Bumi Serpong Damai
Bumi Serpong Damai
For Jakarta’s avid golfers, Bumi Serpong Damai is commonly referred to as the BSD. Found alongside the Cisadane River and within the Serpong Valley, it should certainly be on anyone’s Jakarta hit-list. The course is located in South Tangerang 32 km from the SCBD part of town, and is easy to find after exiting at the Alam Sutera signage on the Jakarta–Merak toll road.
The course was designed and more recently slightly remodeled to mirror and sync to the natural undulations of this tropical area. As Jack Nicklaus’ maiden project in Indonesia he ensured this remarkable 6,545-meter, par 72 course incorporated many of his trademark features from some of the world’s top courses. To bring the course up to today’s USGA standards, a thorough remodeling plan was put in place in July 2008 at the owner’s, Bpk. Ciputra’s request. The plan, executed by a Nicklaus design team, has produced arguably Jakarta’s trickiest of greens and a fair few three and four putted greens.
Nicklaus originally scoffed at the idea of building a world-class facility in Indonesia, he is well and truly eating his Golden Bear hat right now.
The layout and many of the features are unmistakably Jack Nicklaus design. Trademark fairway hugging lake-like bunkers are the go-to for the 18 time Major winner, whilst a seemingly seamless blending into the natural environment makes it unmistakably Indonesian.
With numerous levels and options of tee boxes there are different challenges for all handicaps. From the famous pro Lee Westwood (he adorns the clubhouse) to the shakiest beginner, BSD can be taken on by all. A true thinking course, nearly every tee shot has you consulting your caddy for distances to bunkers, carry over water or best angle of attack. Jack Nicklaus was a perfectionist as a player and this certainly comes across in his course design and his crafty positioning of hazards.
The greens, upgraded in July 2008 to the most recent world standards by the Nicklaus team have been heard to even keep some golfers away. With no such thing as an easy two putt, you will do well to reach the 19th without three or even four strokes on any one of these most tricky of surfaces. Often two or even three tiered, some chip shots from around the stadium greens even Mickelson would find tricky. Approach shots must be well-placed and tactical, with the uphill putt almost a necessity. The fairways are often wide and whilst the long bunkers often running alongside them may be shallow, great care must be taken. Depending on when you play the rough can be very forgiving with Rescue clubs often fine to jib it out. If you’re not a fan of the sand wedge ‘hack-out’, best to avoid playing anytime around tournaments where the rough can triple in length.
Not only do the greens need great imagination but also a deft touch running at a slick eleven on the stint-meter. Fair, consistent and true, trust the line and they should drop. It’s refreshing to have fast greens to play on, some of Jakarta’s courses have tediously slow greens requiring a knock rather then a stroked putt. At BSD a smooth putting stroke will be rewarded. Nice and receptive whilst not being too soft, a pleasure to play. The fairways are impeccable, compact and offer decent roll in the dry season conditions, with BSD’s long yardage, it’s vital for getting on in regulation. The rough is even and fair (depending on when you chose to play) and generally does not swallow balls or leave golfers resorting to the anathemas ‘foot wedge’.
The locker rooms are particularly impressive, the plain white lockers and the crisp green carpets breathe a minimal yet suitably classic feel. With all the amenities the vainest of golfers would require. Sauna, steam room and whirlpool, and massage services are all available for the full treatment of après golf for golfers. There is also an Olympic-sized swimming pool next door to the clubhouse where your kids can entertain themselves, BSD offers entertainment for the whole family, and would be a good option for a family day out from Jakarta.
We all know golf can induce a healthy appetite and BSD offers the golfer a vast range of top quality cuisine. The Asian offerings are particularly impressive, with several Japanese and Korean dishes on the menu. I opted for the sop ikan patin, one of their signature Indonesian dishes; it was delightful and is highly recommended for your visit, some of the best fish soup I have encountered in Indonesia.
BSD certainly has one of the most impressive and spectacular driving ranges you’re likely to see. Incorporating a giant lake, you hit out off immaculate grass onto island greens and f loating targets stationed at numerous yardages away. Men in boats spend the day shagging the balls. Spend an afternoon here and the hours will seamlessly pass by, speaking with members, the pros are very good too. The putting green is big and resembles the greens on the course almost perfectly, well worth paying a visit to beforehand. Likewise with the short game area, hours can be spent honing you skills at the true green and surrounding bunker, apron and rough.
Wholly professional, a very good grasp of English and a seemingly photographic memory for all yardages and carries, the caddies at BSD are certainly shot savers. A good sense of humour as they manage to keep up morale during this sternest of tests, most importantly they will help you navigate the trickiest of greens with aplomb. Caddy knowledge can save you a stroke or two here, with the two and three tier greens consulting them for a read is wise.
BSD continues to be an ambitious project with many major triumphs along the way. Nicklaus’ 19th? Not quite yet. Whilst some unfinished McMansion vanity projects line the course creating almost a ghostly feel, a steady and numerous membership give it a granite base. BSD has a very strong reputation amongst the Japanese golfing community here in Indonesia. Friendly staff, helpful pros and almost a family feel means BSD manages to uphold the traditional values of golf in a thoroughly modern and forward thinking way. It truly encapsulates, “The spirit of the Hills”.
Jack Nicklaus and Damai Indah golf have created a wonderful ‘challenge’ for golfer2s, that will certainly test a golfer’s skill and playing ability. For a golfer who can play BSD gracefully will be able to play many of Jakarta’s golf courses with relative ease. BSD to us comes across as a golf course designed for the real golfer’s amongst us, who strive to test their playing skills on the golf course, and to see how good they really are.
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