Gunung Geulis

By: Simon Reynolds

Gunung Geulis Golf Course

Located in the foothills of the Puncak rests the Gunung Geulis Country Club, about 50km from the business centre of Jakarta. Take the Jagorawi toll all the way to Ciawi then take the left fork towards Puncak and after approximately 4 km there is a lefthand turn with a large signpost for the golf course. The course is 400m–500m elevation above sea level, offers cleaner air and cooler temperatures than other courses in Jabodetabek, and upon arriving the golfer will feel a sense of escape from civilisation in this truly wild, tranquil and relaxing setting. The iconic clubhouse is large in scale and a welcoming site, unique in design, with its circular blue roof, designed by the famous Australian architect Kym Hughes. There are 36 holes on offer, with the original West Course opened in 1992, and the newer East Course which opened in 1994. Both courses were designed by Thomson, Wolveridge and Perret, world famous golf course designers.

Gunung Geulis West Course

Gunung Geulis West CourseJakarta is one of the biggest cities in the world and has many issues that people living here have to deal with every day. However, it is also home to some of the best golf courses in the world and for a casual golfer/hacker like me, I get the chance to play on some of these world class courses for very reasonable prices.

So when I was invited recently to have a game at Gunung Geulis I jumped at the chance, especially as I had never played this particular course before.

It was an early start so traffic was light on our way to Gunung Geulis in the Bogor hills. It took us approximately one hour from Ampera in South Jakarta, but to be safe you should give yourself at least one and a half hours.

After a light breakfast we headed off to our buggies and were greeted by our friendly caddies in their bright orange uniforms. We had a few practice putts on the large practice green and then hit the first tee box.

There are two 18-hole courses at Gunung Geulis, and we were playing the West Course on this visit.

We made our way down to the first hole—and all I could say was “wow”—a spectacular view greeted us, with the surrounding countryside in full view and the fairway at least 100 yards below the tee box. It was a relatively short par 4, but had danger on both sides. This is a hole you don’t just tee up and smash. We must’ve spent at least five minutes looking at the views and taking pictures before hitting off. Luckily there was no one waiting behind us.

As first holes go in Jakarta, I definitely have never played any as spectacular as this. I smashed on and luckily found the fairway and the day’s fun was underway. If the remaining 17 holes were half as spectacular as hole 1, we were in for a fantastic day.

As we moved slowly through the front nine I can definitely say we were not disappointed. Every hole at Gunung Geulis is so very different within amazing surroundings. Jakarta’s traffic and pollution are a distant memory as you move your ball with caution around this beautifully designed course.

For the more serious golfers and low handicappers, I think this course would also really appeal—no holes are the same or even similar. All the holes have their different obstacles, whether it’s a dog leg left or right, bunkers or water in front of the green, or the trees that line each fairway—the challenge is there.

We got through the front nine and my caddie told me my score, which I conveniently can’t remember for this piece, but it was relatively decent.

It did not matter though and I was ready for the back nine and looked forward to grabbing another few pars. Birdies would be pushing it a little.

Again the back nine did not disappoint and was a further breath of fresh air altogether—as on certain holes you could easily think you are playing golf at one of the top U.S. courses and the following hole would not look out of place in Ireland or Scotland, with small pot bunkers protecting the green.

My caddy on the 12th was getting a little frustrated with my constant slice of the tee or as I like to call it, my natural fade—she mentioned maybe I should aim a little further left when driving. She said it with a smile and throughout the whole day had been extremely professional and friendly.

The course manager later explained to us that it was Gunung Geulis that was the first course to introduce girl caddies to golf in Jakarta, a pretty smart idea looking back.

set myself a target of 1 over for the final three holes. After the 16th and 17th I needed a hole in one of the par 4 to hit the target of 1 over, so even though I gave it a good try, it did not come off. I am not one to count the scores, so walked up the 18th and sunk my putt for par and shook hands with my playing partners and said quietly to myself, “I will be back”.

To sum up—I would highly recommend Gunung Geulis West Course to any golfer in Jakarta. It really is one of the best courses around. It’s one of the best for a few reasons. To name a few: spectaculars views, hole variation, beautiful peaceful surroundings, and excellent caddies.

Did I mention the caddies’ bright orange uniforms?

All in all it was a fantastic day’s golf in a wonderful location. I will be back up there soon for sure.

Gunung Geulis East Course

Gunung Geulis East CourseHaving played the West Course in the morning, we played the East Course after lunch. The East Course plays 6.066 meters in total, and is specially designed for the golf buggy, which will take you through the contours of the landscape. Peter Thomson was a five time British Open champion and after a few holes, the British links inspired design is prevalent. The thin fairways are never flat, with plenty of undulations to ponder and carefully placed bunkers, reminiscent of the sand traps located on links courses in the British Isles.

The front nine is fittingly named the Valley Course, and is located in the lower part of the club’s terrain. The fairways are often tight with little room for error, and carefully placed tee-shots are imperative for any chance of a decent score. Although the East Course is shorter than the West, the tighter, sloping fairways, and hazards-a-plenty offer a more challenging round of golf. Golfers are rewarded by breathtaking natural and wild landscapes set amid the misty slopes of the Bogor Mountains. Geulis in Sundanese means ‘beautiful’, and rightly so.

The eighth hole was my favourite of the front nine, although only 433 meters from the blue tees, the elevated tee box looks down towards a tight fairway with a huge lake on the left side welcoming any golfer who gets overexcited with their driver. A good solid drive will allow a confident golfer a good shot at two on, to a blind green, playing downhill, with several pot holed bunkers littered around the putting surface.

The following ninth hole is also a gem. It measures 170 meters from the blues but plays significantly downhill to a tiny green, a good test for the accuracy of your iron game. Throughout the valley’s front nice, the course offers open panoramic views of the foothills, with lovely views of the Rainbow Hills course and the tropical mountain foliage, teaming with singing birdlife.

The back nine, the Hill Course, presents the golfer with a steeper hilly terrain. The fairways remain tight and undulating as the golf course meanders through the Bogor foothills passing a local kampung nearby.

Hole number sixteen is an interesting hole; a longish par 3, which plays somewhat uphill, playing a lot longer than its measured 164 meters from tee box to green. The corridor to the green is very tight, leading to an elevated green encapsulated by bunkers ready to gobble up anything short.

The Gunung Geulis resort has several cottages and bungalows on site, catering for all sizes: from one bedroom to four or five. The cottages are an ideal option for the weekend getaway or midweek golfing break. A family getaway and non-golfers are also catered for by a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and even an adventure camp, where local guides can lead local hikes into the surrounding areas and teach outdoor games and survival skills to groups. The cottages offer the opportunity to travel from Jakarta in the evening, stay the night and play the following morning your 18 holes, or even an extra round.

Gunung Geulis is the perfect golfing escape from hectic urban life, a breath of fresh air in a genuinely natural landscape with two fantastic golf courses, which will satisfy the adventurous golfers looking for something different.

Thomson, Wolveridge and Perret have created, what feels at times, like a links style layout in an elevated landscape, which provides a memorable golfing experience in the crisp air of the Bogor foothills. The travel time may be a little longer than some of the other courses in the region, but as a wise man once said: good things come to those who wait.

By: Killian Murphy & Simon Reynolds

About Simon Reynolds

Simon fell in love with the game of golf at an early age. Watching Happy Gilmore when he was 12, Simon was hooked, and to this day thanks Adam Sandler's genius in the film for his passion for the game. His golfing hero is more refined and mature these days, and he continues his spiritual quest to model his golf game on Ben Hogan's perfect golf swing.

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