Nestled in the foothills of the imposing Gunung Raya (“Celebration Mountain”), the 18-hole layout at the Gunung Raya Golf Resort occupies three hundred acres of a former rubber plantation on the island of Langkawi, off the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Designed by Max Wexler and opened for play in 1998, the course is one of three 18-hole layouts on Langkawi – the others being the new Els Club Teluk Datai in the northwest of the island and the older 99 East Golf Club in the south, near Kuah, the district capital.
Within a lush landscape, golfers will encounter beautiful rolling greens, panoramic views from elevated tees, well-maintained fairways, cleverly contoured bunkers and several strategically placed water hazards – all of which provide an exhilarating golfing experience for visitors.
Notable holes at Gunung Raya include the 207-metre 7th (a long par three played to a two-tiered green), the 500-metre 10th (where water runs along the left of the hole as it doglegs right to the green), and the 423-metre 18th, which plays uphill to the elevated home green.
This course is really something special. I have played it perhaps 100 times and it still inspires me. It is one of the most beautiful courses that I have ever played. Every hole is a vista with a mountain or the clubhouse or a tree fromation or something at the end behind the green.
The course is very under played and you never need to book a Tee time. You turn up pay for your buggy and off you go.
Playing from the blues, the course is long enough and from the blacks it is really long particularly the par 3’s. The condition is good though depending on the weather it can get a bit burnt up. Strangely in the write up no mention is made of the par 5 2nd hole. This is one of the hardest par 5’s that I have ever played. You must place your drive on the right of the fairway but too far right and you are in the water hazard. Everything slopes left to right so tends to push your second shot (if you got your drive in play) to the right and then you are blocked by palm trees. The green is undulating and difficult to read. All along the left side is very high rough (it could also be called jungle) in which you lose your ball. The hardest par 4’s are the 12th and 13th, both of which require a well placed long drive and then a second shot over a scrubby water hazard. The 12th green is small, narrow and slopey.
The 15th is a gorgeous par 5 down hill to start with, over a burn and then to a well protected green. It’s not hard if you hit a good drive.
Both the 9th and 18th are long par 4 ‘s going uphill requiring long drives and long second shots.
All the par 3’s are long possibly too long but both the 8th and 10th are par 5’s where even I can get up in 2.
The holes are lined with a marvellous assortment of trees and lots of very high rough so if you are wild you will suffer although the fairways are relatively wide.
You will see Macaques and sometimes Dusky Leaf monkeys, hornbills, monitor lizards and many different colourful birds.
Come and play it and enjoy it. Spend some time in paradise.
Gunung Raya is harder than the Ele Datai course and almost as pretty only lacking the holes along the sea.
David Laird May 2018