It’s everything you think it might be and more.  It is not referred to as the “Island of the Gods” for nothing!

At the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary Padangtegal – Ubud

You hear about its natural setting, beautiful beaches, it’s the surfing and scuba diving capital of the world and home to some of the most unique shopping and yes you can feed the monkeys in the rainforest…And the GOLF!! Yes it’s Excellent!!

I spent just over two weeks in Indonesia, one week in Jakarta (which I will cover in an upcoming issue), and one week in Bali attending the Asia Golf Tourism Convention – part of IAGTO. This ‘Land of the Gods’ boasts some of the friendliest and beautiful people in a spectacular setting.

Our time in Bali was focused around the capital City of Denpasar on the southern part of the island, also the most popular for us tourists and golfers.

The Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort was our host for 5 nights while we set out to discover the golf, but first we spent a few nights a little closer to the hustle and bustle of Bali in Seminyak just so we too could be the tourists who just shopped, relaxed, and sampled the delicacies of the island.

Yes, we did venture up to the cobblestone streets of Ubud, the islands cultural center where the tourists undoubtedly outnumber the locals.  As tourists, of course, we were on a mission to find silver treasures and to feed the monkeys in the rainforest.

Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort

Seminyak, a suburb of Denpasar 20 minutes from the airport (beware the traffic!), is considered to be on the islands sunset west coast, one of Bali’s most sought after enclaves characterised by high-end shopping and many fine dining establishments of which we found a few.  We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, ideally located just off Seminyak’s main drag (love those Marriott points).  For Ocean side accommodations I would highly recommend the Anatara Seminyak Resort & Spa or the W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak.

The Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort is a luxurious 5 Star Resort about an hour or so northwest of the hustle and bustle of the big city nightlife.  Best to go as a couple as there is not much happening in the way of nightlife here. Built along a rugged coastline with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean you will find the award winning Greg Norman designed Nirwana Bali Golf Club.  The course, which in 2014 was named by Golf Digest as #52 of the “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses”, winds you through manicured gardens and rice paddies with at least 5 ocean-side holes.  Your cliff side tee shot on the par 3, 7th has you staring down on the Tanah Lot Temple and I would bet that not one golfer with a camera has eve passed up shooting this hole.  A must play in Bali!

Bali National Golf Club

Next up was the Bali National Golf Club. This is course is not on the ocean (so no spectacular Oceanside vistas) and although it did not rain it was a cloudy, ugly, dismal day! The only thing worse than the weather that day was the way I played, yet I was very impressed with the course and might even suggest it was the best all-round layout that we played.

This lush parkland layout (all courses were lush come to think of it), is carved out of a tropical forest and coconut groves and is set against the majestic backdrop of Mount Agung (also referred to as Gunung Arung) a mountain/volcano which is the highest point on the island, over 3,000 meters, and influences the local climate.

Intricate stonework adds to the overall beauty of the course. In the true sense of saving the best for last even in the stonework, welcome to the par-3 17th, almost an island green and only precision will keep you dry!  The 400 yard dogleg 18th with a waste bunker all down the left takes you back towards the clubhouse and some of that beautiful stonework lines the right side of the green with a stunning fountain and one last bit of water for good measure.

14th Green at New Kuta Golf Course

Let’s call the New Kuta Golf Course, with its caddies adorned in pink, the prettiest of all the courses that we played in either Bali or Jakarta!  It’s location near Dreamland Beach in the Pecatu region did not hurt at all.

Carved out of harsh limestone between the brilliant white cliffs and the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, New Kuta Golf ranks among Asia’s most spectacular.  Surrounded by breathtaking sea views with waves crashing at the base of many of the holes. The landscape includes rolling links-styled fairways, semi-rough natural grasses and sand and undulated greens.

Holes 14–16 are perched nearly 200 feet above Dreamland Beach are sights to behold.

The par-4 14th tumbles some 438 yards downhill with the aqua-blue waters of the Indian Ocean as your backdrop. The putting surface sits directly at cliff side. Fifteen plays just 153 yards, but generally into a headwind that, again, has you staring into the deep blue sea.  The 16th is a long uphill par-4 with a well-protected green.

New Kuta Golf Course was awarded “Best New International Course” by Links Magazine in 2008 and “10th Best Course in Indonesia” by Golf Digest in 2009, also the same year that it hosted the Indonesian Open.

Traveling Golfer North America with the Travelling Golfer(s) Australia at Handara Golf & Resort

To round out our Bali golf experience we ventured into the central highlands to play the Handara Golf & Resort course nestled down inside the crater of a dormant volcano at an altitude of almost 4,000 feet above sea level.  We had played in very warm (90 plus degree) conditions until now. The idyllic golf temps in the highlands are 60 to 85 degrees!  Designed by 5 time British Open Peter Thomson it is a unique parkland layout with crater lakes in a tropical rainforest.

For more information or to plan a visit to Bali or other parts of Indonesia check out the following:

Some fun facts about Bali:

  • Want to feel like a millionaire? Just exchange some money.  $1,000 CDN equals almost 10 million Rupiah.
  • Is an island province of Indonesia.
  • Has 4.2 million people, and from my observation I think every single one of them owns a scooter.
  • Predominantly Hindu population, 83%, with the next highest percentage of the population being Muslim.
  • It is the land of Temples and the locals generally go to temple 3 times a day!
  • Bali received the Best Island award from Travel and Leisure in 2010. The island of Bali won because of its attractive surroundings (both mountain and coastal areas), diverse tourist attractions, excellent international and local restaurants, and the friendliness of the local people. According to BBC Travel released in 2011, Bali is one of the World’s Best Islands, ranking second after Santorini Greece.
  • Australians, Chinese and Japanese are top visitors to Bali