A tropical island golf haven on Bintan Island

by Gianluca Tucci

Gianluca Tucci is MD at CN&CO, a Club Med GM, and an avid golfer. Here he shares his experience of Club Med Bintan Island and its neighbouring golf course.

Located over the northern coast of Bintan Island, next to the amazing Club Med Bintan Island resort, the Ria Bintan Island Golf Club is a tropical golf wonderland. As you play the 18-hole course, you have beautiful ocean views all the way through.

Gianluca and his friends with Club Med Bintan Island Chef du Village Jonathan Hegarty

It’s no wonder Ria Bintan is rated as the second-best course in Asia. The moment you arrive on the property what you see will give a great sense of wonder. Your eyes are treated to tropical jungle surroundings complimented by nature’s sounds and the promise of much more to come.

The Club Med golf team, lead by South African golf pro, Jastice Mashego, organises all your requirements for the day including tee time booking, excellent TaylorMade equipment hire, golf carts, brilliant caddies and your shuttle to the course (which is less than 5 minutes’ drive). Staying at the Club Med Bintan Island resort is the best way to enjoy Bintan and the golf course. You can also take lessons with Jastice if you need to brush up on your game.

As for the course, it has two versions: the “Forest view” course and the “Ocean view” course. We decided to play the Ocean view course as the feedback we heard about its famous 8th and 9th holes was too much to ignore.

The course lived up to its expectations. Fellow South African sporting legend, Gary Player did an unbelievable job in designing it.

An array of green colours compliment the fine work the staff do to maintain this majestic setting. Each hole with its own identity and presents numerous obstacles and set ups. The fairways are wide however, the surrounding jungle isn’t as forgiving which adds that challenging element to the golf and your experience.

The standout holes (if that’s even possible to say with every hole being a spectacle for the eyes) are…

Photo by Gianluca Tucci

Par 4/3/4 opening holes – a tricky start doesn’t get much harder than this with an index 1 and 3 up front. They are humbling holes and great jump starters if you get the birdies in early.

Photo by Gianluca Tucci

Par 4 8th – a tricky par 4 with a dog leg left after a 200m lay up and then 110m drop onto the green surrounded by a rock fade and the South China sea.

Photo by Gianluca Tucci

Par 3 9th – a signature hole with about 150m to the green which is divided by over 100m of sea from the tee and has the ocean on one side and the jungle on the other, even if your approach isn’t good your eyes are still in wonder.

Par 3 17th – My personal favourite and, a 155m par 3 surrounded by a dense jungle stadium that erupts as you approach it. There’s water, bunkers and sounds of tropical nature to get you motivated to land your shot into the green.

If you’re a golf and beach fan, Club Med Bintan Island and the Ria Bintan golf course need to be on your bucket list. It doesn’t get more awesome than this for a mix of chill and sport!

P.s. Be sure to pack light-coloured golf clothes and sun cream for the humidity and heat of the course.