Bali Handara is literally the coolest place to play golf in Bali !
The course was designed by Thompson, Wolveridge and Fream and opened in 1974.
Sited inside the crater of a dormant volcano in the central highlands of Bali, the course is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and views of nearby crater lakes. At 1200 metres above sea level, the climate at Bali Handara is appreciably cooler and less humid than the more popular and populated areas of the island, and so offers nice relief for the travelling golfer.
It is however a bit of a hike from the resorts, and Bali's lack of road infrastructure makes the journey more of a challenge. Bali Handara Resort is definitely off the beaten path!
When we played the course the fairways and rough were a little long and untidy, and upon questioning our caddies we found that the course owned 2 fairway mowers and 2 rough mowers, and all were out of action! Despite the lack of maintenance the course was fine to play, and exhibited a unique tropical charm.
On the other hand the bent grass greens were in terrific shape and the best we played in Indonesia.
Bali Handara has a proud history and was at one stage rated amongst the best 50 courses in the world!
The terrain has plenty of elevation change, and the designers use the encroaching vegetation, strategic, and penal bunkering, and quite a number of snaking 'scottish' burns to keep the player honest.
There were times however when the combination of long wet fairways made the carry over the burn in front of a green just too much of a challenge!
And perhaps over the period of years the tropical vegetation has advanced a little further on doglegs and tightened holes more than perhaps originally intended. The first hole with its down and cross hill tee shot is perhaps such an example.
The standout hole at Bali Handara is the par 4, third hole
Rated as the hardest hole and playing 435 yards from the tips the tee shot is made from an elevated position hitting down into a valley. The hole turns 90 degrees right, and the perfect tee shot must be struck solidly to fly some mature trees on the inside of the dogleg. Anything short or right is either lost or blocked out by the trees.
Having found the centre of the fairway with your very best tee shot you are now faced with a shot from perhaps 180 yards to a green protected by a scattering of mature trees, and a creek meandering across the fairway at an angle. Once again the player has to commit to carrying the trees as the gaps between are not contemplated as an option.
It is quite a bizarre hole, and like nothing I have seen.
It is also great fun, and very picturesque!
Sometimes it is nice to forget what is 'fair' and go along for the ride- it is a hoot!
Other than the 3rd hole, Bali Handara has no standout holes, but quite a number of solid holes that are a good test of golf.
Whilst I am glad I experienced Bali Handara it is not in my opinion a Travelling Golfer 'must play' destination.
If however you are in Bali and looking for somewhere different to play Bali Handara is a nice old world experience in a cooler , more rustic environment
Other Courses in the Area
Bali has 3 other courses of note:
Bali Handara is part of a resort which includes accommodation and dining facilities
The Travelling Golfer