Negeri Sembilan, like many Malaysian states has many unique traditions and attractions, not the least being golf. Translated, it means – “Land of Nine States”, a term perhaps more pertinent in a bygone age when the state comprised of nine districts ruled separately by Malay chieftains. Till today the matrilineal Minangkabau culture is still noticeable in the architecture not only in kampong houses but also in modern buildings throughout the state.
Horn-shaped roofs adorn many structures, old and new. The Minangkabaus, who originate from Sumatra in Indonesia also brought with them their adat or traditions in particular the matrilineal kinship system. These traditions were apparent in marriage customs, property ownership and dance forms.
Golf is plentiful here with eight notable courses to choose from the distinguished Seremban Internal Golf Club, located in the state capital of Seremban to the further flung 18-hole Gemas Golf Resort. Some of the other courses include Staffield Country Resort, Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club, Port Dickson Golf and Country Club, Royal Palm Springs Golf Club, Royal Sri Menanti Golf Club and Tuanku Jaafar Golf and Country Club.
We take a look at Staffield, Nilai Springs and the Port Dickson golf courses, a combo that provides good variety in play and are all located within an hour or less from Kuala Lumpur.
Staffield Country Resort
Slicers beware, as a huge water hazard runs along the 7th fairway at Staffield Country Resort.
Located in Mantin, some 40 minutes via the old trunk road heading from Kuala Lumpur to Seremban, the 27-hole layout is also less than half an hour from Nilai Springs, making a double header within the same day very possible – playing Staffield in the morning then heading to Nilai Springs for an afternoon round.
There’s always a lot to be said about the advantages of playing any 27-hole golf course, from the very real prospect of finishing play on all the holes at one go to the chance of mixing and matching nines.
In this case we were content to play just 18 holes at the Staffield Country Resort, but opting to try a combo comprising the Northern and Western nines. Usually most players will do the conventional and championship pairing of the Western and Southern nines.
Starting on the 3197-metre Northern nine means you will be confronted with tighter and longer holes. The strongest holes will be the par-4s with the standout hole being the par-4 396-metre sixth which will require two long and accurate shots to make it regulation on.
There will a number of carries over water and good judgement must prevail when deciding when to go for the bold stroke or the finesse shot into the green. Playing off the blue tees will be a better test of character though a round off the white tees will make it much friendlier for average hitters.
The 3,108-metre Western nine is considered the easier of the two although it too will carry some challenging par-4s. It features an interesting finale in the 348-metre par 4 ninth which plays uphill with a green not visible from the tee. Long hitters can take the risky route on the right over the water hazard and sand trap but the shorter hitters will be well advised to play left and longer. Some players prefer to punch their second shots for the best results given the sloping lies.
Staffied Country Resort which has been in existence for two decades is in the throes of making improvements to its course, like changing its bunker sand in stages. It plans to begin enlarging its greens which have diminished in size over the years.
Overall, it still remains an interesting layout to play on. Designed by Graham Marsh and Ross Watson every visit seems to reveal something new.
- 13th Mile, Seremban-Kuala Lumpur Country Road
- 71700 Mantin, Negeri Sembilan
Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club
Hole 13 at the Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club.
Most golfers will only return to a golf course if they feel there are more mountains to climb. In other words, if the course plays quite differently from the initial experience or if there’s an extra nine to attempt, then the temptation will certainly grow stronger.
Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club fits the bill perfectly with different tees and 27 holes to choose from. Gazing at the layout from the clubhouse, one gets the impression of a well-conditioned, tree-lined tract that is pleasing to the eye.
But it is more than just eye candy as there are enough stout challenges to slake the thirst of skilful players who thrive on treading the tiger line and beating the odds on the tough holes. The mid and high handicap players will not be miffed by this as there are plenty of holes where they can score too.
Nilai Springs Golf and Country Club, which was designed by local designer David Lim, parades three nines–Mango, Island and Pine, so-named because of their inherent character. The Mango is said to be the most interesting, although I found the Island stretch of holes as equally dramatic with water carries, sloping lies and bunkers strewn in various landing zones.
The Mango layout plays 3056 metres through a series of elevation changes with tough encounters on Holes 1 and 9. A tough encounter awaits on Hole 9, a par 4 that plays 359 metres.
With water flowing on the left flank and a narrow fairway heading into a water-fronted, elevated green; it is probably one of the most dramatic holes on the course. Sprinkle a few grownup mango trees in the middle of the fairway and the equation for shot-making becomes more complicated.
For the conservative approach, try an iron off the tees, playing short of the trees followed by a layup to the edge of the fairway above the water. The aim will be for a three-on and hopefully to hole out for a par. A par here is precious.
The Pine nine features lots of pine trees and there are several holes, which will require some precision shots to succeed.
- PT 4770, Bandar Baru Nilai PO Box 50
- 71801 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
Port Dickson Golf and Country club
[use Port Dickson.jpg. Caption:] Typical of a woodlands-styled course, the both sides of the fairways at Port Dickson Golf and Country Club are flanked by trees.
Typical of a woodlands-styled course, the both sides of the fairways at Port Dickson Golf and Country Club are flanked by trees.
Port Dickson Golf and Country club, affectionately known as PD Golf Club, is a course that is rustic, charming, challenging, and pleasant to play, and best of all it is reasonably priced, especially during the weekdays. The idyllic seaside getaway town of Port Dickson is popular with both locals and foreigners, given its close proximity to Kuala Lumpur roughly (1.5 hours), and the KLIA roughly (45 min) by car.
The club also offers very reasonable accommodation, and golfing packages, which will suit most budgets, and best of all the golfing packages have meals included. Other facilities include a swimming pool, tennis courts, conference facilities and a driving range.
The course has many interesting holes, but Hole 2 on the front nine or Rusa nine is indeed a tough nut to crack. The par-4 plays to 373 meters, Index-1.
Played from an elevated tee box this hole is lined by tall trees both left and right, with an additional obstacle not visible from the tee, the water hazards, in the form of a drainage canal just beyond the trees to the right. There is a lone fairway bunker towards the right side of the fairway, which gives you a great starting line for your tee shot, which ideally should move from right to left in the air.
After a decent drive you should have between 100-150 meters left to a green which is large with subtle slopes, which should make for interesting putting, depending on how far you have landed from the hole. On the right hand side of the green there is a bunker, which is not too deep, so getting out of it should not pose much of a problem. Like many of the holes on this course your tee shot is critical to how well you will score.
- Port Dickson Golf & Country Club
- 5 ½ Miles, Jalan Pantai, 71050 Si Rusa,
- Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus