Our pick of the best golf courses in Malaysia from some of the world's leading golf course architects
Malaysia, a captivating Southeast Asian nation, offers an exceptional golfing experience with a diverse range of world-class golf courses. From the bustling capital of Kuala Lumpur to the tranquil highlands of Cameron, Malaysia's golf courses cater to players of all skill levels, against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery.
One standout course is the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, host of the prestigious CIMB Classic. It presents a challenging layout amidst lush greenery and strategic bunkers, all within the heart of the capital. The Els Club Teluk Datai in Langkawi, designed by Ernie Els, offers golfers a unique rainforest golf experience with stunning views of the Andaman Sea.
Forest City Golf Resort, situated in Johor, Malaysia, features an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Golfers can enjoy challenging play amid lush surroundings, with meticulously crafted fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and serene vistas.
The Royal Selangor Golf Club, rich in history, is another iconic course in Kuala Lumpur. It provides a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.
Saujana Golf & Country Club, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is another premier golfing destination with two 18-hole championship courses - Palm and Bunga Raya. These meticulously designed courses offer a challenging and scenic golfing experience.
The Mines Resort and Golf Club, situated in Seri Kembangan, Malaysia, is renowned for its 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. It offers a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience amidst lush greenery and serene lakes.
The Els Club - Desaru Coast, located in Johor, Malaysia, is an Ernie Els-designed golfing paradise with two distinct courses, the Ocean and Valley. These courses offer golfers breathtaking sea views and lush rainforest surroundings, creating an unforgettable golfing experience.
Kota Permai Golf & Country Club, located in Shah Alam, Malaysia, is an acclaimed golfing destination. Designed by Ross Watson, this 18-hole championship course offers a challenging yet picturesque golfing experience amidst lush fairways and strategic water hazards.
Glenmarie Golf & Country Club, nestled in Shah Alam, Malaysia, is an esteemed golfing destination. With two 18-hole courses, the Garden and Valley, this club offers a challenging golfing experience amidst lush greenery, serene lakes, and well-manicured fairways.
Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, located in Johor, Malaysia, is a prestigious golfing venue. This 18-hole championship course, designed by Ross Watson, offers golfers a scenic and challenging experience with rolling hills and well-maintained fairways.
Malaysia's golf courses offer a delightful combination of sport and natural beauty, making them an attractive destination for golf enthusiasts from around the world. Whether you're an experienced golfer or a novice, Malaysia's diverse courses promise an unforgettable golfing adventure in a setting that showcases the nation's scenic splendor.
Two great courses in immaculate condition with a hotel on site
Forest City Golf Resort, located in the heart of the visionary Forest City development in Johor, Malaysia, stands as a shining beacon of golfing excellence. This 18-hole golf course is a part of the larger integrated township, designed to harmoniously combine modern urban living with the tranquility of nature.
Designed by the world-renowned golf course architect, Jack Nicklaus, Forest City Golf Resort boasts a meticulously crafted layout that challenges and delights golfers of all skill levels. The course seamlessly blends into its natural surroundings, offering a serene escape from the bustling city.
Golfers are treated to picturesque views of lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and water features that not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also provide a formidable test of one's golfing prowess. The well-maintained course offers a unique and rewarding golfing experience, with the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, making it a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Complemented by world-class facilities, including a clubhouse, driving range, and well-trained staff, Forest City Golf Resort is more than just a golf course; it's a gateway to a holistic leisure experience within a futuristic urban landscape. Whether you're a seasoned golfer or a beginner, this golfing haven promises an unforgettable and tranquil escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.
