Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Carey Island Golf Club

An antique steam engine greets golfers at the club grounds.


INTRODUCTION

Carey Island?!  If you are not a native of Selangor, you would probably be surprise like me when I first heard of the place.  Fortunately (or not for some), the nationalistic fervour of the 1960' and 1970' did not erase the name of Valentine Carey from the map of Malaysia unlike some of his more famous countrymen like Sir Frank Swettenham (Port Swettenham to Port Klang) and Sir Charles Jessel (Jesselton to Kota Kinabalu).  This island is unique in that you would not know it is one due to its close proximity to the mainland; separated only by Sungai Langat.  I would not know its existence if not for Carey Island Golf Club, which to any avid golfer, its jewel.

Open for play in1930, this golf club must be among the oldest still in operation in this country.  It must have been built for the recreational use of the then Golden Hope Rubber Estate's management and staffs.  Over time rubber trees were replaced with oil palms and in 2007 Golden Hope merged with Guthrie and Sime Darby to create the world's biggest palm oil company under the banner of Sime Darby.  The purpose of the club thankfully remains the same today and is open to public when it is not in used by Sime Darby for its functions.



The Clubhouse


The clubhouse  and buildings nearby are of  British colonial era.  The first nine surrounds these buildings and from afar, the grounds look well kept and well landscape with tall matured trees, creating a stunning English countryside feel to the place.  I was half expecting a British planter in khaki pants, pith helmet and a walking stick to pass by as I drove towards the clubhouse.


View of Clubhouse from 1st Green.
View from varandah of Clubhouse looking out.


Facilities available at the clubhouse are swimming pools, games room, terrace (with limited menu) and changing / shower / toilet areas with tennis courts just adjacent.  The clubhouse is the size of a large bungalow built in 1920's with a touch of modern amenities.  Unfortunately the swimming pools, games room and tennis courts are reserve for the use of Sime Darby's management and staffs only.


THE COURSES


Carey Island Golf Club (CIGC) has two courses of nine holes.  They both are par 36 with the front nine called  Plantations Heritage at 2760 meters from blue tees and the back nine or Tropical Links longer at 3175 meters.  While the club has been in existence over eighty years, Tropical Links course was only opened for play sometime in the first decade of the 21st century.


Carey Island was formerly a swamp land 2 meters below sea level; dykes were built to keep sea water out.  Because of its topography, fairways are generally quite flat with greens mounted slightly higher.  Sand hazards are sufficiently place especially those protecting greens; unfortunately some bunkers have grass growing in them.  Water hazards meanwhile consist of little ponds and monsoon drains with exception of one between hole 14 and 15 which is quite scenic.  Overall water hazards have little affect on play but locating some of them on flat ground can be tricky.  Grass on fairways is cow with greens having Serangoon and/or Paspalum.  Buggy is only available for the back nine.


Plantation Heritage Course and the buildings it surrounds have aged gracefully with matured trees and beautiful landscaping.  It would seem that its designers wanted to minimise the space used as the nine holes seem to be cramp near to each other.  This cramp situation is especially noticeable for the first four holes where in order to increase distance dykes have been used as tee box, roads become hazards and  fairways almost criss crosses each other.  Further on this point, the shortest par 4 that I have ever played until now is in this course, which is Hole 4 at 239 meters.


Tee Box 2 on top of a dyke.  Also in the picture fringe of the 1st green and road further ahead.


The contrast between the two nines are almost like night and day.  Tropical Links Course is spacious with  hardly any trees for shade.  Also, this course is long with two par 4s over 400 meters in length  which I have never encountered until now (Hole 11 - 410 meters and Hole 15 - 421).  Nearest trees are those at the fringe of the plantation or nearby forest which hardly affect play.  What it lacks in shot changing trees, this course has tall grasses and ferns at the side of fairways.  For safety reasons do avoid searching your ball in them unless your club is a magic wand and your name is Harry.  While the front nine has an English feel, the back nine due to its large open space has a whiff of a certain golf club in Scotland ....... . Overall the front nine looks better and more well kept than the back nine.


