THE Forest City Golf Resort, valued at RM1.8 billion, is set to redefine golf tourism in Johor and embrace the catchline: “Your complete golf holiday experience.”
“Golf courses were mushrooming throughout the state in the early 1990s, but a price war among competitors, failure to add value to the golf packages and poor maintenance of courses adversely affected the golf industry in Johor,” said Col Mohd Jamal Salleh, president of the Johor Golf Tourism Association.
All that was going to change. “The Forest City Golf Resort, offering a tri-course, with the first 18 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II, is expected to be a part of the bigger ‘players’ in Johor to revive and add more value to the state as a golf paradise once again,” he said.
Mohd Jamal’s optimism is supported by the fact that Johor enjoys the highest foreign direct investment, and having a world-class golf resort will bode well with businessmen who have a penchant for golf.
“A Date With Jack Nicklaus — the Golfing Legend”, a preview of what the golf resort has to offer, brought the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, and golfing legend, Jack Nicklaus, to Forest City Golf Resort on Jan 30.
County Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGPV), which is behind the project, has to date spent RM309 million on developing the golf resort that will have three golf courses, a hotel and residential units.
Johor, with 27 golf courses, has the highest number of golf courses in the country. Of these, five boast of having three 18s.
Visit Malaysia Year 2020 is estimated to attract 36 million tourists to the country, generating RM168 billion in tourist revenue, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in the tabling of Budget 2018.
Datuk Md Othman Yusof, ED of CGPV, said in his welcome speech that the first golf course named “Forest City Legacy Golf Course”, would give golfers the experience and affordability not found in other golf courses.
“Being only a stone’s throw away from the Woodlands checkpoint, this golf resort will attract international golfers, residents and visitors,” Md Othman said.
With robust growth in Gelang Patah, he believes the golf resort will not only give a boost to the tourism sector, but enable locals to enjoy spillovers of the development, in particular, job and business opportunities.
He added that Forest City Golf Hotel, which is expected to be completed by mid-2018, will offer a total of 460 job opportunities, 250 in the hotel and another 210 on the golf course.
“It will be 100% local staff,” he said, adding that the golf resort is being built under the second phase of Forest City.
“It is a good news to golf enthusiasts from home and neighbouring countries, providing them with a notable experience, as the golf course showcased the masterpiece of someone who has designed more than 300 golf courses all over the world.
“Having our first golf course designed by a legend already sets the benchmark for our landscape design at CGPV. When fully completed, the golf resort is expected to have a total population of about 1,300 residents, while the five-star hotel will cater to visitors from around the globe,” he said.
Apart from the three 18-hole golf courses, the area will have easy connectivity when the new expressway that links the golf resort to Forest City is completed. It will cut travelling time between the two destinations from the current 30 minutes to 15 minutes.
The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail station, planned within Iskandar Malaysia, will add to accessibility to Forest City.
CGPV is also building a connecting road stretching 9.6km from Forest City to the golf resort, which will be ready next year.
Jack Nicklaus gave an idea of what went into the design of the course when he said: “We had to work on the ninth and 18th greens around a hill, and the golf course has beautiful river views. From a playability standpoint, the golf course we have designed is unique, as golfers cannot find anything like it in Singapore or Malaysia,” he added.
Although the terrain was challenging, the golf course was also built with the amateur golfer in mind. Low handicappers and professional golfers can expect to be tested.
This new development adds to Forest City being a green, liveable city with global aspirations. It will complement other residential, retail and leisure offerings.