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Discover The Malaysia That Suits Your Game, Part One

By:
Joanna Hall
 

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway and are also a golf fan, Malaysia may not be the first country which springs to mind, but the country has plenty of romance as well as golf diversity in a single destination. Situated close to the Equator, when it comes to golf experiences Malaysia has four different options which can be enjoyed year-round, from the highlands and the jungle, to the beaches and the city.

Combined, or taken separately, there are few golf destinations that can offer such variety. The courses are also easily accessible, allowing for an exploration of Malaysia through its golf courses in the Highlands, by sun-drenched beaches, surrounded by tropical rain forests in an eco-friendly environment, or simply “down town” close to all the action. The après-golf scene is just as memorable, with sophisticated living, romance, and exquisite food served up amidst a cultural diversity that lies at the heart of this multi-national country.

Quality Courses In Breathtaking Surroundings

Malaysia has an impressive lineup of top quality golf courses, many created by notable designers and in locations ranging from the tropical resort islands of Penang and Langkawi to the suburbs of capital Kuala Lumpur and other cities; from the mountains of the Genting Highlands to the rainforests of Sabah and Sarawak. Mixing and matching these vastly different experiences is remarkably easy. Just 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, for example, Awana Genting Highlands Golf and Country Resort is a tranquil escape 3,000 feet high on Malaysia’s longest mountain range. Besides an 18-hole golf course, you can also take a ride on Asia’s longest cable car system or explore the surrounding, ancient rainforest. 

The Best Have Played Malaysia 

Visitors from around the world can play on the same courses as their golfing heroes and heroines. As the world’s number one female player, Yani Tseng, said of Malaysia recently: “I would like to encourage everyone to visit this beautiful country, to enjoy golf on the many beautiful golf courses located throughout the country but also to take advantage of the many culinary delights and shopping facilities as well as the eco-friendly national parks. Come and find out for yourself – you will not regret it.” 

Few people realise that golf has been played here longer than anywhere else in the region. It was the birthplace of the current Asian Tour, when five-time Open Champion Peter Thomson suggested the idea to Malaysia’s founding father and then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. A keen golfer himself, he was also a firm believer in the value of golf on the diplomatic circuit. The first Malaysian Open in 1962 was won by Frank Phillips of Australia; since then, the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, VJ Singh, Lee Westwood, John Daly and Tiger Woods as well as many others have graced the country’s shores. Many stars competed in the World Cup for men and the inaugural World Cup for women, which were played in Malaysia in 1999 and 2000 respectively. 

More recently, with three annual tournaments co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the European and Asian Tours, Malaysia is also the host of the only PGA Tour event in South East Asia, when the top ranked golfers from the Fedex Cup participate a month after the Tour Championship in the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, a no-cut tournament with a field of 40 players. 

In the inaugural year, held at the Mines Golf and Country Club in 2010 and played shortly after the Sime Darby LPGA event – another no-cut event in which 40 ladies from the world’s top 50 money earners competed – Ben Crane took home the winner’s purse of US$1 million. In 2011, some of Asia’s star players, including Thongchai Jaidee, Jeeve Milka Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randawa, were joined by the likes of Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, KJ Choi, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington as well as top lady golfers Yani Tseng, Ai Miyazato, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Laura Davies. All played on the immaculate courses of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and The Mines Resort & Golf Club, which is situated next to a lake near the capital that was once the world’s largest open-cast tin mine. 

Winners of the Malaysia Maybank Open in 2012 and 2013 were Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) respectively with Korea’s Inbeen Park winning the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event and Nick Watney (USA) the CIMB Classic both in 2012.

Enjoy A Warm Welcome 

With over 200 golf courses, and nearly all open and accessible to visitors, you won’t have to travel far to find a wonderful new golf experience. You will also have plenty of time left to enjoy the many other delights on offer in every region of Malaysia. The country has an excellent transport system and frequent flights connecting Peninsular Malaysia with the Eastern states of Sarawak and Sabah, and not to mention Langkawi, Penang and Johor, allowing golfers to mix and match their golfing holiday experience in a number of exciting combinations. 

Aside from enjoying the traditional welcome and warm Malaysian hospitality, visitors can also enjoy a little romance, and absorb the culture of this unique country, where multi-racial harmony is the envy of many others around the world. English is widely spoken and is the common language for many golfers which will make the comfort and experience of travelling even more pleasurable. With incredible culinary diversity, every palate can be catered for and the gastronomy is at once reassuring and exotic. 

Malaysia offers a blend of Asia’s oldest civilisations – Malay, Chinese and Indian – in addition to historical Malacca, where the descendants of the Portuguese still proudly celebrate the traditions and customs of their forefathers in a city which, similarly to the island of Penang, known as the “Pearl of the Orient”, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Take Time, And Leave Your Worries Behind 

Beyond great golfing, make sure you allow yourself extra days to get the most out of your visit to Malaysia. The additional attractions of spa treatments, fishing, snorkelling, jungle trekking and shopping, along with the plethora of culinary delights, will make your golfing trip unlike any other! There is wildlife to be enjoyed amidst exotic surroundings, both on and off the courses. 

Safety and excellent medical facilities are also of paramount importance to all visitors, and the fact that Malaysia has been designated as the eighth best receiving tourist destination in the world by the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) bears testimony to the facilities that this unique and vibrant country has to offer. 

To encourage and assist all those who see Malaysia as a golfing destination, the recently-established Malaysia Golf Tourism Association has opened a dedicated office in Kuala Lumpur, committed to ensuring that every visitor enjoys the best possible golf experience. 

In part two of this editorial we explore some the various golfing experiences you can enjoy! To read it click here

To read part three, click here

And if you fancy your chance to win a luxury golf holiday to Malaysia for two, click here!

For more information on golfing in Malaysia, visit Malaysia Golf Tourism Association, www.playmalaysiagolf.com.

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