The former Portuguese colony of Macau entered the 21st century with all guns blazing and the development has been skyrocketing ever since. Now known as the ‘Las Vegas of the East’, global casino and entertainment corporations are keen to maintain this growth in establishing massive integrated resorts in the territory. Tens of millions of tourists flock here annually and there appears to be few signs of a slowdown.
However, Macau is not just about chancing one’s hand on the gaming tables. It’s a historic UNESCO World Heritage city with glamorous dining, shopping and relaxation opportunities.
Golfing enthusiasts have a choice of the Oriental Golf International Macau, which is the only public course in Macau, or the members’ only Macau Golf and Country Club on the island of Coloane is just a few kilometres away. The latter is a picturesque course located adjacent to the Grand Coloane Resort at Hac Sa Beach. With land at a premium, it is not surprising that there are just two courses in Macau.
Macau’s public golf course
Macau’s only public golf course covers about five percent of Macau’s total landmass. Located close to the popular Cotai casino and entertainment strip, the Oriental Golf International Macau course was originally opened in 2005 by a division of a Taiwanese conglomerate, which operates golf courses in several other parts of China.
It was initially known as the Oriental Macau Golf Course but changed hands and was run by Caesar’s, the golfing division of Harrah’s Entertainment of the United States. Harrah’s refurbished and developed the course then sold it a few years ago to a local company called Pearl Dynasty Investment.
Many golfers and those in the tourism industry still refer to it as Caesar’s. From a golfing perspective, little has changed on the 18-hole, par 72 links-styled course.
The course is dominated by flat terrain and well-manicured grassy fairways. It has some complex water hazards and Macau’s Lotus Bridge is an impressive backdrop.
It’s a course that looks mostly flat upon first appearance but a closer inspection reveals fairways that are surprisingly undulating. A round of golf here offers a challenging mix of long and short holes.
Prevailing winds from the South China Sea are an important factor for golfers to consider when playing on the course.
The course features broad grassy fairways but these are interspersed with water hazards on all but four holes.
Golfers playing off the black tees will enjoy a 6568m (7,183 yards) game while those off the red tees have a shorter 5067m (5,542 yards) game. The shortest hole is the 181m, par 3 fifth and the longest, the 551m par five fourth hole.
As one of the signature holes, the par 429m third hole is a very long one and usually played directly into the wind. The entire left-hand side of the hole is skirted by water. It requires a well-struck drive off the tee to avoid the two bunkers along the right-hand side of the fairway.
Ironically, golfers should actually aim for the bunkers to allow for right to left undulations to guide the ball back to the centre of the fairway.
This leaves a wood or long iron shot from the fairway across the water hazard to a slightly elevated green. It is important to choose the correct club for the approach shot as there is a large swale running through the middle of the green making any mid-range putt difficult.
Clubhouse developments were completed in 2010 to add to the course’s appeal. These included an 88-seat restaurant (featuring Chinese and Japanese cuisine) imaginatively named the Dining Room.
Golfers also have access to an eight-room spa, a cigar bar and, meeting facilities. There is a VIP private room (Augustus Suite). The restaurant terrace and separate permanent marquee are popular venues for private functions and post-golf events.
Premium locker rooms and a well-equipped pro shop (featuring an exclusive collection of signature Caesars Macau golf apparel) make this a one-stop golfing destination.
The course also has Macau’s only golf driving range with 22 full-length stations complemented by an international standard practice putting green.
Golfers have access to a fleet of striking red, top-of-the-line, President i2L golf carts. The course is open daily from 8am until 7.30pm with the driving range hours extending to 10pm.
The Macau Golf & Country Club on Coloane Island (near the Westin Hotel) is a challenging championship golf course (tel: +853 2887 1188). Oriental Golf Macau Club (tel: +853 28 880-123).
Many of Macau’s resorts (such as Sofitel Macau Ponte 16 or the Sheraton Macao) offer guests golf packages that include accommodation, green fees, cart, lunch, caddy and transfers.
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