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Friday January 16, 2009

Golf fun over the straits

PICTURE this, you are with your usual foursome on your regular course. Your playing partners make par on hole number one, but you follow up with a birdie.

By all means celebrate, but the thought that this golf course has become way to predictable would surely have crossed your mind.

Entertaining: Enjoy a quick trip to Medan for a round or two of golf thanks to Maxis and Firefly.

Fear not, the answer is simpler than you would think. Just convince your foursome to get away for a weekend and sample Medan’s golfing delights.

Expensive you say?

Not true, because Firefly and Maxis have come out with a package that makes golfing in Indonesia’s third largest city about as affordable as many other courses in the Klang Valley.

And best of all, Medan is just an hour away from Subang airport’s Terminal 3!

There are quite a number of golf courses in Medan, but the media got to sample three very different courses on a recent visit.

A note of caution, however, the club­house facilities on all three courses we visited could be con­si­dered sub-standard. Changing rooms and F&B outlets are at a basic level. But this is expected to change in the near future because all three have embarked on upgrading work to improve the clubhouse.

Concentration needed: Hole No 18 at the Royal Sumatra features a tricky water carry.

Martabe Sejahtera Golf

Located on the foothills of the Sumatran forest and an hour away from the city centre, Martabe Sejatera Golf Club was the mastermind of renowned golf course architects Gus Grantham Construction 10 years ago.

The combination of both forest and hills makes the experience both challenging and beautiful. The course boasts of plunging drops and narrow fairways where controlled golfing is required.

Complete with skilful female caddies and much-required buggies, this 18-hole thriller spans a distance of 6,071m and with a par of 72. Golf equipment and shoes are also available for rent for the accidental golfer.

Website: www.martabegolf.com

Graha Helvetia Golf and Country Club

Designed by Gary Player in 1994, this 18-hole course is located in a residential area, just 15min from the city centre and offers generous fairways at a relatively short 5,421m. With certified imported grass, layered sand capping and specially engineered drainage, this par 72 course is well shaded by palm trees and is deemed friendly to players of all skill levels.

Graha Helvetia has large greens with four tee positions on each hole providing for more challenge and displaying of skills at every level.

Website: www.grahametropolitan.com

Royal Sumatra Golf

This private 18-hole par 72 golf course opened in 1998 and was designed by J. Michael Poellot Golf Designs. The course is a good half hour’s drive from the city centre nestled in the hilly area of Medan.

Sprawling over 6,018m from the blue tee, the course draws upon skilful play and challenges even the most discerning player to an interesting game. The course also employs unique holes with double fairways to choose from.

Email: royal_sumatra@yahoo.com

Non-golfing activities

Golfers are notorious for not bothering to go sightseeing or even shopping on overseas golf trips. This would be a mistake in Medan as the city still retains much of its colonial Dutch architecture.

The old City Hall, the central Post Office, the Water Tower, which is the city’s icon, and Titi Gantung (a bridge over the railway) lend Medan an air of nostalgia. There are several historic places such as Maimun Palace (Istana Maimun), where the Sultan of Deli still lives, and the Great Mosque (Masjid Raya) of Medan built in 1906.

One can find almost everything from fine jewellery, clothing, food and groceries at Medan Mall. It sells everything in bulk and is a place where the big retailers are. Sun Plaza which is located in the city centre is a big mall with lots of food choices ranging from eastern to western as well as a hypermarket.

Be sure to check out Medan Walk, a 24-hour food hangout that offers many mouth-watering dishes.

The Firefly/Maxis golf holiday packages start from RM600 (twin-sharing basis) for 3-days, 2-nights. This includes accommodation, daily breakfast, internal transportation, two rounds of golf with green fees and caddy fees and a half-day city tour. For more details, visit www.fireflyz.com.my

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