ONE of the shortcomings of golf is that it takes too long. Many critics of the game have pointed to the five hours or so taken to play a regular 18-hole golf course as the culprit for keeping more people from taking up the sport. Given today’s demand for time, one would find that argument hard to refute.
But golf doesn’t necessarily have to take that long, particularly if you consider that the concept of an 18-hole round is an arbitrary one that seems stuck in tradition. You could have as much fun playing just nine holes, or even taking your game to a pitch-and-putt type of course made up of par 3 holes. There is every expectation that new players will be more likely to take up golf when you present them with a game that takes no longer than a football match, and particularly if they don’t have to drive the ball prodigious distances to have a good time.
Luckily, there are more chances at doing so around the world than you’re likely to imagine. Here are four courses you can zip through in half the time taken to play 18 regular holes, without any compromise on quality.
Delhi Golf Club, India
India may not come to mind when talk of progressive golf is raised, but the truth is golf’s stakeholders there are looking at varied ways to grow the game. You won’t need to look further than Delhi Golf Club, located in the heart of Delhi, to see what we mean. As one of the most prestigious clubs in the country, the par-72, 18-hole Lodhi course there is noted for the many national opens it has held. Throw in the fact there are numerous centuries-old tombs strewn across the property and you have a club that reeks with historic significance.
But in the past year, they’ve opened a nine-hole course that may just point to the future of golf in India. The club’s nine-hole, par-31 Peacock course (1,881 metres) offers members a quick round before getting to work on time in the mornings.
“The original Peacock course was a flat par 30 of 1,735 metres, very much overgrown and not really being played by members. So a brief of trying to increase length and create more movement was given,” says Australia’s Phil Ryan of Pacific Coast Design, who worked on the new layout.
Apart from the obvious benefit of getting around in two hours or less, the Peacock course also presents an eco-conscious approach to golf design. “The original layout was fairly flat and certainly overgrown with weed ‘vines’ choking the beautiful trees lining fairways,” Ryan says. “The new design created more movement in fairways to assist in drainage and add challenge to shot-making. Recharge aquifer pits were also installed in fairways to channel rainwater back into the ground.”
What was a flat, featureless course has now given way to a layout given teeth by Ryan and his team. Greens are now elevated above the fairways, making the choice of club for your approach crucial. New bunkering further influences the strategy you take in getting aboard the putting surfaces.
“Delhi Golf Course has a number of ancient Moghul tombs scattered around, creating wonderful and unique backdrops for golf. On the Peacock course, the holes were routed to ensure that these were encountered by the golfer on their journey through the course. For PCD to build on such a palette of tombs and established trees was a real pleasure. The site team worked hard to ensure that bunkering and movement were compatible with the settings.”
Overgrown parasitic plants and undergrowth that inundated the course, obscuring much of the view, have been removed from the trees, opening up the course to reveal its original, natural beauty. Pacific Coast Design’s work was so well received that it won the Best Renovated Golf Course Award at the 2016 India Golf Expo.
Delhi Golf Club
Dr Zakir Hussain Road, New Delhi 110 003, India
Bukit Pandawa Golf & Country Club
If there were to be a viable solution to golf’s tackling of the time problem, one need only look at the new Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club. The 18-hole course located on the idyllic island of Bali is made up totally of par-3s and has earned high acclaim since opening for play last year.
Playing just 2,768 metres from the back tees and located on top of a spectacular limestone cliff overlooking the world-famous surf breaks of the Bukit Peninsula on the southern tip of Bali, Bukit Pandawa shows that a course doesn’t need to be long or made up of regular par 3s, 4s, and 5s to be breathtaking.
Designed by Bob Moore of California-based JMP Golf Design Group, the club is the first phase of a new hospitality project taking shape on Bali’s southern coast. It is currently managed by Accor Hotels and owned by luxury resort developer PT Bali Ragawisata, who plans to add hotels and residences managed by world-renowned brands Mandarin Oriental, Waldorf Astoria and Swissôtel.
“We’re setting the stage for everything that’s to come here,” said Stephen Banks, general manager of Bukit Pandawa. “We’re equal parts groundbreaking, eye-popping and extraordinary.”
Moore’s course offers 18 picturesque par 3 holes ranging from 107 to 223 metres in length. Some have the Indian Ocean as a backdrop, others are accented by waterfalls, lakes and terraced padi fields. All are subject to the strong winds that blow in from the sea.
“It can be a real test,” said Banks, a former touring professional from Manchester, England. “When the breeze is up – and it almost always is – there’s a good chance you’ll use every club in the bag. Even driver.”
