GOLF COURSE REVIEW: The Els Club Teluk Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia
The World’s Best New Golf Course
I still remember an article of a German golf magazine, saying the Els Club Teluk Datai was just bestowed the title ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the inaugural World Golf Awards hosted in Portugal, 2014. Besides the award a few very impressive pictures of the golf course caught my attention and I knew: I WILL PLAY THIS COURSE.
Actually the island of Langkawi was not on our bucket list when we decided to travel to Southeast Asia, but that changed right away. In May 2015, we arrived on this beautiful island in the Andaman Sea and I couldn’t wait to finally play a round on this award-winning golf course. Is it really the Best New Golf Course in the world? Is there really not one single bunker on the course?
Let’s find out!
As usual BoB and I tested 4 different categories:
- Design & Scenery
- Difficulty & Course Condition
- Facilities & Service
Maybe good enough for foot golf
This course is ready for the PGA Tour
Before I start with the test watch our video about The Els Club Teluk Datai to get a few impressions of the course.
Design & Scenery
The Els Club Teluk Datai was designed by… surprise, surprise … Mr. Big Easy, Ernie Els. The 4th time Major winner has already proven that he knows how to design pretty cool golf courses but I think with the Teluk Datai he created his masterpiece.
The par 72 championship course is 6,750 yards long and situated in the northern part of Langkawi. The course meanders its way through an over 10 million years old rainforest cascading down until it reaches the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea. It is overlooked by the impressive limestone peaks of the Mat Cincang Mountains and spoils the golfer with stunning views on every single hole. You play along tropical hardwoods, palm trees, bougainvillea, ferns and parasitic vines while resident monkeys and other native animals cross your way.
Even though the course was built on a hilly terrain, the front nine are surprisingly flat. But that does not mean that they are easy to play. My personal favorite was the 569 yards long hole number 7. A double dog-leg par 5 with one of the most scenic greens I have ever seen.
There are more elevation changes on the back-nine. The 15th hole par 3 for example. Playing 151 yards it has some 100 feet of elevation change from tee to green.
All in all, I really like how The Els Club Teluk Datai protects the environment and preserves the natural surroundings. But be careful, it’s very easy to lose focus of your game as you are immersed in such a scenic environment.
This might sound like a perfect design and scenery, however I can’t give 5 BoBs because a few holes look very similar and therefore I sometimes missed a bit of variety.
Difficulty & Course Conditions
A golf course without a bunker sounds strange, right? Acutally I really missed them during my round. It might sound weird and don’t get me wrong, the course with it’s immense variety of lies; uphill and downhill with undulating fairways and hard greens; is challenging for both, beginners and avid golfers alike, but for me this course was just a bit too easy. Yes, there are a few waterhazards and yes, the wind can make a difference but to be honest you will find that on every other golf course as well.
I know Ernie was concerned about the rainy season in Malaysia and that the bunkers would not be playable during that time. But doesn’t every other golf course in Southeast Asia face the same “problem”? The rainy season lasts only for 2 months and usually it just rains for 2 hours a day. I have never heard of a golf course having problems with too much rain. Anyway, I don’t want to focus too much on the bunkers.
Let’s talk about the course conditions. As you can see on the pictures and in the video the greens were undergoing aeration just a few days before I played my round with BoB. But besides the greens the course was in absolute perfect condition and you can see that it was completely renovated and reopened just lately in 2014. I have to admit that the greenkeepers do a fantastic job. No complains at all.
Facilities & Service
The Els Club Teluk Datai offers everything you need. A well stocked pro shop, a nice driving range and putting area, locker rooms and a restaurant. Sounds like every other good golf club BUT it is not.
After checking in, you find a bag tag engraved with your name on your locker in the changing room. The golf cart is free and equipped with free drinking water (in an ice cooled box), a GPS navigational system to determine the yardage, a ball cleaner and a club cleaner, tees, ball marker and towel.
The service staff drives around the golf course to give you more free cold water, they clean your clubs after the round and carry your bag back to the car. Leaving the 9th green they offer you a cold towel and a refreshing iced tea and after the 18th… they do it again ? .
After working in five-star hotels for over 10 years I know what it means to provide a good service. The team of The Els Club Teluk Datai is beyond good!
As usual we tried a club sandwich after the front nine to recharge our batteries and it was absolutely delicious and sufficient for an affordable price (only Ernies wines are quite expensive). I just had a short look at the showers but everything was clean and very inviting, just like the rest of the facilities.
My rental clubs were excellent and I even had the same Driver (Titleist 910 D2) I played at home.
All in all, the facilities were very close to perfection! If you wonder why I don’t give 5 BoBs: In comparison to other golf courses I missed facilities for families (small playground, pool etc.) and more practice facilities for the short game.
Okay, okay. The Els Club Teluk Datai is very pricey (especially for Malaysian conditions) BUT it is totally worth it. You don’t play the course to just play a round of golf. See it more as an investment in great memories you will never forget. ?
Here are the prices: (They have very often special deals on their homepage and facebook. You should check them out before reserving a tee time.)
Daily Rate: RM650 = US$175
Daily Fee Replay (same day): RM150 = US$40
Daily Rate Bounceback (within 3 days): RM550 = US$150
(Special rates for Malaysian & Singapore Residents available)
Groups & Corporate Days (12+): RM450 = US$120
Driving Range daily fee (91 balls): RM45 = US$12
Caddy Fee: RM80 = US$22 (+ tip)
Titleist Club Rental (per round): RM150 = US$40
Footjoy Shoe Rental (per round): RM30 = US$8
The golf cart, the drinking water and of course your personal bag tag, are already included in the daily fee.
So, is it the Best New Golf Course in the world? It obviously is for others and I haven’t payed many new golf courses to compare, so it probably is. But there is something about the course I don’t like. Sorry Ernie, but playing a golf course without bunkers is like eating a vegan steak. Something is just missing. I think the whole bunker issue is a very good marketing trick and it obviously works out great because everybody talks about it.
There is no doubt that The Els Club Teluk Datai is one of the most scenic golf courses in the world and the service and the facilities are excellent. If you are looking for an unique golf experience in a preserved natural environmet and you have a few coins left, this golf course has to be on your bucket list.
I had a wonderful time testing this golf course together with BoB and even if it sounds sometimes like I missed the bunkers so badly, it was one of the nicest golf courses I have ever played in my life.
BoB’s final rating:
Golf course facts: The Els Club Teluk Datai, Malaysia
ESTABLISHED: 1992 / renovated and reopened 2014
LENGTH: 6,750 yards
PRICE: RM650 = US$175 (18 hole greenfee)
BEST SEASON: November – April
GUESTS ALLOWED: Every day
SPECIAL: Awarded as the ‘World’s Best New Golf Courses’ at the inaugural World Golf Awards 2014
More impressions of The Els Club Teluk Datai
Now it is up to you. Buy a plane ticket to Langkawi and play the Best New Golf Course in the world. I’m 100% sure you will love it. Or have you played it already? Leave a comment and tell me your opinion about the course.
Thanks for reading! And as usual, if you have any questions, please write me a short email or leave a comment.
Have a bobtastic golf day!