Els Club Teluk Datai debuted in December 2014 and it’s the third Els Club to be revealed to the golfing world, following the unveiling of The Els Club Copperleaf in South Africa and The Els Club Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Destination Resorts and Hotels entrusted The Big Easy to transform the old Ted Parslow-designed Datai Bay golf course into one of the most exciting new 18-hole layouts in South East Asia and it’s safe to say his design company duly delivered.
Due to the serious risk of monsoon rains eroding bunkers in the hilly terrain, a decision was taken to do away with sand hazards altogether, using grass swales and slopes to protect the greensites instead. Fairways have ample width but, because trees and thick vegetation line them, straying from the short cut grass is certainly not recommended.
A handful of holes visit the Andaman Sea and they’re by far the most impressive on the card. The first coastal hole, the par three 5th, begins a terrific sequence on the front nine that concludes with the second of back-to-back par fives at the 541-yard 8th,where water twice crosses the fairway on a sharply doglegged hole.
After a somewhat bumpy ride inland on the back nine, the routing returns to the shoreline for the final time at the 16th, a testing par four that veers right from tee to green. “Andaman Shores,” the signature hole, then follows at the 162-yard 17th with both tee and green hugging the water’s edge.
Els Design and DRH are also committed to further enhancing Malaysia’s golfing infrastructure with a couple of sensational new developments in the southern state of Johor. The 27-hole Els Club Desaru Coast complex and 18-hole Els Club Desaru Valley facility are both due to open by the end of 2016.
Marcus Hartup, Group Director of Agronomy for The Els Club Teluk Datai, commented as follows:
During construction, which began in October 2011 and ended with the grand opening three years later, the following amounts of materials were used on the project:
Gravel for drainage on greens, tees and fairways amounted to 6,300 cubic metres, sand capping for these three areas totalled 55,000 cubic metres and the volume of soil shifted from areas of rough and retainer walls came in at 40,000 cubic metres. Irrigation pipe totalled 8,680 metres mainline and 16,670 meters lateral.
The grass used on the greens is TifEagle (chosen for its multi-season hardiness, especially in hotter climates), while fairways, rough and tees are Zoysia (as it also suits the climate, offers a consistent growth pattern and good recovery in shaded areas).
Although some areas of the existing water courses were widened slightly to protect them from the risk of flooding, this was kept to a minimum and the golf course layout was designed around the existing stream routing to retain integrity.
A conscious decision was made to keep any tree clearing to a minimum during course reconstruction, including a replanting replenishment program to plant two additional trees for every one removed.
Holes 5, 6, 7, 8, 16 & 17 underwent major alterations but all other holes follow a similar routing to the original course. These also saw some major changes but, due to the nature of the surrounding area, limits were placed on dramatic routing changes for obvious reasons.
Having spent the winter of 2016- 2017 in Langkawi, I have played the Els course several times. The clubhouse facilities are excellent, welcoming bag drop, friendly staff in the restaurant, reasonable prices for food and drink. Good quality buggies with ice boxes and cold towels after 9 holes etc.
The course is beautiful and although i have never played it well, I do not think that it is very difficult. Ernie took away all the bunkers and widened the driving zones (I think) The holes by the sea are gorgeous but not particularly difficult. The only other course which is open on Langkawi (99 East is still closed) is Gunung Raya which I think is just as beautiful as the Els and more difficult. Play them both. David Laird