Golfers heading down south will do well to check out what could soon be one of the must-play courses in Johor – Senibong Golf Club, located just off the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link Expressway within the city limits of the state administrative capital of Iskandar Puteri.
Senibong Golf Club is by no means a new golf course. Formerly known as Poresia Country Club, a 36-hole Pete Dye layout that opened for play way back in 1990, the property was acquired by highly-rated Australian developer Walker Corporation a few years ago. The club has engaged Singapore-based golf management and instruction specialists Champions Golf to professionally manage its golfing facility.
Over the last year or so, extensive renovation works have been carried out on two nines, with the rest of the golf course lined up for property and commercial development. Currently, nine holes of the revamped course are in play with the fully-renovated 18 expected to open for play this October.
“The new greens are turfed with Bermuda Tifdwarf from Saujana Scape & Greens in Kuala Lumpur, which is the same grass used for the greens at Kota Permai,” said Champions Golf general manager Saha Kamarudin.
“The new greens are only around three months old but are already running at 9.5 on the Stimpmeter. We target speeds of between 10.5 and 11 by the end of the year,” he added.
Built on undulating terrain which was former oil palm plantation land, the course has a lush, mature look and feel but is generally forgiving off the tees. Steep drop-offs and hollows around the greens, however, demand a sharp short game if you wish to score well. Dye’s signature railway sleeper-lined bunkers remain a threat to misdirection on some holes.
The Champions Golf team has done a great job in keeping the cowgrass fairways well-manicured and really tidy. Even the rough and undergrowth beneath the imposing stands of palm trees are uncluttered, which is a huge boon when you are looking for stray balls.
The well-designed two-storey clubhouse is in great nick as well, with a simple and speedy flow from the bag-drop and registration counter to the comfortable changing rooms and buggy staging area. The spacious golfer’s terrace has an excellent range of local and international cuisine, put together with much love and creativity by Pakistani chef Sheikh. There’s a pleasant alfresco area next to the practice green, ideal for chilling over a few post-game drinks and snacks while tabulating the on-course bets.
“Senibong Golf Club is a more tourist-orientated golf course but we do have a few holes that are really very tricky. We feel that this can be a good venue for amateur events and junior tournaments, so hopefully we can host or organise some when it is permissible to do so,” said Saha, adding that they will start work on a new driving range once the renovated full 18 is ready.
Prior to the Movement Control Order, Saha noted that roughly 80 percent of their golfing traffic was from Singapore due to the club’s proximity to the second link via exit 312 (Gelang Patah). “This is the nearest golf club from Singapore – it takes just eight to 10 minutes to get here once you clear Malaysian immigration!”
With the border still closed for leisure travel, Saha noted that business has been sluggish since golf was allowed to resume in early May. However, there has been a recent surge in the domestic market, especially with Senibong Golf Club forming a ‘golfing triumvirate’ with Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club and Forest City Golf Resort, both located within a 20-minute drive.
Indeed, Senibong Golf Club’s more old-school layout provides a nice contrast to its two modern neighbours.
“We are planning to collaborate with Horizon Hills and Forest City to market Iskandar Puteri as a golfing destination in itself. Golfers like variety and that’s exactly what they’ll get here,” shared Saha.
“For play-and-stay packages, we’ve tied up with a few hotels in Puteri Harbour such as Jen and Somerset, as well a number of other hotels in Bukit Indah, all within a 15-minute drive of Senibong. There’s a lot to see and do around here, such as the Puteri Harbour Waterfront, shopping malls and Legoland, along with many excellent restaurants … so it’s a great place to bring the family as well,” he stressed.
On your next golfing trip to Johor, work in a round at Senibong Golf Club. You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
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