Standing on the first tee of the Gary Player-designed Ria Bintan golf course, one cannot help but feel in awe. With magnificent jungle views at every angle, gentle ocean breezes kissing your cheek, and the exotic sounds of tropical birds (and pesky monkeys) in the trees, you can easily be lulled into a relaxed, hypnotic trance.
But the trance is instantly broken when you realise the task at hand.
“Watch out for those trees on the right, or you’ll have no shot at the green,” advises my playing partner, a local. “But don’t hit it too far to the left either, or you’ll end up in the lake,” he adds. “Best to just hit it up the middle – but avoid those deep bunkers in the centre of the fairway.”
“Um…sure. No problem,” I reply shakily.
In truth, the par-5, 529m first hole is just a sample of the challenges that lay ahead on this magnificent 27-hole course, found on Bintan Island, Indonesia. With water on almost every hole, it may be best to bring plenty of balls with you on the day. Maybe bring every ball you own.
Comprising three 9-hole courses (Ocean Blue, Ocean Green and Forest), each with their own character and challenges, Ria Bintan Golf Club offers a tremendous challenge – and real playability –to golfers of every level.
It also features some of the most scenic golf holes you’ll ever play, including a three-hole set on the Ocean Course that would rival any course in the world.
It starts at the par-4 8th hole. After a strategically-placed drive to a blind landing zone, you come around the corner to an absolutely breathtaking view of the green tucked gently in front of the sea.
Next up is the Par-3 9th hole. Rated one of Asia’s best par-3s, this 155m jewel forces you to contend with the bay inlet short of the green, a sloping hill/jungle on the right, and the open sea on the left. Oh, and if you go long there is a deep bunker and even MORE jungle. (Hint: Don’t miss …anywhere!)
Finishing up the set is the par-4 10th, a 346m gentle dogleg left that borders the beach. And I mean REALLY borders the beach. (Hint: get the sand wedge ready before you tee off.)
But the fun doesn’t end there. In fact, I can comfortably say that my round at Ria Bintan was one of the most enjoyable rounds of holiday golf in recent memory. The course was in fantastic condition, and the Zoysia fairways were like hitting off a lush carpet. The pro shop is fully stocked, and the staff are all tremendously helpful and friendly.
So it’s no wonder why the course is regularly rated one of the best in Asia and Indonesia (a “Must-Play” course in our eyes). Do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Ria Bintan Golf Resort
Jl. Perigi Raja, Lagoi North Bintan,
Kepulauan Riau Bintan Resorts, Indonesia 29152
Tel: (62) 770-6928 39/42 Fax: (62) 770-692837