Ronald Fream's course at The Orient Golf & Country Club, 25 kilometres outside of Taipei, is an intermediate test of golf. The layout is friendly in that most of the holes afford a good look at the green which is helpful in terms of lining up the approach shot. The greens are heavily contoured and on a close cutting could be very tricky. The greens are a little smaller than many modern greens so a good round will involve some deft chipping. You are more than likely to be playing from grass as sand if you miss the greens as the bunkering is intelligent without being unduly punitive or intrusive.
The back nine has a little more feature and character than the front and is the stiffer test – featuring two par fours that measure 460 yards from the back tees. The 14th is roomy from the tee but then the approach is played into a green that is only 23 yards across and canted at a diagonal angle to the centre of the fairway. The 17th requires a drive that is kept left of a water hazard and then a second that must fly into a green which is tapered at the front to a narrow neck. The last hole is a stirring finale with bunkers arranged around all the landing areas for the first, second and third shots. If there is a weakness here in this otherwise well sorted layout it would be that the par threes lack a little drama.
The clubhouse facilities are an essential part of the golfer's experience and it is certainly worth mentioning the excellent design of the clubhouse at The Orient, which has won awards. It manages to be perfectly functional, very modern and yet sympathetic to its environment. It has been dug into the land so that the parking is underground and the second level of the clubhouse is at the same level as the back nine. This makes it possible to start the back-nine from the top of the clubhouse which itself is grassed so better to meld in with the environment.
Re-produced with kind permission from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia & Australasia by James Spence.