How to Play Mines – The Hacker Version

Horses for Courses.

That saying rings ever true especially in golf. I have a friend who plays to a rather high handicap most of the time, but everytime he steps onto Tropicana, he beats the crap out of us. Another guy I play with plays his homecourse blindfolded and probably can beat me with just a driver, wedge and putter; but when he steps into other courses, he ends up like a wet towel on a walrus’ head. Which absolutely does not make sense, but it sounds like a nice saying for being crap.

And the same for me. There are just some courses that suck the life out of you even before you step on the first tee box (I am looking straight at you, Seri Selangor), but there are also some courses, that you simply cannot explain how the hell you cannot score there. The course is good, the maintenance is good but everytime you step on that course you play like a tapir who just stepped into a pile of horse dung filled with rusted nails. Palm Garden is one such course. Tropicana, for me, is another ridiculously looking easy course that I just cannot score on.


Ah, Mines. Mines is like a warm chicken soup cooked by my mother waiting for me on a cold, rainy evening. Mines is like the wondrous smell of my favourite noodles cooked by my mother’s loving hands whenever I come home from a long day at college. Mines is like the delicious taste of my mother’s version of french toast, with eggs and butter, the way that Elvis Presley loved it – and the way my mother does it – on a Saturday morning, where I would eat the entire loaf in one go.

Ah, Mines.

Playing there after struggling a lot with my new weight loss and my complete loss of distance in my irons, I managed an 11 over 82. It was GOOD. I had a very good game with 2 near birdie misses and 2 par saves that did not happen due to me burning the hole. The last time I stepped into mines was before my game went south, it was almost a year back where I shot 81.

This time, I’ve come to accept my fate as a normal distance golfer after my weight loss. Do not tell me it’s my swing. When I was 81 KG, I was hitting my pitching wedges into 130m and my 9 iron into 150 meters. It was delightful. Now, I am using 7 irons to 150 and 8 irons to 130. So while losing weight does have its benefit, now that I am a manageable 73kg, hitting distance with my irons ain’t one of it.

So seeing I am sort of averaging a low 80s for Mines, here’s a writeup on how to navigate it if your skillset is more or less as limited as mine.

Let’s start with Hole 1.

You are standing at Hole 1, trying to loosen up on your first tee. Hole 1 is a nice broad fairway, so go ahead with a driver. Don’t aim too far right because you might end up in the first bunker, but if you play a draw like I do, then aiming at the second bunker will do. You will never reach it. Once teed off, you should be about an 8 iron or 7 iron away into an uphill green. Aim right. It’s ok. Left is disaster and anything long is disaster, so make sure you don’t end up going long. Short and right of green is fine. One chip, one putt for par or two putt to escape with bogey.

Hole 2.

This is a dastardly par 5 that curves almost like a horseshoe. The tee off is easy, you won’t screw it up. Just don’t go left. Right is fine but you may end up in the rough. The key is your second shot. Always play to the right. I don’t care if you are up on a slope, but stay away from the left like it’s a gigantic pile of cat shit. It’s all water there. Third shot, depending on where you are, I would opine to play short again. If you overhook it you are in the water. So take away the problem, play short and one chip and putt or two putt – par or bogey.

Hole 3.

Very tough hole. It’s the index. Hardly anyone will reach in 2 here, so you can take a 3 wood or a driver, but the key is to stay away from left. Right rough is also fine. For the second, you may want to lay up to a distance you are comfortable with, or like me, I usually just take a 3 wood and try to hit as far as I can. To escape again with bogey here is a big deal.

Hole 4.

Don’t go right. There is deceivingly big area to bailout on the left, so go left and go long. Even if you are in the trees, it’s sparse enough to hit out from. From there, an 8 iron or 9 iron should see you in front of the green or you can even go a bit long. This should be a par hole or even a bogey is OK.

Hole 5

This is a difficult par 3. I used to go in here with an 8 iron or 7 iron, but nowadays I need a 5 iron in there. You probably want to aim a bit right and see if you can tease it back in. In any case, a bogey is absolutely fine for this hole.

Hole 6

This is a very short par 4 and if you avoid water on the right, you should definitely try to score here. A smart play is to just hit your irons and with a wedge put it on the green. We usually go for the driver, leaving us with a very awkward flop shot which I won’t recommend. You should par this or better.

Hole 7

This is a very intimidating par 3 but actually, if you aim left at the flowerbeds with the “MINES” word, you will find yourself reasonably safe for a bogey at the least. Don’t mess with the right, bail out if necessary.

Hole 8

Very very nice par 5 and definitely scoreable. Your job is just to hit a reasonable drive that doesn’t go right, then place it to around 100m from the green. DO NOT GO RIGHT. There is a valley of death down there. With a wedge you should be able to put it on. Careful of this green, it’s devilish tricky because of the severe slope, so even you do not par, a bogey is a good score here.

