Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club
If you have ever been to Bali in August, you know that it is kite flying season. Everywhere you go, you will see colourful and elaborate kites flying high above. We read that some kites can measure up to 4 metres wide and up to 10 metres long, and we saw some with tails at least that long, or longer. As you can imagine, a strong wind is needed to support such majestic creatures, which is why the windy season of July and August are perfect for the annual Bali Kites Festival.
While perfect for kites, playing golf in the wind presents its own set of difficulties. Voted the World’s Best Par 3 Golf Course in 2017, Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club would be enough of a challenge without the wind!
World’s Best Par 3 Golf Course
That’s right, Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club, or BPGCC, was voted the World’s Best Par 3 Golf Course in 2017. This award actually coincided with a couple of firsts. 2017 was the golf courses first full year of existence, and it was also the first year a par 3 course had been included as a category. In fact, Bukit Pandawa was nominated again in 2018, as well as this year, 2019 (the winners will be announced in October, so be sure to vote!).
Needless to say, playing golf on the world’s best par 3 course was an absolute must for Menekse and me! So, during our trip to Bali, we were able to check this off our golf course bucket list!
Bukit Pandawa plays a long 3028-yards from the Black tees, with a wide variety of lengths ranging from 246-yards to 117-yards. With a good wind for kites, I played it from 2649-yard Gold tees, while Menekse played it from the 2253-yard Blues.
By now, we have used almost every mode of transportation there is available just to get to the golf course- cars, buses, taxis, walking, trains, metro, and even ferries. Often it is a combination of many. But, riding a scooter to the golf course, with my golf bag standing awkwardly between my legs and Menekse’s precariously balanced half on her shoulder and half in her arms, now that was a first, even for us!
Bring your A game
Without a practice range to warm up prior to your round, you best be ready with your A game right away, because Bukit Pandawa doesn’t allow you to ease you into your game. At 246-yards from the Blacks, and a trio of bunkers protecting the green, the second hole is the longest on the course. While downhill, the wind was in our face. Menekse struck a well-hit driver but pulled it slightly and found the far-left bunker.
Unsure if it was a rescue or 3 wood, I decided on the later and it ended up being the right decision, landing safely on the right side of the green.
Like the thirteenth at North Berwick (which we haven’t played yet, but can’t wait to), the slightly uphill 209-yard sixth hole involves a stone wall. But, unlike the Pit, the wall at Bukit Pandawa is behind the green, and in theory shouldn’t come into play.
We say shouldn’t, because theory doesn’t always match reality! Uphill, and again with a little breeze into us, I took one extra club just to be safe. Happy with the strike, I watched it sail just right of the flag, but didn’t see it land. Seemingly a well hit ball, I stood there wondering where it landed. As we made our way to the green, we found it. Long, and behind the stone wall!
I hit a fantastic pitch shot which easily cleared the wall, landed just short of the pin, and rolled about 10 feet past. Grinding on the putt, I regrettably left it short, and made my first bogey of the day.
The good news is, when confronted by the wall at North Berwick, at least we will have experience. Or I should say that I will, because Menekse played the hole the way that it was intended!
Is this Central Oregon?
As we were playing through the next few holes, things seemed to feel familiar. The black volcanic rocks, the dry desert cactus vegetation, the dried twisted juniper looking trees, the ground littered with dry twigs and fallen trees, and the slight aroma of pine trees in the air. Strangely, it somehow reminded us of Central Oregon! OK, so there was the Indian Ocean prominently in the distance, but other than that obvious distinction, we could swear we were somewhere in Bend!
Nowhere was this feeling stronger than on the 153-yard tenth hole. With volcanic rocks left of the green, this hole reminded us of our unforgettable round at Pronghorn.
With a deep canyon on the right, a push isn’t what you want on the short 117-yard twelfth hole. Menekse ripped her tee shot to the left front of the green. A good lag putt and solid second putt, she made her first par of the day! Me, I flirted with the ravine, but we were able to find it. Happily, I was able to get up and down and really felt like I stole a shot there!
The Best Par 3 on the World’s Best Par 3 Golf Course!
If you are wondering what is the best par 3 on the World’s Best Par 3 Golf Course, well, the answer has to be the thirteenth. Again, slightly uphill, with the ocean in the background and a water tower just long of the green, the thirteenth at Bukit Pandawa is 186-yards long and is an absolute fantastic golf hole!
I swung a smooth 6-iron that found the middle-right of the green. Menekse found the back-left bunker, which turned out to be a little bit deeper than you realize from the tee. She hit a good bunker shot out, and 2-putted for bogey. With the paragliders drifting effortlessly above us, we were both very pleased with our scores here!
We have added the thirteenth at Bukit Pandawa to our list of our favourite golf holes!
The ocean is visible from many holes on both the front and back, but the stretch of holes from 14 to 17 have ocean views that are quite simply the best on the golf course.
These holes are where we saw the most kites and paragliders floating secretly above us and felt the warm ocean breeze on our faces.
If you have any desire to play Bukit Pandawa, we would highly recommend coming soon. Construction has just started on a Mandarin Oriental hotel that, once finished, will have stunning views of the ocean. But it also appears that it may most likely limit the views of the ocean on the back nine.
Playing in front of a gallery
It might start sounding like we are repeating ourselves, but the finishing hole at Bukit Pandawa is another exhilarating hole. From an elevated tee, you play across a small pond that lies short of the green. The slightly downhill 168-yarder has a waterfall left, and the spectacular clubhouse behind. From the tee, we noticed a couple watching us from just in front of the clubhouse.
As we all do, Menekse gets a little nervous when playing in front of a crowd, but she confidently fired her tee shot long of the green and found the back bunker. She splashed her bunker shot out to about 10 feet, but unfortunately missed the putt. I hit a well-struck 7-iron pin high but right and missed my putt.
After our round, and after we had dropped our clubs off at our hotel, we decided to ride our scooter into town. As we took off down the narrow streets, we noticed a scooter waving us down from behind. Curious as to what we did wrong, we stopped to the side of the road, and let the couple on a scooter catch us. “Were you guys playing golf earlier”? they asked as we were struggling to take off our helmets. “Why yes, we did”, we replied, and found out that this was the couple that watched us play the eighteenth hole!
After struggling to find her swing early in the round, Menekse simply played incredible on the back, shaving her front nine score by a full 10 strokes! I had a goal to break 60, but a poor swing on the 9th hole lead to a double, and I missed my goal by 2.
Other than driver, I think we used every club in our bag, the holes on the course have that much variety in distance. Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club has a routing that goes around a small crest of a hill with the first 7 holes on east side and the remaining 11 holes on the west side. In fact, we don’t recall any back to back holes that continued in the same direction. Many holes had forced carries to the greens, but there were also more than a couple that had fairways all the way to the greens.
The Clubhouse at Bukit Pandawa sits at the top of the property and is spectacular! It has a modern contemporary Balinese temple look to it and is finished in natural materials such as wood and the famous black Bali volcanic rock. We enjoyed sitting up top while enjoying the incredible 360-degree views!
We would recommend a round of golf at Bukit Pandawa Golf and Country Club- after all, how often can you say World’s Best! And, if you come in July or August, don’t forget your kite!