The Jakarta Golf Club

By: Simon Reynolds

Club House

The Oldest Golf Course in Southeast Asia

Established in 1872, the Jakarta Golf Club is the oldest Golf Club in Southeast Asia. The original name of the golf club was known as the Batavia Golf Club and the founders were Mr. A. Gray and Mr. TC Wilson from Britain. They had a team of 16 members who developed the very first Golf Club in Indonesia at the time. To put this into historical context, the oldest surviving golf club in Canada and North America, is the Montreal Golf Club, which was established in 1873. The oldest Golf Club in Asia is the Royal Calcutta Golf Club which was established in 1829 and the very first Golf Club to be established outside of the British Isles.

The Batavia Golf Club’s first location was in the Gambir area called Koningsplein, which is today occupied by Monas, Jakarta’s national monument. From here the long story of the golf club begins and the seed of Indonesian Golf planted. The East India company captured Java from the Dutch in 1811, so it is fair to assume there would have been a considerable population of British in Batavia at the time who were attracted to the region by lucrative trading opportunities. Otherwise, one would assume the oldest Golf club to be located in Sarawak, Brunei, Malaysia or Singapore, official British colonies during this period.

From Koningsplein the course relocated once more to Bukit Duri (in Manggerai area) which is now taken up by residential housing. The course moved to Rawamangun in 1934 – There was a vacuum of 20 years when the course was still in Koningsplein; however there was no staff or caretakers to take care of the course, although the British members of the club continued to play privately at leisure despite the decrepit conditions and lack of maintenance of the course. But as long as they could play, they were content.

An English consulate to the Dutch Indies held a meeting in his house to create the revival of the Batavia Golf Club. In 1911 the Golf Club relocated to Bukit Duri, Manggarai and then in 1934 moved to Rawamangun which is the location to this day. Till the year 1926, the members of the Batavia Golf Club were mainly Englishmen and also a few Americans and Dutch. The American company General Motors established the first car manufacturing plant in 1927 – soon after many more Americans began to arrive in Batavia, although the British members of the Golf Club were still the majority. All the Golf clubs and the Golf balls were also imported from England. In 1930, the committee of Batavia Golf Club was established for the first time, consisting of eight members, five British, two Americans and one Dutchman. In 1934, by the supporting finances of the Dutch officials, Bukit Duri Golf Club was relocated to Rawamangun which is at that time still located in the outskirts of the city. It was not until after Indonesia’s independence in 1945 that the golf club was officially renamed the Jakarta Golf Club. Since moving to Rawamangun, the Jakarta Golf Club committee soon decided this was to be the permanent location. So the committee began to develop the course and its facilities for its members. The total area of the site covers 36 hectares, which includes 18 holes, 3,500 various trees, and 19 water hazards strategically placed around the course. The club’s committee understood the importance of a golf club as a meeting point for expatriates living in Jakarta to socialize.

Golf CourseThe Course Today

The Jakarta Golf Club is a Par 71 compact and relatively short course designed within a limited area. It is 5,576m off the Blue Tee’s and although the course is not long, the course is challenging, with large mature tree’s guarding the fairway’s and well placed water hazards and bunkers on every hole to punish errant shots.  For golfers who enjoy playing traditional English parkland ‘tree-lined’ courses, the Jakarta Golf club will be enjoyable.

I was excited to play Indonesia’s oldest golf course, stepped in all its history, on a wonderful Wednesday morning. I arrived with ample time before my morning tee-off to get a feel for the club before tee off. The clubhouse was recently renovated in 2011 and is more open and spacious with large open areas with views of the golf course. The first tee box is only a couple of meters from the restaurants outdoor seating area, and I enjoyed my morning coffee and bubur ayam whilst watching the morning golfers tee off meters away down the first fairway.

