Designed by the two-time masters champion Bernhard Langer, the golf club is accessible to players of all levels. The course covers the southern half of the Ile aux Cerfs island with the holes snaking up and down the length of the island, boasting natural undulations, volcanic rock outcrops, lakes and gullies, and a variety of tropical trees and plants.
All 18 holes of this island golf have views of the Indian Ocean. Expansive white sand bunkers and water set off the natural backdrop of trees and vegetation perfectly.
Water is an essential feature of the course. There are nine lakes in all, and three of the holes require tee shots across sea inlets to the fairways. The luscious turf is Salam Seashore Paspalum grass, which is resilient in the tropical climate and allows the highest standards of course conditioning.
In 2013, upgrading works were carried out on the front nine holes in order to offer a better golfing experience to golfers. Since then, feedbacks have been enthusiastic and positive. In June 2014, the back nine holes started to be reviewed and upgraded. These major changes will enable golfers to discover a more accessible golf course, regardless of the golfer’s level. The unique island golf course of Ile aux Cerfs will definitely be one of the most stupendous golf courses in the world, a “must play” as Colin Montgomerie puts it.
As I was staying in a hotel on the beautiful island of Mauritius it would be a crime not to play a golf course! So myself (Stav the Greek) and ‘Hodders’ asked the hotel reception to arrange a round of golf at the Ile aux Cerfs golf club. After a short phone call everything was arranged. Excited!
Pick up was early, 7am early. We both met up for breakfast and waited for the mini bus. After a short mini bus ride we arrived at a big entrance to the golf club. Beautifully neat grass and hedges surrounded the roadway and the golf course name ILE AUX CERFS, made you feel like you were going somewhere special. After a drive down a long driveway we were dropped off at the boat house. Not often do you have a boat house on a golf course! There we waited to be picked up by the speed boat, but as we waited we were reminded we were on a tropical island by the presence of a huge spider above our heads. Easily 3inchs long, we gave it a wide berth!
After a boat trip of around 10mins we arrived at the island, and greeted by a well mannered young man with a golf buggy to drive us to the club house. We were provided with a buggy with touch screen gps and a full set of Callaway golf clubs each. We were given 3 balls each. I had a feeling that might not be enough, ha!
Then after a brief spell on the driving range we made our way to the first tee, a par 4. The first thing you notice here is a water hazard right in front to reach the fairway, let’s just say we had a slow start to our game and move on from there.
Now the 2nd hole is interesting, down hill towards a beach. There is a path at the back of the green and we had to have a quick look before moving on to the 3rd hole. A stunning beach! Not a usual sight on a golf course in the midlands. Ha! A quick photo and we had to move on.
Every hole we played had a beautiful view or something of special interest, but a stand out hole for me was the 11th. It’s a par 5 dog leg to the right, and runs parallel with another beach. Myself and Hodders had great tee shots with a driver. Both straight and down the middle. I don’t have the longest drive but I ended up past the dog leg and just under the trees that separate the fairway and white sand beach. Any longer a drive and I would have been on the beach, I can think of worse places to be!
As you approach the green on the 11th and the 12th (par 4) you have views back to Mauritius and its mountains. With turquoise water and white sand to the left and lush green tropical plants to the right. It was difficult to play golf as we spent most of the time enjoying the views! This back 9 is when we had settled into our game and starting to be more consistent.
The final two holes were a great finish. The 17th had a huge mangrove area that needed a good tee shot to clear. Thankfully I was hitting straighter now and we both landed on the fairway. Phew! By this point I had lost a few balls to thick tropical undergrowth and we didn’t fancy looking for them, as you can imagine the wildlife that could be in there!
The 18th was the hardest index 1 and a bit confusing. It’s a long par 4 and after we both had a good tee shot we were now left with a choice of two greens! Both with flags and playable. One to the left with great views over the bay and back to Mauritius and the other up on the right behind the clubhouse. That green is the one we played. It was surrounded by a gully, volcanic rock and thick vegetation; challenge accepted. We both hit the green managing to clear the gully, and finished an amazing round with a par.
After returning our equipment and going back to the boat house ready to be picked up, we reflected on an experience that we might never have again. Obviously frustrated that we could have played better but totally satisfied that we could enjoy such a course. If you ever have the opportunity to play this course, I thoroughly recommend it. And maybe bring a change of clothes so you can enjoy the beach and a cocktail or two after your round!