One standout hole is the 135-metre 13th, which is framed by three bunkers and features curved walls of stone in the foreground and a traditional Balinese kul-kul tower in the background.
In designing Bukit Pandawa G&CC, Moore, whose firm is responsible for championship-calibre designs all over the world, including the acclaimed Royale Jakarta Golf Club in Indonesia’s capital, embraced the contours and characteristics of a site that was rife with rock outcroppings, architectural ruins and sea views. Indeed, the ocean is visible from 15 holes.
Bukit Pandawa’s 3,000-square-metre clubhouse, designed by Antony Liu and Ferry Ridwan from Studio TonTon and inspired by the ancient temples and towers of Bali, completes the five-star experience here. The twin-block structure was designed to blend into its natural surroundings through the liberal implementation of local materials (such as stone and wood), native grasses and, above all, water, which flows seamlessly through many of the building’s spaces.
That includes the singular facility’s signature component, the rooftop restaurant, which overlooks the ocean and course and features al fresco dining and lounge areas that ooze exotic elegance.
“We’re extremely proud of this project,” said Liu, who is one of Indonesia’s foremost modern tropical architects. “It perfectly harnesses what’s so great about the location.”
Not forgetting a splendid golf course, too, that allows people to play an entire round yet leaving enough time to do the other wonderful things Bali has to offer.
Bukit Pandawa Golf & Country Club
Jl. Gunung Payung, Banjar Panti Giri, Desa Kutuh, Pandawa, Kuta Selatan, Kutuh, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 472 5988
Turtle Hill Golf Club
Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda
The former British colony island of Bermuda is well known for many things, not least of which are the knee-length short pants that are ubiquitous on golf courses around the world. Located just two hours off the eastern seaboard of the United States, it’s closer to New York City than Kansas. Needless to say, during winter it’s a holiday haven for many Americans looking for sun, sand and, of course, golf.
Bermuda is home to many wonderful full-size championship courses but Turtle Hill Golf Club at the Fairmont Southampton hotel is one that you won’t want to neglect. It was voted one of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play Golf”, which means to say that if you bring your sticks to Bermuda, you won’t want to miss teeing it up here. And given that Turtle Hill Golf Club’s 18 holes are all made up of par 3s, that’s really saying something.
But these aren’t your run-of-the-mill pitch-and-putt holes we’re talking about. Designed by Ted Robinson, the whole course offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, made even more Instagram-worthy by their lush, sub-tropical surroundings. Don’t think that you’ll shoot a career round here. The dramatic elevations, while offering many selfie opportunities, are devilish to handle, and the strong coastal winds will do their bit in steering your balls off their intended lines.
Turtle Hill may only be 2,454 metres in length, but it will take all your skill to handle each one. If there is one thing you’ll need to bring – other than your photographic equipment – it is your short game. Miss the green and you’ll need all the touch you possess to save par.
Throughout the course are myriad bunkers, two water hazards and holes that move this way and that. But there are also three tee offerings to choose from. Even if you don’t bring your clubs, the fully stocked pro shop offers rentals as well as all the golf balls and accessories you’ll need to have a great round. And if you can’t get enough of the golf here, the concierge desk at Fairmont Southampton will also be more than happy to book games at the many other courses in Bermuda.
Turtle Hill Golf Club at Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda
101 South Shore Road, Southampton SN02, Bermuda,
+1 441 238-8000,
The Shark Goes Short
Closer to home in Melbourne, Eastern Golf Club will soon open its nine-hole par-3 course, to be called Shark Waters by The Eastern Golf Club.
Opening this spring and designed by Greg Norman Golf Course Design, Shark Waters has been developed to showcase the spectacular beauty of the wetlands; continuing the club’s vision to have a course facility that complements the stunning natural environment of the surrounding landscape.
While Shark Waters will have a set of designated tee markers on each hole, the exact routing will largely be left to the imagination of the individual, giving golfers the ability to tailor their own challenges and games. The approximate playing time is expected to be 60 to 75 minutes and all Eastern Golf Club ‘golf’ category memberships will gain access to Shark Waters.
The ‘figure-8’ design flow of the course will provide avid golfers with a variety of shot shapes, taking into consideration the daily playing conditions. The greens construction will mirror the 27-hole main course, with maintained turf areas cut at fairway height.
“We are very excited about the addition of Shark Waters by The Eastern Golf Club to our range of available golf experiences,” said general manager Ben Telley. “It will offer members and guests who have time constraints a shorter playing option while providing an environment that will test even the best golfers. The flexibility and freedom of the routing is perfectly suited to all levels of golfer, from juniors and beginners through to the professional toning their game.”