Hole 9

The final hole isn’t easy because if you go right on the drive, you are pretty much dead, and the fairway is narrow. You can opt for a 3 wood to stay on fairway, then a hybrid to get near the green – one chip, two putt for bogey.

So you have completed the first 9 with hopefully 8 bogeys and 1 Par. Not bad at 44.

Hole 10

This is a tough hole to tackle because if you go too far right, you have to contend with the giant tree in the middle of the fairway. Too far left you end up in the hazard. You are better just taking a wood and steering it slightly left. You will be with a 6 iron or 5 iron and you can punch it to the green if possible. Bogey is a good score here.

Hole 11

Tough par 3. Don’t go right, that’s it. Bail out on the left, and focus on chipping on the green, two putt for bogey.

Hole 12

Scoreable par 5 for sure. It’s short. If you can avoid the bunker on the right on your tee, this hole opens up a lot. A hybrid second should set you within wedge distance to a generous green. You should par this or better!

Hole 13

Index hole, you need your driver to work here. Stay right and then try to not be aggressive on your second. Too much trouble right and left. So avoid the temptation for a hybrid but instead play to a chipping distance to the green. Chip for 3 on and if you escape with a bogey, I guarantee there will be your playing partners (fellow hackers) who will blow this hole.

Hole 14

Don’t mess with the right. Take a 3 wood and pop it to the middle of the fairway. Too far left and you are also dead. From there, either a long iron and a hybrid into the green should set you up for par or bogey.

Hole 15

You should be able to score. A 3 wood on this very short par 4 should leave you with a wedge to a downhill green. Take a club shorter, because anything long here is dead. You should par this or better.

Hole 16

Take advantage of the easiest par 3. A 9 iron or 8 iron should get you on the green – two putt for PAR!

Hole 17

We call this Tun’s hole, because you can see our Prime Minister’s house next to the green. It’s also a tough par 4. You absolutely need a good drive to the left, as right is dead. From there, a long iron or a hybrid should get you on the green…you might opt to play short to avoid the bunkers, but go for conservativism here. Bogey is a very good score.

Hole 18

The Top Glove hole because we always aim for the Top Glove sign. NEVER challenge the left! You think you can cut the dogleg but it’s hard because the OB eats into the hole on the left which we cannot see. We always think we make it but we never make it. So aim right and whack it. You probably want to set yourself up for a 3 on here and two putt for bogey.

So on the back 9, you should hopefully get 6 bogeys and 3 pars for a fairly good score of 41 because this nine is a par 35. A score of 41-44 is 85 which is a very good score for a hacker!

Playing in the 80s


For those figuring out why I am so obsessed with shooting in the 80s, is this:

a) I’ve been playing golf since 2004. That means it’s 11 years and counting stuck in this darn game and still figuring out how to play it properly.

b) I’ve undergone a tremendously stressful amount of golf swings – because I thought I was Tiger Woods – and now I have a swing resembling Iron Man fighting with the Giant Python. Basically, a very bad overswing and a long drive that can easily go awry. I basically have very little idea where my swing will end up as soon as I initiate the downswing.

c) I feel that someone who can routinely drive 200 meters above should be scoring in the high 80s. Which I am not until recently. For the record, this year, I am still playing around 91.71 average. For the past 10 games, I am playing at 90.4. For the past 5 games, 90.4 exactly. On the USGA handicap calculator, I am playing to a 14 handicap. On my last 10 games, I am playing to a 16 which is basically a true reflection of my game.

d) Shooting in the 80s is devilish hard when you have a game like mine. Basically tee to green (if I get a reasonable tee shot), I am ok. I struggle mightily at my chips and putts. Mightily.

So here’s the plan for the next few games:

Plan A: Hit the fairway. This is essential. At 38%, that means per round I am hitting only 5 fairways out of 14. This is crap bad, especially if we don’t drive it that long. I am hitting my irons reasonably well eversince I changed to my MP-54s.

Plan B: Play short. I find I always end up in crap when I over shoot my irons. Since changing my irons, my distance control has become somewhat better. I am playing

10 – 70 meters = 60 degree

70 – 100 meters = Sand Wedge

100 – 120 = Gap Wedge

120 – 130 = PW

130 – 140 = 9 iron

140 – 150 = 8 iron

150 = 7 iron

160 = 6 iron

170 = 5 iron

Anything above 175 = 7 wood or 3 wood.

It’s really interchangeable once I go past the 140 mark. Sometimes I’ll hit an 8 iron, sometimes a 7. Depends on the hole. For instance, in Glenmarie, one of the hole had such extreme elevation that from 155, I hit a 9 iron and still long it.

