Malaysia: Asia's hidden golfing gem

Malaysia

Of the 55 countries
that comprise Asia, 53 have at least one golf facility and, of those, only five
have more than Malaysia.

Situated in south east Asia and separated into two parts - Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia - by the South China Sea, the country is home to 199 places to play golf, with more in the pipeline.

That’s because business is booming there. Fuelled in the main by its lucrative energy, the Malaysian economy is currently the 38th largest in the world. Whilst not as money-spinning as its oil and gas, Malaysia’s tourism sector is also helping boost revenue.

The number of international arrivals into the country each year grew from 16.4m in 2005 to 25.7m in 2015. Last year, that number jumped by 4% to 26.7m. Clearly, this is a country with lots to offer - and that rings particularly true for golfers.

Malaysias New Golfing Masterpiece The Els Club Desaru Coast

Malaysia got its first course in 1893, with the opening of Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. However, the majority of courses are much newer than that. Horizon Hills (top image) is a good example.

Built for a reported $10m, it opened in 2008 and, by 2010, it was on the European Tour schedule, staging three editions of the Iskandor Johor Open. The par-3 17th is arguably the pick of the holes, playing across water to an island green.

The Els Club Desaru Coast (above) is another ‘must play’. It only opened in November last year - the Sultan of Johar was, in fact, on-hand to do the ribbon-cutting - but it has already established itself as one of Malaysia’s golfing standard-bearers.

Its Valley Course is a unique 27-hole collaboration between Ernie Els and fellow former world No.1 and major champion Vijay Singh.

Saujana

Take your pick from three loops of nine: the Coast, the Ridge and the Lakes. There’s also a ‘Little East’ nine-hole course which provides great fun for all the family.

Desaru Coast is one of two facilities in Malaysia to bear the Els’ name, the Teluk Datai in Langkawi being the other. It opened in December 2014 on the site of the old Datai Bay golf course and has already been acclaimed as a modern classic.

TPC Kuala Lumpur, Clearwater Sanctuary, The Mines and Saujana are just some of the other places you can play on a golf holiday to Malaysia. Saujana, incidentally, staged the Malaysian Open between 1997 and 2007, counting the aforementioned Singh, Thongchai Jaidee, Arjun Atwal and Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth amongst its roll call of champions. 

So, for a golf holiday with a difference, consider Malaysia. You won’t regret it.

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