Forest City’s designer golf course launched, despite project’s uncertain fate

Prospects look at a model of the development at the Country Gardens' Forest City showroom in Johor Bahru February 21, 2017. — Reuters pic
Prospects look at a model of the development at the Country Gardens' Forest City showroom in Johor Bahru February 21, 2017. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Despite an uncertain fate looming over Johor’s largest China-backed residential and lifestyle investment project Forest City, its golf course and resort officially opened their doors on September 1.

The RM1.8 billion course saw a media tournament spanning three days, and a statement by the company said the “new iconic attraction” will bring direct economic benefits to the state’s local economy.

“Employment at hotels, eateries, transportation, and travel attractions in the surrounding areas in Iskandar Malaysia is expected to grow as the new golf resort further elevates Johor’s reputation as an international golfing destination,” the statement said.

“The Forest City Golf Resort brings the number of golf courses in Johor to 27. The hotel in the golf resort has over 150 local staff (90 per cent of total hotel employees) with plans to increase job openings as business activities ramp up.

“To date, Forest City has created 1,200 job opportunities for locals which amounts to 80 per cent localisation rate of the total employee workforce through its master developer, Country Garden Pacificview,” it added.

Its launch ceremony by Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar on Saturday was cancelled at the last minute.

The golf course and resort general manager Arthur Yeo said the new golf course, called the Legacy Golf Course, will have a “desert-style” concept, surrounded by mangroves and natural water features — making this a one-of-a-kind golf course for novice and professional players.

The resort will also feature residential homes, retail shops and travel offerings.

It is also the first golf course designed by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack Nicklaus II and was developed as part of Iskandar Malaysia to boost Johor as a preferred leisure destination.

“Forest City Golf Resort and the Jack Nicklaus designed Forest City Legacy Course will attract golfing enthusiast from all over the world and elevate the state of Johor’s golfing tourism reputation in the region as this is a world class championship course.

“This will also in turn draw major investments, promote the state tourism, opportunities and skill transfers to the locals,” said Country Garden Malaysia Director of Strategy, Ng Zhu Hann.

On another note, Johor Golf Tourism Association president Kol Mohd Jamal Salleh said the association has been trying to revive golf tourism by promoting Johor golf clubs overseas, and getting more golfers from China, Korea, Japan and India to come to Johor.

He voiced his optimism that the Legacy Golf Course will attract golfers’ attention and boost golf tourism which was a hit back in the 1990s but had died down due to lack of support from tourism agencies in coming up with attractive golf packages.

“Other factors include poorly maintained golf courses, competition from golf clubs in Indonesia and Thailand, and a lack of direct flights to Johor,” he added.