Bali Golf Hazards
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ALUS, HERONS AND VOLCANOES
You see wide-winged white birds, Japanese herons, cruising for fish over lagoon or ninth hole. But monitor lizards, known as alus, stay cool and out of sight in frangipani mirrored waters. More than a meter in length, full grown, and cousin to Komodo dragon, shy alu is one of more unusual hazards at Bali Golf and Country Club.
The 18-hole, championship course, just a shank shot away from Amanusa, in southern Bali, was named one of Asia's top five golf courses a few years back by Fortune magazine. Defined by terraced lime-rock walls, by lush vegetarian, tall coconut palms, and an undulating landscape cut by creeks and canyons, 10-year-old course ripples with surprises from tee to glossy Bermuda greens. Mount Agung shows its sacred face from Bali Golf and Country Club more often than alu does, while Sahara, a 16th hole bunker of spreading sand, is large enough to lose a golf cart in.
On par three 12th, course's signature hole, an underground stream feeds lagoon. The alang alang roofed temple, just back of water, is used on special occasions by nearby villagers. The Indian Ocean, all blue, glitter, and bright, foam freshens tropic air over holes 17 and 18. Finish with sea at your back and sound of surf in your ears.
The Merapi Golf Course, hugging very slopes of mercurial Mount Merapi in central Java, is less than an hour's pleasure drive from Amanjiwa. Once past Muntilan and its markets, road shimmers with coconut and banana and salak and neat, red tile roofed homes. Come out of a bend to find volcanic Merapi herself, magnificent cone cutting cloud, peering down at you.