Larry recently played a round of golf in Fiji.
At last we had arrived at the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club, Fiji - a world class, resort golf course that we had been long looking forward to playing. Time pressure and weather conspired against us playing 18 holes, so we had to make a tough decision. Front 9 or back 9?
We opted for the back 9, got ourselves organised with reasonably new Mizuno hire clubs, course booklet (remember to ask for one of these, FJ$2) and cart then set off. The Fiji weather was turning on sultry 30 degree days, with high humidity to remind us that we were in Fiji during the rainy season. Our 9am tee off time could have been a little earlier….we wondered about the cart because we like to walk, but they are mandatory and frankly in that heat you would expire anyway…so take the cart.
Playing golf in Fiji offers interesting comparisons to the home course at Christchurch Golf Club. The greens are a coarse cooch grass, that may at times cause the ball to track off line. After a few holes you adapt and they are fine but don’t be afraid to hit your putt. The cooch grass is heavier than a normal New Zealand grass. The sand bunkers are approaching the consistency of soft concrete with the previous night’s rain forming a light crust on the top. And there are lots of them in the back 9, all strategically placed to be highly inconvenient – naturally. Water hazards posed an even bigger threat to the on-board supply of balls. The water is murky meaning that once in the water it stays in the water. However the water hazards only pose a threat where they cross the fairways on the back 9 because otherwise the fairways are generously wide. Take plenty of spares because there is no shortage of water hazards. One canal looping its way through the course is a constant reminder to keep risk-taking to a minimum. You need to know when to lay up.
By the time we reached the 15th, alongside the beach, the slightly cooling sea breeze was very welcome and the ocean views are definitely worth taking a break to enjoy.
Curiosities? Well, the worm casts are massive and create a hazard in their own right. Wouldn’t like to meet the worms! We meant to ask if the market garden alongside the 12th fairway grew fresh produce for the Sheraton Denarau’s kitchens. There was a team of friendly local farmers quietly going about tending the abundant crops of local fruit and vegetables. The young chap herding a handful of cattle to another grazing field took care to keep out them well out of range, but it was a bit unusual to see them crossing the 18th fairway. All adds to the flavour on wonderful Fiji.
Helpful hints. Take plenty of water and then some. A sweaty brow-wiping towel is a must. The distance markers on the fairways are good but if you know your trees, 200 metres is marked by 2 Pandanus Trees, 150 metres is marked by 1 Pandanus Tree and 100 metres is marked by Hibiscus shrubs, making this is one very attractive golf course.