The Seven Won­ders of South­ern Asia

Award-win­ning ar­chi­tect Paul Jansen re­cently em­barked on a 28-day trip around south­ern Asia in search of the re­gion’s most unique golf cour­ses and land­scapes.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Paul Jansen

Award-win­ning ar­chi­tect in search of the re­gion’s most unique golf cour­ses and land­scapes.

As a golf course ar­chi­tect, I am most in­spired by en­vi­ron­ments that are dis­tinc­tive and unique, and thus this trip pro­vided me with an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop my own skill set. More­over, I would also use this op­por­tu­nity to ex­tol the virtues and unique ap­peal of the golf cour­ses on my jour­ney and high­light that golf can be unique and quirky and still be good.

As a strong ad­vo­cate for the en­vi­ron­ment, I was also in­ter­ested in vis­it­ing the most sus­tain­able golf cour­ses. For­tu­nately, the most en­vi­ron­men­tally sound golf cour­ses tended to be thae most unique golf cour­ses as well - they are fun to play (and you want to play them again and again), and they are typ­i­cally de­signed around ex­ist­ing fea­tures rather than man made-fea­tures (which can cost a lot to build and main­tain).

My jour­ney would be­gin in Sri Lanka and take me to India, Malaysia, In­done­sia, Myan­mar, Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia. Here are some high­lights from this trip.

1st Won­der - Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club (in the mid­dle of Nuwara Eliya town). In an era where most of our golf cour­ses are guide­line driven Nuwara Eliya hits back and shows that golf can be as good - even bet­ter - when it does not con­form to any formula and where holes are not laid out in an or­derly fash­ion or to meet some de­sired end num­ber. This is high­lighted by Hole 4 - the tee shot is played from an el­e­vated tee. Golfers are re­quired to hit their shot over the pub­lic high­way, 11th green and fair­way, lat­eral hazard and pub­lic foot­path onto a com­mon area and then to­wards a green com­plex sur­rounded by the city.

Royal Colombo Golf Club (in the cap­i­tal city Colombo). As Golden Age Golf Ar­chi­tect Tom Simp­son once wrote, “Roads, rail­ways, sheds and gar­dens may be thought un­sat­is­fac­tory and un­wel­come on a golf course, yet they are of­ten the essence of a course; take them away and the dif­fer­ence would at once be felt.’ At Royal Colombo, an ac­tive rail line bi­sects many of the holes and is the essence of the course.

2nd Won­der - Delhi, India

The famed Golf Ar­chi­tect Ge­orge Thomas wrote, “When you play a course and re­mem­ber each hole it has in­di­vid­u­al­ity and change. If your mind can­not re­call the ex­act se­quence of the holes, that course lacks the great as­sets of orig­i­nal­ity and di­ver­sity.” In the same way, the tombs that dot the prop­erty - at the Delhi GC help cre­ate a very mem­o­rable golf ex­pe­ri­ence and one you can’t eas­ily for­get.

3rd Won­der - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Royal Se­lan­gor GC, in the cen­tre of Kuala Lumpur, per­fectly melds the old school charm of the past and mod­ern won­ders of new world Malaysia. There are few golf cour­ses on the planet with such an im­pres­sive back­drop.

The Carey Is­land Sports Club high­lights that it is pos­si­ble to build fun, quirky and char­ac­ter­ful holes on a small par­cel of land. On ap­prox­i­mately 40 acres the orig­i­nal nine holes re­peat­edly criss-cross as golfers are re­quired to ne­go­ti­ate nu­mer­ous un­con­ven­tional fea­tures like the in­ter­nal roads, ditches, hedges, fences and some beau­ti­ful homesteads.

4th Won­der - Bo­gor, In­done­sia

The Ran­ca­maya Golf & Coun­try Club is dom­i­nated by the im­pres­sive Mount Salak. This beau­ti­ful land­mark gives the golf course an iden­tity and high­lights that nat­u­ral fea­tures al­ways trump man-made ones.

At the River­side Golf Club na­tive plants such as Bougainvil­lea dot the land­scape. They are not just im­pres­sive to look at and give the course an iden­tity but also re­quire min­i­mal in­put. The key is go­ing lo­cal.

5th Won­der - Myan­mar

Ye­mon Is­land Golf Re­sort is one of Myan­mar’s most unique and fun golf cour­ses. High­lighted by a 200m “rick­ety” bridge cross­ing to go with square greens, tees and bunkers. Ye­mon Is­land is also a multi-use fa­cil­ity where golfers can also take a time-out dur­ing the round to en­joy a bit of fishing.

Myan­mar Golf Club rep­re­sents most of the golf clubs in Yangon - it is af­ford­able, sus­tain­able and a lot of fun to play. Large pago­das also sur­round the prop­erty and add to its in­trigue.

6th Won­der - Da Nang, Viet­nam

A few of the holes at the La­guna Lang Co Re­sort are flanked by rice paddy fields that were brought back into ex­is­tence dur­ing the con­struc­tion. This fea­ture not only in­flu­ences the play from a vis­ual and strate­gic per­spec­tive but up to 30 tonnes of rice is pro­duced from two har­vests a year.

The area around Da Nang saw some of the most in­tense fight­ing dur­ing the Viet­nam war, so its fit­ting that holes at the Da Nang Golf Club are routed to take ad­van­tage of some of the rem­i­nisce of the war. A sense of place is im­por­tant.

7th Won­der - Siem Reap, Cam­bo­dia

Siem Reap may be well known for its ex­pan­sive temple com­plex, but the Angkor Golf Re­sort and Sof­i­tel Angkor Pho­keethra Golf Course are both worth vis­it­ing if you want to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the unique coun­try­sides in­clud­ing the hun­dreds of thou­sands of date palm trees that dot the land­scape.

No­table men­tion: 8th Won­der Bangladesh

With nearly 90,000 rounds per year, the Kur­mi­tola Golf Club high­lights the growth of the game in the de­vel­op­ing world. Nes­tled on ap­prox­i­mately 100 hectares in the mid­dle of the city of Dhaka, this golf course is an oasis for wildlife in­clud­ing mon­keys and pea­cock. Surely a sig­nif­i­cant part of the en­joy­ment of the game comes from the player's aware­ness of the beauty of the golf course and the abun­dant wildlife that wan­ders freely there.

About Paul Jansen

Jansen 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.

The La­guna Lang Co Re­sort and the rice paddy fields

The rem­i­nisce of the Viet­nam war can still be seen at the Da Nang Golf Club

The 200m “rick­ety” bridge at Ye­mon Is­land

The Myan­mar Golf Club

The re­mark­able back­drop of Mount Salak

The River­side Golf Club

Royal Se­lan­gor GC with im­pres­sive back­drop of KL city cen­tre

Stand-alone res­i­dences bound­ing some of the holes at Carey Is­land

Delhi Golf Club (Lodhi course)

The tombs that dot the prop­erty cre­ate a very mem­o­rable golf ex­pe­ri­ence

Nuwara Eliya Golf Club

Royal Colombo Golf Club

The Ba­gan Golf Club in Myan­mar is one of the plan­ets hid­den gems

The Angkor Golf Re­sort

The Kur­mi­tola Golf Club

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