A perfect combination of golf and the natural environment - from jungle to ocean
The Els Club originally opened in 1992 and was known as the Datai Bay Golf Club and was always famous for its wonderful mountain scenery and the untouched rainforest. Since then the course has been completely renovated by the four-time major champion Ernie Els and reopened as the Els Club Teluk Datai in 2014. The redesigned course is bordered on one side by the rainforest and on the other side by the Andaman Sea with the natural streams meandering across the golf course. One of the features of the old course was the local flora and fauna which was home to numerous monkeys and other native animals and although many of the monkeys have been relocated they have managed to preserve and protect the natural environment and surroundings. The course is quite short and only measures 6,700 yards and is not too difficult partly because there are no bunkers at all on the course although the jungle lines both sides of most fairways and serves as a backdrop to most greens so anything offline is probably a lost ball.
Some of the most exciting holes are alongside the Andaman sea and the signature hole is the par-3 17th with a daunting tee shot across the beach to a green right on the edge of the water. The clubhouse has been totally rebuilt and it is extremely luxurious serving superb food overlooking the golf course.For those who know their professional golfers, the name Els is stands out in the name of this golf course, which is in Langkawi. The overall environment and setting is lovely and it’s easy to gaze at the features of the course, such as the natural streams and take your eye off the action. Impact on the environment was one of the key features when the course was created and local nature is apparent at every turn, including bougainvillea, palms, ferns, parasitic vines, tropical hardwoods and broad-leafed plants, With undulating fairways and greens, expect to be playing your ball from various lies throughout the round but with the course in such great condition, you can rely on a making a true shot, every time. With golf and nature perfectly combined, Els Club Teluk Datai is one of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
Play in the footsteps of the many champion golfers who have played and won here
Another course within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur city centre, the renamed TPC Kuala Lumpur boasts two champions golf courses. Having recently joined the PGA Tour’s TPC network, the first club to have this honour in Southeast Asia, TPC Kuala Lumpur has hosted some great events, including the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the European Tour’s Malaysian Open, between 2013 and 2015. The club is also the home of the CIMB Classic, winners of which include Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore. The West Course is the longer and more testing of the two courses at TPC Kuala Lumpur and was totally revamped and reopened in 2008. The views of the holes and scenery around the course are gorgeous and combine with the quality of the fairways and greens, to produce one of the best golf courses in Malaysia. Just be aware of the water, which comes into play on 13 of the 18 holes.
The best of the holes on the front nine is the par-3 4th, which although it is only 140 yards long you play to a small green which is heavily bunkered front and back. The 9th hole is another very strong par-4 with a challenging uphill approach to the green. The back nine is more difficult and also more attractive and there are many more water hazards to negotiate. The 11th for example, is an excellent par-3 with a water carry all the way from tee to green. As you end your round 14 and 15 are great fun and although the 14th only measures 350 yards there are extensive bunkers on the fairway and a lake in front of the green.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. this course has hosted many major international events
As its name suggests, the Mines Golf Club was built on the site of one of the largest open-cast tin mines in Malaysia. The Mines Golf Course is part of the massive resort complex which extends over more than one thousand acres. The golf course was designed by world-famous designer Robert Trent Jones Jr and when he came along the land was heavily polluted as a result of the mining operation and considerable work was required before they could start work on the course. At least twelve inches of sand has been laid underneath the entire course to protect against potential pollution from the mining operation and as a result the drainage of the course is excellent, even after heavy rain. The Mines has won numerous awards and it always appears near the top of any list of the best golf courses in Malaysia, and indeed in Asia. It has also hosted numerous professional golf events and in 1997 Tiger Woods won the world cup of golf at this course. The course is just under 7,000 yards from the championship tees but providing you play off one of the forward tees and most golfers will enjoy a round here. The course demands very accurate approach shots to the undulating greens but it’s not too difficult to find the short grass on the very wide fairways.
The front nine passes through the tropical jungle which encroaches alongside many of the fairways. The pick of the holes are the short par-4 6th with a downhill tee shot with plenty of trouble if you miss the green to the left. The most memorable hole on the front nine, and arguably on the whole course, is the par-3 2nd requiring a daunting tee shot across a ravine with a huge tree as the aiming point. As you reach the back nine, the course opens out and many of the holes follow alongside the huge lake which was left over from the tin mining operations.
