Our pick from more than 200 golf courses from some of the world's leading golf course architects
The history of golf in Malaysia dates to 1892 when the Royal Selangor Golf Club opened its doors and, although this golf course has been extensively expanded and refurbished several times, it remains one of the most exclusive and best golf courses in Malaysia. The Malaysian Golf Association opened its doors in 1928 and continues to oversee the operation of the Malaysia Amateur Golf Championship which was first held in 1894.
The quality of golf courses in Malaysia both in East Malaysia and West Malaysia are outstanding and as good as any golf courses in Asia.
This listing of the top golf courses in Malaysia is our opinion but we believe that most of the golf courses featured here will also appear on several of the other top Malaysia golf course listings.
Malaysia is a fantastic country, full of diversity and thus delivers a great selection of golf courses, which challenge and delight in equal measure. The country itself is a popular travel destination, due to the many things it offers visitors, including great golf courses. Away from golf, there’s a great selection of beautiful beaches to enjoy, in addition to a fascinating history and culture to explore, the modern city of Kuala Lumpur, with the famous Petronas Towers, amazing wildlife and nature and delicious cuisine to sample. What more could you want from a golfing destination? World class golf courses perhaps? Fortunately, Malaysia has some tremendous golf courses to choose from, including Els Club Teluk Datai.
A perfect combination of golf and the natural environment - from jungle to ocean
The Els Club originally opened in 1992 and was known as the Datai Bay Golf Club and was always famous for its wonderful mountain scenery and the untouched rainforest. Since then the course has been completely renovated by the four-time major champion Ernie Els and reopened as the Els Club Teluk Datai in 2014. The redesigned course is bordered on one side by the rainforest and on the other side by the Andaman Sea with the natural streams meandering across the golf course. One of the features of the old course was the local flora and fauna which was home to numerous monkeys and other native animals and although many of the monkeys have been relocated they have managed to preserve and protect the natural environment and surroundings. The course is quite short and only measures 6,700 yards and is not too difficult partly because there are no bunkers at all on the course although the jungle lines both sides of most fairways and serves as a backdrop to most greens so anything offline is probably a lost ball.
Some of the most exciting holes are alongside the Andaman sea and the signature hole is the par-3 17th with a daunting tee shot across the beach to a green right on the edge of the water. The clubhouse has been totally rebuilt and it is extremely luxurious serving superb food overlooking the golf course.For those who know their professional golfers, the name Els is stands out in the name of this golf course, which is in Langkawi. The overall environment and setting is lovely and it’s easy to gaze at the features of the course, such as the natural streams and take your eye off the action. Impact on the environment was one of the key features when the course was created and local nature is apparent at every turn, including bougainvillea, palms, ferns, parasitic vines, tropical hardwoods and broad-leafed plants, With undulating fairways and greens, expect to be playing your ball from various lies throughout the round but with the course in such great condition, you can rely on a making a true shot, every time. With golf and nature perfectly combined, Els Club Teluk Datai is one of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
Location: In northwest corner of Langkawi about 40 minutes from Kuah
Birdies: There is not a single bunker on the course
Bogeys: Could not think of anything – all good!
Favorite hole: Par3- 17th hole – tee off across beach to green beside ocean
Play in the footsteps of the many champion golfers who have played and won here
Another course within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur city centre, the renamed TPC Kuala Lumpur boasts two champions golf courses. Having recently joined the PGA Tour’s TPC network, the first club to have this honour in Southeast Asia, TPC Kuala Lumpur has hosted some great events, including the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the European Tour’s Malaysian Open, between 2013 and 2015. The club is also the home of the CIMB Classic, winners of which include Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore. The West Course is the longer and more testing of the two courses at TPC Kuala Lumpur and was totally revamped and reopened in 2008. The views of the holes and scenery around the course are gorgeous and combine with the quality of the fairways and greens, to produce one of the best golf courses in Malaysia. Just be aware of the water, which comes into play on 13 of the 18 holes.
The best of the holes on the front nine is the par-3 4th, which although it is only 140 yards long you play to a small green which is heavily bunkered front and back. The 9th hole is another very strong par-4 with a challenging uphill approach to the green. The back nine is more difficult and also more attractive and there are many more water hazards to negotiate. The 11th for example, is an excellent par-3 with a water carry all the way from tee to green. As you end your round 14 and 15 are great fun and although the 14th only measures 350 yards there are extensive bunkers on the fairway and a lake in front of the green.
Location: Just 8 kms from the centre of Kuala Lumpur
Birdies: Everything about this course is superb.
