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Golf in Fiji

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Golf has been popular in Fiji since the colonial era. Some of the golf courses were actually laid out to meet the recreational needs of the old Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Today golf continues to be very popular and the good news for visitors is that green fees are quite reasonable compared to Hawaii and other golf hot spots.

There are six 18-hole courses in Fiji and all except one are located on Viti Levu, (the largest island). Of the five on the main island two are in the Suva area, and three are in the “West”, the Nadi/Coral Coast area.

Natadola Bay Golf Course
Courtesy Natadola Bay Golf Course

One of the newest and perhaps the best is Natadola Bay ( 6,566 meters, par 72) which according to its website “blends world class golf architecture with dramatic landscapes from rolling pastures through to absolute beachfront.” Given the  backdrop of coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean on 15 out of the 18 holes, it may be difficult to keep your concentration. (I suspect they say the same thing about Pebble Beach). None other than Vijay Singh has had a hand in tweaking 10 of eighteen holes at the behest of management in 2016.  Membership fee is $1,350.00 per year. If you’re a scratch golfer it’s almost worth moving to Fiji for that price. The green fees are about US$100. (The green fees at Pebble Beach are closer to US$500). Can’t beat that deal with Vijay’s driver…

The Fiji Golf Club (5719 yard, par 72) located in Suva is more akin to a municipal or public links and is very popular with the local crowd.

The Pearl South Pacific Fiji Resort - Golf Courses
Courtesy The Pearl South Pacific Fiji Resort

The Pearl South Pacific Fiji Resort (6908 yards, par 72) is located at Pacific Harbour (a 20 minute drive west of the capital) and was designed by Robert Trent Jones. That speaks for itself. Suffice it to say, it’s lot more preferable and challenging than the Fiji Golf Club. On the western side of Viti Levu (in the Nadi area) there is also a municipal style.

Nadi Airport Golf Club (5882 yards, par 70) which may be more appropriately called the “Runway Way Club”. It lies adjacent to Nadi International Airport.

Denarau Golf and Racquet Club Fiji
Courtesy Denarau Golf and Racquet Club Fiji

Denarau Golf & Racket Club (7150 yards, par 72) which is part of the Denarau/Sheraton Hotel complex. Designed by Mr. Eiichi Motohashi of Pannya Planning, Japan, it opened on the 9th June, 1993. Like the rest of the Denarau complex it was built on a mangrove swamp. It is distinguished by its marine shaped bunkers and greens. The course has water hazards on 15 of it’s 18 holes.

Laucala's Golf Course
Laucala’s course is indeed stunning, and the old plantation is still intact. (courtesy Laucala).

Fiji’s sixth course is on the small freehold island of Laucala, once owned by Malcolm Forbes. Currently owned by Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz,  the current owner had Scotsman David McLay Kidd design Laucala’s course, a stunning 18-hole layout. Kidd’s par-72 design is integrated into the 5 km long island, with ‘minimal impact’, says their website, on the island’s ‘old coconut plantation area’. (An old coconut plantation is not exactly a redwood forest).  Evidently the par-five 12th has a green extending to the beach, which means wet feet at high tide.

There are also nine-hole courses in Lautoka, Rakiraki, Ba, and at the Fijian Resort Hotel, Naviti Beach Resort, Labasa (in Vanua Levu) and at Soqulu on the island of Taveuni.

Mocambo Golf Course
Mocambo (Courtesy Tourism Fiji)

Fiji Mocambo Hotel Executive Golf Course : The Mocambo has a nine-hole course with all par 3’s. A challenging course as it is set on a steep slope. Green fees: Non-house guests pay $11 and house guests play free. Club hire: $11.

Shangri-La Fijian Resort Executive Golf Course :Newly extended and recreated, the Shangri-La course is the only one in Fiji that offers Tifton Dwarf grass greens. There are five par 3 holes and four par 4 holes. Sand traps, and one hole with a double water hazard make playing for precision rather than power the option.

Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh – Courtesy Wikimedia commons

Vijay the Inscrutable

When you think of golf in Fiji, you can’t help conjuring the image of Vijay Singh, arguably the most famous personality on the world stage ever to come out of this country. What is Singh like? Who are his friends? What does he think about when he is not thinking about golf? As a piece in the Sikh Times said

“It is difficult to answer these questions, because Singh has an uneasy relationship with journalists: he does not trust them and instead of answering questions about himself he would rather play competitive golf. Or at the very least practice.”