The Els Club Datai Bay, routinely voted most scenic course in Malaysia and rated as the best in the country by Asian Golf Monthly in 2009, is the course that put Langkawi on the golfing map. Hewn out of 8,000 acres of rain forest reserve, it is a truly spectacular course which feels like an adventure and where every hole has its own personality. The huge range of flora and fauna is matched by the immense variety of challenges on offer.
You'll be treated like royalty upon arrival, as befitting a course that forms part of a 5 star resort, with exemplary service, free drinks on hand and helpful marshalls. The course itself is likewise fit for a king. However, said monarch better be good at golf or he is gonna lose quite a few balls around here. This is a deceptively long jungle course where missing the narrow fairways can have catastrophic consequences for your scorecard. Even shots that you catch flush can be cruelly diverted into oblivion by a rogue branch.
The fairways are a delight, the ball sitting up invitingly on the Bermuda grass; the natural undulations make a shot from a completely flat lie something of a rarity though, meaning you have to take care that a perfect drive isn't followed by a shank into the woods to join the onlooking monkeys. Sometimes a draw or a fade is required as the dog-legs are generally impossible to cut, and the numerous blind shots require some careful planning. The rough is tough to escape from, and the meandering stream that runs through the course greedily gobbles up balls that you'd expect to be safe.
Although the greens aren't quite on a par with the fairways, this is only a relative complaint as compared to most greens they are excellent, running fast and true. Either way, you may not even notice given how spectacular the course is. The fantastic scenery is enlivened by the aforementioned monkeys (no leaving food in the golf buggy) and massive lizards that call the course home, and each hole is so lovingly crafted around the contours of the jungle that they each have their own distinct character.
The par-3s are particularly memorable, especially the elevated tee shot on the 15th to a small green far below that is fronted by lakes, and the famed 19th hole. While not technically part of the course (although you can play it as the 17th), it's the best hole. Your tee shot must carry 185 yards of the Andaman Sea to a small green framed by the mountains in the distance - it's a mind-blowing sight, amongst the most exhilarating golfing moments it's possible to experience. If there's nobody behind you, it's hard to resist donating a few extra balls to the azure waters.
After changing in the sumptuous changing rooms and relaxing with a refreshing drink in the cook clubhouse, it's hard to imagine how a round of golf could have been more satisfying short of playing Augusta or Pebble Beach. Datai Bay Golf Club is golf at its best.
Like the sound of this course? Secure a tee time and take advantage of the discounted green fees on offer by adding The Els Club, Datai Bay to your Langkawi 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 The Els Club, Datai Bay.