Royal Selangor Golf Club
“It all began when several coffee planters thought that it was a jolly good idea for Kuala Lumpur to have a golf club.” And with that, in 1893, The Royal Selangor Golf Club was established. A jolly good idea indeed, we couldn’t agree more!
The Royal Selangor Golf Club, or RSGC as the Club is locally known, is home to 45 holes of golf; The Old Course, the New Course, and the Suleiman Course, a 9 hole- no, make that an 8-hole short course. We learned that it used to be a 9-hole course, but the course lost a hole when the Club converted the land used for the last hole into a tennis court that has since held the Malaysian Open WTA tennis tournament.
Through an anonymous contact, we were able to connect with the Senior Course Superintendent who graciously agreed to give us a tour of the courses during one of our last days in Malaysia. During our time together, he showed us around both the Old Course and the New Course, while sharing stories of the Club’s extensive history. The Club dates to 1893, but moved to its current location in the early 1920’s. The First Nine Old, as it is known, was opened for play in 1921, and the Second Nine Old was completed in 1922. The New Course was added in 1931.
Rightfully proud of their history, the Club’s website has an extensive and very interesting section on the history of the club.
The New Course
If you read about our trip to Borneo, you know that Menekse was bite by a tick. We had it removed by a doctor while in Borneo, but we wanted to go to a doctor while we were back in Kuala Lumpur just to ensure everything was in order. Therefore, we unfortunately only had time to play 9 holes of this historic Club. While we really had hoped to play the historic Old Course, we visited on a Monday and unfortunately the First Nine Old was closed for maintenance that day. However, our generous host suggested that we should play the First Nine New, as he knew we would enjoy it. And how right he was.
Home to the very first Malaysian Open back in 1961, the courses at Royal Selangor are all parkland in nature. The New Course plays to just under 7000-yards from the Black tees. The First Nine New plays to 3324- yards, which is a little too much golf for me. I chose to play from the 3187-yard Blue tees, and Menekse from the 2731-yard Red tees. We were introduced to our caddies and made our way to the first hole. We later learned that Menekse’s caddy has been with the Club for over 40 years!
The opening tee shot on the First Nine New has one of the coolest targets in all our golf travels, the Petronas Twin Towers, the landmark of Kuala Lumpur. The 382-yard par 4 has a slight dogleg left bend to it, so the perfect play is to take aim at the right tower and draw it ever so slightly to the left tower. The tee box was under maintenance while we were there, and so the tees were moved forward. Nevertheless, Menekse hit her tee shot just left of the left tower, while I blocked my tee shot way right into the approaching fairway.
The golf courses at Royal Selangor are routed through what was once a tree planting research centre of the Forestry Department, and many of the Tembusu trees as well as the huge Samanea saman trees, also known as a rain tree, date from this era. Completely enclosed by the city surrounding it, Royal Selangor is a tree lover’s sanctuary. In addition to this park-like setting, the golf course offers panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.
Early in our round, my swing wasn’t working at all. In fact, when we played the fantastic 513-yard par 5 third hole, I never even saw the fairway! I blocked my tee shot way right again. It was so far right that I couldn’t even see an opening back to the fairway for my second shot. So, up the adjacent fairway we went, where, we can embarrassing confirm that par can be made.
Finding the Fairway
The Royal Selangor Golf Club is a walking only course, which was a refreshing change to all the golf cart only courses in Asia that we have played. And, being a walking course, it has fantastic looking Hogan’s walkways, or Hogan’s paths, on each hole (that narrow mowed section of grass that leads from the tee to the fairway). Always a sign of a great Club!
I finally put a decent swing on the 331-yard par 4 eighth hole. With The Exchange 106 building as the ideal target, I found the fairway off the tee for only the second time of the day. The pin was located up front on the long narrow green, and my well struck wedge softly landed just right of the pin. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my caddy’s line of right edge of the cup and missed the putt left.
Finishing the First Nine New
Another fun hole was the ninth, and not because it was our only birdie of the day. A longish 392-yard par 4 requires a little bend right off the tee. Finally, a hole that suited my swing of the day! But, wouldn’t it be inevitable that I finally hit my driver straight?! I found the far-left corner of the fairway of the dogleg. But with no trouble on that side of the fairway, and one of those beautiful trees guarding the right side, the tee shot ended up being in good position. Menekse found the middle of the fairway and enjoyed a leisurely walk straight to the green with her caddy.
With the pin up front, I hit eight iron thinking that the middle of the green was the smarter play. I must have caught it strong though and watched it fly to the back of the green. Faced with a long downhill putt of about 40 feet, I looked at it quickly, and wouldn’t you know, it dropped in for our only birdie of the day.
After thanking the Course Superintendent again for his time, we waved goodbye to the Club, and walked across the street to the hospital where we made it to Menekse’s doctor’s appointment on time. All while carrying our golf clubs!
We can only hope that we will have the opportunity to play all 18 of the Old Course, as well as the lovely looking New Course someday in the future.