Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Fears that course maintenance restrictions imposed during Kota Permai Golf & Country Club’s enforced closure would impact the speed of the renowned greens at the Kuala Lumpur venue have been quickly allayed.
Prior to re-opening last week, Kota Permai, like all golf clubs in Malaysia, had been under lockdown for a total of 48 days, following the Government’s strict Movement Control Order (MCO), first issued on March 18.“During that period we were only able to carry out basic golf course maintenance with a skeleton staff,” said Tang Meng Loon, Director – Club Operations and Townships at Gamuda Land, responsible for overseeing operations at Kota Permai and Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club, within the Iskandar Development Region in the southernmost Malaysian State of Johor Bahru.
“Only essential services were allowed to carry on operation and for that we needed to get prior approval from the Royal Malaysian Police. So, there were restrictions that prevented us carrying out the full range of course maintenance. Everything we did during the MCO was just basic maintenance like mowing, preventative pest control and some watering activities,” said Tang, speaking in the latest in a series of Asian Golf Industry Federation podcasts with leading lights from the industry that are being broadcast at www.agif.asia
In addition to having to cope with limited staffing levels, Tang, who himself has an agronomic background, had to reassure Kota Permai members, worried at how the greens might suffer.
“Before we re-opened, we had quite a few inquiries from members expressing concern at whether we were maintaining the condition of the course – and particularly the greens. A lot of our golfing members at Kota Permai are good players who are quite competitive – and they’re always concerned about the green speed,” said Tang, whose greenkeeping team frequently have the putting surfaces running at 12 on the stimpmeter, the device used to measure the pace of greens.
When they stepped back onto the course, members were not only relieved to discover the Ross Watson-designed layout in playable condition, but also pleased that the greens were running true, if slightly slower than their usual pace.
Tang said: “Our greens are always regarded as being at a good standard and running fast. Now we’re trying to keep that benchmark that we’ve set for the local industry and in the region.
“I believe we need around two weeks to fully get back on track. We’re executing a comprehensive maintenance programme so we can get back our pristine course condition. Now our focal point is tidying up the golf course, landscaping and keeping the course in neat and tidy condition.”
The closure in mid-March was particularly galling for Kota Permai members as the course had been in tip-top condition for the US$1 million Bandar Malaysian Open, a co-sanctioned event between the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation in the first week of March, won by American Trevor Simsby.
Former PGA Tour player Charlie Wi, who finished joint fourth, led the chorus of approval for the conditioning of the greens. “The greens are perfect. If you can get it started on line, you know you can make a lot of putts out here.”
Long-time Malaysian number one Danny Chia added: “The course was fantastic. It’s one of the best around this area. The greens are fast.”