In Asia, especially among the ever expanding middle classes, it seems golf has become the new religion, where a new set of TaylorMade clubs are cherished just as much as a vintage wine or priceless fine art.
olf fever in Asia shows little sign of slowing down which is all good news for visiting scratch golfers or even the adventurous Sunday hacker. There is an unstoppable rise of integrated golf resorts from Mumbai to Manila that have fuelled an insatiable appetite for the game across Asia. Golf tourism is big business and as many a keen international golfer can attest, the grass is always greener in tropical Asia.
The best advice for an Asian golf odyssey is simply to expect the unexpected; many of Asia’s top end golf resorts tend to offer something a little out of the ordinary, be it fairways carved out of molten lava or vertigo inducing clifftop signature holes. Here is AGI’s short round-up of the most unusual golf experiences out there.
Located just a chip shot outside the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Mines Resort & Golf Club is set in what was once the largest opencast tin mine in the world. There are water hazards aplenty, surrounded by a huge ornamental lake and the huge resort hotel, known as the Palace of the Golden Horses, is every bit as flashy as its name suggests.
Mines Resort City, Seri Kembangan, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia; Tel: +60 38943 2288
Some Like it Hot
You may get more than you bargained for at Java’s Merapi Golf Club, located virtually on the rim of Mount Merapi, one of the top five most active volcanoes in the world. There is a distinct whiff of sulphur in the air and few rounds of golf anywhere in the world can offer such a dramatic backdrop as a constantly smoking caldera.
Merapi GC, Cangkringan, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Tel: +62 274896176
Fairway to Heaven (Almost)
If you want to see your shots go that extra distance, take the high road to Gulmarg Golf Club in the mountains of Kashmir. Covered by a thick blanket of snow for five months of the year, this is the highest green golf course in the world at almost 9,000 feet above sea level, designed by plucky turn-of-the-century British colonials. At this altitude the air is wafer thin and the views will leave you breathless too.
Gulmarg GC, Srinigar, Kashmir India; Tel: +91 1954254507
It’s a Jungle Out There…
Wayward hitters will have a tough time at Hornbill Golf and Jungle Club. The ‘rough’ is impenetrable Borneo rainforest on all sides, magnified by steep gradients and low lying jungle mist. The sounds of exotic wildlife echo around the fairways – its little wonder this is one of Tiger Woods’ favourite courses.
Hornbill Golf and Jungle Club Padawan, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia; Tel: +60 82577930
Look Out for the Water Hazard
Finally, an honourable mention must go to the as yet unnamed world’s first floating golf course slated to open next year in the Maldives. Consisting of three floating man-made islands, golfers will be transported between holes by way of a network of underwater tunnels. At a mind-boggling cost of $500 million, it’s certainly not a drop in the ocean.
By Ray Montgomery