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Golf Australia Express : December 2012
VIJAY SINGH OWES ME 32 golf balls. He may well have once been the world’s No.1 golfer, but at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, the Fijian fader was public enemy No.1 the afternoon on which we first visited the layout he played a part in designing. Singh reportedly fell out with the owners before the oceanside paradise was built, but as the story goes, they still used his designs to complete it in 2010. As more than one tourist said during small talk on a day cruise later in the week, “that’s the one Vijay designed”, so the association has clearly stuck. Singh therefore cops the brunt of our ire as thick, unforgiving Fijian wilderness swallows ball after ball after ball. What will also stick is the impression the place leaves the moment you pull into the driveway to the moment the clubs are jammed back in the boot. NATADOLA BAY IS ONE OF five 18- hole courses in Fiji, and there’s no question it’s the one you’ll most enjoy gawking at. When holes like the par-3 4th are lined by a white sand beach unlike any other, you quickly forget about the damage it’s done to your fragile state of mind. You’ll simply sit back and admire what’s before you. A new course of unquestioned quality, you’d rightly expect that golf lovers would be queuing up to test themselves here since its grand opening two years ago. Heard enough of the hard sell? Well, this isn’t a hard sell, because apparently few are buying the product. After our first round, we returned to this wonderful corner of the island nation on a Saturday and teed off before the club’s weekly competition. Having lost a handful of balls before even leaving the first tee, we expected to endure nine holes of watching our tails for missiles from the club’s best. But when we arrived back at what is usually peak hour for club competitions, only seven cars could be counted in the car park. Seven. This was one of the most magnificent courses around, yet there was almost nobody playing on it. We’re still trying to figure out why. SINCE OPENING IN 2010, FIJI'S NATADOLA BAY CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF COURSE HAS BECOME ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND TRACKS. PROBLEM IS, THE WORD IS YET TO SPREAD. IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A STUNNING PARADISE ROUND WITH FEW PEOPLE ON COURSE, WE RECKON WE'VE FOUND IT. This is a lush oasis carved out of the Fijian seaside hills with views from almost every hole on course worth the price of admission alone. DREAM the DREAM the