Johor is a state which is renowned for its stunning rainforest, picture-perfect beaches and wonderful golf courses
Located in southern Malaysia and linked to Singapore, Johor is a state which is renowned for its stunning rainforest and picture-perfect beaches. The capital of this region of Malaysia is Johor Bahru and this is a city which is very much on the up. Look at the numerous temples, mosques and museums before heading to the other areas of this very interesting area of the country. If you are already in Malaysia, you can reach Johor easily by flying into Senai International Airport. If you are arriving from an international destination you could fly to Kuala Lumpur and join a connecting flight or fly to Singapore and travel along the connecting roads using bus, taxi or a hire car. The latter is probably the better choice for golfers, as by having access to your own vehicle, you can be sure to reach and enjoy all the wonderful golf courses in Johor.
One of the best golf courses in Johor and close to the city of Johor Bahru is Austin Heights Golf Resort
One of the best golf courses in Johor and close to the city of Johor Bahru is Austin Heights Golf Resort. Upon arrival, you will immediately notice the large white building on top of the hill and this is the Austin Heights clubhouse. The views of the 27-hole golf course from the clubhouse are fantastic and you can take your time and pick the 18-holes you would like to play. There are three 9-hole golf courses to choose from, each presenting varying levels of difficulty, making Austin Heights suitable for players of all abilities. The course blends in nicely with the surroundings and looks as though it has been part of the land for a lot longer than it actually has, having opened in 1993. Designed by Peter Dalkeith Scott, there are several elevated tee boxes and you find yourself having to strike shots over ravines, before landing safely on the fairway. Many of the fairways are undulating and tight but you must remain on them to give yourself the best chance of reaching the green in regulation, as they are quite small. Choose two sets of 9-holes to complete your round, with tropical plants, cactus and large bunkers featuring throughout. The clubhouse and facilities are very good, with plenty of activities on offer for the whole family to enjoy, such as swimming and water slides. The Malaysian restaurant overlooks the golf course and is a great place to reflect on your completed round of golf. If you are staying in Johor Bahru, Austin Heights Golf and Resort is a great place to start your golfing holiday.
Starhill Golf and Country Club is a 36-hole layout which is split into two distinct 18-hole courses
Another Johor golf course which was established in 1993 and one of the best in this region of Malaysia is Starhill Golf and Country Club. This 36-hole golf club is split into two distinct 18-hole courses and can easily be reached from Johor Bahru and the Singapore Causeway. The Bukit Course features wide but undulating fairways and as the word ‘Bukit’ translates to ‘hill’ in English, this gives you some idea of what to expect. Despite the sloping terrain, this is considered the easier of the two courses due to the width of the fairways and infrequent hazards. However, there are ponds and bunkers on the fairways and around the greens, which will punish you if you lose concentration. The Bintang Course plays shorter than the Bukit Course but offers a greater challenge due to the ravine and swamp areas located around the course. Water is the main obstacle to look out for and good course management is required to achieve a low score. Starhill Golf and Country Club provides two different 18-holes of golf and is easily accessible from Johor Bahru and Singapore, making it one of the best golf courses in Johor.
Legends Golf Resort offers courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer
If you are travelling from Singapore using the second causeway, you must include the Legends Golf Resort on your itinerary. The fact that this golf club offers courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, should be enough for you to consider making the trip. The Jack Nicklaus Championship Course was established in 1997 and quickly established itself as one of the top golf courses in Johor. In fact, not only was the course considered one of the best golf courses in Johor, it was ranked as one of the top three golf courses in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly in 2002. This is an exciting course to play and you are met with an array of downhill drives, dogleg fairways around lakes, challenging ridges and lovely views into the neighbouring palm oil plantation. Each hole has its own character but the back nine must be considered the more difficult, with several elevated tees, looking down to a mix of water, bunkers and trees. The Arnold Palmer designed course offers 9 holes of very scenic golf and compliments the Nicklaus course nicely. With resort facilities boasting accommodation, entertainment and other sporting activities why not stay for a couple of days and make full use of one of the best golf courses in Johor?
The Pulai Springs Country Club presents one of the toughest golfing challenges in the country
The Pulai Springs Country Club is located about an hour from Singapore and 40 minutes from Johor Bahru, making it easily accessible. This is good news because it is the home of one of the best golf courses in Johor. The Pulai Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II is one of the most well maintained golf courses in Malaysia and presents one of the toughest golfing challenges in the country. The course is undulating throughout and thinly lined by trees, offering wide fairways and some of the best bunkering in the region. The wide fairways tempt the big hitters but with deep bunkers throughout, especially around the elevated greens, good accuracy must be maintained to avoid dropping shots. The back nine are arguably the toughest on the course and water comes into play on five holes. The par-3 13th hole is a real highlight, with island tee boxes and a green surrounded by water. You must hold your nerve and back your ability on this hole or face the inevitable and often wet consequences. The clubhouse has been designed in the style of a Malay palace and welcomes golfers back with Jacuzzi’s, steam rooms and saunas. With the additional Melana Course also available as part of Pulai Springs Country Club, it’s well worth setting aside a full day or more and enjoying the whole experience.
Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club is considered a hidden gem among local golfers
One of the most modern and best golf developments in Johor can be found at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club. This Ross Watson designed course opened in 2008 and is considered a hidden gem among local golfers. Despite only being open for a short period of time, Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club have hosted Asian Tour events, including the Iskandar Johor Open. The natural terrain of the land has been well preserved on this golf course and there are many elevation changes between tee and green. The sweeping bunkers are one of the main features to catch the eye and they provide one the greatest challenges. The man-made ponds, lakes and waterfalls add not only to the splendour of the course but the need for accurate shots. The second hole is where the test really begins at Horizon Hills and you are faced with a par-5, which has two creeks running through it. You can attempt to clear the creeks and run the risk of dropping shots or play the hole as a par-6 and lay-up, keeping your ball nicely in play before clearing the creeks with your next shot. It’s a brilliant example of risk and reward golf. On the back nine, the par-3 17th is a cracker and although the green is large, the wind which blows across this hole can easily leave you out of position. Not only that but due to the undulating nature of the green and the water surrounding it, if the pin position is near the edge, simply finding the green is not enough to guarantee a good birdie opportunity. Off the course, the facilities are of a very high standard, with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, tennis courts, golfers terrace, bar and Chinese restaurant. For a great day of golf or an extended stay including golf and other activities, Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club should be at the top of your list.
The golf courses highlighted above are fantastic. There are plenty of others to choose from and we recommend you give them all a try and form your own opinions. However, unless you are staying for a prolonged period, it will be impossible to play every course in the region. Therefore, start by playing the courses above, which we believe to be the best golf courses in Johor and you can be sure of a great experience.