GOLF does the rounds of three of them.
The Empire Hotel & Country Club
The par-4 18th is magnificently placed between the sea on the left side and a large bunker on the right. You need to drive well from the elevated tee box straight down the fairway which runs downhill to the green which is tucked right up to the cliffs. This index one hole measures around 435 metres from the black tees, and if you keep yourself on the fairway and make par on this hole, it’ll feel like a birdie.The Empire Hotel & Country Club’s 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed course, which is located in the luxurious resort’s 180 hectare property, is quite superb. The front nine is very different from the back nine as the holes overlook the sea but are set high and back within the vegetation. Holes 10–18 are undoubtely the tougher of the two and are set on the same level as the South China Sea. There are narrow fairways and smooth fast greens with water only really coming into play on five of the holes. There are also plenty of bunkers to make up for the lack of water hazards, with many dotted around the 18 holes, in particular the gorgeous signature par-5 15th content, where the left side of the fairway – almost from tee box to green - taken up by one huge bunker.
The Empire also offers night golf which is welcome respite from Brunei’s tropical heat. Facilities at the country club include a golf school, a pro-shop, driving range, Bunker Bistro restaurant available plus other sports facilities such as tennis, badminton and squash courts, bowling, kayaking, swimming pool, gymnasium and spa. The hotel itself sports facilities such as an 11,000 square metre Lagoon Pool, beach and cinema.
- Address: Jerudong, Kampong Jerudong BG3122, Brunei Darussalam
- Tel: (673) 241 8222
- Website: www.theempirehotel.com
Panaga Golf Club
This club which opened in 1929, is the Burnei Shell Petroleum’s social, sports and leisure facility which is located midway between Kuala Belait and Seria in the south of the country. In 1964 an 18-hole links-style course was completed and it hosted the first Brunei Open in 1978. At 439 yards, the index-one eighth hole is regarded by the members as the most difficult hole on the course. There are only a few bunkers and therefore, its challenges lie in its length and thick wet rough, particularly on the right side of the fairway. The 13th is one of the longest par 4′s on the golf course and a great challenge, even for the low handicapper. The hole is characterised by the twin peaks of ‘Thompson’s Hill’ (or Bukit Thompson), approximately 185 yards from the tee. This man-made hill has the distinction of being classified by the Guinness Book of Records as the lowest hill in the world soon after it was constructed in the 60′s. While there are few serious hazards from the tee once Thompson’s is cleared, the second shot requires a much more demanding result. Average players will have approximately 180 – 200 metres remaining to an enormous sloping green. Indeed, the 13th green is the largest on the course, being fully 40 metres from front to back. There are two large greenside bunkers, one on each side, and to catch any shot slightly pulled a pond to the left and forward of the green.
Facilities include a driving range and practice facilities, Arts & Crafts Room, Library, Mums & Toddlers recreational facilities, Skateboard Park, Dancing, Music Lessons, Swimming Pools, Gym, Tennis Courts, Badminton Courts, Basketball Courts, Sailing Club, Outdoor activities (Football, Hockey, Cricket, Rugby).
- Address: c/o Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd, Seria 7082, Negara Brunei Darussalam
- Ph: +673 3 373 142/372 936
- Fax: +673 3 333 607/372 333
- Website: www.panagaclub.com
Royal Brunei Airlines Golf Club
This club is situated 20 minutes away from Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begawan and is also next to Brunei International airport. Designed by Max Wexler, the par-72 course was Brunei’s first public course and is currently owned by their national airline. The course runs alongside the airport runways but interestingly has a lot of water – in fact 14 of the holes have water hazards – so you need to have your wits about you. The 16th and 17th holes are bordered with man-made lakes and the lush layout features native flora and fauna with the fairways made up of Tifway 419 and the greens Tifdwarf grass. The greens can be deceptive and as it is quite exposed and especially challenging if it’s a windy day. Facilities include a floodlit driving range, pro shop and restaurant.
- Address: Jerudong Park, Jerudong BG 3122, Brunei Darussalam
- Tel: (673) 234 3724/27