Rules is Rules!
The first rules of golf were written by the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith in 1744 and most of them still apply today. Fittingly, unluckily, there were 13 rules in that original draft… and when you get out on the course with the gentlemen golfers of your local club you soon realise they can recite most of them word-for-word. Understanding one or two of them requires a geometry degree and an ability to recognise rabbit scrapings when you see them. The current rules number 28 and contain gems such as ‘a player must not give advice to a player other than his partner’. Golf is life! What singles golf out unusually from every other world sport played professionally for zillions of dollars is that even the most debatable rulings of the aptly-named Royal and Ancient governors of the game are religiously adhered to and accepted. To cheat at golf is a crime that no opponent will ever forgive. You can step on their throat but don’t ever step on their line.
New Zealand Golf Club – former preserve of lords, viscounts and oh apparently Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (so I am reliably told by my male golfing friends who tell me the names of previous members are still up in the locker room!) – is a beautiful, slightly quirky, but traditional golf course.
The old club house still seems at first a bit like an ‘old boys club’, with the ladies changing area bolted on round the back: a genuine after thought, as I suspect there was never any intention that ladies would play when this was first built
However it is warm and friendly, and for me I felt not one hint of ladies not being welcomed here. In fact the opposite. Smiling members and groundsmen stopped to chat and one member seemed really pleased and proud when he asked if I had enjoyed the round and I told him I had loved it.
And I did! From the first hole, off the reds where I made a splendid par (drive, rescue, chip and putt) to then find out later it was actually a par 5 for the ladies. Ting! Bonus ! Birdie on the first hole was a good start and I would say pretty achievable for those who can avoid the heather.
The reds are really not that much further than the yellows, so the two par 4 fours (Holes 1 and 2) that are par 5’s for us ladies are gifts really. But the other par 4s are long – and only the biggest hitters likely to make most of the greens in regulation. As long as they avoid the heather.
The heather is beautiful. The heather is lethal! Take the punishment has never been truer.
There is only one par 5 on the course for the men and the distance is similar off the reds – the 14th. It’s not much less than 476m so can be a par opportunity (if you don’t get in the heather like I did). One of my female team members eagled this, so if you are a big hitter like she is go for it!
There are two very long par 3’s – 7th and 16th – so some ladies may find it could be 2 to get on the green.
To summarise, this course is not long overall, but is very demanding in terms of accuracy. The fairways are not wide and lined with heather, and the carry on most of the holes means the heather is in play if you duff or don’t do your best drive!
However it is absolutely beautiful. All the holes are different and memorable. A sign of a great course. And when you play on a glorious autumn day like we did it is golf at its best!
I’m not saying it is the best course I have ever played but for sheer exotic island paradise Ile Aux Cerfs has got to be up there near the top. Shimmering sands, aquamarine water, palm trees…and the smell of barbecued fish and getto blasted reggae music wafting up the fairway as you play is seductive and hedonistic – and perhaps not great for the golf concentration, but for sheer delight in life 10/10! Just a short boat trip off the east coast of Mauritius, even the journey to the course is special. But beware – the cost of refreshments is pretty outrageous so head back to your own hotel for the 19th hole indulgences. We stayed at the Belle Mare Plage. Fantastic for golf, excellent food and accommodation and if you are travelling with a non-golfer, there is plenty there for them to do – snorkelling , diving, boat trips as well as just chillin’ in the sun and sipping cocktails.