Off Jalan Tun Razak,
55000 Kuala Lumpur,
- +60 92063 333
2 miles E of Kuala Lumpur city centre
Before 8.30am via certain hotels/travel agencies
George Hemmant, Nelson & Haworth
Enjoying a very central position within the city of Kuala Lumpur, Royal Selangor Golf Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs in all of Asia. It was formed in 1893 by a group of like-minded expatriate businessmen and the club now operates an extensive golf complex on land very close to the world famous Petronas Twin Towers.
The founding members played at Petaling Hill for over twenty five years before being forced to move to their present location when the government acquired their estate for use as a public park. Over a ten-year period, starting in 1921, work continued at the new venue – nine holes at a time – until a wonderful pair of 18-hole courses evolved.
Extensive renovations to the fairways were carried out after World War II as the Japanese army had used the grounds as a barracks, complete with airstrip, during their three and a half year occupation. Twenty years later, an additional 9-hole circuit was added, shortly after the club had been granted its Royal status, giving members a fine 45-hole golf establishment.
The New course fairways are routed around the front nine of the Old, affording the outward half an extra layer of seclusion and because the estate was originally part of a tree planting research facility by the Forestry Department, many mature Tembusu trees and man made ponds – legacies from the previous tenant – add greatly to the ambiance at many of the holes.
The Old course at Royal Selangor hosted the Malaysian Open between 1962 and 1986, then again in 2002, when Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth defeated Australian Stephen Leaney in a play-off after both had tied with a four round total of 17 under par.
Recent reconstruction and remodeling by the respected design company of Robin Nelson and Neil Haworth resulted in the return of top flight golf to Royal Selangor in 2016, when the club hosted the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia. This event, which Australia's Marcus Fraser won, was played on a composite course comprising the front nine of the Old course and back nine of the New course.
Architect Brett Mogg from Nelson & Haworth commented as follows:
One of the Asia’s most historical golf courses, The Royal Selangor Golf Club, has occupied its current site close to the centre of Kuala Lumpur since the early 1900s. Although the club occupies a lofty position in Malaysian and Asian golfing circles, its golf courses spiraled downward in prestige, due to a combination of deteriorating conditions and the inevitable comparisons with more modern golf courses throughout the capital.
Nelson & Haworth was engaged to completely renovate both New and Old Courses. The goal was to raise the quality, playing conditions and strategies of both courses, while respecting and building upon the traditional nature of the courses and their largely flat, tree lined character.
The renovation of RSGC involved the reconciliation of many conflicting issues and goals. Although the large trees that line the course embody the very soul of RSGC, they had also seriously choked down the course over the years and were largely responsible for the poor turf conditions. Many needed to be removed to improve playability.
The retention of most of the existing trees limited the available grading solutions as there was a need to "tie-in" golf course elevations at the tree line. This limit in grading solutions also presented a problem with solving the drainage problems of the course.
For the most part the existing routing was retained in order to limit the clearing of trees. However there were a small number of significant changes that have had a major impact upon the club. Large among these changes was the moving of the tennis courts from in front of the clubhouse to a less prominent position. This enabled golf to re-occupy the prime position in front of the clubhouse.
The current Old Course was built over a tenyear period (1921-1930). George Hemmant and Committee created the design. Charles H. Alison did some remodeling in 1931 as did Ron Fream in 1983. The Nelson & Haworth company finished a major renovation in 2008.
The club’s location is unique, being almost part of the central business district. Thus members can drop by for a quick nine holes before or after work. From the course there is an up-close panoramic view of the impressive city skyline. Kuala Lumpur is noted for its many skyscrapers. The tallest are the Petronas Twin Towers and The Exchange 106. Petronas was the tallest building in the world from 1998 to 2004 at 1,483 feet and 88 floors. The partially complete Exchange 106 is 1,542 feet with 106 floors. I asked See Tum why there are such tall buildings in Kuala Lumpur and he said it’s a macho thing for the politicians to demonstrate Malaysian power. The country looks prosperous on the surface but is supported by a ton of debt. Exchange 106 is on a third ownership. At one point it had 50% guaranteed occupancy, but now it is only 10%.
The terrain is basically dead flat with an occasional up or down slope. The course has an abundance of mature tall trees. The front nine is entirely tree-lined, which results in narrow holes. The back nine is a mixture of some tree-lined holes and some more open. Water is a significant factor on these open holes.
There are 92 bunkers with many in the fairways. Water comes into play on seven holes. The back tees are 7,017 yards. Ten years ago fairway Cow Grass was replaced by Seashore paspalum so there was normal roll on tee shots. At the same time TifEagle grass was installed on the greens making for smooth putting. The European Tour Malaysian Championship was held here in 2016.
For me the unique aspect here was having one of my prized Noodle balls stolen on the 11th fairway. Lurking in the trees on this hole are hundreds of monkeys that like to pilfer golf balls. These guys are really fast so perusing the culprit was impossible.