An 18-hole championship course which has hosted numerous professional events
Kota Permai Golf & Country Club is located in the township of Kota Kemuning, just 30 minutes from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, is another example of a great Malaysia golf course. This 18-hole championship course, designed by Ross Watson, has played host to the Asian Tour Masters on multiple occasions and was used as a venue for a qualifying event for the World Cup of Golf. The golf club has earned several top awards over the years and continues to offer visitors a fantastic round of golf. The course is suitable for golfers of all abilities and blends in nicely with the surrounding nature and wildlife. Always in tremendous condition, water hazards and bunkers make for a strategic and pleasing round of golf on a course which continues to set high standards.
The course was refurbished in 2004 and most greens and tee boxes were rebuilt to USGA standards. They also added a two-tier driving range and upgraded the clubhouse.The courses meanders through the 170-acre site with quite a few elevation changes but it is very playable with no blind drives or severe doglegs and most of the greens are quite accessible. The small ponds and larger lakes are evident on many of the holes and it appears as if water is flowing throughout the course.
The 364-yard 2nd is generally regarded as the signature hole with water in play off the tee and a single pot bunker right in the middle of the fairway and you then have to contend with a pond which protects the front of the green.
The par-4 15th hole measures close to 450 yards with water along the left of the fairway and bunkers and the out of bounds area along the right. The final hole is also memorable partly because of the great views from the tee box but don’t linger too long as you need to negotiate this 550-yard-plus par-5 to successfully complete your round. The course feels like it’s been there forever, and flows wonderfully through the undulating terrain with each hole presenting a unique challenge in a wonderful setting. However the course requires careful course management with many “Risk & Reward” opportunities to be considered, especially for the more accomplished golfer.
One of the most testing layouts in the country - especially the "Cobra" course
The first home of the Malaysia Open, is Saujana Golf and Country Club, which is situated 17 kilometres west of Kuala Lumpur and like TPC Kuala Lumpur, is home to two excellent golf courses. The Palm Course, nicknamed ‘The Cobra’ was the first course in the country to host a joint European and Asian Tour event and although it is not the longest course in the county, the layout is certainly one of the most testing. Undulating fairways, with big changes in elevation and sloping greens are aa challenge for professionals and amateurs alike. Although the Palm Course hosts the big events, the Bunga Raya Course has remained popular with the locals and it’s easy to see why. A more undulating and tighter course than the Palm, half of the front and back nine holes, are played across old railway tracks and there is plenty of elevation on the fairways, in addition to the fast and sloping greens. With the surrounding jungle and wildlife, Bunga Raya competes well with the Palm, for not only the title of top course at Saujana Golf and Country Club but as one of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
The Palm Course has been built on the site of the former oil palm plantation and has earned the nickname as “The Cobra”. This is because when the oil plantation was active, cobras were let loose to control the rats although I am pleased to say that cobras are no more prevalent here than anywhere else in Malaysia. Part of the reason that the Palm Course is so challenging is because of the extremely fast and sloping greens and if you overclub on your approach you can be left with some impossible downhill putts. There are plenty of undulations on the fairways as well which means that you are often playing from an uphill or hanging lie. If it is any consolation the course gets slightly easier on the back nine. One of the most memorable holes is the par-3 2nd with a tee shot over a deep gully to a green surrounded by palm trees and guarded by out-of-bounds on the left and three large bunkers on the right. If you are lucky enough to make the green with your tee shot then putting is extremely difficult on the undulating surface. This is followed by a huge 600 yard par-5 which plays downhill off the tee and then back uphill to the elevated green which has two tiers which again makes putting extremely difficult. It is not easy to get to play on this course unless you know a member but if you do get the chance to play here, you will be rewarded by one of the most exciting golf days on offer in Malaysia.
