Popa Golf Club (near Mt Popa, Myanmar)

The great British golf writer Bernard Darwin wrote that “Golf at its best is a perpetual adventure, that consists in investing not in gilt edged securities but in comparatively speculative stock; that it ought to be a risky business”

This one quote has had the most effect on me as a Golf Course Architect over time. I honestly believe golf at its best is an adventure and I think the minute the game becomes dull and boring and unimaginative then the golfer quickly looses interest and this cant be a good thing.

The reason I enjoy Links golf so much is because you need to be creative and imaginative for a start but you are also likely to play shots you would not normally play. It can be an adventure from start to finish and its great fun. Of course there are golf courses – not on the seaside – that also get my creative juices going and today I got to visit one of these places and it was a cracker.

The Popa Golf Course (9 holes) is some 2 hrs drive from the city of Bagan, Myanmar. It’s run by the locals golfers who are passionate enough about the game that they are willing to spend their own money to keep the place a float (they only have a standard mower, some cows and a couple of rollers)

POPA MAP

Popa GC is at the foothill of the Mt Popa volcano

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The solitary mower sitting in the clubhouse

The golf course is not an architectural gem nor is it well maintained (on the contrary it is a bit of a goat track) but that does not matter because if you play Popa GC you will be asked to play shots you would never have played before (nor play again). It’s an adventure in the real sense of the word and you will need ever bit of IMAGINATION and CREATIVITY to navigate around the course.

You get the feeling you are in for something out of the ordinary when you arrive at the clubhouse (well you could hardly call it a clubhouse). It is failing, old and in need of a repair but you can sit down and appreciate the finish plus grab a drink at the same time.

In this case at the insistence of the GM – who had clearly not seen a foreigner in some time – I jumped behind him on his bike and scooted down the first hole…a long 4 bounded by a road on the right side. You cross the road and enter a new world that consists of 7 holes and a lot of everything else.

See Video of my day at Mt Popa and Popa GC: https://youtu.be/GmllVev4eUU

Let me describe by way of pictures and videos:

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The 1st green nestled between the trees. Watch out for the road down the right side

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Hole 2 approach. One needs to maneuver a way around the trees, rocks, cows, electrical lines

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Looking back from green 2…the famous Popa Taungkalat Monastery or “Pedestal Hill” in the distance

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Popa Taungkalat Monastery or “Pedestal Hill”

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Hole 3 green. Note someone watering the greens with his pet dog

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Hole 4 tee over the road….watch out for the bikers

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down towards the green…watch out for the people walking on the pedestrian path. Green behind the 3 large trees

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Hole 7 played over the valley. Big demand carry

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Water hazard and animal watering hole behind green.Also used for watering the green

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Well designed green. Watch out for the trees and people

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Hole 8 back toward Popa Taungkalat Monastery . Watch out for passing traffic

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Grazing cattle as you get closer to the green

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Green 9. Team just finished rolling the green

See video of local crews rolling the green: https://youtu.be/szNbnBN8CCE

See video of me rolling the green: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlrwWiubAFc

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