Golf in Mauritius
Imagine waking up after a deep, restful sleep,
drawing back the curtains and there, in front of
you, is the most perfect vista. A crystal-clear
swimming pool, just the whisper of a breeze
creating the tiniest ripple in the early morning
light, then a stretch of pure white sand, a deep emerald
sea and, in the distance, the outline of a surfwashed
coral reef. Above, just the azure perfection of
a tropical sky.
Welcome – you have found paradise. Welcome to
Mauritius, first settled by the Dutch, lies 1200 miles
off the coast of southern Africa, out beyond
Madagascar. To the east, save for a couple of remote
atolls, there is nothing but the Indian Ocean, stretching
to the northwest coast of Australia, over 4,000
The French took over from the Dutch and then
Britain entered the scene in 1810, making the island
a major stepping stone on the sea route to and from
India, when full-sailed vessels laden with exotic goods
from India used to stop to restock with food and water
before the long haul home round the Cape and up the
west coast of Africa.
French, Créole, Indian and
British influences have all left their mark on the culture,
leaving a wonderfully cosmopolitan feel to the
place. Here, 300 miles inside the Tropic of Capricorn,
it is hot, yet the steamy heat of some countries at this
latitude is dissipated by the fresh breezes wafting in
off the ocean, making life comfortable yet deliciously
The island is a very popular destination for honeymooners
from all over Europe, though in recent years
golf has started to increase in popularity, adding to the
relatively modest tourist industry. Other than that,
sugar is the main export crop.
The BELLE MARE PLAGE RESORT is just 45 minutes
from the airport and the same distance from the capital,
Port St Louis. It has two of the island’s four 18-
hole courses on its domain.
The main course is the Legends – 6,900 yards,
designed by Hugh Baiocchi and home to the Mauritius
Open each December. Either carved out of volcanic
rock or shaped over the low-lying flood plain, the
course is a good test of golf, with plenty of bunkers
and lagoons waiting to catch the wayward golfer. The
greens are generous and set in such a way as to create
dramatic backdrops on your approach shots.
The outstanding hole is the par-three, 160-yard
17th, with spectacular views across the sparkling
waters of the bay. You might also catch a glimpse of
the indigenous Javanese deer as they sprint across the
fairway, keeping out of reach of low-flying golf balls.
Perhaps their rest has been disturbed too often by
mis-hit shots. There are plenty of doglegs here, so the
ability to shape the ball off the tee is definitely an
Right next door, Peter Alliss and Rodney Wright
have been involved in the design of the Links Course,
which opened in November 2002 with large mounds
and hollows fashioned from the existing terrain. The
front nine is more links-like in character, with four holes running alongside the lagoon and many undulating
fairways with few trees. The back nine is more
wooded so, despite the name, it’s not really like a
links. But it is a good test of golf, nonetheless.
Both courses are lush and beautifully maintained
and with ten-minute starting times you’re never going
to get quite the same hold-ups as on many resort
courses in southern Europe, for example.
Guests at the Belle Mare Plage have a wonderful
opportunity to sample the very best – from the pool
and beach to the amenities of the Shiseido health and
beauty club, a full range of watersports, tennis and
squash and some very fine dining. There are two
beach-side restaurants, the al fresco La Spiaggia and
the main restaurant, La Citronelle, offering cuisine
from five continents. Stay in one of the 230 rooms, 20
luxury villas or, if you’ve just won the lottery, you
could book the Presidential Villa.
The sister hotel, Le Prince Maurice, has been
awarded “Palace” status by Relais & Chateaux, one of
only 17 hotels in the world to have received that accolade.
It was recently voted ‘Best Hotel in the World’ by
Hideaways magazicne. Set in 60 acres of tropical
garden, the vibrant greens mix perfectly with the
turquoise lagoon and the soft white sands of the
beach. A mix of wood, stone and thatch gives this allsuite
hotel a unique charm, elegant yet relaxed.
Beautiful dining, including a floating restaurant,
offers the best in cuisine. Whether you want an active
vacation or a chill-out-and-do-nothing break, Le
Prince Maurice has it all. A health and fitness centre
caters for your every need and there are plenty of
watersports and other activities to ensure your stay is
truly memorable. Golf on the two courses at Belle
Mare Plage is free to guests at either of these two
In the far southwest of the island, on a private
peninsula, is arguably the most picturesque course on
the island, the exclusive LE PARADIS, which could best
be described as a tropical version of a links.
An imposing mountain backdrop and an abundance
of water hazards add an extra dimension to this
course that, with its wide, inviting fairways, is a good
test for any level of player. The golf course is reserved
for the exclusive use of the guests of Le Paradis Le
It must strike many people as strange that the
island’s three best courses are closed to visitors other
than their own hotel guests, a situation that is rather
at odds with best practice elsewhere in the world.
Keeping the courses exclusive is not bad in principle
but it would surely be a preferable modus operandi
if they co-operated and invited each other’s guests on
a reciprocal basis.
The GYMKHANA CLUB, originally built by and for
the British Army, is the locals’ club and you will always
meet the movers and shakers from the capital, Port St
Louis, in the newly constructed clubhouse. The
course is a good mix of hazards, with plenty of trees
and large bunkers. This is open to all visitors.
The other courses on the island are nine-holers,
though often with two sets of tees to make the full 18
The ST GERAN is a Gary Player designed
layout which fronts the Indian Ocean and
has a David Leadbetter Golf Academy, although the
course only measures 2,500 yards so it is not the sort
of place to go if you want to grip-it-and-rip-it.
MARITIM BALACLAVA is even shorter at only 1,385
yards, little more than a pitch-and-putt. You can, however,
use the driver on TROU AUX BICHES, where the
five par-fours are long enough for you to open up
your shoulders. The greens here are good and well
protected, so it will be no hardship to go round this
Being a tropical island, Mauritius does have a rainy
season, but the rain tends to last an hour or so and
then stop, so you could still play golf pretty much
every day. Humidity can be a problem for some but
you soon get used to it and quite frankly it’s quite
healthy for you to perspire a little – it certainly beats
forking out for an expensive detox back home. Being
in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed,
but the best time to visit is probably in our autumn
and spring. The flight from London takes 12 hours
and the local time is four hours ahead of GMT.
Other than the golf there are, as you’d imagine,
loads of opportunities to indulge in every type of
water sport, including some excellent diving or
snorkelling, and a visit to Port St Louis, with its colonial
architecture and wonderful markets, is a must.
There are also waterfalls, the Black River Gorge
National Park or, if you really want to chill out, the
beach and the pools.
You will assuredly not be in any hurry to get back