South Asia’s Unique Sustainable and Golf Courses
Award-winning architect and our regular contributor Paul Jansen discusses the ten most unique and sustainable golf courses in South Asia.
About Paul Jansen
Paul is widely regarded as one of golf’s most well-travelled Golf Course Architects. After having schooled in South Africa, he began his career in the U.S. before relocating to Europe where he worked for Nick Faldo Design on a variety of projects in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia. In 2011, Paul established Jansen Golf Design & Construction with a focus on creating highly sustainable golf courses that provide strategic, stimulating and memorable golf that is fun.
Hong Kong Golf Club (Old Course) - Hong Kong
Let’s start with the Old Course at Fanling, which is a charming affair. Holes are fresh and original and derive their beauty and uniqueness from the surrounds. The golf course is marked by numerous unconventional features including crossing holes and numerous blind shots and highlights that golf can be quirky and fun.
Royal Colombo Golf Club - Sri Lanka
The oldest golf club in Sri Lanka (est. 1880) is situated in the heart of the city on only 96acres. The most remarkable feature is the railway line that divides many of the holes on the front nine. During the week trains frequently pass the golf course and add to its overall charm.
Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka
The Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is perhaps the most unique golf course in all of Asia. Situated at nearly 2,000m above sea level and the focal point of the town, this 18-hole golf course is routed on less than 100 acres. Be sure to take a course map at the start because holes don’t follow any formula rather bobble about the landscape like a roller coaster. Crossing holes are the norm, blind shots are frequent and features such as roads and fences needed to be surmounted on route to the hole. Pedestrians use the golf course to get from A to B, and during my visit, some of the fairways were being used as a place of gathering. An unforgettable journey of discovery.
Delhi Golf Club - India
India’s most prestigious golf club - in the middle of the city of Delhi - consists of 27 holes laid out over 220 acres of prime real estate. The golf course includes the 9- hole Peacock course and more famous Lodhi course which has hosted the Indian Open on numerous occasions and is a strong test of golf. The golf club is identifiable because of a large number of tombs that dot the property and often at staging areas. Add to that birds such as peacock wonder the course freely and add to the overall experience.
Carey Island Sports Club Malaysia
Carey Island Sports Club is surely Malaysia’s most quirky golf course. The original nine holes were built in the late 1920’s for the local band of Europeans living on Carey Island - about 1-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. The nine-hole golf course officially only opened in July 1930 with a further nine holes added the past few years. Thankfully the original nine remain untouched and make for a real adventure. Imagination and creativity are required to plot your way around the property all the time making sure to appreciate the numerous golf features like impressive trees, vegetation, fences, ditches, roads and homesteads.
Bagan Golf Club - Myanmar
Bagan is a truly amazing place and everyone should visited at least once in a lifetime. In an area no larger than Hong Kong, you will find up to 3,000 ancient pagodas - built between 9-11AD dotted about the terrain in random order. It just so happens that the Bagan Golf Club is routed to take advantage of 14 such monuments with much more framing the golf course in the distance. It is like playing golf back in ancient time.
Popa Golf Club - Myanmar
If the town of St Andrews is the best backdrop in golf, then the Popa Taungkalat Monastery is a close second as it looms large in the distance when playing the Mt Popa Golf course - a few hours drive from Bagan. The nine-hole golf course at the foothills of Mt Popa is maintained by the locals including their cattle. The golf is as varied as it comes and hazards include roads, gullies, trees, bunkers, fences, cattle… and the rest.
Yay Tagon Taung Golf Club - Myanmar
A round of golf on most golf courses in Myanmar can put you back as little as $5 including at the wonderful Yay Tagon Taung Golf Club - about an hour drive from the city of Mandalay. This 27-hole golf facility embraces the term “less is more”. The golf course is uncomplicated with few man-made features which allows the golfers the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful surrounds much more.
Jagowari Golf & Country Club Indonesia
There are only a few golf courses on the planet that are routed through thick jungle thicket, and many of these can be found in the region surrounding Bogor - about an hour drive outside of Jakarta - whereas as many a ten golf courses are bounded by impenetrable bush and fast flowing river streams systems. One of the most impressive is the 45-hole facility at the Jagowari Golf & Country Club. The holes are well crafted and take you on a journey of discovery around the property. Each hole is alive with the sound of the jungle, and the attention to detail is second to none. As one of Asia’s best golf courses, it is also refreshing to see the use of native broadleaf carpetgrass on the fairways which requires very little input. Welcome to the Jungle.
Royal Bangkok Sports Club - Thailand
The Royal Bangkok Sports Club could perhaps best be described as an obstacle course. It is an unbelievable scene on what is perhaps the best multi-use sports facility anywhere. Golf holes zig-zag around the property all the time trying to avoid the multitude of unusual golf features that dictate the play - like the race track or cricket field or driving range building.
The Old Course at Fanling is a charming affair
The Old Course is marked by numerous unconventional crossing holes and blind spots - this is the famous 10th aka Tommy Tucker
The railway line that divides many of the holes
of Royal Colombo on the front nine
The Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is perhaps the most unique golf course in all of Asia
The famous Lodhi course which has hosted the Indian Open on numerous occasions
Carey Island Sports Club is surely Malaysia's most
quirky golf course
It’s like playing golf back in
ancient time at Bagan
Popa Taungkalat Monastery is a close second to St Andrews as the best backdrop in golf
Yay Tagon Taung Golf Club embraces the term “less is more”
Each hole is alive with the sound of the
jungle at Jagowari
The Royal Bangkok Sports Club could perhaps best be described as an obstacle coursengle at Jagowari