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|Watch out for the bunkers at the Seremban International Golf Club in Malaysia. (Tim McDonald/GolfPublisher.com)|
You may get a little distracted by afternoon prayers, but the Seremban International Golf Club is a good choice for a solid round in Malaysia. The golf course features tight fairways, high rough and good views of the surrounding hills.
NEGERI SEMBILAN, Malaysia - So you've managed a drive that landed in the tight, tight fairway, left your approach short and chipped up to the green. Now you're standing over a 15-foot par putt at the Seremban International Golf Club.
The Malaysia heat envelops you like a warm bath, strange birdcalls are emanating from the forest, and you're still suffering from jet lag. Your playing partners are chattering away in an unknown language.
No matter. You're going to bury it.
Then, a loud, screeching noise erupts to your left. After a few seconds, you recognize it as a human voice, over a loudspeaker. You think it's some kind of emergency, an approaching thunderstorm, maybe. Startled, you swivel your head around, looking for lightning.
Then, another screech, even louder and closer, to your right, out of another loudspeaker and as if in answer to the first. You jerk your head that way.
Your playing partners chuckle and amiably inform you in broken English what's going on.
Welcome to golf in Malaysia. This is, after all, a predominantly Muslim country, and no golf course is going to interrupt prayers, no matter how crucial the putt. So, you go on to miss the putt, but now you have an excuse.
The Seremban course was built by a British planter in colonial times; needing a break from subjugating the natives, he apparently needed a new project. He started off with four holes, then added the rest of the course later.
Seremban isn't one of Malaysia's premier courses, of which the country has many. It doesn't enjoy the pristine conditions many of the other top courses do, and the greens and fairways are rather patchy in places.
But, it is located in a scenic location here on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, just south of Kuala Lumpur. The course is in Negeri Sembilan's capital city of Semberan.
It's laid out on rolling terrain that provides views of the surrounding low hills. The course has little ponds and is heavily treed with an assortment of palms, pines, casuarinas, spreading evergreens and a dash of flowering plants.
"Very pretty views" said Peter Bojesen of Denmark. "The course itself, not so good."
It's only 6,806 meters and with its tight fairways and thuggish rough, you'll be using your driver at your extreme peril on many holes.
More on that rough: It's called Cowgrass, a broad-blade grass that is much nastier than any rough you'll find in the U.S., with the possible exception of cactus and rattlesnakes in the desert out West.
This is one of those courses where you absolutely must stay in the fairway to have a chance at a decent score as almost every fairway is narrow and heavily lined with Cowgrass.
And though the greens are patchy in spots, they offer some more traditional challenges with some heavy slope and undulation. Many are mounded.
Though rough, literally, Seremban offers some pretty good holes, like the second hole, a 181-meter par-3 over water all the way, where you must avoid a big chute of bamboo off the tee.
The par-5 sixth hole has unseen water left and right, with a small, sloped and well-guarded green; No. 9 is uphill off the tee with a limited view of the green, followed by No. 10, which plays downhill to a crowned green.
No. 11 is a long par 4 with more hidden water, and No. 15 offers the best views of the hills.
Seremban International Golf Club isn't a course you would go out of your way to play, but it has its Malaysian charms.
The One World Hotel is one of those bright, ultra-modern Malaysian hotels. It's right outside Kuala Lumpur, a 20-minute taxi ride into the heart of the city and all its attractions.
It's a 20-story, five-star property with 438 rooms, built in 2004, and adjoins a giant shopping mall, called Utama, which has hundreds of stores, a cinema complex and a 36-lane bowling alley.
All the rooms have a private bar, satellite TV and high-speed, wireless Internet service.
There is a fully-equipped fitness center with hot tub, four tennis courts and an outdoor swimming pool.
There are several restaurants on site: Cinnamon, which serves local and international food buffet-style; Kura Japanese Restaurant, open for lunch and dinner; the Pool Bar Grill, where barbecue is served in the evenings Thursday through Saturday; the Sphere Lobby Lounge, serving international food; and Zuan Yuan, serving Cantonese dishes.
It's a very business-oriented hotel, with a 3,200 square-meter grand ballroom, including a foyer, two junior ballrooms and six meeting rooms.
Room rates are very reasonable, starting around $123.
September 17, 2007
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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