Indian Ocean golf
My abiding memory of playing golf in the Seychelles and Mauritius? Food.
Okay, okay, there are a few others. I’m not entirely led by my belly. There is the Indian Ocean for one, blue sky and a hot sun are two others.
But the on-course cuisine of these islands is truly unusual and remarkable.
Golfers around the world know what to expect in the way of on-course tucker. In Great Britain it’s a bacon or sausage sandwich. In Europe a ham and cheese baguette. In America maybe a burger or hot dog.
In the Seychelles and Mauritius it’s fresh fruit. Admittedly many golfing types might baulk at the idea of swapping fried food for fresh fruit, but this is not any fresh fruit. It’s the freshest fresh fruit. You don’t even buy it, you pick it. That’s how fresh it is.
My first experience of it came at Constance Lemuria, on the island of Praslin in the Seychelles. My partner, the professional Gary Pouponneau, asked if I required refreshment. I nodded.
He looked into the trees, reached high with his 7-iron, gave it a flick and caught a falling mango with his free hand.
“Here you go,” he smiled.
I peeled it open and discovered the sweetest mango I’ve ever tasted. How many shots did I hit that day? No idea. How many mangoes did I eat? One a hole from there on in.
A week later, at Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius, I was feeling lethargic in the heat. My caddie Jeremy offered me a bottle of water and asked if I liked fruit.
Normally I’d mutter something unenthusiastic about “my five a day”, but not today because after the Seychelles I was primed.
“Yes,” I said. “What you got?”
He disappeared into the trees and emerged with a handful of brown kernels. “It’s tamarind,” he explained. “Crack it open and chew on the flesh.”
Have you ever tasted something which fell off a tree, but which tasted better than manufactured sweets? I hadn’t either. Sweet, refreshing, zingy – and all part of a healthy, nutritional and balanced diet.
Indian Ocean golf courses might have nature’s finest halfway huts, but there’s more to them than that. Here’s the Golf365 lowdown on three of Constance Hotels’ courses in the Seychelles and Mauritius.
This is a remarkable golf course with two distinct halves.
The first 12 holes negotiate the flat ground behind the hotel. It’s pretty but very tight, requiring a strategic play from almost every tee.
The final six holes take to the skies. The par-four 13th and 14th holes climb a conical hill in order to present you with the most dramatic par-three tee shot imaginable on the 15th. Below you is a small green, all around is rainforest, to the left a beautiful white sand beach and in the distance a bright blue sea.
It’s worth taking a minute (or 20) to take it all in because the 16th is possibly the tightest par-five you will ever play. Miss the fairway right or left and you’re in the rainforest.
The round ends with another elevated tee shot to a distant fairway which sits between a lake and the rainforest.
It’s a remarkable golfing experience.
Constance Belle Mare Plage – Legends
There are two courses at this resort on the island’s east coast. This makes it particularly popular with golf tourists because, unlike other Mauritian resorts, there will always be an available tee time.
The Legends golf course is across the road from the hotel and offers a good test: tight, tree-lined fairways that punish anything off line.
The course is also notable for the vivid red flame trees, with the best of those behind the 16th green. The 17th hole is the standout par-three: it needs a bold tee shot over a wide lagoon, which often has water-skiers as an added distraction.
The par-five final hole offers risk and reward options, with those in need of a birdie or eagle able to hit across water to the green. Once again there is a potential distraction in the water, but this time it is the deer who bathe in the shallow waters of the lake.
The course hosts the annual MCB Tour Championship, the European Senior Tour’s season-ending tournament.
Constance Belle Mare Plage – Links
Minutes away from the hotel by shuttle bus is the Links course. It is more open from the tee than the Legends and calls for daring shot-making and aggressive putting to make a winning score.
A little more undulating than the Legends course, but just as colourful, with the plant-life bursting into life around every corner. The par-five 11th is a fine hole, with the second or third shot played over volcanic rocks to a shallow green.
Most holes tempts you with a birdie possibility, whilst always threatening trouble if you make a mistake.
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