A Max Wexler masterpiece - 36 holes of rolling hills and moderately undulating terrain
About 30 minutes’ drive from the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, is Glenmarie Golf and Country Club. This 36-hole course, is regarded as being one of the best in Malaysia and it’s to see why, with great conditioning and lovely landscape throughout. Designed by American Max Wexler, on what were rubber estates in the past, there are two, 18-hole courses with rolling hills and moderately undulating terrain throughout. Both courses are similar and the Garden Course comes complete with a nice array of local flora and fauna and a large lake, which is home to several species of bird. The course is open and well-spaced and the main test is judging approach shots to the greens, which are fast and undulating. The Valley Course has pine trees framing quite narrow fairways, with water coming into play on several holes. However, it’s perhaps the changes in elevation which are the most challenging factor on the Valley Course, with blind tee shots and tight drives throughout. Glenmarie Golf and Country club is home to two of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
Another Ernie Els Masterpiece overlooking the South China Sea close to Singapore
The Els Club Desaru Coast was opened in 2016 by the Sultan of Johor and is one of the two golf courses which form part of the Desaru Coast facility on the southeast coast of peninsular Malaysia. The two stunning layouts have been constructed within a 4,000-acre development located along an amazing 17-kilometre stretch of coastline bordering the South China Sea. It takes just under two hours by road from Singapore to reach the resort or you can take the fast ferry service which takes around 30 minutes.
The Ocean course consists of three different 9-hole layouts: The par-36 Coast, par-37 Ridge and par-36 Lakes. There’s also a short 9-hole track which is great fun for all the family. Each course has its own unique characteristics with some personal inspiration from Els, but the design concept was modelled on the many links courses to be found across the UK with huge undulating greens and firm catchment areas designed to place a premium on an accurate short game.
The signature hole on the Ocean Course is 2nd which is a 575-yard par-5 on the Coast course with great views of South China Sea. You drive towards a generous landing area before the fairway narrows as it approaches the green, The most difficult hole on the scorecard is the 475-yard 9th on the Lakes course with a fairway which doglegs slightly left to an elevated green with a blind approach to a green surrounded by bunkers.
There are two sets of tee boxes on each hole which gives golfers the opportunity to play the course multiple times from varied starting points and its creative design allows the holes to be played in more than one direction.
The golf carts, which are permitted on the fairways, are fitted with state-of-the-art Visage GPS system and there is a fully grassed driving range and short-game practice areas. The 261 Bar & Restaurant serves excellent food.
Another great championship course in Johor designed by Ross Watson
Moving to Johor and another great Malaysian golf course is Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club. Designed by Ross Watson and opened in 2008, this 18-hole, par 72 international championship course features many significant elevation changes, between tee to green on several of the holes. With bunkers, man-made waterfalls, lakes and ponds providing the hazards, Horizon Hills offers a challenging and varied round of golf. There are many risk-reward holes throughout the course, a good example being the par-5, second hole which has two creeks to navigate and those who are unsure about taking them on, would be well advised to lay up short. The final hole, which is also a par-5, has an island fairway, which can be found from the tee, but is a risk at 250 yards and sums up exactly what Horizon Hills Golf Country Club is all about.
Royal Selangor Golf Club
The club has a long history dating back to 1893 when the idea of having a golf course in Kuala Lumpur was first discussed
Royal Selangor Golf Club, located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a prestigious institution with a rich history, exceptional golfing facilities, and a strong tradition of excellence. Established in 1893, it is one of the oldest golf clubs in Malaysia, making it an iconic part of the country's golfing heritage.
The club features two remarkable golf courses, the Old Course and the New Course. The Old Course, designed by Commander H. S. Colt, is a par-72 layout that blends tradition and modernity. It boasts a challenging design with well-placed bunkers and undulating greens.
The New Course, designed by Nigel Douglas, is a par-72 layout that offers a different golfing experience with its unique design and challenging features.
The Royal Selangor Golf Club also provides a comprehensive practice facility, a well-appointed clubhouse with dining options, and a pro shop stocked with top-quality merchandise. It continues to be a sought-after destination for both local golf enthusiasts and international visitors, combining a sense of history with a commitment to excellence in the heart of Malaysia's capital city.