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Golf Australia Express : December 2012
Natadola Bay's course manager was frank when he told us it had been “quiet” since he arrived to run the show a year ago, with a slow uptake of both membership packages and green fees. It’s not cheap, but nor should it be. At about $120 AUD for a round including a cart, it’s no more than you’d expect to pay at any of our own top tracks. The heat could be a factor. In Fiji, you want to be off the course by noon. When 32 degrees comes with off-the- chart humidity and UV rays that would penetrate a spacesuit, you’re best to be in an armchair under an umbrella with a Fiji Premium in hand before lunchtime rolls around. So why would you go? Well, take a look at the place. About an hour’s drive south of the western coastal city of Nadi, the course doesn’t quite fit the picture of Fiji we saw on the way. It belongs more in the manicured resort town from which we started our journey, and not moments from the poor and often shanty-lined towns that we passed along the way. But it is what it is. And what it is, 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. YOU CAN FIND HIGHLIGHTS on just about every hole, but our favourites were clear. That 4th hole is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. When a hooked tee shot lands on an untouched, pristine beach, and a badly hooked tee shot will splash down in the biggest water hazard of them all, it’s hard to care that you just took a five. Skip forward to the par-5 6th, where the tee area is so high the multiple switchback route down to the fairway is reminiscent of a miniature Tour de France mountain pass. Few island courses can offer views quite like Natadola Bay—a genuine tropical paradise. DREAM the DREAM the