God forbid, the Royal Johor Course, in which case it would be better to simply apply electrocution to oneself than to play on such courses, but I suppose old golf courses pretty much resemble the same.

Service ( 2/5)

Now, the service was pretty ok, as the girl behind the counter was kind enough to find me a solution when the buggies were all out. After giving her my standard story of driving all the way from KL to play on the great Harvard course, the oldest course in Kedah with all it’s fine tradition, she convinced the marshal to hand me his buggy to put me on my merry way. So why 2? Because aside from the good human service, the rest of the service, especially the buggies, are as lousy as TMNet’s customer service, which generally is just lower than being serviced by a rabid hyena frothing from disease. The buggies, all made in 1927 using pulley systems, takes at least 10 seconds to crank up and start. I am NOT kidding. In fact, the poor guy I was playing with, Edward, with his wife were stuck with a buggy that took twice as long as mine to crank up. We would each respectively step on our throttle and wait, while chit chatting about politics and see which buggy starts up first. They definitely take being the ‘oldest’ course in Kedah seriously. At times, you just wish you had a hole on the buggy floor so you can Flintstone your way through the dratted course.

Fairways (2/5)

You really cannot expect a whole lot from a course that calls itself Harvard. I am not even going to go further on why the name is after the most prestigious instituition in the entire history of the known world, next to Penang Char Kueh Teow. The fairways were not atrocious (please, bring back memories of the mother of all crap course, Bukit Beruntung), it was functional cow grass, but nothing much in terms of proper maintenance.

Greens ( 4/5)

Of all the surprising thing I learnt in this trip, and this includes the fact that the Lorong Selamat Char Kueh Teow in Penang is actually crap, the greens in Harvard is actually very good. And I don’t mean it in a sarcastic sense. I expressed my surprise (akin to finding a diamond ring in the middle of a pile of cowdung) and my member playing partner, Edward (the one who had to crank his buggy 20 seconds) proudly declared that the greens were the pride of Harvard. Which is really saying something, because as I looked around Harvard, it does seem to labour somewhat to maintain the course with a total of 1 person in the payroll. The greens, though a little slow, were consistent through the course and had very good roll. The undulation also gives some variety and overall, very nice experience on the greens.

Rough (1/5)

The rough was bad though. Leaves strewn all over the place, it’s obvious that maintenance budget has been slashed to under RM100 per year, poor guys. The one thing I found extremely annoying were the bunkers. They were absolutely horrible. The size of rocks and stones there made it impossible to hit a bunker shot without denting the clubs, and in one instance I did. From then on, it was an auto matic free drop whenever it entered a bunker. And of course, the eternal fight with wild boards continue. Almost every hole bears the battle scars, wild boars digging up the rough, looking for grubs. I hate you, wild boars! I’ll make a soup out of your entire species!! But still, the course has the prerogative to defend itself against these attacks and sadly, Harvard utterly failed. Come on, Harvard. If you excel in the green, it doesn’t mean you need to balance your Yin and Yang with horrendous rough. Why can’t you stay excellent for all time??

Aesthetics (2 /5)

There is a saying of ‘growing old gracefully’, which is to say, people who get older looks better. Harvard isn’t one of them. Frankly, the aesthetics wasn’t extremely ugly, nor was it very pretty. It’s simple. If you have rubber trees as part of your landscaping, you are not going to look very nice. Harvard has live rubber trees that are still being tapped as part of its course. Not funny when it stinks. And there are certainly some holes that purely stank of wild boar shit. The rough was of course, full of evidence of the wild boars, so it has to be their crap that filled the air. Yuck.

The saving grace is the Guthrie nine. The first hole of Guthrie nine actually looks nice, with towering, aged trees lining the fairway. It gets slightly prettier with some water features in the later holes, but they were all stagnant.

The worse is the last hole, par 5 on Guthrie. It is UGLY. It’s not a pretty hole at all. First of all, from the tee, you can only see the fairway as it hills over the other side. Once crossed the hill, you have the awesome sight of one ugly club house and a horrendously underwhelming green protected by a murky swamp, and lined with skeletons from dead golfers. What a rubbish ending, Harvard.

