Today’s travel article comes from @Mrtravellab. My golf isn’t good enough to play at night. Or during the day, come to think of it…But, as one consultant surgeon I worked for used to say, “I can’t be the best at everything!” Bwaha! So, let’s talk about playing golf in Borneo.
I’d just taken the first sip of a cold beer and my energy began to return. Content with my morning’s exertions, I took a seat overlooking the golf course I’d just played. The cicadas chirruped and a heron meandered past with a lethargic flap of his wings.
Then I saw the warning about the crocodiles.
I wish I’d seen it before I’d played, although it may have taken the edge off of the serenity of the place.
At home, I’d don waterproofs and arm myself with an enormous umbrella before contemplating winter golf. Standing in my shorts and T-shirt in the morning sunshine at the Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club in Kota Kinabalu I felt light and free. With the scent of freshly cut grass in my nostrils and a spring in my step, I set off.
A few holes later I needed water from the ice-filled cooler.
By the time I’d holed the final putt, I needed something stronger.
With ponds, streams and the South China Sea in view, I enjoyed the scenery as much as I loved the golf. The bougainvillea hedges bordering tees and fairways provided the colour and the cormorants braving the crocodiles to swoop for lunch added the action. As I cruised down the fairways, brilliant white egrets wafted into the air, clouds of sparrows rose in a coordinated panic and pairs of doves pecked at the ground in search of a meal.
I survived the heat and humidity of the middle of the day but it was hard going, even in a buggy. Fortunately Sabah has found an innovative way of indulging my passion for golf whilst avoiding the risk of sunstroke.
I headed to the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club to investigate.
The stilted villages across the harbour gleamed as the domed roofs of the mosques reflected the brilliance of the last golden rays. Then, as the sun rolled up his beach towel and headed for the bar, his work done for another day, the pylons flanking the fairways flickered into life. The grass glowed a ghoulish green and I teed off for my first ever round of night golf.
The lights beamed out with plenty of power, provided I hit the fairways and greens they shone down on. Anything wayward and I had to resort to luck, firstly to find the ball and secondly to hit it again. The shadows played tricks with my mind but at least they gave me an excuse for the odd shot I was happy no-one was there to see.
The pools of light followed me around as though my very presence illuminated the ground. I saw the course through tunnel vision, with vague shadows looming in the blackness beyond. This forced me to focus on what I was doing but the sound of the sea lapping against the fairway’s edge reminded me of the views I was missing.
I returned the smiles of some members who watched me tee off. My ball headed down the middle of the fairway and I tried not to look too smug. They strode past me to a different set of tees further back.
“Are you playing in a competition?” I asked.
“No” they grinned, “those ones are for the ladies”.
My cheeks burned and I pretended to take some photos as I waited for them to head off down the floodlit corridor of the fairway, my pride dented.
I should have asked for more details at the pro shop before I’d set off.
Then again, they may have warned me about the crocodiles.
Most established courses offer club hire. If you have room in your luggage, consider packing your golf shoes – many places require them and although hire shoes are often available, your own will certainly be more comfortable. Take a glove to avoid added expense in the pro shop, plus a ball marker and a pitch mark repairer to avoid embarrassment if you’re paired up with other golfers.
Disclosure – my golf fees, including club hire, were complimentary at both Dalit Bay and Sutera Harbour. I travelled to Sabah and Brunei courtesy of Royal Brunei Airlines. All the views, opinions and ornithological sightings are my own.