Bogeys: Service in clubhouse & pro-shop does not live up to the quality of the course
Favorite hole: Par 3 – 4th hole. Not that long but narrow well -protected green
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. this course has hosted many major international events
As its name suggests, the Mines Golf Club was built on the site of one of the largest open-cast tin mines in Malaysia. The Mines Golf Course is part of the massive resort complex which extends over more than one thousand acres. The golf course was designed by world-famous designer Robert Trent Jones Jr and when he came along the land was heavily polluted as a result of the mining operation and considerable work was required before they could start work on the course. At least twelve inches of sand has been laid underneath the entire course to protect against potential pollution from the mining operation and as a result the drainage of the course is excellent, even after heavy rain. The Mines has won numerous awards and it always appears near the top of any list of the best golf courses in Malaysia, and indeed in Asia. It has also hosted numerous professional golf events and in 1997 Tiger Woods won the world cup of golf at this course. The course is just under 7,000 yards from the championship tees but providing you play off one of the forward tees and most golfers will enjoy a round here. The course demands very accurate approach shots to the undulating greens but it’s not too difficult to find the short grass on the very wide fairways.
The front nine passes through the tropical jungle which encroaches alongside many of the fairways. The pick of the holes are the short par-4 6th with a downhill tee shot with plenty of trouble if you miss the green to the left. The most memorable hole on the front nine, and arguably on the whole course, is the par-3 2nd requiring a daunting tee shot across a ravine with a huge tree as the aiming point. As you reach the back nine, the course opens out and many of the holes follow alongside the huge lake which was left over from the tin mining operations.
Location: Around 30 minutes from the centre of Kuala Lumpur
Birdies: Easy access to the airport if you want to play before departing
Bogeys: Green fees are a bit on the high side
Favorite hole: Par 5 – 17th made famous by Tiger Woods who eagled it in World Cup of Golf
An 18-hole championship course which has hosted numerous professional events
Kota Permai Golf & Country Club is located in the township of Kota Kemuning, just 30 minutes from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, is another example of a great Malaysia golf course. This 18-hole championship course, designed by Ross Watson, has played host to the Asian Tour Masters on multiple occasions and was used as a venue for a qualifying event for the World Cup of Golf. The golf club has earned several top awards over the years and continues to offer visitors a fantastic round of golf. The course is suitable for golfers of all abilities and blends in nicely with the surrounding nature and wildlife. Always in tremendous condition, water hazards and bunkers make for a strategic and pleasing round of golf on a course which continues to set high standards.
The course was refurbished in 2004 and most greens and tee boxes were rebuilt to USGA standards. They also added a two-tier driving range and upgraded the clubhouse.The courses meanders through the 170-acre site with quite a few elevation changes but it is very playable with no blind drives or severe doglegs and most of the greens are quite accessible. The small ponds and larger lakes are evident on many of the holes and it appears as if water is flowing throughout the course.
The 364-yard 2nd is generally regarded as the signature hole with water in play off the tee and a single pot bunker right in the middle of the fairway and you then have to contend with a pond which protects the front of the green.
The par-4 15th hole measures close to 450 yards with water along the left of the fairway and bunkers and the out of bounds area along the right. The final hole is also memorable partly because of the great views from the tee box but don’t linger too long as you need to negotiate this 550-yard-plus par-5 to successfully complete your round. The course feels like it’s been there forever, and flows wonderfully through the undulating terrain with each hole presenting a unique challenge in a wonderful setting. However the course requires careful course management with many “Risk & Reward” opportunities to be considered, especially for the more accomplished golfer.
Location: around 40 minutes south west of city centre
Birdies: Excellent maintenance and fast greens
Bogeys: In common with many local courses you have to have minimum 3 players.
Favorite hole: Par 4- 15th hole – hazards both sides of the fairway
Although this is a public course and can get crowded at times it is in great condition
Palm Garden Golf Club is a public golf course located in Putrajaya, one of Kuala Lumpur’s satellite townships and in normal traffic conditions is about 30 minutes from the city centre. It was originally a 27 hole layout but in 2009 it was complete redesigned by Ted Parslow and Jason Winter. Following this redesign the course has become a traditional 18 hole layout and the two nines have been names Eugenia and Bismark. During the redesign there was some considerable reshaping and all the new fairways are topped with a layer of sand which means that they drain very quickly after heavy rain. During the reshaping process many huge rocks and stones were exposed and these have been used to line some of the tee boxes and water hazards.
The front nine is the easier of the two and you’ll only encounter water on the par-5 4th hole and the par-3 7th, but as you turn for home you will encounter water on most of the holes and most memorably on the par-3 17th which features an island green. The course is extremely well bunkered and you need to avoid them as many of them are quite high-lipped which means you have no option but to splash out. The greens are quite undulating and can be very fast when you come back downhill so you should try at all costs to keep underneath the hole. There is a very interesting half-way house in an elevated location offering great views over the course and the surrounding wetland. The very modern and Mediterranean-style clubhouse overlooks the 18th green and is connected to a recreational annexe with a swimming pool, tennis court and sauna. A number of the finishing holes have been floodlit which allows for later tee-off times.
