At 12th hole, with par 3, you have a stunning backdrop of the South China Sea. At 13th hole, the par 4 has an unusual split green as a stream runs through it. The 16th hole offers a panoramic view of a lake with a horizon of trees. The 18th hole is characterized by large bunkers, rolling mounds of hills, and the red-orange tops of the resort rooms where you will retire for the rest of the day. And this is only one of the two championship golf courses on offer at this paradise property.
A short 55-minute ferry ride away from Singapore coupled with a 20-minute coach drive through stunning vistas, Bintan Lagoon Resort in Indonesia is every golfer’s dream. Ranked amongst the top 100 golf resorts in the world, the tropical weather, blue seas and lush forests make for delightful backdrops for an 18-hole or two. There is absolutely no traffic or residential developments around the area, so you have only sounds of nature to keep up the background score. The best part is: if you get tired of one golf course, you can just head for the other, both designed by top architects and each vying for the most exquisite landscapes.
The sea-view course, described above, was designed by award-winning American golf architect Jack ‘Golden Bear’ Nicklaus, and offers a maximum range of 6.4 kilometres. Having jumped out of the creative mind of the ‘Most Powerful Person in Golf’ (as awarded by Golf Inc magazine four years in a row), you can be sure to find some interesting turns and challenges – with five different tee locations – in store here. The first nine holes are jungle-lined, while the back-nine have gorgeous views of the ocean. In keeping with Nicklaus’s trademark architecture, water has been used often to create obstacles in play – three lakes pose threats at the short par-4 1st, par-5 5th and par-4 6th holes. The course also takes you uphill and down, towards the sea and away from it, in an undulating route.
For those looking for more challenge, the woodlands course is laid out over a dramatically changing terrain. Designed by Australian pro-golfer Ian Baker-Finch, this course has been rated by enthusiasts as the best ‘through-the-jungle golf course you’ll ever play’. The terrain here is more difficult for all level of players than the sea-view course, and has significant elevation changes and wildlife, including playful monkeys who head for whatever food may be in view. The maximum tee distance stretches over 6.2 kilometres for black tees. Its highlights include an elevated tee at 8th hole, a 526-metre par 5, which stretches downhill into the distance before rising to the green, and requires absolute precision as golfers need to negotiate shots past bunkers, a lake, and a solitary tall tree!
All golfers’ needs are taken care of: from caddies, equipment, club-and-shoe rental, a 31-bay undercover driving range, halfway house and a practice putting green, to even a massage service for aching knees or shoulders. In case you’re still learning the ropes, the Golf Academy at the same location offers a coaching for all levels of players – from thirty-minute individual crash courses on the basics to one-hour-a-day, ten-day programmes.
And it only gets better. Besides the par-72 golf, there is a full-fledged beach holiday to be enjoyed at Bintan Lagoon. Spread over 750 acres, the resort offers a variety of 470 rooms and villas, including golf carts on hire to take you across the property. There’s a choice of two fabulous pools, twelve restaurants and bars, and over thirty water sports and twenty activities. Go snorkelling in the South Sea, as I did with my family; or just laze about at the private beach enclosure where the water is calm enough to resemble a limitless pool. What are you waiting for? Swing right in.