Voted best new course in the world in 2014, The Els Club is a new renovation by Ernie Els Design on a course sited in absolutely gorgeous territory on Langkawi Island, Malaysia
The original course was a Ted Parslow design dating from 1992. The Parslow course was known to be short but very tight, travelling almost exclusively through heavy jungle.
It was dramatic, but a missed fairway usually meant a lost ball….
A road ran along the coast, and one hole was built on the ocean side of the road, purportedly for the filming of 'The King and I'
The Malaysian govt became involved via a subsidiary entity in 2008, and purchased the Datai Bay course and luxury hotel 'The Datai' for redevelopment with a view to boosting tourism.
The course runs through 10 million year old tropical rainforest, so Els elected to minimise further loss of vegetation by using existing hole ‘corridors’ from the Parslow course within his routing wherever possible
And as part of the planning The Els Group identified the best land for the course as being taken up by the coast road and with the government on side, the road was moved! Thereafter Els was able to create a number of signature holes touching the Andaman Sea with views to Thailand. He stretched out the course a little and used land across the new inland road for four jungle holes.
So the new course has nice variety with the ocean holes, the jungle holes, and a number of beautiful holes where the rocky creeks are a major visual and strategic factor.
The all new playing surfaces are Zoysia on fairways and tees, and Bermuda on the greens, and they are in immaculate condition..
The Parslow course did have bunkering, but the wet weather at times of the year made them difficult to maintain, hence the Els decision to design a course without bunkers
Yes, that’s right- no bunkers on course at all!
Could the course be better with some carefully selected and strategic bunkering?
I am not sure, but they certainly are not needed from a visual or strategic point of view
Perhaps some green side bunkering could add definition to the target green, and assist with depth perception, but I really enjoyed playing the course without sand hazards.
Other than elite players, bunker play is relatively one dimensional for most golfers who hit a similar type of shot, and most often with the same club.
Not so with chipping and pitching, however where a variety of lies, slopes, and target areas demand use of different clubs, and a whole arsenal of shots...
So I thought playing a quality course without bunkering was quite refreshing, and I really enjoyed playing a variety of shots around the greens.
For this to work however the greens and surrounds must be shaped in such a way as provide a target that is stimulating to all levels of golfers.
Els has definitely achieved this at The Els Club, and has done so without significant movement in the greens. Although the playing surfaces including the greens were in magnificent shape the subtle lines made birdies hard to find. And the shaping of the surrounds flowed naturally into the greens giving multiple options on club and trajectory for the recovery shots...
The Els Club is now famous as the best new course in the world in 2014.
Most of the publicity comes in form of photos of the holes by the sea.
And deservedly so.
These holes are drop dead gorgeous, and will have your cameras working overtime.
They really are stunning!
But then there are holes through the jungle, holes across the rivers and creeks, and a number of lovely doglegs through the vegetation.
The variation in types of holes keeps you wondering what is around the next corner, and you are never disappointed…
There is nary a bunker to be seen, and not a weak hole on the course.
And for a bit of fun, the short par 3 fifteenth hole features a very large drop from tee to green, adding to the excitement
The Els Club is a quality course, in an all world setting.
We rate the course as a Travelling Golfer ‘must play’.
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The Datai Langkawi
The Datai Langkawi is a luxury resort located on the north west tip of Langkawi Island. It is a magnificent remote location which takes advantage of a gorgeous white sandy beach on the Andaman Sea with views to Thailand surrounded by lush tropical rainforest 10 million years old.
The resort has a unique design with the main building set 300 metres back from the sea, and 40 metres above it. Fashioned from wood and rocks by renowned architect Kerry Hill, the main building looks like it has been set in the jungle for centuries. Luxury villas are spread throughout the complex, but each fits into the rainforest canopy without compromising it. Guests can choose from a number of locations within the property including new, ultra private, butler serviced beach villas
Dining is a delight at The Datai- quality choices include malay, Indian, Thai cusine, fine dining international, and a beach club menu of mediterranean & international dishes. You can even organise a private candlelit beach dinner complete with a four course lobster feast under the stars.
