Black Rocks Hotel and Golf Club is located on the gorgeous island of Belitung and this lengthy (7,255-yard) Ron Fream design debuted in 2019. The facility is named after the adjacent rock-strewn Tanjung Tinggi Beach, famous for its huge granite boulders.
Black Rocks is a resort style course designed to be the centre point of a large scale hotel, restaurant and housing development, from the same company that developed New Kuta golf in Bali. The first nine holes opened in early 2019 and the full 18 later that year; unfortunate timing as things were probably gathering steam into early 2020 when pandemic restrictions began.
The course has a number of advantages: it’s based on sand; has multiple large water features providing water security; it has an expansive footprint allowing for the future resort and housing development; and it’s located in a lovely tropical environment with one green right against the coastline. However, there are a number of disadvantages: Belitung island is not Bali and although there is (or was, and hopefully will be again) a tourist industry, it is tiny compared to that which supports the upmarket golf courses on Bali. Similarly, it’s not a short ferry ride from Singapore like Batak and Bintan islands further north are, so where are the golfers who are needed to secure this resort going to come from? Also, although the website spruiks a lovely large, well equipped resort, it is far from the truth right now. There is the course and a small temporary clubhouse. The course is already showing signs of difficulties with upkeep due to being in such a tropical location, to the point that many of the namesake feature ‘black rocks’ are already covered by vegetation. The greens were mediocre, the bunkers unkempt and the fairways okay, but they definitely weren’t the sort of firm sand based fairways you would find in a traditional links. Fortunately, the green fee price at Rp 800,000 was half of the original and fancifully inflated Bali-style cost.
The course itself was a challenge from the back tees at around 6200m (there were some tee boxes a little further back on some holes but I don’t think it would extend much further), with narrow sight lines to the fairways mostly framed by thick vegetation or water: be accurate with the long sticks or bring plenty of balls! Some of the approach shots also called for pretty aggressive golf.
If you’re on Belitung (a nice relaxed part of Indonesia) anyway, definitely play here, but I just don’t see it as a golf destination in its own right.