View from tee boox to fairway - Hole 17, large open space with tall rough.
Bridge over a drain - fairway of Hole 18.  Look familiar?


NOTABLE HOLES


The Most Scenic - Hole 1
August 5 this year, Natalie Gulbis tee off at this hole as part of the tour to promote Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2011.  She later planted a tree to commemorate the event witness by many of the conglomerate's 'big wigs'.  Being the 'first impression' for the club and more importantly a promotional tool for Sime Darby, this hole gets extra attention from the ground staffs.  Located at the front of the clubhouse, this par 3, SI 18, 153 meters hole has a well landscape garden with water features in the middle of the fairway.

View from tee box towards green - Hole 1.  Note the garden with water features ahead.
Tree planted by Natalie Gulbis .... well the plaque at least.


Triple Dog Leg - Hole 5
This is a par 5, SI 2, 480 meters hole.  The fairway dog leg to the right, then to the left and finally to the right again before reaching the green.  Reaching the green in three strokes is unlikely for most average players.  This hole is the first and only triple dog leg I have encountered thus far.

View from tee box - Hole 5.  Note the dog leg right.
View from fairway towards green - Hole 5.  After  a dog leg left,
the fairway dog leg right again.



Short but Challenging - Hole 9
Hole 9 - View from fairway towards fairway.

The first thought that came into my mind was how am I supposed tee off for this 287 meters, par 4 SI 6 hole.  From tee box, the fairway look extremely narrow.  The course is dissected into three sections with a monsoon drain about 160 - 175 meter from tee box and a road another 40 - 50 meters ahead.  Confident to carry 180 meters straight?  If not lay up with a seven iron.

The Longest Par 4 - Hole 15
At 421 meters with SI of 3, this is the longest par 4 I have ever played thus far.  Besides being long, other memorable features of this hole are that it starts to severely dog leg left at about 250 meters from tee and bunkers are littered aplenty on left of fairway (I stop counting after ten).

GETTING THERE

Exit Lebuhraya Kesas into Jalan Kelang - Banting.  Drive towards Banting, you will see Teluk Panglima Garang Free Trade Zone along the way.  Continue driving towards Banting and in about 2.5 km you will come to a roundabout.  Take second exit from the roundabout and in 1.3 km turn right at the cross junction which leads to the bridge linking Carey Island.  Approximately 5 km after the bridge turn right into the junction.  Get down and register at the police post, drive into the plantation following its main road and in about 12 km you will get into the club grounds after the a palm oil mill.

Get down and register.
 Note: This is one of a few police post on the island.

Below is the address of the club, however I think it would be of little help.  If want to contact the club which is private, do drop a comment and contact.  Will try to get back to you with their permission, the club's number listed in Golf Malaysia Magazine is no longer in use.

Carey Island Golf Club
West Estate
Selangor 42960




View Carey Island Golf Club in a larger map



CONCLUSION
  
Carey Island Golf Club have courses that touches different extremities.  One seem short and compress and the other long and wide.  One old and has matured gracefully and the other new, raw with potential to be moulded into a good if not a great course. With Sime Darby's financial muscle, I do believe it is a matter of time. One club with two different experiences for golfers.  Even though the front nine as mentioned earlier is better, both courses are playable for an average player.  One club with two experiences for an avid golfer, a gem really.


However do note that there times to avoid the club.  A flip side of dykes is that they also keep water in, drainage is poor and grounds can be soggy after a heavy rain.  Apparently minor flooding do occur from time to time. 

If you have time after a game, do visit the Mah Meri village.  The Mah Meris are the aborigines of the island and they are famous for their wood carvings.  Finish your day by having dinner in one of the few restaurants as you drive out of the island after the bridge.

Some final words, bring your own bath towel as the club does not provide them to golfers.  Also note that the scorecard provided has mistakes in them especially about the back nine.



 















1 comment:

  1. hi. nice post here. gives me additional insight for this historical island. thanks !!!

    ReplyDelete