Three diverse and enjoyable nines on this attractive seaside course.
Part of the Sutera Harbour Resort Complex, the three Graham Marsh-designed nines of the Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club (Lake, Heritage and Garden) have played host to several major tournaments en route to being named the 2nd Best Golf Resort in Malaysia 2008. Set by the South China Sea with great views of several of the nearby islands, there are a variety of challenges on offer.
The Lake Nine is not misnamed, thanks to the long series of natural and man-made water hazards you will encounter on every hole bar one. The lake just short and right of the green on the par-3 2nd lurks ominously and makes for a nervy tee shot, especially as the wind tends to be against you. A similarly located lake on third causes similar problems, with the added pressure of being located directly next to the clubhouse with it's onlookers. The very long par-5 6th offers an opportunity to cut the dog-leg over water and sand that many will find hard to resist, although given it measures around 600 yards, even if successful you'll need to be a very long-hitter to stand a chance of reaching the green in two so it's a better bet to play conservatively.
Although water will only really be in play if you hit a disastrous hook off the tee on the short par-3 7th, you can't relax thanks to the five large jigsaw piece-shaped bunkers protecting a green that is pretty hard to find in the usual stiff breeze. There's water on both sides of the dog-legging par-4 9th, which offers up a geniune risk/reward equation for those thinking of cutting the corner, and the nine ends with an interesting par-4 with a split fairway, the choice of which should be influenced by the pin position relative to the three greenside bunkers.
The Heritage Nine, despite the great backdrop of Kota Kinabalu City, has a tranquil feel, despite not letting up in terms of the challenges thrown at you. The opening couple of holes are fairly sedate, with water unlikely to trouble you. The ocean to the right of the 11th fairway will only be found by the heaviest slice, so it is probably the wind that will cause you most difficulty as you try to avoid the numerous bunkers along this longish par-5. The 14th is a long par-4 where the landing zone off the tee is narrowed drastically by a large bunker either side of the fairway; pot bunkers and a lake by the green mean you've got to be accurate, or lucky, with your approach.
At over 200 yards and with stiff ocean breezes to contend with, the par-3 15th, whose green is protected by three large bunkers, can prove a tough test, despite the generously-sized green. The 17th is also a par-3, shorter but no less tricky thanks to the pot bunkers that punish anything short or long. Get through all this unscathed, and the 18th offers up a birdie opportunty, being a par-5 that is make-able in two. You'll have to flirt with water and sand to get there, but the bold play can pay off here.
While it's a generally good rule of thumb to avoid the third nine on any resort offering 27 holes, that doesn't apply here as the Garden Nine, depsite being a little easier than the others, holds its own. The 20th is a spectacular par-3 over water with a sprawling bunker punishing anything short and deep foliage making going too long not an option. The 23th is a short par-4 on which, with the wind behind, you could probably get pretty close to the green off the tee were it not for the massive bunker that cuts across the hole fairway around 50 yards short of the green. As it is, lay up on the generous fairway for a full short iron into a green that should offer up a birdie opportunity.
The signature par-4 24th plays along the coast to a green perilously close to the sea, requiring a nervy tee shot and a cautious approach to an undulating green that will make you work for par, while the round ends with the par-4 27th, featuring a very narrow fairway lined with casuarina pine trees that are best avoided.
Overall, it's a great course with some memorable holes. It's beautifully landscaped, the Bermuda grass is in generally good condition, and the ocean breezes, despite adding to the difficulty, are gloriously cooling. You can even avoid the sun entirely by playing a night, thanks to the newly installed floodlights. Aside from golf, there are extensive recreational facilities available on the attached resort, together with 14 restaurants, a high quality spa and a marina, meaning that as a package a golf holiday that takes in Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club is recommended.
Like the sound of this course? Secure a tee time and take advantage of the discounted green fees on offer by adding Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club to your Sabah golf holiday.
If you are travelling to other parts of Malaysia ask us to help you to organise a Malaysia Golf Package which features tee times at Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club.