Golfing Under the Volcano

By: Dennis G. Kloeth

Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort Hole #3

Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort Hole #3

In Jogjakarta, (Jogja for locals) the roots of this ancient city are never far from sight. It is home to the Keraton — the official residence of the Sultan, the historically important Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes, horse carriages, becaks (pedicabs), hundreds of bikers – motorized or unmotorised — and lots and lots of batik and silver.

Many gamelan orchestra, classical or contemporary dancer, artist and painter, as well as many traditional wayang kulit  or shadow puppet theatres call Jogja home. Mystical and symbolic at times and with a total different pace of life, Jogja is a city in which history has left its footprints through a rich culture and tradition. It is the seat of the once mighty Javanese Empire of Mataram, Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. In fact, Jogjakarta is a supreme cultural centre.

In the distance, and some 25 kilometres north of the city, a magnificent mountain peaks up to some 3,000 meters. It bares the mystical name of ‘Fire Mountain’ or Gunung Merapi as it is known to the people from the region and is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes.

In the foothills of Mount Merapi, in the valley of Kaliurang, an enchanting golf course has been created by the renowned design team of Thomson, Wolveridge & Perret. Sitting at some 800 metres above sea level, the Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort offers not only great golf and stunning views from literally every tee box, fairway or green, but it also offers play in a pleasant and cool climate. Looking away from the volcano, on a clear day, one is able to view Jogja’s hinterland and the Indian Ocean in the distant horizon.

Golfing in the direct vicinity of an active volcano is something out of the ordinary and has in it all the ingredients of extreme golf. It is said that mystical powers are felt when playing the Merapi course.

The greens themselves are a real test and rather deceptive. Putts that look uphill are actually downhill, while putting towards the volcano may well be influenced by higher powers that guard this active Fire Mountain. Take advice for the correct line of putt from your caddie seriously. She truly knows best how to read the tricky greens.

Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort

Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort

Majestic Gunung (Mount) Merapi looks down on the emerald-green fairways and greens. Its smoky cone is a constant reminder of the fact that we are actually dealing with an active volcano here. As recently as 2010, Mount Merapi violently erupted spewing hot ashes way up high and over a distance of many kilometers closing down daily life and activities in the surrounding villages for more than three weeks. The ten holes located closest to Mount Merapi were badly damaged, causing closure of the course for nearly a year.

Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort offers an interesting layout. The front nine is located on the southern part of the site and plays predominantly to the East or to the West.

Holes 10 to 18 are located closest to the mountain and are playing to and from the volcano and either to the North or to the South.

The course plays to a par 72 and measures a hefty 6,354 metres from the blue tees, 5,805 metres from the white. It’s a friendly 5,202 metres from the ladies tee. Without taking anything away from the entire layout – and mainly because of its downhill, swirling, trajectory that ends on a well hidden and relatively small green – the most interesting hole is the par 5 #17. Holes #6 and #7 are the two longest par 4 holes on the course.

Adisucipto Golf Club Jogjakarta green of hole #1

Adisucipto Golf Club Jogjakarta green of hole #1

GOLFING IN AND AROUND JOGJAKARTA

Next to the Merapi Golf & Mountain Resort, in and around Jogjakarta there are two other 18-holes courses that are worthwhile playing.

The first is the Adisucipto Golf course. It is located adjacent to Jogja’s airport of the same name and opened in 1972 as a 9-hole course and for several years it was the only course in town. In the mid 90s the second 9-holes were added.

The course is a so-called parkland layout with lots of pine trees that neatly line the fairways. The greens are rather true and are often elevated, while water hazards come into play on holes #2 and #8.

Borobudur International Golf & Country Club—Par 3 hole #16

Borobudur International Golf & Country Club—Par 3 hole #16

Forty-five car minutes north of Jogja and in the Magelang region, we find the Borobudur International Golf & Country Club. At this course golfers are surrounded by five impressive mountains. This course is a

welcome addition to Jogja’s golf option where golfers can combine golf with interesting day tours to, among others, the Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes.

Hotel Hyatt Regency Jogjakarta is home to a lovely 9-holes golf course with six par 3 and three par 4 holes.

Although it’s more of a recreational golf course, it’s perfect for beginners and for golfing mums and dads with kids that want to be introduced to the game of golf.

Hole #9 of the Hyatt Regency Jogjakarta 9 holes course

Hole #9 of the Hyatt Regency Jogjakarta 9 holes course

All in all, Jogja is a fabulous but relatively unknown golf destination that offers enthusiasts all they could wish for. It is easily reached by air, rail or over land by car.

Sightseeing suggestions:

The historically important Borobudur and Prambanan temple complexes, as well as the Kota Gede silver (home) industry and Prawirotaman Batik (home) industry are lovely trips that golfers can make after golf.

On Jalan Maliboro plenty of souvenirs can be purchased, while the Keraton — the official home of the Sultan of Jogjakarta — truly is worth a visit. South of the city, the Parangtritis Beach is said to be the home of the Queen of the South or Nyai Loro Kidul, a legendary figure that plays an important role in local folklore. Swimming is not advised here but from the beach fabulous colourful sunsets can be enjoyed.

If you want to know more about the above courses or all about golf in Indonesia, then please go to my website at www.indogolf.com. Please also visit my indogolf newsblog at http://indogolfnews.blogspot.com/

About Dennis G. Kloeth

Born June 1946, in Menteng, Jakarta, after a stint of 26 years in Europe, Dennis returned to Indonesia in 1987. In 1998, he founded Golf Promo Indonesia, promoting abroad Indonesia’s fabulous world of golf and leisure. Long before most countries in the world had even begun to imagine the potential for golf tourism in 1999 he started the golf dedicated website www.indogolf.com. As a prolific writer and photographer, he first published the Golfer’s Guide Indonesia in 2001. His articles on, and photographs of Indonesia’s golf courses are published in Asia, Europe and the United States. For more than one decade he is considered the go-to source for information on golf in Indonesia.

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