The Jakarta Golf Club is a walking course and it’s refreshing to see no concrete cart paths and golf buggy’s darting around the course. Just lots of senior golfers and their caddies enjoying their morning exercise in the tropical sun.  Wednesday is ‘senior’ day, and senior golfers enjoy discounted green-fees. Walking around the course allows one to appreciate the course layout and design, which is very natural along with the abundance or mature trees lining the fairways offering shade from the tropical sun or causing headaches for golfer’s wayward tee-shots thus emphasizing the importance of hitting the ball straight.

This charming short, tight and tree-lined course which is predominately flat is not a course which must be overpowered. The course rewards accurate and straight golfers, who treat the course with the respect Indonesia’s oldest course deserves. Several holes were memorable: Hole #2, Handicap Index 1, is a 368m Par 4. There is a large pond infront of the teebox and a sliced drive will land on the toll road to Tanjung Priok or a fade may land in a stream right of the fairway. An ideal tee-off is a well struck 3 wood to this tight tree lined fairway, leaving a solid long iron to the green. Hole No#5 is another gem of a hole, the Par 4 plays just 338m but the water hazard on the right side of the fairway about 175-230m down makes the landing area very tight from the tee box. An ideal tee-off will require a gentle draw landing left side of the fairway leaving a precise short-iron to a small green surrounded by three bunkers. Unfortunately my drive was a fade and not the draw required and I was rightfully penalised with a one-shot penalty. The course may sound easy due to its short yardage but the tight tree-lined fairways, plentiful bunkers and well placed water hazards will offer many a challenge for golfers of all abilities. Long hitter’s may seldom require to use their driver and a 3 wood or a 2 Iron stroke would be adequate on most Par 4’s and Par 5’s.

Golf CourseI thoroughly enjoyed my morning walk around Indonesia’s oldest golf course. Golf was invented for walking and those who think golf does not qualify as a sport should play golf in the tropical heat for four and a half hours. They may quickly change their mind. A recent study in the US revealed that walking 18 holes can burn up to 1250 calories, whilst walking with a caddie. In the tropical heat perhaps even more? The majority of the modern golf courses in the Jakarta and its outskirts were designed for the use of golf carts, which some may enjoy and some may not. I myself prefer the walk, walking from shot to shot to your own ball, giving yourself time and space to prepare and contemplate between shots and visualize your next. Golfing in our Garden of Eden surrounded by huge tree’s, numerous plants and singing birds, and for a moment, one may forget they’re living in an over populated, congested and polluted South-East Asian metropolis and can simply enjoy the moment.

Golf at The Jakarta Golf Club is very affordable especially mid-week, and its strategic location in Rawamangun, will take no longer than 30 minutes from the SCBD area of town or Jakarta’s central hotels during the early mornings. The location is just off the toll road on the way towards Tanjung Priok. The Clubhouse serves a large selection of Indonesian, Korean and Japanese cuisine at reasonable prices to replenish your hearty appetite. There is also a two-tiered driving range with 54 bays with an excellent putting, chipping and bunker practice facility adjacent to the clubhouse.

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.

3 Responses to “The Jakarta Golf Club”

  1. Pepe says:

    I know I’m very late with this comment, but still…the header suggests that the Jakarta Golf Club has the oldest golf course, but it’s the oldest club, not the oldest course. I think, but correct me if I’m wrong, it should be Yani Golf in Surabaya, which hasn’t been reviewed by this site at all.

    • admin says:

      Dear Pepe,

      Thanks for comment. Indeed Jakarta Golf Club re-located to Rawamangun in 1934. I have heard great things about Yani, do you know what year it was built? I know Yani is old and also built by the British but I have never been able to obtain any dates regarding it’s establishment. I plan to visit Surabaya over the next few months do you have any golf contacts there would be fantastic to review the course for our readers.

  2. kees says:

    The East India company (who is that ??)captured Java from the Dutch in 1811
    Then when you move (the course) you supposed not to say the oldest golf course, but the oldest golf club ..

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