Pristine, peaceful and unhurried, the Indonesian island of Bintan may seem worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore but is less than an hour by ferry and a popular destination for that country’s somewhat fanatical golfers. Easily the best kept and constructed of the island’s courses is the Gary Player designed Ria Bintan Ocean Course.
The layout comes recommended primarily for a glamorous stretch of holes, the 7th through 10th, which play toward and then along the emerald waters of the South China Sea. The green on the short cross-sea 9th actually rests entirely within the ocean and is surrounded by large boulders that complete the dramatic picture. Both the 7th and 8th, with the sea as their backdrop, are good holes but elsewhere the golf is typically resort style with a greater emphasis placed on the visual than the strategic aspect of design. An example being the deep, grass faced bunkers, which make a striking feature from the tee but are poorly designed as their lips face tees rather than targets and allow good players to hit crisp long irons out of the shallow side and directly at the green.
Although the holes away from the beach are fairly nondescript and the bunker inside a bunker beside the 10th green is silly, the Ria Bintan experience is quite enjoyable. The panoramic sea views and blinding white sand beaches are superb and the few ocean holes good enough to make it worth a side trip for those in nearby Singapore.
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