18 April 2018
Both Tourist Destination and Professional Venue
Agung Budiman has been on a long journey in the world of golf. Listening to his father’s advice at 10 years old, Agung began to practice golf. He admits that he didn’t initially feel compelled to play. “You know, at that age, kids were attracted to popular sports like football and basketball,” said Agung. As time went by though, he began to enjoy the sport and now, 25 years on, Agung holds a single-digit handicap and has realized that his father’s advice provided a purpose for him. The Finance Marketing graduate of the Seattle University, USA, spoke to OB about his father’s ul-timate goal for him, the story of how 36-hole Gunung Geulis came to be, the course’s contribution to national golf, and the new design of the East Course
Why did your dad suggest you play golf?
The ultimate goal was I could manage the golf course. When I started golfing in 1992, Gunung Geulis Golf (West Course), which was built by my father and grandfather, had just opened. There-fore, besides being able to play golf, I also learned about the management of the golf course.
Speaking of building Gunung Geulis, do you know why Bogor was chosen as the location? The land prices in Bogor were cheaper than in Jakarta. At that time, the only golf course in Bogor was Jagorawi Golf & Country Club. Then, Gunung Geulis was built. When the 18-hole course opened, we used a female caddie. Not many know that we were the first golf course to use females as caddies.
How did Gunung Geulis then become 36 holes?
At first, we didn’t plan 36 holes. The West Course development took five years because the field was quite heavy. Construction began in 1987, and the West Course was completed in 1992. When it opened, the West Course received a very positive response from the golfers. It was then we planned to build the next 18 holes. The East Course opened in 1996. We were actually planning to build a hotel on Gunung Geulis, but the crisis in 1997-1998 delayed the development.
You finally built a hotel which opened in 2016. How do you manage both the golf course and hotel?
We have a golf course and a hotel. However, we only manage the golf course, while the hotel is managed by Louvre Hotel Group with its brand name "Royal Tulip".
How do the course and hotel work together?
We try to bridge the golf course and the hotel needs. So far, we are continuing to study how to run them together. Initially, we built the hotel to accommodate the golfers who want to stay longer in the Puncak area. However, guests staying at the hotel are mostly non-golfers. We try to integrate golf packages with a stay or meetings with golf. This is what we are continuing to learn.
Being in a remote area, how do you promote Gunung Geulis?
Many golfers say that Gunung Geulis is in a remote location. However, I see this as an advantage for us. Gunung Geulis is located in a mountainous region that offers a cool and refreshing atmos-phere, and it’s an atmosphere that makes golfers more relaxed. Therefore, we want to be a tour-ist destination. We are trying to attract domestic golfers to come to Gunung Geulis as this course provides facilities that are the same as top golf courses in Southeast Asia.
Gunung Geulis was a venue for the Indonesian Golf Tour (2017) and Asian Development Tour (2016). This year, Gunung Geulis returns as an IGT and ADT venue. What is your goal when hosting these tournaments?
Golf courses should be able to support professional golf players, this is what we can do. We also have the chance to promote the new course and the hotel. In 2016, the ADT played on the West Course, this year the ADT will play on the newly reopened East Course which has been redesigned and renovated.
For 15 years now, you have held an annual national amateur match play tournament. Why do you choose to do so?
In order to support national golf programs, we host a competitive tournament. We use match play format because this format is not played in any other major tournaments in Indonesia. This tour-nament continues to evolve to increase the level of competition. We keep the match play format as it is the identity of the tournament.
You mentioned that the East Course that has been redesigned and renovated. Could you tell us a little about that?
The initial design on the East Course had many drawbacks. The most common problems were poor irrigation and infrastructure. However, the main reason for the renovation was the safety issue. The East Course is located beside the Cikeas River. This golf course is situated on the cliffs of the river. So, there were a lot of safety hazards. If the Cikeas River is flowing very fast, this can cause a lot of erosion. Therefore, we have changed several holes. The teeing ground that was at the top was moved to lower ground. In addition to these erosion factors, we strive to preserve the envi-ronment around the river as well as possible. We have fixed the drainage and its infrastructure in order to prevent landslides due to the water dropping too swiftly. We also replaced the old grass with a new one and changed the greens and bunkers of several holes.
President Director of PT Mulia Colliman International
(Gunung Geulis Golf and Country Club)