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Golf Australia Express : OTG Express 160
The course is part of a massive project undertaken by Natadola Bay Resort Ltd (NBRL), which is the commercial arm of the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF). NBRL invested $250 million into the development – the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Fiji – that included the 18- hole layout as well as the development of the adjoining five-star Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa. Natadola Bay was originally routed by Fiji’s home-grown major champion and former world No.1, Vijay Singh, and has been complemented by the best grasses for its seaside and tropical location. For example, the Seashore Paspalum playing surfaces are brilliant. This salt- tolerant grass – used on the tees, first-cut rough, fairways and greens – has become the grass of choice for new courses being built in tropical climes, especially oceanside layouts like Natadola. The grass seems to thrive in this environment and removing any weeds doesn’t require chemicals, just a handful of rock salt. At Natadola, the huge, rolling greens are not trimmed too short (it won’t surprise but wind is a factor here) but the Seashore Paspalum surfaces still run true. Flat putts still run at about 10 feet on the stimpmeter but downhillers, especially downwind, are really quick. More importantly, the roll is very true and consistent. The opening hole – a long, narrow downhill par-4 leading away from the clubhouse towards the ocean – is a delicious first plate of the degustation golfing menu to follow. For most golfers visiting Natadola for the first time, I would recommend leaving your ego in the car park and by-pass the black markers, which stretch the course to 6,587 metres. For example, the 2nd hole is an uphill 400-metre par-4, which usually plays into the ever- present prevailing wind, calls for a 180-metre carry to reach the start of the fairway. The blue markers stretch the course to just beyond 6,000 metres, which is not long, but it is the strategic nature of the design that makes this Natadola layout challenging and, at the same time, utterly enthralling.
OTG Express 159 - PGA Wrap
OTG Express 161