The Mines Resort and Golf Club
Often in our travels, we find that the unplanned things of the road are the best. A town that we didn’t know existed. A restaurant down a back alley that we stumbled across. A secluded beach that has the perfect sunset. Sometimes golf is the same way. The Mines Resort and Golf Club was one of those unplanned surprises.
We must admit that The Mines Resort and Golf Club was not on our radar prior to our arrival to Malaysia. But when we Googled the best golf courses in Malaysia, it kept ranking at the top. As we began to look more into the club, we found that it is located in what was once the largest tin mine in the world. How could a former hole in the ground be transformed into one of the top golf courses in Malaysia? We knew that we had to find out for ourselves.
Mining in the Kuala Lumpur area began in the 19th century. By the early 20th century, the Hong Fatt Tin Mine had become the largest tin mine in the world. When mining stopped in 1982, the mine was abandoned. All that was left behind was a scarred landscape, full of empty mining pits and lakes.
The transformation into what you see today began with the vision of Mr. Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew. He joined forces with architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in order to turn “a wasteland of vast depressions and lakes into a polished 18-hole work of art”. The golf course construction started in 1993. Left to mature for a full year, it was officially opened in 1994. And what a work of true vision it is!
A Clubhouse Tour
When we arrived, we found nothing of “a wasteland of vast depressions”! Rather, what we found was a magnificent clubhouse! The Clubhouse, completed in 1996, is 90,000 square feet of true grandeur! Offering spectacular views of the lake and the finishing holes, the clubhouse consists of a members lounge, changing rooms, suites, meeting rooms, and hallways that are adorned with pictures of past players such as Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, and others, including Ben Crane, the 2010 CIMB Asia Pacific Classic champion (and fellow Oregonian!). It also has a restaurant with a wonderful terrace that overlooks the golf course.
One of the coolest things we saw was inside the member’s locker room. Some of the lockers still have the name plaques of the PGA players that have completed in previous CIMB Asia Pacific Classics. Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara won the World Cup of Golf here in 1999. We learned, unfortunately, that Tiger Wood’s name plaque was stolen by an overzealous fan.
Playing at The Mines Resort and Golf Club
After hitting a few balls on the driving range and stroking a couple of putts on the practice green, I could feel that my lower back was quite sensitive. We played The Mines after our trip to Melaka, where I stupidly slipped on wet rocks a couple of evenings prior and bruised my lower back.
Smiling through the pain, we made our way to our first tee. We say our first tee because, as we played the nines in reverse order, it was actually the tenth tee. But knowing this is how the course has played during the multiple world-class tournaments that it has hosted, we weren’t unhappy. We both found the middle of the fairway off the tee, and we were off.
Par at The Mines is 71, and it plays 6770-yards from the Gold tees. A little too much golf for me, I played it from the 6287-yard Blue tees, while Menekse played it from 5205-yard Red tees.
Starting on ten, it didn’t take us long to arrive at one of the greatest holes on the course, the par 3 eleventh (our second). It might only be 169-yards long from the tips, but don’t let the yardage fool you into thinking that a 3 on your scorecard is a given. From the tee, there is nothing between you and the green except a deep jungle filled ravine, which means anything short is unfindable. Playing it smart, Menekse was a little strong of the green but was in a good position to try to save par. I pulled it left and couldn’t get up and down.
Seeing a smile
While I was struggling to make a swing that didn’t result in pain, Menekse was stringing together some really solid holes of golf. A couple of par chances here, a few bogey chances there. Something about The Mines Club really suited her game. She seemed relaxed, and, dare I say, I think I even saw a smile or two.
Another hole that pleased our eye was the 410-yard uphill par 4 17th hole (our eighth). A slight dogleg right, the fairway is littered with well-placed bunkers that makes the hole play longer than the card.
As we made our way to the dogleg left par 4 18th (our ninth), our caddy pointed out a house to our left. He told us that the house belongs to the Prime Minister of Malaysia! Hitting our tee shots from the Prime Minister’s backyard is surely something that neither of us will ever forget. It is a testament to vision that a former tin mine could now be the home of the Prime Minister!
A Former Tin Mine
As we made the turn, my lower back was really hurting, and I decided that I shouldn’t risk any further injury. But, the first hole (our tenth) has an absolutely beautiful looking tee shot. With the signature lake left, and a fairway that slopes downhill towards the water, the 395-yard par 4 requires a straight ball. I hit 3-wood off the tee, and was satisfied with the shot, and decided that would be my last ball of the day. I would continue to be my wife’s biggest cheerleader for the remaining holes.
Our Favourite Holes
When we made it to the middle stretch of our back nine, Menekse was continuing her play of very good golf. Her tee shots were hit solidly. She was making crisp contact with her wedge. And her putting speed was more consistent. But most importantly, I could see that she was having fun.
We both really enjoyed holes 6 and 7 (our fifteenth and sixteenth) and they were our favorite of the course. In one word, the sixth hole is brilliant. At 291-yards, this par 4 begs you take driver and go for it off the tee. But with water all down the right side, and a bunker left, it forces you to think. We love a golf hole that offers more than one way to play.
The 181-yard par 3 seventh was equally delightful. With the same lake on your right side, we’re sure that this hole has had its fair share of selfies taken. Menekse put it all together here and made par!
We rarely add up our scores immediately after we play, but I knew that Menekse’s round was good, if not one of her best. She didn’t have any blow-up holes. And with only 3 triple bogies and the rest of the card filled with bogies or doubles, she had her best 18-hole score ever on a full course, and a money taking net of 66!
The Mines Experience
On the front of the scorecard, it says The Mines Experience, and ours was an experience that we won’t ever forget! The day we played was only a few weeks ahead of their Club Championship, and the course was in tournament-ready shape. The greens were firm and ran true, just the way we like them. They had a consistently quick pace of speed and had some very nice gentle contours. The fairways were generous, but not overly easy to find, and were perfectly maintained.
The Mines Resort and Golf Club ranked very high on our list of best golf courses in Malaysia. It is simply impossible to think that this was just a hole in the ground less than 30 years ago. A true testament to vision indeed! And another confirmation that often the best things in life are unplanned!