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|Tiara Golf Club in Melaka is located about an hour south of Kuala Lumpur. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
How developed is Malaysian golf? Golf in Malaysia has a rich history dating back to its days as a British colony. The first club opened in 1893, Royal Selangor Golf Club in the heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur.
Golf really exploded in the 1980s, however, and today there are over 200 golf courses in the country.
Is golf in Malaysia expensive? Golf considered a rich man's game to most Malays, whose average salary is about 2,000 RM a month. But to European and North American standards, it's very affordable. Many clubs cost between 50-100 RM, plus cart and a caddie.
Is Malaysia a westerner-friendly nation? Malaysia is officially a Muslim nation, though only about 60 percent practice Islam, but it's also a very diverse and tolerant country, a melting pot of Asian nations like China, India, Thailand and Indonesia. They especially receive many Australian tourists.
Kuala Lumpur is a very cosmopolitan city and has all of the offerings one would expect in any Asian metropolis. There are no homeless in Malaysia, even in the biggest cities, and the country's unemployment rate is under 5 percent, so it feels very safe to foreigners.
It would be a good idea not to mess around with drugs here, though. It's a very serious offense, and if caught with a large enough amount, you could be sentenced to death.
What are the golf courses like? It depends on the region, but many are cut out of thick jungle. They are rolling and hilly, while some are along the coast. The older courses use a native "cow grass" that is a thick, weedy-looking grass that might be off-putting to westerners used to bent and bermuda. Others are beginning to use seashore paspallum along the coastline, while the majority use bermuda grasses like Tifdwarf.
Is there night golf in Malaysia? Night golf is big in Asia, as it's cooler at night and also can be played after working hours. Many resorts offer night golf but not every night and usually just nine holes. So it's best to check for which days night golf is offered at each particular course.
What are the caddies in Malaysia like? Caddies can range from 20-35 RM for 18 holes plus a 10-25 tip depending on the club. Some clubs like Saujana Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur have a 25 RM tip minimum. Local Malay caddies are usually men, while other clubs import Chinese, Thai or Indonesian caddies who are female.
What about gambling? In the north of Malaysia, 6,000 feet above sea level, the Genting Highlands has Malaysia's only casino resort: the Genting City of Entertainment. The casino is 200,000 square feet and features all your standard tables. Of course, Muslims may not gamble here.
How do I get to Malaysia? Malaysian Airlines is the national airline and flies to worldwide destinations including North America. In the United States, they fly out of Newark Airport (EWR). Kuala Lumpur's airport is just 10 years old and is very sleek and easy to navigate. It's a 45 minute drive from K.L. and just over an hour from Melaka (also spelled Malacca).
What is the World Amateur Inter-team Golf Championships? It's a very large and popular amateur golf tournament that is staged yearly in Malaysia, dating back to 1991, that brings together teams from all over the world. Each team attends a qualifying round somewhere in Malaysia, and the winners are invited back in December all expenses paid for the finals. It's staged at a different club each year, though always one of the area's best.
What languages do they speak in Malaysia? The official language is Malay, though English is widely spoken at resorts and golf clubs, and there are English magazines, newspapers and TV channels. Chinese is also used often, and the Indonesians and Malaysians are usually able to understand each other as their languages are very similar.
What is the weather like? Is there a rainy season? Malaysia is 2-4 degrees north of the equator, so temperatures are going to be pretty consistent all year long. As for rain, there are two monsoon seasons that are rainier than the other seasons, but you can still golf during this time. The northeast monsoons range from November-March (which affects the east coast most, not western K.L. and Melaka) and the southwest monsoons from May through September.
Is there a high/low season? Rates at golf clubs are usually the same year round.
December 16, 2008
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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