THEY say golf is a simple game. And really, how hard can hitting a small ball into a hole in the ground be?
But the game of reef golf, Toberua Island-style, is a complex one and a challenge not to be taken lightly.
More akin to amusement-park putt-putt, the quirky course was founded in 1985 by Australian artist Ken Done. And anyone who partakes of a friendly round soon realises Done has a lot to answer for.
While golfers of all skill levels will love getting into the swing of things on this Fijian paradise, they will understand from the first tee why no other handicaps are necessary.
For starters, any round of reef golf can be played only at low tide.
The flags would be underwater at high tide and players would need snorkels and masks as well as GPS devices on their balls to locate them.
While the course has been laid out on the side of the island sheltered from sometimes strong winds which would play havoc with any golfer’s tee shot, inherent dangers lie every
where on the “fairways”. When addressing the ball, golfers must be careful not to place their feet on any sunbaking sea stars, walking fish, slugs or other marine creatures. Often, this necessitates an uncoordinated stance that will send fellow golfers and Fijian caddies into fits of laughter, ruining concentration.
Large and small tidal water traps abound. While the ball may be picked up out of its watery resting place with no penalty and delivered to the nearest dry mound of sand for the next shot, the player may still be ankle-deep in seawater for the swing.
Sand wedges are the club of choice. But, fail to connect on the right angle and your ball will unceremoniously nick the nearest piece of rock or dead coral and come to a stop only a few metres away – or worse still, ricochet like a bullet.
Oh, and there’s one final hazard: your ball may be lost down a crab hole. That incurs a one-shot penalty.
Sure, the whacky path from tee-off to the putt in the “cup” (a circle drawn in the sand around the flag) can be frustrating, but just like any good holiday, reef golf is all about the journey, not the destination.
While no VJ Singhs were among us on our round, our New Zealand friend Faith managed to scare the ball to the putting “green” with her long, straight and powerful shots.
Hair blowing across my face, sunglasses falling off mid-swing and a bevy of hooks and slices took its toll on my round. But I did manage to make par on the last. Let’s see Tiger Woods do that on that course!
TOBERUA ISLAND RESORT
Toberua Island Resort offers luxury accommodation at affordable prices ranging from $300 to $462 per bure per night. Toberua is offering groups of 30 people the opportunity to hire the whole island for only $6000 per night, based on a five-night stay with kids under-12 free. Visit Toberua.
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