These are not really my listed distance. I hit it shorter, but the idea is to hit it before the green or just front of the green, since my flight (and my old golf balls) do not promote the professional backspin…instead it just rolls and rolls after hitting the green.

Since opting to play a more conservative “do not attack the flag” style I’ve seen my scores hover within the high 80s or low 90s. I don’t experience those massive blow holes much anymore.

Next stop: Kota Permai, which besides Mines, is probably one of our favourite courses to play on!

Mines Resort and Golf


I used to work around Sri Kembangan area, and every morning I’d drive on the highway looking over the mining lake at the green grass of Mines Resort and Golf Club, and often wondered when will I ever make enough cash per month to actually go and play there, since I heard that the green fees are exorbitant. Now there are a few reasons to that:

1)      Tiger Woods played there before for the World Cup Golf 1999. Lots of pictures of him around the club. So many in fact, I think the local Church of Tiger Woods hold their mass here and light candles and sing songs for him. Creepy. I don’t think he’s coming back, Church of Tiger Woods.

2)      Robert Trent Jones designed that course. If you don’t know who he is, well, be like me and Wiki him. All golfers should have some knowledge of these designers so at least we can pretend that we know more about the game than just destroying golf courses.

3)      By pricing it astronomically, it will discourage world class hacks like this writer to decapitate the course, therefore, saving millions on course maintenance fees. Seems like a sound business model, except the only players on a typical weekday on that course are the native gerbils and the occasional squirrel.

The last I know about the green fee was about RM400 per person. Now I believe this is a myth. I don’t know how anyone would be psycho enough to fork 400 bucks to pay for 18 holes, unless it’s St Andrews, Pebble Beach, Augusta or TPC Sawgrass. Definitely not me. I don’t think any of you reading this article as well, unless you earn in USD. In which case, maybe you can donate some cash to me for me to continue reviewing courses?

How I got there? I suddenly I found myself there, invited for a closed tournament to raise charity. Since I didn’t need to cough up the dough, I was more than willing to take a look at the mythical Mines Resort and Golf Club.

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Travel (3/5)

You basically want to get to the Palace of the Golden Horses in Mines. To get there, there are 2 good ways to get there: from the North South highway and from the Bukit Jalil highway.

1)      North-South: Get to the North South highway. For gila readers, you should be as familiar with this highway as you are familiar with your own mother. Serious. This is the gateway to all your golfing paradise. Once on the highway, keep left, you want to turn up the mines flyover before the toll. Look for signs on the left to the Palace of the Golden Horses. By the way, the this is a hotel, not some kind of massage parlour as the name might suggest. Follow the turnoff and you’ll end up in a mini roundabout. Take a 3 o’clock and keep left. You DON’T want to turn down to the Sg Besi Highway again or you’ll have a first hand experience of the brainless way Malaysian roads are made, with the only U-turn 50 kilometres away. Take a left instead and you’ll see the hotel on the right. Just follow along the road and you’ll eventually reach Mines Resort and Golf.

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2)      The Bukit Jalil highway: Take the LDP from PJ heading towards Sunway. Pass the Sunway toll, head straight, go by Kinrara and Bukit Jalil all the way. You’ll see Astro HQ on the left and hit the mini roundabout we spoke about.

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Along the way, don’t be distracted with those houses that look like clubhouses. These are actually private residence, no doubt put there with the express purpose to make us mid-class citizens feel bad about our little terrace homes. I’d like to tee up a driver right at their windows.


Before we even start to talk about the course, the myth of RM400 green fees, unfortunately has not been dispelled. As mentioned, I had a free pass that day and after the game, I was just too darn tired to go up to the counter and ask for pricing. All I know was that a member had to bring you in, and you still had to donate a kidney to play here. If someone does confirm that mines costs RM400 for green fees, we’re going to dip it down to negative. As such, we’re willing to be as unbiased as possible and give it just 0. A positive 0, based on unfounded rumours, just like all the articles in our Star Newspaper and New Straits Times. This is what journalist call, creative integrity.

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First thoughts

For the price you pay, you have certain expectations. Face it, that’s how life is. You pay RM10k for a Proton Tiara, you’d perceive it as a piece of junk, which it is. 200K for a BMW, you expect it to perform. If that 200K BMW performs like a junk, you get pissed off. If that Tiara performs like a junk, you’re glad it’s performing at all. Actually, 10K will be too much to pay for the Tiara.

Bear in mind, at RM400 green fees (again, stand to be corrected), you want something mind blowing. Something that takes Saujana and Tropicana and KGNS and spit on them. Something that ranks up there with Pebble Beach or at least gives you an indication that you are some Saudi oil magnate coming to play. You are the king, it has to be something that’s so darn special, you want to take some grass with you, some sand from the bunker and preserve it for your children.