Location: in Putrajaya – 30 minutes south of the city
Birdies: Excellent maintenance and responsive management
Bogeys: The course allows 6-balls which can really block the course
Favorite hole: Par 3 – 17th with its island green
One of the most testing layouts in the country - especially the "Cobra" course
The first home of the Malaysia Open, is Saujana Golf and Country Club, which is situated 17 kilometres west of Kuala Lumpur and like TPC Kuala Lumpur, is home to two excellent golf courses. The Palm Course, nicknamed ‘The Cobra’ was the first course in the country to host a joint European and Asian Tour event and although it is not the longest course in the county, the layout is certainly one of the most testing. Undulating fairways, with big changes in elevation and sloping greens are aa challenge for professionals and amateurs alike. Although the Palm Course hosts the big events, the Bunga Raya Course has remained popular with the locals and it’s easy to see why. A more undulating and tighter course than the Palm, half of the front and back nine holes, are played across old railway tracks and there is plenty of elevation on the fairways, in addition to the fast and sloping greens. With the surrounding jungle and wildlife, Bunga Raya competes well with the Palm, for not only the title of top course at Saujana Golf and Country Club but as one of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
The Palm Course has been built on the site of the former oil palm plantation and has earned the nickname as “The Cobra”. This is because when the oil plantation was active, cobras were let loose to control the rats although I am pleased to say that cobras are no more prevalent here than anywhere else in Malaysia. Part of the reason that the Palm Course is so challenging is because of the extremely fast and sloping greens and if you overclub on your approach you can be left with some impossible downhill putts. There are plenty of undulations on the fairways as well which means that you are often playing from an uphill or hanging lie. If it is any consolation the course gets slightly easier on the back nine. One of the most memorable holes is the par-3 2nd with a tee shot over a deep gully to a green surrounded by palm trees and guarded by out-of-bounds on the left and three large bunkers on the right. If you are lucky enough to make the green with your tee shot then putting is extremely difficult on the undulating surface. This is followed by a huge 600 yard par-5 which plays downhill off the tee and then back uphill to the elevated green which has two tiers which again makes putting extremely difficult. It is not easy to get to play on this course unless you know a member but if you do get the chance to play here, you will be rewarded by one of the most exciting golf days on offer in Malaysia.
Location: In Petaling Jaya round 30 minutes west of Kuala Lumpur city centre
Birdies: Course is not busy during the week
Bogeys: Not easy to play here unless you know a member or stay in the hotel
Favorite hole: Par 3- 2nd hole – daunting tee shot across a deep ravine
A Max Wexler masterpiece - 36 holes of rolling hills and moderately undulating terrain
About 30 minutes’ drive from the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, is Glenmarie Golf and Country Club. This 36-hole course, is regarded as being one of the best in Malaysia and it’s to see why, with great conditioning and lovely landscape throughout. Designed by American Max Wexler, on what were rubber estates in the past, there are two, 18-hole courses with rolling hills and moderately undulating terrain throughout. Both courses are similar and the Garden Course comes complete with a nice array of local flora and fauna and a large lake, which is home to several species of bird. The course is open and well-spaced and the main test is judging approach shots to the greens, which are fast and undulating. The Valley Course has pine trees framing quite narrow fairways, with water coming into play on several holes. However, it’s perhaps the changes in elevation which are the most challenging factor on the Valley Course, with blind tee shots and tight drives throughout. Glenmarie Golf and Country club is home to two of the best golf courses in Malaysia.
Location: Close to Petaling Jaya round 30 minutes west of Kuala Lumpur city centre
Birdies: We get many comments on friendliness of the staff
Bogeys: Caddies lack experience and not consistent standard
Favorite hole: Garden Course par 3-11th
Another Ernie Els Masterpiece overlooking the South China Sea close to Singapore
The Els Club Desaru Coast was opened in 2016 by the Sultan of Johor and is one of the two golf courses which form part of the Desaru Coast facility on the southeast coast of peninsular Malaysia. The two stunning layouts have been constructed within a 4,000-acre development located along an amazing 17-kilometre stretch of coastline bordering the South China Sea. It takes just under two hours by road from Singapore to reach the resort or you can take the fast ferry service which takes around 30 minutes.
The Ocean course consists of three different 9-hole layouts: The par-36 Coast, par-37 Ridge and par-36 Lakes. There’s also a short 9-hole track which is great fun for all the family. Each course has its own unique characteristics with some personal inspiration from Els, but the design concept was modelled on the many links courses to be found across the UK with huge undulating greens and firm catchment areas designed to place a premium on an accurate short game.
