Surabaya - The Untold East Java Magnificence
An average golf tourists’ knowledge about golf in Indonesia typically confines to the likes of Jakarta and at best Bali. Southern Peninsula Malaysians (Singaporean golfers included) may favour the Batam & Bintan islands due to geographical reasons as well as connectivity. Here lies the opportunity of introducing the iconic city in the East Java; Surabaya.
Surabaya is the 2nd largest city in Indonesia with over 3.4 million population in the city while the metropolitan area has a population of 8 million. Historically, Surabaya was once the Dutch colonies’ largest city and a trade competitor to Shanghai & Hong Kong.
Just some months ago, Malaysia Airlines begun its daily flight operations to Surabaya while AirAsia has been operating up to 6 daily flights for many years. With flight time approximately 2hrs 40 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, this will be a great opportunity for more outbound golf getaways from the capital of Malaysia.
A quick check-in to Bumi Surabaya City Resort was indeed invigorating where an excellent 5 star property with authentic East Java touch awaits. Their lowest category room (Classic Room) measures a sizeable 425 sq ft and features Javanese artistry in all of its 242 rooms. Their breakfast spread has some of the best selection in Indonesia. Traditional culinary experience can be expected with pots and charcaoal-fire cooking and is really second to none when food authenticity comes to mind. Its central location makes it a very popular property favoured by golfers and internationl business travellers.
Just 45 minutes from the airport, our first stop was Ciputra Golf Club & Hotel which is a 27 hole facility designed by Andy Dye of Dye Design Corp. This course offers an array of playability for all skill level golfers as the designed mirrors the natural topography of its location. This is a very good resort course which has 3 nines named respectively – Valley, Lake and Hill course.
The Valley course boasts generous fairways which goes easy on wayward tee shots and OB areas are hardly treacherous. Their tree lines do not punish heavily but do be careful of its raised roots. The ball game changes when playing the Lake course. You have to be careful with your strategy as there are cleverly positioned bunkers and ponds which await you from poorly struck shots and incorrect distances. The rough also gets thicker and undulating compared to the Valley. At the Hill course, this is where the course slims down (but still picturesque) and your A game is needed to score well. The short Par 4s will greet you with tight landing areas and uphill undulations. Although Par 5s are shorter (400 to 424 meters off the blue tees), your second shot will require more commitment to get off the rolling fairways. The hospitality in club house and locker rooms were fantastic.
Located 75 minutes from Surabaya city center, our second round of golf brought us to Taman Dayu Golf Club & Resort. This 18 hole championship course was completed in 1995 by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. Set at the foothills of Mount Welirang, this course is true to The Golden Bear’s standards of layout and brings in its incredible nature to mind. Caddies are knowledgeable especially with the green reading. One of their signature holes, No #5 was a memorable one – this is the lowest point of the course and boasts a split fairway. The longer left fairway is a little more friendly and gives a clear view of the green on approach. The shorter distance right fairway requires a perfect approach to carry the creek and rice terrace. This is also a rare occacsion where a well struck tee shot in the middle fairway will be penalised by tough bunkers positioned there. You might need to use all fourteen clubs in your bag to navigate this course.
Just 10 minutes away from Taman Dayu, yet another splendid course awaits. Finna Golf & Country Club Resort which was designed by Thomson, Wolveridge & Perret truly captured the mountaineous view of the countryside while accentuated a challenging 18 hole layout.
Located on an altitude over 700 meters, playing golf in a virgin tropical forest comes to mind. The Hole #12 148 meter elevated Par 3 was definitely memorable with its terraced landscaping and rice paddies. While the fairway & green condition could be improved, it was a pleasant surprise to know that Finna Golf was once rated ‘The Asia’s Top 50 Golf Course’ and ‘The Finest Golf Course of Asia & Australasia’ by James Spence.
A well planned 4 days’ trip will be perfect for a getaway with the golf buddies. While the East Java golf experience culminating well designed courses awaits, do look out for adhoc promo air tickets from the 2 carriers and this golf holiday certainly will not break the bank.