Brunei is one of the wealthiest countries in Southeast Asia. Because of its conservative Muslim background, this interesting country is relatively quiet compared to the neighboring Tiger Economies of Malaysia and Singapore. Brunei is deceptively beautiful and a delightful stop for international tourists. Today, golf in Brunei is one of the many reasons why people from all over the world are coming to visit.
More than a million tourists check out Brunei every year but just a decade ago, not many of these travelers came here to play golf. This has changed in recent years. Golf lovers, enthusiasts and professionals took notice when Brunei held its first Brunei Open golf tournament in 2005 at the Empire Country Club course, which was designed by no less than Jack Nicklaus. Australian golfer Terry Pilkadaris won the tournament and pocketed US$300,000. The prize was raised to US$500,000 the next year.
With world-class tournaments and prestigious golf courses, it is not a surprise that golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Bruneians definitely have the time and money to indulge in leisure competitions. This oil-rich country pampers its citizens with free healthcare, free education, handsome pension plans, free access to leisure parks, and house and car subsidies. If there is a country where majority of citizens have the time and money to indulge in golf, it must be Brunei.
The most popular golf courses here are the Empire Country Club, Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club, Royal Brunei Airline Golf Club, Mentiri Golf Club and Panaga Golf Club. As already mentioned, the 18-hole championship course, Empire Country Club, was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Many will agree that this is one of the best courses in the world. It is one of few courses that offer night golfing. Also hailed as one of the best in the world is the Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club. Located near Jerudong Park, this is one of the most exclusive courses in the world. Golfers need to make advanced bookings.
The Royal Brunei Airline Golf Club, on the other hand, is distinctly and fairly flat but made beautiful by a number of lakes. Located very near the International Airport and just a few minutes from the capital city, this 18-hole public golf course was designed by Max Wexler. Meanwhile, both Mentiri and Panaga golf courses are located within lush landscapes. Mentiri is found in the district of Muara while Panaga is in Seria; Mentiri is an international golf course, while Panaga is popular among local golfers.
These five exciting Brunei courses have several things in common. They are all championship-quality, luxurious, well-manicured, delightfully overlooking the picturesque South China Sea, and found in the beautiful island of Borneo, where Brunei is located of course. Brunei’s tourism and international reputation is improving rapidly thanks to golf.
The leading attractions in this captivating and open Muslim nation are its golden palaces, glimmering mosques, rich rainforests, eco-tourism, traditional longhouses, shopping, beachfront resorts, and world-class dive sites. Today, people come to play golf in Brunei, too.