The Els Club Teluk Datai
Designed by Ted Parslow and opened in 1992, the course was redesigned starting in 2011 by Ernie Els and reopened in December 2014, as the third Els Club (the others are The Els Club Copperleaf in South Africa and The Els Club Dubai).
Fairways are wide on the course, and you are strongly recommended to stay in the short grass, since the alternative is, well, jungle. With plenty of large trees lining the fairway, and sometimes overhanging, playing strategically is more important than going long on every hole. Stray to far off line, and your ball might be stolen by one of the resident macaques or dusky leaf monkeys.
Interestingly the course has no sand traps whatsoever. This is due to the heavy monsoon rains that tend to simply wash them away. To somewhat replace them, grass swales and slopes protect the greens. Not exactly the same, but you can still get in trouble.
To the north is the Andaman Sea, and you first reach it on the par three 5th. This is the beginning of a challenging and beautiful stretch of holes. Hole 6 looks easy on paper, but the pond right in front of the green makes for a challenging approach, quite a long one unless you are a big hitter. Holes 7 and 8 are back to back par fives, one with a green jutting out into the sea, the next a dogleg left with water in play on both the tee shot and the approach. Hole 8 was my favorite on the course.
The back nine takes you away from the sea and back into the forest, but starting at the 15th you work your way back to the coast. The tricky 16th ends at the coast, and now you are ready for the signature 17th hole, as short par three along the coast. At 153 yards from the men’s tee it shouldn’t be difficult, but with water on the right and big runoff areas to the left of the green, it is one of the trickier but at the same time maybe the most beautiful hole on the course.
Overall the course is nice for player of all handicaps and abilities. With the Ernie Els redesign, the undergrowth among the trees next to the fairway has been cleared, so more often than not you’ll find your ball, as opposed to earlier when missing the fairway meant a lost ball. The complete lack of bunkers make a few holes a bit too easy though. But who doesn’t like to score well?
All in all the course runs 6760 yards from the black tees, 6449 from the men’s silver tees. The holes are the same par for men and women, but the handicap index is different for women, making match play a math challenge.
The clubhouse has a nice open air restaurant with a view of the 9th and 18th green. The pro shop has a good selection of mostly Ernie Els logo wear, and we found it quite pricey. Dressing rooms have all you can ask for and more, you shower in luxury, and you really need that shower after your round since humidity runs high in this part of the world.
All in all the course was a delight to play, and a perfect way to spend your Langkawi vacation.