Daily walking would be nice, yeah? Indonesia, the world’s 4th most populous country, came in dead last for the number of walking steps taken by citizens, in a study of 46 countries by Stanford University.
Jakarta especially, is one of the most difficult cities in the world to maintain an active lifestyle due to lack of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and recreational green space. One way to get out there, get exercise, and walk in the great outdoors, is to play a round of golf. Our concrete jungle has great courses! Golf season is year-round, the courses are beautiful, and it’s one of the only ways to have a peaceful, quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta’s chaos. Here’s a quick guide:
• Relax. Many visitors have reported that golfing in Indonesia is a bit more laid back than in western countries. Standard rules of golf apply, but the courses are not generally pretentious and have welcoming, friendly vibes.
• All courses provide caddies as part of the green fee. They are not pro-golfers but they are trained and generally know the greens well. They can be as involved in your game as you like. You can have your ball teed up and lined up for each hole if that’s what you prefer. Some will offer tips on club choice and direction off the tee-box. One of the best luxuries is that they spot your ball for you and help you look for it in the rough if your swing goes awry. Tipping is expected. For 18-holes, it is common to tip the caddy Rp200,000 – 300,000 after your last hole. If you find a caddy you like, get their name, and request them next time you book, as they can greatly improve your game!
• Phone ahead for Tee-Time reservations.
• Prices can be significantly higher on weekends and national holidays: check the websites or phone for updated rates.
WHERE TO GO
Great Layouts with Great Views:
• Rainbow Hills Golf Club: Three course options (27 holes), located in Sentul. Stunning, picturesque mountain views, a challenging layout, superb clubhouse facilities and a practice range. Award winning in South East Asia, designed by J. Michael Poellot Golf Design Group.
• Jagorawi Golf & Country Club: Two Courses, old and new (45 holes), just off the Jagorawi Toll in Depok. Riverside and jungle scenery, mountain views on some holes. Want to test your stamina? Each August this course has a walking-only charity tournament of all 45 holes.
• Royale Jakarta Golf Club: Challenging, international championship-style layout (27 holes), practice range, spa, superb facilities. Online tee-time booking available. Southeast Jakarta (near Halim Airport)
• Pondok Indah Golf Course: (18 holes) Located in South Jakarta’s Pondok Indah, premium location within Jakarta, driving range (lit at night), excellent facilities, a favourite for corporate clients.
GOLF ON A BUDGET
An afternoon well-spent for the casual golfer on a budget, is at Pangkalan Jati.
It is in South Jakarta (technically Depok), just south of Cilandak and offers very affordable rates. There is a graveyard in the middle of one of the holes on the 9th hole, and motorbikes can be spotted crossing fairways: so very Jakarta! The course is not in PGA-tour type of condition, but it’s a perfect place to do a quick nine or casual 18, get the body moving, and grab a Katsu Curry and refreshing Es Kelapa.
Virtual golf saves time (traffic, rain delays) and gives some unique tools to work on your game. If in South Jakarta, try SG Golf on Jl. Prapanca VI Dalam (new location also opening in Bintaro June 2019). Men’s and women’s clubs are provided, but you are welcome to bring your own. The technology gives you enough information to seriously improve your game, with instant feedback on distance, direction and even video replay of your swing, which you can replay and slow down to critique. There is no time limit and the owners are great; you can stay on after closing to finish up your 18 holes if needed. Rates are low compared to a real course: only Rp150,000 for 18 holes 10am–4pm, or Rp250,000 from 4pm to midnight. Enjoy the food at the small café there, or order in your own food for more variety. They have many virtual courses to choose from; you will not be bored by the selection.
Senayan National Golf Club is fully lit at night, and it’s the only place in Jakarta to golf after sundown. Don’t expect to find your ball every time you hit into the rough, but it is lit well enough to have a fun time after work. Heads up though! This course’s layout is quite tight, so watch for flying balls and heed the “Fore!” warnings.
SURF THE FAIRWAYS WITH GOLF BOARDS
The only course in Jakarta with Golf Boards is near Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, at Cengkareng Golf Club. If you want some added adventure in your round, try them out! They are a fun alternative to golf carts. You ride them standing in a surf board stance, carving your way down the fairways. It’s a great time if you don’t take your golf game too seriously! Regular carts and walking are also options at this course.
• If you don’t have a private driver and car, BlueBird, Grab or a Go-Car via the Go-Jek app will get you to the course. If you are going to the courses that are just outside Jakarta and want to ensure you have a ride back with minimal waiting time, hire the car to standby for you.
TIPS FOR THE WEATHER
• It’s hot. Sunscreen up, cover up, bring an umbrella. Bringing ice water and a cold towel helps beat the heat and humidity for the 4–5 hours it takes to play the round.
• Insect Repellent: Dengue is a real risk in Jakarta and there is standing water on the courses.
• Check the forecast, especially during rainy season (October–April)
Golf is a great way to take in stunning views and get exercise, get out there!