MELAKA, Malaysia - They're mighty proud of their Dye family design at Orna Golf and Country Club in Melaka, Malaysia, south of Kuala Lumpur. Even if it's not the Dye.
For most North Americans, Andy Dye might not be as synonymous with Pete Dye's family tree as say, P.B. or Perry Dye. Even Alice Dye probably has more clout than Andy, who is Pete's nephew.
But Andy has built up quite a portfolio in Asia, working on developments and golf courses in Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
And he's going to carry a lot of the same famous family design traits as his famous uncle, including at the challenging, 27-hole golf course that's among Melaka's best.
"The course is hilly and not easy to play, it's a very difficult design by Andy Dye," said F.C. Woon, senior manager at Orna, who added that from 2001 to 2003 the course hosted the Davidoff Tour Qualifying School, a second-tier Asian professional golf tour.
Today, Orna Golf and Country Club attracts many international guests from nearby countries like Singapore, Japan and especially South Korea.
"Toward the end of the year, we receive large groups of Koreans," said Aliyasin Alihasan, the property's deputy manager. "They come stay here for two months to escape the winter and play golf every day."
Andy Dye's course does have Dye family trademarks (though no railroad ties). Some of the shaping around the fairways and greens are steep and severe, especially around some water hazards and bunkers.
The course has a championship length. The longest combination is the North and West nines, adding up to 6,394 meters (7,033 yards) with four sets of tees. Though cut through hilly jungle like most of the courses in this part of the country, it's pretty wide open in most spots, so you can free-swing off the tees.
The East course features a particularly difficult finishing stretch that could be on any Pete Dye tour host in America. It boasts one of the course's most visually appealing and demanding holes: the par-5 seventh, a 505-meter par 5 that features a large pond in front of an elevated green that's also guarded by traps. If you choose to layup in front of the water, you're looking at about a 130 to 150 meter approach in. From the fairway above, this hole affords a great look at the club's large clubhouse on the hill - an exotic sight for those new to southeast Asian golf.
Orna Golf and Country Club: The verdict
Orna Golf and Country Club is an enjoyable design from Andy Dye that offers both some wide open, easy-swinging holes and some difficult ones too, especially on the finishing holes of each nine. There's a great deal of undulation to the course, and the hazy, green mountain backdrops are plentiful, as are water carries; so be warned.
The golf course would be an even better experience if the greens weren't so scruffy. They were painfully slow our time of visit and couldn't have been more than a six or seven on the Stimpmeter. If great greens are a must, you might want to consider next door Tiara Golf & C.C. instead, as they are much firmer and faster bermuda. A'Famosa Golf Resort nearby also keeps them fast.
Facilities at Orna, a full-service country club, include a driving range and practice area, a large swimming pool, gym, tennis courts and a golfer's patio and tavern. Night golf is also available at Orna, but not every night. Check with the course for seasonal night golf schedules. Green fees at Orna are RM 92-172 ($25-$48).
Stay-and-play in Melaka, Malaysia: A'Famosa Resort
The A'Famosa Resort (www.afamosa.com) is a large development full of things to do beyond the 27-hole golf course. There is a safari, Cowboy Town amusement park, water park and hiking and biking trails. It's certainly a family-friendly atmosphere.
A'Famosa is about a half hour drive into Melaka, so if you're looking to stay in the heart of the city, there are numerous modern luxury hotels that are a good value. Three-star Mahkota Hotel Melaka is located right near the waterfront and within walking distance to sightseeing, historical attractions and most of Melaka's best shopping. On site, there is a beautiful swimming pool in the center of the property, along with a spa, fine dining, business center and even karaoke rooms.