The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is fast becoming the destination of choice for holidaymakers looking for sun, sea, surf and pristine golf courses, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
It wasn’t only Dylan Frittelli who left Mauritius late last year with that winning feeling, but also everyone who experienced the excitement of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and the lucky few who ventured deeper into the island to experience the world-class golf offerings.
Frittelli topped the field at Heritage Golf Club – an immaculate Peter Matkovich design set in Domaine de Bel Ombre, an idyllic piece of land between rolling mountains and a turquoise lagoon with nearly every tee and green offering beautiful panoramic views. The course regularly wins awards, most notably taking home the ‘Best Golf Course in the Indian Ocean’ for the past four years.
Like many of the courses on the island, Heritage offers something different to attract the thousands of golfers who make their way to Mauritius each year. Part of the charm is a nine-hole par-three course and exceptional practice facilities that help make the weekend hacker feel more comfortable on the championship layout. Five tee-up options are available to suit the needs of visitors of all skill levels – a vital option when the wind comes up.
It seems unfair or almost impossible to pick favourite holes but the 9th and 18th are arguably some of the finest you will play, not only in Mauritius but anywhere. The outward nine ends with a risk-and-reward par four with an elevated tee looking down on a large dam protecting the left side of the hole and well-positioned bunkers guarding the right. While the pros make it look easy guiding a 3-wood 300m down the centre, it plays far harder for an amateur, with par a good outcome.
The finishing hole at the tournament provided plenty of drama, with Frittelli settling for a par in regulation and India’s Arjun Atwal watching in agony as his eagle attempt lipped the cup and stayed out. Many of the pros made 18 look tame but from the tips, it plays long at 523m – a more than adequate challenge for the regular player.
A drive, from the elevated tee, that avoids the encroaching rough which shrinks the fairway at the normal landing zone allows for a crack at the green in two. However, any shot out of position will force a layup and put a premium on a sound wedge shot with the wind usually blowing towards the water hazard on the left, while the right flank is once again well guarded by a number of bunkers.
After taking in the sunset views on Sunday, it was time to venture west for a taste of true island golf at Paradis Golf Club – conveniently just five minutes by golf cart from our Beachcomber Dinarobin accommodation. Better yet, the cart is delivered to your room 45 minutes before your tee time. You might need that extra time as you take in the sights of Le Morne Brabant, a breathtaking Unesco World Heritage Site which offers hiking trails, that looks down on the course.
For many, holiday golf is meant to tick a few boxes: picturesque views and a quality golf course, and as the name gives away, Paradis Golf Club is that and a lot more. Sticking to the four-and-a-half hour time limit is tough, considering you will want to take a photo on every hole and of almost every shot. The back nine in particular will leave you breathless – and not because of the heat – as you weave around the bay with the Indian Ocean ready to swallow any errant tee shot.
There are a number of memorable holes but the 16th and 17th are sublime. The par-five 16th, the fourth-hardest hole, is a dogleg right with water providing the main hazard down the right and 50m from the green as a stream flows across, cutting off the fairway. The view from the green is magnificent as the crystal clear water surrounds the large putting surface.
The 17th is a short par three along the beach and looks easier than it plays as palm trees force you to fade the ball into the green. The final hole requires a solid drive as it is played over an inlet fed by the ocean on 16.
An attractive feature of this course is the two length options – the championship course is relatively short at a shade under 6 000m with the men’s tees offering a different test at just under 5 700m. The experience is typically Mauritian with plenty of smiling faces to greet you and help you get your round under way, and then a wonderful mix of green, yellow (the bunkers) and, of course, blue.
Interestingly, holidaymakers not filling a fourball are given priority on the course before 9:30am, allowing you to play swiftly and make it back to your resort by lunchtime.
Tamarina Golf & Spa Boutique is a must-visit golf course that offers something for everyone. Off the course, the clubhouse has a superb food offering, while guests can indulge in the spa or, for those more active, a surf school is on hand to teach you the basics.
The Rodney Wright design opened in 2006 and offers a stern test from the professional tees (6 886m) but also offers five other tee options. The course moves from demanding to fair when played off the men’s tees (6 000m) but it does play rather firm, which shortens the length, creating a good opportunity to leave your mark.
Fifty bunkers litter the course, which places a premium on accuracy from tee to green. The first few holes allow you to settle into a rhythm before the exhilarating stretch from one of the signature holes, the 5th.
This is a full three-shot par five with the tee shot played over a gorge to a split fairway separated by a natural rock formation as the hole meanders uphill to the left. Par is a good result. The 175m par-three 6th again tests your skills with a long carry to a green protected by bunkers in front and over the back.
The toughest hole on the course will have you questioning your club selection on the tee, with a mighty hit required to carry the rocks 50m short of the green before water down the left makes the 8th hole far trickier than its stroke rating of 11 would have you believe. These difficult holes are all played against the backdrop of the Rempart Mountain.
The back nine is equally challenging, with the downhill par-three 14th a superb hole and again, one on which to take out the camera for a stunning photo opportunity. The 18th is a chance to end your game on a high as you play all the way downhill with local monkeys on hand to watch you putt out.
The last course on the trip was a unique golf experience at Avalon Golf Estate – the island’s only inland championship course, easily accessible from any direction.
It is the brainchild of Peter Matkovich who has sculpted a wonderful layout in idyllic surroundings, combining tea plantations, rivers, ravines, mountains and a sweeping view of the southern coastline. Set over an undulating, windswept terrain, the 18-hole layout is one for those players looking to enjoy themselves with a number of good scoring opportunities.
Apart from its distinctive and natural features, the Avalon resort was designed to foster and bring out the indigenous flora and fauna of the untouched south.
Most notable on the front nine is the 4th – a drivable par four played downhill to a green surrounded by azaleas. The front nine’spar threes, the 5th (149m) and 7th (155m), offer good chances for birdie. The uphill par-four 9th concludes a solid test.
The 10th hole, at just over 340m, provides an opportunity to start the back nine well, with the par-five 12th one to be wary of. Played to a wide fairway, with a ravine coming into play on your second shot, you must aim for the left, as the ravine is closer from the right than you might think.
The 16th is a golden chance to make a birdie with the par five measuring just 445m and relatively danger-free.
The 17th is the second drivable par four but only for the accurate as any shot right of centre is likely to be left as a memento
in the local vegetation or worse, the stream up the right near the green.
Avalon offers its guests a magnificent golf experience in a diverse, yet welcoming environment, where the climate is perfect for a round.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Opened in November 2017, the island’s only course in the north, Mont Choisy Le Golf, is the newest golf offering on the island. Adjacent to the seaside resorts of Grand Baie and Trou aux Biches, the par-72 Peter Matkovich design is the heart of a new lifestyle project with houses, villas and leisure areas.
The rocks and grasslands providethe backbone of the landscape, while several water hazards add character
and natural sand hazards blend into the grass surroundings.
Large palm trees around the course keep a watchful eye on the neighbouring greens.
WHERE TO STAY
Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels has eight options in Mauritius, including four hotels specifically tailored to meet your golf needs. The group also has a partnership with three championship golf courses – Avalon, Tamarina and Heritage – to make your trip even more memorable.
– This article first appeared in the February issue of Compleat Golfer
*Compleat Golfer was the guest of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels