• Serious or recreational golfer?
The seven 18-hole golf courses on Mauritius are genuinely challenging Championship-quality courses and are not necessarily suited to casual golfers or beginners, though they do have facilities for tuition with PGA professionals. For children, novices or less demanding players the Maritim may be the better option, as it shares the same range of services, but in a more informal 9-hole format. Residents who stay at Le Saint Géran can have the best of both worlds, with its own Gary Player-designed 9-hole course and access via guaranteed tee times at Belle Mare Plage’s Links course.
• Green fees?
Residents enjoy free and unlimited golf at their chosen resort.
• Golf clubs: take or hire?
Currently Air Mauritius allows them to be carried free as an addition to your baggage allowance, while British Airways counts them as part of your permitted weight. For more dedicated golfers who intend to play a lot this will be a factor to consider, while more occasional players may elect to hire locally. All courses have excellent, reputable brand names – Callaway, Taylormade, for example – to hire at about 20-25GBP per round. A handful of balls are generally included with hired clubs and sometimes an additional, chargeable supply.
• Golf shoes?
Soft spikes are the order of the day, and can be hired if necessary.
• Dress code?
Shirts (with collar for men), knee length tailored shorts and socks or tailored trousers. No jeans. Bear in mind you may be out in sun at the hottest time of the day, so have plenty of sun cream and water to hand, and a hat.
• Locker rooms and pro shops?
Facilities are as good as, or better than, what you would expect at any private or prestige clubhouse.
• Practice ground?
All the 18-hole courses have practice facilities with range balls to purchase.
• Golf balls?
Take plenty! While there will be the usual ‘natural wastage’ due to wayward shots and hazards, the one thing I can guarantee is you will not find many balls. Recycling of golf balls is a mini industry for enterprising Mauritians, often paying better than more conventional forms of employment. Anecdotal evidence suggests that each golf ball is worth 30GBP to locals, based on the number of times it is re-sold: it is not unusual to see snorkels in water hazards! An on-course transaction may cost about 500MUR (7.50GBP) for a bag of 10 to 15 balls, and is always open for friendly negotiation.
• Caddy cars?
On some courses, these are mandatory and all hires have to be paid for. Under 16s are not permitted to drive a caddy car. Some courses also offer golf trolleys or caddies.
• Tee times?
With its proximity to the Equator, Mauritius doesn’t have the same extremes of seasonal daylight as Northern Europe: there is no prospect of playing until 10pm in summer time. Most courses close about 6pm due to the rapid setting of the sun. Consequently tee times for 18 holes are restricted to between 7.30am and 2pm, and it is not unusual for individual players or two-balls to be combined with other groups to ease demand. Twilight golf may be available after 2pm if a full round is not being played. Pre-booking, usually the day before play, is recommended to avoid disappointment, but the courses are by no means crowded. A round can comfortably be accommodated in under four hours.
• Local idiosyncracies?
Distances are in metres. For those who play Imperial, add one tenth of the distance to calculate the approximate yardage. Pedants should multiply by 1.093613298! Global positioning systems can be hired which can give metric or imperial distances. Some courses offer as many as five different tees to vary the degree of difficulty, though in my opinion, some are patronisingly over-generous to ladies. Don’t be surprised if offered a welcoming, cooling flannel at the conclusion of your round, and your shoes and equipment are scrupulously cleaned by an attentive member of staff. As everywhere on Mauritius, service is exceptional.