The signature hole on the Ocean Course is 2nd which is a 575-yard par-5 on the Coast course with great views of South China Sea. You drive towards a generous landing area before the fairway narrows as it approaches the green, The most difficult hole on the scorecard is the 475-yard 9th on the Lakes course with a fairway which doglegs slightly left to an elevated green with a blind approach to a green surrounded by bunkers.
There are two sets of tee boxes on each hole which gives golfers the opportunity to play the course multiple times from varied starting points and its creative design allows the holes to be played in more than one direction.
The golf carts, which are permitted on the fairways, are fitted with state-of-the-art Visage GPS system and there is a fully grassed driving range and short-game practice areas. The 261 Bar & Restaurant serves excellent food.
Location: 1-hour, 45-minute drive from Singapore or 30 minutes by ferry
Birdies: Superb service and excellent food in clubhouse
Bogeys: The course suffers at times from poor maintenance
Favorite hole: Par 5- 2nd hole – long and narrow as you approach the green
A stunning course in natural surroundings with Mt Kinabalu as a backdrop
Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club in Sabah is another championship golf course designed by Ted Parslow which sits in 400 acres adjacent to the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort about a 40-minute drive from the centre of Kota Kinabalu. It’s a beautiful location and it is a delight to play golf surrounded by so much natural wonder which includes wonderful views of Mount Kinabalu, South-East Asia’s tallest mountain.
Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club is wedged between the rivers of Tambalang and Menagkabong and is surrounded by dense jungle and mangrove swamps. As a result of being so close to nature you will see abundant birdlife and you need to watch out for the ever-present monkeys and monitor lizards.
Water comes into play on virtually every hole and it starts getting difficult as early as the 2nd hole which demands an accurate drive as the approach is very demanding as the green is long and narrow, heavily bunkered with water encroaching on the right.
Dalit Bay’s signature Hole is the 11th and you drive from a tee box surrounded by the ocean over the Tambalang river mouth to a gently contoured green surrounded by bunkers with Mount Kinabalu in the background.
The 9th, which is also rated the most difficult hole is a long par-4 which brings all of the challenges of this golf courses into one hole with thick jungle, waste bunkers and plenty of water. Once on the green there are plenty of mounds and hollows to confuse you.
Dalit Bay has a large modern clubhouse with a restaurant, a driving range and other practice areas.
Location: a 40-minute drive north of Kota Kinabalu
Birdies: Wonderful scenery and peaceful surroundings
Bogeys: Food & drinks are expensive
Favorite hole: Par 3 – 11th – tee off over the river mouth.
Damai Golf and Country Club, Sarawak
The first Arnold Palmer designed golf course in Malaysia
The first Arnold Palmer designed golf course in Malaysia, can be found 20 minutes from Kuching, on the South China Sea. The Damai Golf and Country Club in Sarawak, plays along a peninsula, with beaches, mangrove forests and the foothills of Mount Santubong providing the perfect backdrop. Split into two sets of nine holes, the Mountain and the Ocean nine are quite different from each other. The Mountain Course, is played close to the foothills of the mountain and is situated in rugged terrain, whereas the Ocean Course plays along the South China Sea, with beaches and scenic fairways to enjoy. Watch out for the greens, which can be quite small and require accurate approach shots.
Location: A 40-minute drive north of Kuching
Birdies: Friendly staff and experienced caddies
Bogeys: The maintenence of the courses is not always up to standard
Favorite hole: Par 3 – 8th – the South China Sea is all around you
Another great championship course in Johor designed by Ross Watson
Moving to Johor and another great Malaysian golf course is Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club. Designed by Ross Watson and opened in 2008, this 18-hole, par 72 international championship course features many significant elevation changes, between tee to green on several of the holes. With bunkers, man-made waterfalls, lakes and ponds providing the hazards, Horizon Hills offers a challenging and varied round of golf. There are many risk-reward holes throughout the course, a good example being the par-5, second hole which has two creeks to navigate and those who are unsure about taking them on, would be well advised to lay up short. The final hole, which is also a par-5, has an island fairway, which can be found from the tee, but is a risk at 250 yards and sums up exactly what Horizon Hills Golf Country Club is all about.
Location: A20 minutes form centre of Johor
Birdies: Very well maintained with fast greens
Bogeys: The fairways do not drain well after heavy rain
Favorite hole: Par 3 – 8th – the South China Sea is all around you
With such a great choice of golf courses in Malaysia, it’s tough to single out one as being the best. The only thing to do, is try and sample as many as time allows and make up your own mind, on which are the best golf courses in Malaysia.