Thinking of improving that golf swing while on vacation? MATT ZIS delves into where to travel like a tour Pro.
F or pro players like our own Brett Rumford, pictured above at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, golf is travel.
The Royal Perth Golf Club member journeys the world playing events on the European Tour, and while the travel element can be arduous at that level of professional sport, the golf getaway is dreamed of daily by amateur club golfers and hackers alike.
Whether it’s for dreaming or planning your group’s getaway, here are our top picks for your next golfing adventure.
The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula Hainan Island, China
GETTING THERE You can fly into either of the island’s two main cities, Haikou and Sanya, from most major airports in China or from other Asian destinations. Alternatively, if you’re in Guangzhou, Beijing or Shanghai, why not take the train? Trains are loaded on to ferries to cross the sea, with passengers remaining in the train cars. From either Haikou or Sanya, a high-speed train connection to The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula takes less than an hour.
TO PLAY RMB1700 (about A$338), including cart hire and caddie.
THE LOW-DOWN Not surprisingly, given China’s rise as an economic and business power, golf is one of the fastest-growing industries in China. The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula is one of the country’s best, even though it is not technically located on China’s mainland. Hainan Island, an island province off the southernmost tip of mainland China, is earning a reputation as China’s Hawaii and is home to some 20 courses, with the list topped by The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula. The Tom Weiskopf-designed course fronts the South China Sea and has a full 36 holes, the best of which run right alongside the area’s pristine beaches and bays.
Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia GETTING THERE Fly direct from Perth to Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia X and Malaysian Airlines, or via Singapore or Bali on other carriers.
TO PLAY Member’s guests pay RM318 (about A$105); visitors fork out RM424 (about A$140). Expect to pay about A$50 extra for cart hire and caddie.
THE LOW-DOWN Home to several past Malaysian Open events, this course is set in the heart of Kuala Lumpur just 20 minutes from the bustling city centre. You’d be hard-pressed to remember that once you’re strolling the fairways and greens. It has two 18-hole courses – East and West – with West being the championship course. You will need to be a member’s guest to play the West course (pictured), and a word of warning – with water a chance on no less than 13 holes, this opportunity is not for the faint-hearted. Malaysia is also home to more than 200 golf courses and its relative proximity to Perth makes KL an obvious hub for a first-time golf trip. And if time and money are no object, don’t miss the opportunity to skip across to Langkawi and play The Els Club Teluk Datai – a course designed by none other than Ernie Els. At RM650 (about A$215), this spectacular 18-hole offering is nestled between rainforest and the Andaman Sea, with several signature holes alongside and across turquoise waters.
Springfield Royal Country Club Hua Hin, Thailand GETTING THERE Thai Airways flies direct from Perth to Bangkok every day. From Bangkok, make your choice of car, bus or train to travel to Hua Hin.
TO PLAY THB3500 (about A$130) plus an extra THB1050 (A$39) for cart hire and caddie.
THE LOW-DOWN Like with any trip to the Kingdom of Thailand, destination diversity rings true for golfers on tour. Chiang Mai in Thailand’s far north is characterised by tropical jungle and mountainous terrain and its golf courses are no different. Hua Hin, about two hours south of Bangkok, is a beachside retreat loved by the well-to-do. The nearby golf is on par, too, especially at Springfield Royal Country Club and its signature 9th (or 18th, depending on which of the 27 holes you play). On the 500-yard, par-5 finish, players must make good with their drive and second shot to be in position to make a short chip on to an island green. While in Hua Hin, golfers can also enjoy Banyan Golf Club, just 40km south and considered one of the country’s best.
Barnbougle Tasmania, Australia
GETTING THERE Fly to Hobart or Launceston via Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney. Or for a different experience, take your own vehicle and cross the Bass Strait from Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Barnbougle is about an hour’s drive from Launceston.
TO PLAY Barnbougle consists of two courses – The Dunes and Lost Farm – and each costs $99 to play.
THE LOW-DOWN Tasmania is home to two of Australia’s top 10 courses in Barnbougle. But it’s the sheer volume of courses packed into our seventh state – no less than 65 at last count and all within driving distance of each other, save for a couple of rippers on King Island – that make the island a cool Australian getaway for local golfers. Barnbougle Dunes (pictured), rated Australia’s No.1 public golf course, gives players an experience as close to the game’s Scottish origins as can be achieved on Aussie soil. Undulating, open fairways overlook the waters of Bass Strait and the breathtaking landscape mirrors the wild coastal links courses on offer at the traditional home of golf. Barnbougle Lost Farm is next door but a different and certainly quirky challenge (for starters it’s a 20-hole course, not 18), with greens hidden among the dunes and along the coastline.
Picture: Getty Images