Located within a 765-acre property that lies alongside Pasir Panjang Beach, overlooking the South China Sea, Bintan Lagoon Resort’s two 18-hole golf courses – the Jack Nicklaus-designed Sea View and Ian Baker-Finch’s Woodlands – were first unveiled to the golfing world in 1997.
In contrast to the Sea View course, where golfers enjoy wonderful ocean views, the Woodlands layout is set within a dense rain forest, with fairways undergoing substantial changes in elevation during the course of a round. Although water hazards come into play at several holes, the aquatic aspect never feels too inhibiting.
Feature holes here include the downhill 8th, measuring all of 526 yards from the back tees, where sand, water and a lone specimen tree must be negotiated from tee to green. On the back nine, the 13th – known as “beauty and the beast” – is another terrific par five that looks great but plays tough.
Both courses at Bintan Lagoon are accessed via a private ferry that arrives directly at the resort within 75 minutes of departure from the Tanah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore.
I entered my name in a social media golf group of expat golfers in Singapore who had planned a weekend golf outing to Bintan Lagoon Resort in September 2019. While most of the group stayed overnight to play both the courses at the resort, I played just the one round at the Woodlands course and took a return ferry to Singapore on the same day. It was quickly apparent that the course condition wasn't anything to rave about, but the quality of the layout was a pleasant surprise. The Baker-Finch design has plenty going on, which makes for a testing golf round. The bunkering could very well be perfect as I found myself in many of the sand traps. The elevation changes and the dense vegetation on both sides of the course keep you interested at all times. I can’t really remember a weak hole, except for the short par 3 in the closing set of holes. I can remember some sensational approaches to greens tucked away or elevated with bunkers surrounding them. I am still waiting to play the other golf courses in Bintan - I am told Ria Bintan is the best. Hope to get on it soon.
What an interesting and exciting course. Having played a number of Indonesia's top courses recently, especially those in Jakarta, the elevation changes, blind shots and hazards definitely in the line of play on this course were a very refreshing change. This was my first taste of golf on Bintan Island.
The elevation changes are evident right from the first hole, a mid-length par 4. In fact the first three holes are all mid-length par 4's but very different due to having to negotiate up and downhill shots as well as blind shots and dog-legs. Even though it's a resort course, I found the hazards were often in the line of play or near enough that it called for bold shot-making. Also the jungle along the edges of the fairways is dense, so a ball off the fairway is often lost. The only reason it's not a top rated course is the conditioning was ok but not great, mostly due to some patchy greens.
Carts and caddies compulsory.
Agree it’s a captivating course
I largely played from the white tees but found it hard to get a lot of distance in the dense tropical air with soft wet fairways
Disappointingly there were a number of barren spots on the fairways even though there’s about 1,000 staff
Greens were fine
Carefully carved out of a genuine rainforest, Ian Baker-Finch’s course becomes more interesting the further you get away from the clubhouse and into the forest. The natural woods come into play on almost every hole and there are adequate ups and downs, so it seems that the course is suitable for medium to advanced players. All courses on Bintan Island except for this course utilize the ocean, but it is nevertheless a great forest course without the sea.
The par 5 517-yard 8th is reachable in two shots for long hitters with a good drive. In order to hit the green in two, the pond in front of the green must be cleared, so a long and accurate second is required. The par 4 406-yard 9th is slightly uphill with a pond on the right of the hole. The second shot needs to carry the pond and miss the well-positioned bunker in front of the green. The green is gently undulating, and it is a fun surface to putt on. The par 3 193-yard 14th is challenging with the water facing the front and left sides of the green. To read more about the Ian Baker-Finch Woodlands course click here to visit my website.