The Els Club Desaru Coast
After our visit to The Els Club Teluk Datai, we were really looking forward to playing golf at The Els Club Desaru Coast. So, while we were in Johor, we rented a car and took the easy one-hour drive east to the Desaru Coast. We knew that it was going to be an exceptional golf course, but we weren’t expecting that we would be treated like VIP’s!
We arrived at The Els Club Desaru Coast late in the afternoon and had plenty of time prior to our tee time. One of the first things you see as you arrive is the marvelously looking clubhouse. But that was just the beginning!
After checking in with the Pro Shop, we went downstairs to the locker rooms to change. After changing my shoes in the locker room, I met Menekse back in the lobby, and immediately saw the look of amazement on her face. ‘Did you see that?’ she excitedly asked me. See what, I replied curiously. ‘Our names!’ Our names? She showed me a picture of her locker that had her name on it! Without wasting another second, I ran back into the locker room to see if mine was the same. Growing up playing muni golf, what stood before me was something that I have never seen before- lockers that were engraved with our names! What can we say, we were speechless!
Afterward, we wanted to warm up prior to our round and so we made our way to the practice facilities. Having a driving range with actual green-sized targets, as well as practice bunkers and putting greens, The Els Club Desaru Coast easily had the best overall practice facilities thus far of our golf trip through Malaysia.
The Ocean Course at The Els Club Desaru Coast
The Ocean Course is made up of 3 separate nine-hole courses; the Lakes, the Coast, and the Ridge nines. We opened with the Ridge nine and finished with the Coast nine. While we did not play the Lakes nine, we can confidently say that you must make sure you include the Coast nine in your rotation.
The Els Club at Desaru Coast is also home to the Vijay Singh-designed Valley Course. Unfortunately, we did not have time to play there, but we understand that it is a very stern test of golf.
The Ridge Nine
The par 37 Ridge course plays 3367 meters (3682 yards) from the Black tees. I teed it up from the 3204-meter (3504-yard) Silver tees, and Menekse played it from the 271-meter (2965-yard) Jade tees. We were greeted on the first tee by the on-course hospitality manager. He gave us some more tees, double-checked to see that we had water, and provided us with the target on the first hole.
Our favorite hole on the Ridge nine came early in our round. With water on the right, the 427-meter (467-yard) par 4 third hole simply requires a solid tee shot. Having accomplished our first requirement, we both failed our next test, as Menekse pushed her second shot and I pulled mine. This great hole doesn’t ask for anything special from the player, other than two well-struck golf shots.
Go for it!
We usually don’t like back-to-back par 5’s, but the eighth and ninth holes on the Ridge were an exception. In our golf travels, it seems all too often that resort golf courses either take the driver out of your hands on par 5’s or take going for it on your second shot out of play. And sometimes both! But not the eighth and ninth holes of the Ridge! At 475 meters (519 yards), the eighth hole is protected by strategically placed bunkers that guard both sides of the fairway. But I had been hitting my driver well all day and confidently found the middle of the fairway.
As we approached our next shots, it was here that I fell in love with the hole. With no greenside water, the hole was whispering ‘go for it’ ever so sweetly in my ear. So out came the three wood! While I ended up short and a little right, it was refreshing to hit 3-wood on a par 5 again.
With water down the right side and a pair of bunkers guarding the left, normally my ‘smart’ play would be to hit 3-wood or rescue off the tee on the par 5 ninth. But at a long 518 meters (567 yards), there was no doubt that driver was the must-hit club. Finding the center cut of the fairway off the tee, I approached the next shot and was surprised to find that I could again go for the green with confidence! Thank you, Els Club Desaru Coast, for giving this golfer the opportunity to hit 3-wood from the fairway again!
The Coast Nine
After some early-round stumbles, we both played the second half of the Ridge better, and so we were very excited to make the turn and play the Coast nine.
Located on the opposite side of the beautiful Clubhouse, the Coast nine plays to par 36. Similar in length to the Ridge, we found the first tee and were again warmly greeted by the on-course hospitality manager. He inquired how our rounds were going, made sure we had everything we needed, and parted us with the target and a smile.
The second hole on the Coast nine is a long 526-meter (575-yard) par 5 that we can promise that you will never forget! Standing on the tee, you can’t help but be wowed by the beautiful fairway-length bunker that runs down the entire left side. The hole bends left, so the bunker is always in play. By now my swing was feeling good, and I found the left-center cut of the fairway.
