Updated: Jun 23, 2020
Golf / Women Vol 16
Words: Justine Moss
In our Life section we take you away to play on oneway to play on one of Myanmar’s finest golf courses. The Gary Player - designed Pun Hlaing Golf Course in Pun Hlaing Golf Course in Yangon is a dream to play on – read about what else to do in and around Yangon and the gorgeous Awei Metta resort which is the place to stay if you’re going to be hitting the fairways.
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The first time I visited Yangon was back in 2002 and then again in 2012. There were stark differences in-between those visits, most notably infrastructure, accessibility and the beginning of transition. I made my third visit in September this year and discovered a more vibrant and populated metropolis with many other rapid visible changes – namely large shopping malls, smartphone shops and (what felt like) four times as many cars – yes traffic is pretty heavy so you need to plan your days around peak hours.
However, there are many things which have thankfully remained constant such as the warm charm and hospitality of the people and many historical sites, markets, quaint art galleries and food stalls.
Having stayed in the city the previous two visits, I opted to spend three nights at the beautiful Awei Metta golf resort which overlooks the Gary Player-designed Pun Hlaing Golf Course.
Roughly a 40 minute drive from town, the resort is located in the leafy western suburbs of Myanmar’s former capital but close to the city’s international airport. This modern 46-room/ suite resort features a restaurant overseen by a chef who specializes in French fine dining cuisine, a lobby lounge and bar, a cigar room, swimming pool, fitness centre, spa, tennis courts, and a conference room seating up to 200 guests.
The rooms are luxurious and comfortable with balconies. Try and opt for one which overlooks the golf course which is literally a five minute walk away – it’s easy to either lug your golf clubs or jump in a golf buggy from the resort. Make sure you pop down for breakfast which is superb with either buffet, a la carte options, fresh juices and an array of croissants and pastries that would rival a French Patisserie.
For evening dining there’s French-inspired Oscar Restaurant which is definitely worth a visit or two during your stay to taste French classics such as their Bœuf Bourguignon, Confit de Canard, Foie gras poêlé and Crème Brûlée à la Cassonade. For something simpler, the in-room dining menu is great value, or you can munch on a snack in the Cigar Bar where you can also have a pre-dinner drink – there is a superb list of cocktails, wines, beers, ciders and juices or smoothies.
Facilities wise, make a point to book an appointment at their Oasis Spa where you can choose from an extensive menu of treatments. As Awei Metta’s Phoebe Nay New Tun tells me, “Awei Metta is a lovely place to rest and relax away from the traffic and the crowded city. There is also the spa and we have a gym and swimming pool. In the spa there are the massages, pedicures, manicures and a hair salon so women can do everything here. In Pun Hlaing we have 24 hour security so they can do exercise in the morning –hiking, running, jogging around the estate.”
Awei Metta are also able to enhance your Yangon experience by organising sightseeing tours. Check out the half day tour takes in the magnificent Schwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda and the Bogyoke Market which is full of shops selling souvenirs, clothes, food etc. Pick up some food and drinks here to take back to the room in the resort as the nearest shop is quite a way from Awei Metta.
Try and spend a few days at Awei Metta – it’s a wonderful place to relax and have a few rounds of golf. When you leave, you’ll really be taking some lovely memories home with you.
Gary Player Design
As Gary Player himself commented when visiting the course back in 2002, “Of the many golf courses I have seen in the world, Pun Hlaing Golf Club has to be in the top five. It reminds me of Augusta, Georgia”.
This gorgeous layout is arguably the best layout in the country. It was selected as the country’s host venue for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in 2001, Putra Cub 2005, and has hosted three Asian Tour events, the ‘Leo Palace Myanmar Opens.
While you can drive a buggy around the 18, I opted to walk and play with a caddie pulling my golf bag on a trolley to see the lay of the land (and to work off my breakfast). There were many standout holes but for me the most memorable was the finishing hole which is just stunning with its island green.
Club pro Stephen Chick comments, “The island green presents a great challenge for golfers playing their approach, trying to finish in style. Even for the longer hitters, getting home and dry on the green in two is not impossible – but only for the brave.” He adds, “Owing to its superb drainage, the course is playable 12 months of the year despite heavy monsoons. This really separates our course from the competition. Pun Hlaing GC hosts the country’s only grass tee driving range with floodlights and a PGA Teaching Professional to help those needing a quick tune-up.”
The Club has a reciprocal arrangement with Singapore Island Country Club.
Giving Back to the Community
Awei Metta’s parent group Memories Group have supported a platform by founder Jackie Appel, who is also a Community Ambassador in the Pun Hlaing Estate. Called the Step-in Step- up Vocational Training Academy, it is a platform for the local youths in the Hlaing Thar Yar Township Villages surrounding Pun Hlaing Estate to learn vocational skills. It enables them to get better jobs, and raises awareness of Human Trafficking, Child Exploitation, disease and unhygienic living conditions. Agriculture 101 is taught to the Step-in Step-up interns every Saturday morning. This is led by a resident Agronomist who teaches how to cultivate soil and grow vegetables. Part of the programme includes soft skills training and teaching English, and daily vocational training includes hotel, hospital and general housekeeping, landscaping, and F&B. Some of these youths are then provided with jobs in Call Centres, Landscaping, F&B, Kitchen, Housekeeping and Hospitality careers, which includes employment in Awei Metta.
About Pun Hlaing Golf Club
Pun Hlaing Golf Club, developed by Yoma Land, carries the reputation as “The Pride of Myanmar” and the No.1 golf club in Myanmar. The manicured turf and beautiful surroundings of mother nature is the perfect place to enjoy a round of golf, whether it be for business or pleasure. The 7,000+ yard Gary Player Signature layout offers some of Asia’s most challenging and rewarding holes of golf which are surrounded by lakes, the Hlaing River and the luxurious homes that form Pun Hlaing Estate. The golf course is available for play 12 months of the year despite a monsoon season, courtesy of international standard drainage systems and maintenance equipment.
Pun Hlaing Golf Club is a semi-private club that regularly hosts prestigious tournaments and welcomes international golfers whom have the option to stay in the luxurious Awei Metta Hotel with a Gary Player suite overlooking the 18th green. Facilities include a large Putting Green, Golf Academy with coaching from a PGA Professional available for all ages and skill level, a Pro Shop and spacious lockers and changing rooms. The Golf Club has a vibrant membership with corporate options available and regular fun tournaments in addition to a signature annual Club Championship event. Also, the Golf Club boasts some of the best caddies in Myanmar who are experienced to ensure you have the best experience with the least amount of stress.
After your game, relax in Horizons Restaurant or on the Golfer Terrace overlooking those playing into the 18th island green. The restaurant offers a casual atmosphere in which to enjoy a delicious mix of Asian and Western cuisines prepared by the executive chef and team.
About Stephen Chick - Group Golf Director
A British national, Stephen has been a PGA Professional for over 10 years, bringing a wealth of International Golf experience to the Yoma Group. In the UK key roles within the Devere Group who managed twelve luxury UK Golf resorts, including the famous host Ryder Cup venue 'The Belfry Golf Resort’. International roles include, Safaa Golf Club in Jeddah, Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket and with St Andrews Links - the Home of Golf - in Hainan Island. All of these experiences have have been a great catalyst for Stephen before moving to Myanmar where he has spent the past two and a half years enhancing the Golf experience and facilities at Star City Links. Then more recently in early 2019 stepping into a role which drives greater synergies between our 2 Golf courses and allows Stephen to focus on cementing Pun Hlaing Golf Club towards a reputation as one of the top Golf Courses in South-East Asia.
Stephen Chick can be contacted at email@example.com