Describing Bali National is a challenge, firstly it is the greenest golf course I have ever played, sumptuous green rough that sucks up the head of your club, immaculate fairways and solid greens. The bunkers are well cared for and the sand is soft so easy to get your club under to play out. The signature holes seem to be a couple of par three's the 9th and the 17th, both Island greens well defended by an expanse of water. But beyond those holes the course is a bit boring, you start to feel like you are playing the same holes over and over again. It is an above average course and if you are in Bali and enjoy a game seek it out.
Rather typical overpriced Asian resort course: nicely conditioned, compulsory carts and caddies, plenty of greenery, large clubhouse and a formulaic mix of holes that are mostly forgotten the next day. There is a greater use of sand and a few water hazards on the back nine and the short island green hole at the par 3 17th are really all I remember. The course is definitely top ten in Indonesia, but nothing spectacular.
Based on the reviews below, green fees don't appear to have changed much and are Rp1.8 - 2.1 million depending on when you play (or about USD150-175). What has changed however are a number of the holes and all the marketing spin from designers or course management can't disguise the fact that the course was changed to pack in accommodation. Lots of accommodation and supporting facilities. The ninth, for example, has gone from being an interesting and challenging par 4 with elevation changes, to a nothing much par 3, so the land can be repurposed. The feature par 3 17th no longer has any views of trees or the water as a giant hotel is going up behind the green and villas will completely encircle the hole. And the 18th is a short dog-leg with water which is probably interesting the first or second time it is played, but then you realise it's a confected fairway wood or rescue lay-up off the tee because the design had to be constrained.
It's not all doom and gloom of course: if you're playing golf here you're probably on holidays on a tropical island and life is good, and if you're a local and playing golf here, you're much richer than most Indonesians and life is still good. Even with the changes, the tourists will still roll up and play, just like I did, and most won't know what they're missing. Progress hey?
I played Bali Golf & Country Club in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis. It was a trip to remember, as I was truly a rupiah millionaire for the duration of the holiday. When I cashed a £100 traveller’s cheque I walked out of the change bureau with a carrier bag full of banknotes to the tune of 1.6 million rupiah. As I was staying in an all-inclusive hotel, spending this money became a serious challenge and I ended up playing Bali G&CC using hire clubs purely to get rid of some of the cash! So I set off from the first tee in a cart with a mandatory female caddie glued, standing like a limpet to the back of the cart. The course itself reminded me of a hybrid of a number of courses I’d played across Florida and the turf was very similar in the way it totally disintegrated as soon as the club head touched the ground. Replacing a divot was never possible and it took me a few holes to get used to the way the turf responded to the club. I liked the variation of the holes and loved the closing two holes that played close to the coastline but frankly much of the layout blended into the nice but nothing special category. I found the course quite challenging, possibly due to the hire clubs or my new heady status as temporary millionaire. I would have liked to have played Nirwana Bali, but the facility wasn't fully open and also Bali Handara Kosaido, the original Balinese course located in the mountains, but sadly ran out of time as there is so much to do on this most charming Indonesian island.