GOLFING: Spoilt for choice

There is no limit to where your dream golfing destination lies. The avid enthusiast has plenty on offer

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Turquoise waters are the backdrop for the many golf courses spread across the holiday locations of the Indian Ocean. The islands of Mauritius, Zanzibar, Reunion and the Seychelles have a host of playing venues to choose from, but making decisions is not a holiday task, so we’ve laid out some of our favourites. Also, if your trip takes you Far East, don’t miss out on the incredible views at Jack’s Point in New Zealand. And while you’re in New Zealand, hop over to Australia on the way back. And why not stop off in Abu Dhabi and then Scotland as you head home to South Africa … the options are virtually endless.

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MAURITIUS

The Peter Matkovich-designed par 72 at Heritage Golf Resort weaves through hectares of seaside land and is flanked by mountains on one side and a lagoon on the other. It’s a championship course that hosts the annual Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open, which means the course is guaranteed to challenge the regular golfer. The terrain varies constantly and the hills, streams, and lakes peppering the 6 434m course make every hole unique. The seaside track is relatively open and finds its defence in water hazards and coastal breezes.

With a dozen or so courses from which to choose, Mauritius is on its way to becoming an outstanding destination. Bernard Langer’s Le Touessrok, which is set on its own island known as ‘Island of the Deer’, is a standout highlight. Ernie Els designed Anahita and is getting increasingly good publicity, while the Legend course at Belle Mare Plage is worth a few hours of your time.

REUNION ISLAND

Golf Club de Bourbon is Reunion Island’s oldest golf course and is situated in the forest of Etang Sale. Positioned on the west side of the island, this seaside track has a rage of different holes that challenge golfers of all skill levels. There is minimal natural water on the course, yet there are a total of 132 out of bounds stakes and its easy to find trouble if you don’t make fairways. Ball striking is put to the test and wayward tee shots are punished by the jungle landscape that the course is carved into. The tropical climate and island scenery make this course a hidden gem.

The Golf Club du Colorado is located in the region of La Montagne, near Saint-Denis. It may be the highest golf course of all the Indian Ocean, being located at a height of 600m above sea level. It is a 9-hole golf course that offers a scenic view of the surrounding area, from the Sainte-Marie airport to Saint-Paul.

The Golf du Bassin Bleu is an 18-hole Golf Course which is located in the West of reunion Island, at Villèle, in the commune of Saint-Paul. The first nine holes are played facing the sea and the remaining 9 holes are played in a eucalyptus forest. The Golf Club also has a restaurant with a seating capacity of 100 people and weddings and company events can be organised at the club house.

SEYCHELLES

Lemuria Championship Golf Course was built on the island of Praslin in 2000 and is situated a convenient five-minute drive from Praslin airport. The 5 582m course was carved through tropical woodland and has big changes in elevation that allow for views of three different beaches surrounding the course. The first 12 holes lined with palm trees and ease you into the experience, but the course takes a turn into thick forest from the 13th and becomes challenging. The signature 15th is a short hole with a tee box 50 metres higher than the green, which gives a great view before sending you back into the forest once again.

ZANZIBAR

The first and only golf course on the island of Zanzibar is at Sea Cliff Resort. The Peter Matkovich design is nine holes long, but a wealth of tee boxes allow for a complete 18-hole experience, played to a par of 71.

Beautiful seaside views accompany every hole and palm trees frame most holes. The course is fairly straightforward, but the island winds can make it a testing day out in the sun. Bunkers are a big part of the danger on the course, which means good club selection is crucial. A qualified PGA golf instructor is also on hand for any tuition and tips.

ABU DHABI

The region has quickly moved out of the shadow of neighbouring Dubai as a golfing hotspot with several world class golf courses which appeal to a wide variety of golfers.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is the Gulf’s first beachfront course, the Gary Player-designed masterpiece, presents a fair test of golf, allowing all visitors to enjoy a good round in a luxurious setting. A number of tee options allows the high-handicapper to enjoy the beautiful layout which will leave players breathless even before they make the turn. Heavily bunkered, accuracy from the tee and fairway is required to take advantage of the receptive greens. After meandering through several five-star beach resorts, the back nine is arguably the most beautiful stretch of holes in Abu Dhabi.

