Nirwana Golf Course Review – Bali, Indonesia
Update: Unfortunately Nirwana Golf Club is now permanently closed. It’s too bad, as the beautiful setting and fun routing made it the best course in Bali while it was open. This was original written in October 2011.
Before I even set foot in Bali, I knew I wanted to play at least one round of golf.
Bali isn’t necessarily known as a world class golfing destination, but after I first heard about Nirwana Golf Club, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would need to play it.
You see normally I’m a bogey golfer who is perfectly happy to hack it up on the local municipal course, however when you’re traveling to a place as exotic as Bali, you owe it to yourself to splurge every once in awhile.
After doing a little research and learning about Nirwana, I was hooked. It was one of the most beautiful looking golf courses I’d seen (based on the photos), and reminded me a lot of my round on the Bay Course at Kapalua.
Well, little did I know just how great it would be.
Early one Tuesday morning I hopped on my motorbike to take the half hour drive from Seminyak to the Pan Pacific Nirwana Resort near Tanah Lot temple. This in and of itself was a challenge for me. You see first off, I wasn’t exactly the most experienced motorbike driver in the world, and second, I had no clue where I was going.
An hour and a half later? I stumbled upon the entry to the resort and found myself meandering through their long drive way with the biggest grin you could ever imagine.
I weaved my way through rice fields and long arcing tee shots that were whizzing by me on both sides, and I knew that I was in for something special.
Stands Out in a Place Known for Beauty
Bali is one of those places where literally every where you go you’ll find your breath being taken away. Whether it’s the inland mountains, temples, and rice patties or the beauty of azure water and beach sunsets – you really can’t go wrong.
What shocked me was that even after being in Bali a month, the grounds at Nirwana still captivated me.
It has got to be one of, if not the largest resort on the island, and it feels that way. The golf course is a true resort style course that’s quite spread out, and walking from the hotel to the pool upon the cliffs over looking the water, is one of the most beautiful treks you could take.
However, today, I wasn’t worried about the pool. It was golf day baby, and I could not have been more excited.
Off to a Good Start
Nirwana is a championship golf course designed by Greg Norman, and was opened in July of 1997. We decided to play from the whites to maximize the enjoyment of the round and we teed off from the back first.
One of the first things that will happen upon playing at Nirwana is you’ll be introduced to your caddie. These caddies are a little bit different than what you’re used to.
Generally they are 18-30 year old females, who can read a break better than you could ever imagine. They ride on the back of the cart, will chase down balls no matter how deep they go, and will make you feel like Phil, even if well, you aren’t.
The 10th hole was a beatiful par 4 dog leg right that had your tee shot flying over a bit of a valley and hopefully not landing in the trees on either side of the fairway. Considering I hadn’t played around in a few weeks, and I was using rental clubs, I was pretty stoked about my par.
I bogeyed the 200 yard par 3 11th and was feeling pretty good about the round in general.
As we headed up the fairway on the 12th the ocean came into view and you realized just how special the setting was. Luckily I held it together long enough to make par on the 12th before going double, double, triple.
The thirteenth made me feel like I was playing Pebble Beach or one of those other beautiful ocean courses I have yet to have the pleasure to play. I was so terrified of my slice though that I played extra cautious off the tee and coming into the green.
The 16th and 18th were saving graces with a par, and birdie respectively – for a respectable-ish 46 on the front.
The Second Nine
The front 9 was just as scenic, if not more so than the back.
From the very first hole you know you’re in for a round that you can’t just get anywhere. The rice terraces that had been built into the left hand side of the hole are just a taste of what’s to come.
When I played in early October, the rice wasn’t in season, however I’ve been told that when it is the course becomes twice as difficult – and scenic – due to what are essentially a two times increase in the amount of water hazards.
I can’t say a dry rice patty was my favorite thing in the world to hit out of, but at least I had a shot.
Just like at 12 and 13, coming down the par 5 6th took all my strength not to be capitivated by the water in front of me. Not sure I was so successful considering I doubled both the 6 and signature hole 7th, which was one of the most beautiful holes I’ve ever played.
144 from the whites straight over the ocean with Tanah Lot temple to your left, it was the hole dreams are made of. I made it over no problem, however my errant chips left a lot to be desired with my score.
I finished the second nine with a not quite as sexy 53 to finish the round at 99.
But you know what, it didn’t matter. This was one of those days were doesn’t matter if you played even golf or shot triples on every hole, because you knew you were in a special place.
I can’t wait to return to Nirwana. In fact, I couldn’t wait back then either. Merely 4 days later I was on the course again, this time playing the blue tees, and finishing with a fairly uninspired 100.
Once again, it didn’t matter.
To this day my memories of Pan Pacific Nirwana golf course and resort are some of the best I have throughout my travels. I can’t wait for the day that I’m able to return and experience it all over again.