And ok, you know how annoying it is when the website gives bad information, or outrightly lies about their course. Which is why gilagolf is here, as the beacon of truth to expose these lies. In the intro (http://www.harvardhotel.com.my/intro.html) it says:

With its cool mountain air that calms the senses and hilly terrains that invigorate the soul, Kedah’s idyllic nature became popular amongst the northern elite.

That’s complete BS, sorry. What cool mountain air? The nearest mountain is the one you can see on the 16th, 17th hole, which is about 800 miles away. The last I remembered, I was being fried like a Vietnamese cockroach as I tried in vain to get my dratted buggy to start. And the terrain isn’t hilly at all. There’s hardly any elevation on the course, making it as mouldy as a 15 year old bread. It’s just a field that happens to have a few holes and flags. I don’t know about the northern elite, if it’s so, Harvard needs to revamp its images and fix their stupid buggies.

This is my favourite:

Where east meets west and modern convenience complements Mother nature, Harvard Jerai is your ideal gateway to relax and fraternise. Welcome to Harvard Jerai. The land where “Eagles” rest, stay and play.

I don’t get the east meets west. What the tarnation do you mean? Is there some sort of Chinese/Siamese influence in your architecture, along with british colonial designs? All I see is a hut for the club house that bears remarkable resemblance of my mechanic’s car workshop in Old Town. And really, if this isn’t another golf course that promotes ‘Eagles’ as if just by saying that word, it would turn us all hackers into ultra professional Tiger Woods golfers. Try it. “Eagle”. Darnit I am still duffing the ball!!

Fun Factor ( 2/5)

I ended up in Harvard by mistake thanks to Permaipura’s inability to direct lost golfers. Harvard isn’t extremely difficult, and the Guthrie nine does sport  huge expanses of fairways for some holes. I was scoring very well for the Guthrie, starting with 5 pars over 6 holes, and a chip in bogey save on the index 2 16th. I ended shooting my best 9 hole score at 39…which balanced out my terrible front nine of 48. There were many bail out opportunities in Guthrie nine, so I think for a guy with a crocked but reasonably long swing, it presents some scoring opportunities derived from lousy drives.

Was it fun overall? Not really. The rough was a real let down, coupled with badly maintained bunkers, I was just looking forward for the round to end eventually. The real letdown, was the ending hole on Guthrie. It’s as if the designers just sort of gave up on that hole and decided, heck it, the golfers are probably having mirages of Catherine Zeta Jones by now they won’t even know the difference if we put a chimpanzee in front of them.


Harvard is a mix bag. Some good stuff like the greens are real surprises, especially in such a secluded area that you’d think even David Livingstone won’t come. The customer service was friendly, but the buggy was crappy. The course overall was in ok condition, but when you have dirt roads and mud for your buggy track, you know that Harvard is probably not the right name to give this club.

The good: Travel is pretty deep in, but once there you can get on the course pretty quickly; the greens are in good condition and consistent throughout; Guthrie nine plays easier to me, and it looks way better than Jerai nine (Harvard nine is close, indefinitely, and the forest has reclaimed it).

The bad: The buggies truly suck, you need 10 seconds everytime you stop to restart it; rough is horrible, sand is unplayable; horrible ending hole on Guthrie; an absolutely daft name to call a golf course; aesthetically resembles the rearend of a Mongolian Llama, and a terribly deceitful website.

The skinny: 17 of 40 divots (42.5%). Wow, Harvard just avoided being categorized as Waste of Time and Money. This is a real borderline case. I don’t think I’ll ever return to Harvard unless forced to, but it really depends on how crap/good the other golf courses in this region is. Suffice to say, if you had the chance, you might want to try another course but if you get lost searching for Permaipura, I suppose this is a reasonable alternative to play on.

Harvard GCC Scorecard

Harvard GCC Information

Address:Harvard Golf Resort (Jerai) Berhad

Harvard Golf and Country Club

No 6 Persiaran Guthrie

Harvard Suasana Resort 08100 Bedong Kedah

Contact: +604-4586887

Fax: +604-4586782

Email: nirmala.vijayan@simedarby.com

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