Wanting to have a better look at that full-length bunker, Menekse flirted with the left side, but also safely found the fairway.
We were able to see the green from the fairway with our range finder and could see that it was a small target that was very well protected. The fairway-length bunker runs all the way up the left side. And there was another fairway bunker right and a greenside bunker short right. With the South China Sea looming in the distance, long was not a safe option either. So, I prudently elected to hit a seven iron so I could have a full 54-degree wedge in. That ended up being the smart play because I hit the wedge to 10 feet, making our first birdie of the day.
The 149-meter (163-yard) par 3 third is most likely the signature hole of the Ocean Course. The ocean beach runs along the entire left side of the hole, and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore is bound to play in your mind. Menekse found the left side of the green and had a nice view of the ocean. Make sure you get some good selfies here!
While the remaining holes take you away from the ocean, they are anything but forgettable. The fifth hole is a short 349-meter (382-yard) par 4. With a sharp dogleg left, and a lake bordering the entire left side, the play here is something off the tee that ensures your next shot is dry, while at the same time getting you to a distance that you like. My play was 3-wood off the tee in order to set myself with a full 54-degree wedge in. The tee shot was executed perfectly, center cut of the fairway.
With water left, and the flag on the left side of the green, pin-high right was the plan. However, I pulled the wedge just enough to break a sweat as it descended. Pin high and left of the pin, but dry, I rolled in another putt for birdie.
Stick with it
We both also really enjoyed the par 4 seventh hole. We played the 404-meter (442-yard) par four as the sun began its gradual descent. As the water left off the tee doesn’t really come into play, we both found the fairway off the tee.
The next shot is a slight dogleg right with a modest uphill approach to a green protected short by bunkers. I was the first to play and was in between clubs. Inevitably this often leads me to not execute my best swing. My weak cut fell short into one of the deep bunkers. Less afraid of the shot than I was, Menekse hit a smooth six-iron that sailed over the bunkers and found the back of the green. Unable to get up and down, my indecision in the fairway led to my first bogey of the Coast nine. Menekse’s first putt was left shorter than she wanted, but she dropped her next putt for her first par of the Coast nine.
We finished the last hole just as the sunset over the clubhouse- a fitting ending to an incredible day.
Our Experience atThe Els Club Desaru Coast
After changing in the locker room and getting one last long look at our names on the lockers (we still can’t believe how awesome that was!), we went into the Pro Shop to thank them for our great day and were personally greeted by the Director of Golf. He inquired about our day, and we told him about our world golf adventure. As we stood there chatting, I couldn’t help but reflect on our entire experience and how we were treated like long-time members at every opportunity. This is how you dream to be treated as a guest! The Els Club Desaru Coast truly understands how to make the traveling golfer happy and ranked high on our list of best golf courses in Malaysia!
As we were saying our goodbyes, the Director of Golf presented us each with a gift of our very own personalized golf bag tags. Wow, we truly didn’t know what to say! But we will proudly carry them all around the world with us!
Everything you need to know to play the Ocean Course at Els Club Desaru Coast
Designed by Ernie Els, the Ocean Course at The Els Club Desaru Coast overlooks the South China Sea on the southeast tip of Malaysia. The golf course is an hour’s drive east of Johor or 52 minutes from the Senai International Airport (JHB). If you are coming from Singapore, the Desaru Coast is about an hour and 40-minute drive- not including the time needed for the Singapore to Malaysia border crossing.
Address: Els Club Desaru Coast, No 4. Jalan Danau, Desaru Coast, 81930 Desaru, Johor, Malaysia
Phone: +60 (7) 878 0000
The Els Club Desaru Coast is open to the public. For golf bookings, follow the Book Tee Times link found on their website. Buggies (carts), trolleys as well as caddies are also available for hire.
There are four sets of tees at the Ocean Course: the long 6732-meter (7362-yard) Black tees, the 6360-meter (6955-yard) Silver tees, the 5678-meter (6395-yard) Red tees, and the 5306-meter (5803-yard) Jade tees. I played it from the Silver tees and Menekse from the Jade tees. Par at the Ocean Course is 73.
The green fee at The Els Club is $420.00 Malaysian Ringgit on weekends and holidays (approximately €89 Euro, $97 US, or $139 AUD), and $350 (€74, $81, and $116) during the week per player. The green fee includes a shared cart.
Also located at Desaru Coast is the 18-hole Valley Course. The Valley Course was designed by Vijay Singh.