Activities include golf at The Els Club ( best new course in the world 2014), Beach ( voted top 10 beaches in the world by National Geographic), Spa, Nature Walks, Hiking, Biking, Cooking Classes...
The Datai is a high quality resort with a quiet demeanour. Don't expect to see families with kids noisy around the pool. The Datai is a glorious refuge from the frenetic world outside and the perfect place to slow down ( and play some golf )
A Travelling Golfer 'must stay'
The Travelling Golfer
The Greenwood Report
The island of Langkawi is situated 30 kilometres off the north-western coast of Malaysia. It’s an easy flight from Kuala Lumpur and the island is a great holiday destination with tropical rain forests, great beaches, fabulous resort hotels that will suit any budget, good shopping and local restaurants. One little known fact is that all liquor shops on the island are duty free making alcohol purchases possibly the cheapest in the world! A highlight is the Langkawi Cable Car that climbs up the 700 metre Manchincang Mountain and provides breath-taking views across the south side of the island.
The Langkawi Cable Car – a must do experience while holidaying on Langkawi
The Els Club Teluk Datai reopened in 2014 following extensive renovations led by Ernie Els. The Big Easy said: “This is, without doubt, the most spectacular golf course setting I have had the pleasure of working on.”
It is a scenic woodlands course that has 6 holes built at least partially on Teluk Datai beach (Datai Bay) with stunning sea views. The course meanders its way through million year old rainforest cascading down to the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea and is overlooked by the marbled limestone peaks of the Mat Cincang Mountains. With natural streams flowing throughout the golf course, it's easy to lose focus on your game as you are immersed in such a serene environment.
“The Peak” 10th hole with a dramatic limestone peak in the background.
The course preserves the natural environment with a luxury golf experience. Many varieties of trees and plants can be found along the course including tropical hardwoods, bougainvillea, palms, ferns, vines and broad-leafed plants. There are plenty of resident monkeys and other native animals living around the course.
I had the pleasure of playing the course twice and it was raining heavily the second day when we arrived. After a delayed start, we found the course to be in fabulous condition due to the excellent drainage. Even after a mid-round 20 minute tropical storm, we resumed play after a short coffee break with little on-course evidence of the downpour.
There are so many memorable holes. My favourite is the double dogleg par 5 7th called “Teluk Datai” which opens up for your 3rd shot towards a beautiful seaside green.
The stunningly picturesque Andaman Sea at the end of a the 7th hole
The par-72 championship layout plays to a short 6,181 metres but provides plenty of challenge for low and mid markers and beginners alike. The immense variety of undulating fairways and greens combine to provide a highly rewarding golf experience. The fairways are mostly amply wide with excellent bunkering around the greens. An abundance of huge ancient trees line the fairways which might discourage the use of the driver on many of the holes.
The 8th hole “Eagle’s Nest” is a narrow par 5 that has a difficult 3rd shot to the green – crossing a wide water course that hugs the left side of the hole from the tee to the green.
“Eagle’s Nest” 8th hole par 5 with its challenging shot to the green
The 15th is also memorable from its highly elevated tee, plunging down to the green with a large pond catching anything short. It’s only 138 metres but club selection considering the 100 feet drop involved is difficult.
“Solitude” – the dramatic 15th hole par 3
Another picturesque hole is the 17th, a par 3 hugging the rocky beach which catches anything slightly right of the green.
The signature 17th hole “Andaman Shores” - a 155 metre par 3 across the beach
This fabulous golf course is topped off with luxury carts containing highly detailed GPS TV screens.
Luxury motorised carts contain excellent GPS TV screens
For the total luxury holiday experience, stay at the adjoining Datai Langkawi Resort set in lush rain forest with stunning views of the Andaman Sea.
Winner of the World’s Best New Golf Course 2014, The Els Club Teluk Datai is a spectacular golf course that is a must play on any golf bucket list. It’s certainly one of my favourites from around the world.