Categorized | News, 2014, February 2014, Golf Insight

A new perspective in discovering a golf course

By: John Russell

2nd Tee at Nirwana Bali

Every golf facility tries to identify aspects that differentiate it from all others, particularly resort courses competing in regional markets where hotel, swimming pool, golf course, spa, fitness centre, restaurants, business centre, function rooms, and “friendly service” are seen as generic offerings.  Something more should be put on the table to divert new business to their facility.

From the golf course perspective it is usually the setting and design which sets it apart, usually crystallised in the character of the signature hole. At Nirwana Bali, the signature hole is undisputedly the 7th par three hole, which features a spectacular carry over the sea and rock shoreline to a green perched on a cliff edge, with the iconic Tanalot temple just off the shoreline. This presents one of the best pictures in golf and is one of the most photographed signature holes in the world – so much so, for those familiar with the view, the image has almost become a cliché. However despite such a spectacular distraction, the golfer cannot help but notice the multitude of smaller temples of varying size and design around the golf course. There are 15 temples (called Pura) on the course itself and 19 overall in Nirwana Bali resort. Of the temples on course, 14 are owned by the local villagers who frequently visit them for the ceremonies and prayer which are so indelibly woven into Balinese life.

Dalem Segening TempleMost of the temples on course are in full view of the golfer and some do come into play.  A pulled tee shot on hole 4 will bring you to Pura Melanting Resort Temple nestled in the bamboo thicket.  The tee shot on the fifth hole must be kept to the left side of the fairway to avoid the second shot to the green being blocked by Pura Tugu edging in from the right rough on the hilltop and reachable from the tee by long hitters. Par three hole 14 bordering the seaside has 3 temples in full view – Pura Sapujagad at the right side of the tee box, Pura Sisian 30 metres short of the green on the cliff edge, and imposing Pura Dalem Segening nestled in the valley half way between tee box and green.

Pura Alas Kepuh snuggled in a bamboo thicket on a small hill behind the green on hole 16 presents a perfect picture for the approach shot, while staying just a few metres out of range.

Alas Kepuh Temple with male golferThe philosophy of life for Balinese society is defined by Tri Hita Karana, meaning the three sources of happiness. To maintain a balanced and happy life, Balinese Hindus seek to maintain harmony between humans and God (Parahyangan), between humans and nature (Palemahan) and among humans themselves (Panonean).

Human co-operation is clearly manifested in community work (Gatong Royang) and is an underpinning feature of village life, especially in the practice of traditional natural water management (Subak) to ensure flow along natural contours to rice paddies for sustainable food production.  Within the bounds of the 60 hectare golf course there are 10 hectares of productive rice padi, nurtured by traditional Subak irrigation. The crop is managed by resort employees; 80% are from the local village of Beraban in which the resort is situated, and this harvested rice is sold to the villagers for half market price.  Some Resort employees are also attendants at nearby Tanalot temple.

With an inescapable connection with the local community and culture Nirwana Bali has more to offer than just a great golf course set by the sea.  In a recent interview, General Manager Ivan Casadevall said that development is quickly moving up from Seminyak and Canggu towards Nirwana, but the resort will carefully guard its indigenous Balinese character and natural features in future planning of facilities for a more holistic experience for families, honeymooners, and MICE.

Bima Temple
Quite often when couples stay at the resort, one partner plays golf while the non-golfer visits the spa. As we all know, one game for a keen golfer is not enough, as the first round unveils the layout and challenges, while the second round gives the golfer a chance to fairly compete with the course.

It would be a good Idea that while the golfer plays the discovery round with scorecard and course strategy booklet in hand, the non-golfing partner could accompany in the buggy to make a tour of the onsite temples along the scenic route, with an explanatory booklet  and directory in hand. Not only would this be quality time shared, but a unique on course experience.

About John Russell

Once a zero handicapper, John Russell is a business strategist with a deep understanding of golf. Previously advisor to KADIN Indonesia, HIPMI, and an executive in Bechtel Corporation, John has always used golf as a tool for business. In 1999 John entered the golf world full time, becoming Indonesia’s pre-eminent golf personality with golf schools, television appearances, articles in golf media, and now weekly articles in Jakarta Globe. Understanding how golf can be applied for better business, John became a pioneer of corporate golf in Asia. His innovations are now common practice. John can be contacted at

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