Ile Aux Cerfs, Mauritius
Meaning Deer Island this privately managed 87 hectare idyl is edged by the beautiful white sandy beaches of postcards offsets by the azure sea deepening to dark blue of the Indian ocean.
A canopy covered boat takes you across the lagoon in about 10 minutes. With the first ferry being at 0730 for golfers, this frequent service runs every 30 minutes, back and forth until early evening. Running like clockwork as a transfer awaits your boat to take you back to your hotel.
A light bright airy but naturally decorated clubhouse greets you, together with a smiling welcome from the check in ladies in the pro-shop.
With the clubhouse behind you, the first hole is memorable for its flora and fauna, in so far as it was right in front of the clubhouse. Taking in a riot of colourful planting and the odd drop of water too! An achievable drive to a lush fairway. It became evident on hole one that they were having problems with worms, or rather worm casts which sadly marred the overall appearance of the big greens. Not using chemicals and finding a local solution is underway – failing that, grab the witches broom and start sweeping.
It soon became apparent that the Bernhard Langer school of golf course design must have shares in silly string.
Being on an tropical island certainly has it advantages when looking for the ultimate golf course view, but some of the holes were a bit silly or technically difficult – I can’t quite decide.
Not so much quirky as long, the par 5, 6th, ranges from 490 to 601 meters. A slight dog leg right around a huge bunker on the inside of the hole brings its own challenges in. At handicap 6 its not one to sniff at!
Bermuda grass does hone your skills in a different way. This deep and often spongy grass grabs the ball then lets it settle, so if you don’t commit to your shot, the ball does respond in strange ways; either flushed so far you marvel at your own strength or sinks further into the spongy grass with you left looking forward incredulously – with hope!
At only around 20 years old, the course is maturing nicely. Usage of the existing trees has helped that feeling of being established beyond its years.
I did like (maybe because I did visit a few of them) the bunkers. Nice gritty sand which the ball pops out with little resistance.
The course was full of surprises, some nice, some not so nice. An idyllic location with the blue sea in view for many holes, calming the soul, even when you’re having a nightmare or just lost yet another ball.
Hole 15, a par 3, 96 to 167 meters had water all around which wasn’t that visible at ground level. Handicap 13 gives away its no walk in the park – (or on the golf course) with its target, albeit largish target green.
This is a course built and designed by an illusionist. It plays with your senses; the eyes are drawn by the narrowing and planting, the smell of the sea allows you to drift into tropical island mode, before the soft gritty sand responds to the gentlest of touches and brings you back to reality. Even the grass doesn’t always respond as you’d expect.
It is definitely a course one needs to play more than once. Whereupon the lost ball count is hopefully reduced each time you play and as you start to understand the intricacies of its quirky design and unravel the silly string.
Quirky, silly, technically difficult, frustrating, rewarding – all apply at Ile aux Cerfs.
Full article to follow on travellifestylegolf.blogspot.com
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