So it was rather strange, standing on the 13th tee (we had a shotgun start) and seeing the grass is just grass, the sand is just sand. In other words: what the heck is the big deal??

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Service (3/5)

We had 2 caddies for our flight. Unfortunately, I always seem to end up with the apprentice. The guy wasn’t that bad (not in looks, I mean in reading the greens), but wasn’t extremely good as well, unlike the other guy hanging out with the other twosome in the other buggy. He read the first green well and I promptly sunk a par putt to start things off. Things began to derail from the 18th (my 5th hole) onwards, when I sunk in a 10. In a tournament, a 10 means certain death. I mean 10! What the heck! Although that’s probably 99% my fault, still, I had to blame someone, so the caddy gets it.That wasn’t too bad, but on the second, fourth and ninth, I had easy putts that were read wrongly and lipped out. I can’t remember if I didn’t listen to him, or he didn’t offer me good advice. Either way, we had to fork out 60 bucks for his service.

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Still, we’re giving a three because Mines is generally well known for good service. They attend to you, tag your bags properly and generally do what a RM400 green fee course should be doing. And the changing room is pretty good. I wanted to take a picture of it, but was afraid that they might jail me for indecent pictures of fat, naked men walking around after golf.

Fairways (4/5)

Ah, now we’re talking.

The Bermuda turf withstood the previous night’s rain pretty well as we had very consistent fairways throughout. It still wasn’t as nice as Tropicana’s in comparison, but it had a carpet-like quality to it, and the drainage was very good. We still managed to mutilate this nice sheet of green blanket with our lousy play but hey, at least it was good while it lasted.

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Greens (4/5)

The greens, likewise were almost perfect. There were a few holes that were patchy, but I’d attribute it to traffic over the day, since we had close to 10 flights, which is probably the same amount that visited this place last year.

I found the green pretty straightforward, without the extreme up and downs or trickiness of Saujana…its only my darn problem that I can’t get the ball in! Darn you caddy!!

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Rough (3/5)

I had no issues with the rough but the bunkers weren’t optimum, with the sand hard packed enough to use pitching wedge to dig in. I was having quite a time with my wedge, especially on the 17th when I pitched in. Normally, hard packed sand would be deemed passable but not when you have a reputation of being the most expensive golf club in Malaysia! I want that fluffy white sand that when you hit it, it comes out in a cloud of white powdery dust!

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Aesthetics (4/5)

Throughout the game, Mines offers a lot of wow. As in, Wow, haven’t I seen this before? Sure! Just head to Clearwaters! The par 4 12th especially with the lake on the left and a slight dogleg left, brings to mind one of the holes with similar set up in Clear waters. I realize that there’s only so much one can do with a golf course before the design starts repeating but hey, if I can recall this, it must really be quite common, since I have a memory of a dingbat.

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The lake really puts a lot of beauty to it, but I wish there were a little more variety, but this is a mining course, so don’t expect a whole lot of trees surrounding it. The par 3s are generally quite pretty, I liked the 7th hole, where the green is ensconced in a little U shape dell, with bushes all around it. Hit it too hard, left or right and it’s into snake land.

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Fun Factor (4/5)

It’s quite impossible not to have fun in a tournament with 10 flights and a shotgun start. I started off pretty well from 13th, with par on the first hole and 4 bogeys, including one pitched in. I unraveled on the 18th with a 10 on a par 5 after shanking 2 balls into deep woods. Let’s see: first shot hit a tree. Second shot tried to slice it around, ended up shanking. Third is on a slope, shank again. (Ever noticed once you start shanking you’re pretty much SCREWED?) Fourth one, decided to play out, hit the darn tree, still in rough. Fifth one pitched out. Sixth one pitched to the green, over. $#*#(@!! Chip back, roll past hole to fringe for 7. Eight, aggressive putt, missed hole. Ninth, easy 4 footer downhill missed. Ended with bloody 10.

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I played 4 bogeys after, then went on a par-birdie-par before double bogeying the 8th and 12th (my last hole) after horrendous tee shots.

One thing about mines was that it really allowed you to recover your shots. There’s not much OB except for the occasional jungle lying up the sides, but you could easily avoid that by aiming to the other side. Now, that is a real genius advice, isn’t it?

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There’s really no way to win anything by pricing green fees so high. The overwhelming feeling we had when we left the place was: it’s a nice course, interesting holes, great maintenance, but would it be worth the price of admission? Probably not. This was probably the first and only time we’ll be coming to Mines Resort and Golf. It’s better to use the money and go Saujana or something. Or Tropicana or even KGNS.

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The good: Great greens, fairway in good shape even after downpour; pretty easily accessible.

The bad: Price. We’ll need to confirm it but if it’s really RM400 or so, it’s just too crazy to pay for a round of 18. Especially when the course doesn’t have that great a character. Better to travel further and play at Clearwaters.

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