The National at Abu Dhabi Golf Club plays host to the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championships in January each year and is a bucket list golf experience not to be missed when travelling in Abu Dhabi. The course, opened in 2000, is protected by the seven lakes and 90 bunkers with large slick greens guarding the course against even the most in-form amateur. Accuracy off the tee is a must as thick rough make finding the green in regulation almost impossible. The National offers the chance to replicate the feeling of playing in a high-profile tournament but beware, the eagle is watching.

The Yas Links is a testimony to what golf design can achieve given enough resources to match a vivid imagination. It is hard to fathom that the golf course, often rated as the region’s number one course, was built from nothing just six years ago. With five tee options for every hole, a golfer of any skill level has the opportunity to experience the rolling fairways along the rambling coastline before arriving on Yas’ pristine putting surfaces. The greens are exquisite, offering a true test of one’s short game while the final three holes will threaten to derail any golfer’s dream round with accuracy, precision, shot-making and finesse all required before heading into the clubhouse.

SCOTLAND

St Andrews itself is routinely referred to as ‘The Home of Golf’, so it’s a natural place to visit. The St Andrews Links is headed by its chief executive officer, Euan Loudon, who has an encyclopaedic memory and an engaging and authoritative tone. Now 59, he has a military background, a British Army major-general who served, among other assignments, in the Gulf War, for which he was awarded an OBE, and then named a CBE by the Queen.

These days he has found his true love, golf, and oversees all the outstanding work done by the St Andrews Links Trust.

More than 230 000 rounds per year are played on the seven public courses. Of course, you have to book well in advance, especially if you want to play on the Old Course, on which Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship. However, should you want to ‘walk the course’, simply arrive at St Andrews on any given Sunday, Major championship excepted, and wander the links. Even bring your dogs if you like; it’s a relaxed atmosphere.

Throughout its unique 600-year history, the focus of the St Andrews Links has remained on nurturing the game in the town, ensuring the golf courses are accessible to all, and providing free golf to the children of the town, through a Junior Golf programme, SALJGA.

The famous beach scene from Chariots of Fire, depicting the 1924 Paris Olympics, was shot a few hundred metres away on the sandy beach, which goes to highlight that St Andrews is not simply a town in which you pitch up and play golf. It’s steeped in history and superb value for any tourist.

The seven courses comprising the St Andrews Links are: Old Course, New Course, Castle Course, Jubilee Course, Eden Course, Strathtyrum Course and Belgrove Course.

AUSTRALIA

Regularly voted best in Australia, the Royal Melbourne West Course is a proper test of golf and last year it hosted the LPGA Tour’s Australian Open. The club was founded in 1891, but it was not until 1931 that the current layout was put together by Sotland’s Alister McKenzie. The 6 579m course is full of dramatic undulation, fertile sandy soil and a natural rugged appearance, which makes it a traditional golfing experience. Course highlights include bold bunkering and fairways flanked by thick bush, which secludes many of the holes from each other. The rough areas around the tees and bunkers are a mix of native grasses which naturally frame each hole, providing great definition and contrast. The large greens are well contoured and offer a range of playing options for approach shots. This course is a good challenge and will keep you focused throughout the round, while the grand clubhouse has all the trimmings to satisfy after a tough round.

NEW ZEALAND

Deciding on one of the 393 green courses of New Zealand is a tough ask, but Jack’s Point Golf Course takes the cake with spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains that frame this par 72. There are five tee options at each hole on the 6 388m layout, which was designed around the natural landscape of the Lake Wakapitu shoreline. The course is open, with a range of imported British grasses adorning the holes. The clear layout leaves sheer views of the 2 300m high Remarkable mountain range, which is the backdrop of this championship course. The entire course is a visual spectacle.

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