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la reserve links

La Reserve Golf Links: Mauritius’ latest golfing paradise

La Reserve Golf Links already has a DP World Tour event to its name within its first few months, but does the course deliver on its links name?

 

National Club Golfer were invited to the opening of the new La Reserve Golf Links at the Heritage Resort, Bel Ombre, Mauritius. It promises something different, but does it deliver?

The Heritage Resort is part of Rogers Hospitality and from a golfing perspective is known for the excellent Le Chateau golf course which is regularly voted the best course in the Indian Ocean.

They have now built a dramatically different second course, in a links style, called La Reserve. It was co-designed by Peter Matkovich and 2010 Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen.

The course is adjacent to a UNESCO biosphere reserve and much has been done to stay in harmony with nature. In addition to the course, an innovative and visually stunning new clubhouse has been built, designed by architect Floran Richard of Perrot and Richard architects.

Much has been made of sustainability with the new course and clubhouse. The water requirements of the course come from two rivers and are lower than the sugar cane fields on which the course was built. The clubhouse has solar panels and has a net positive production of electricity. Indeed, the resort as a whole plans for 80% of their energy requirements to come from solar power.

La Reserve Golf Links
The first green on La Reserve Golf Links. The course opens up with a classic links style approach shot.

Moving on to the La Reserve Golf Links itself, let us discuss the elephant in the room – the name “links”.

Whether it is links or links style, to me, makes no difference and I am happy to judge this course absolutely on its own merits. The holes are, indeed, in a links style, however, to expect the turf of a Mauritian golf course to resemble that of Machrahanish Old or Leven would be ridiculous. The grass is 100% paspalum on tees, semi-rough, fairways and greens. The long grass in the rough is melinis.

My hope is that the term, “links,” is not used as a stick with which to beat the golf course. This is a fantastic golf course however one categorises it. 

The clever design of the course has ensured sea views from every hole. Starting, as it does, high up in the hills, there are some spectacular vistas of the course and sea.

The contrast of the fairways cutting through the dunes gives the course its links look which is vastly different to any course I have played in Mauritius or South Africa. Le Chateau, as great as it is (and it is a fabulous course), is very much in the mould of the great South African courses I have played.

La Reserve provides a stark contrast to this, and between it and Le Chateau, one could have an extremely enjoyable golf trip playing just these two courses multiple times. With multiple tees, there is a length of course to suit any golfer.

La Reserve Golf Links
One of the many fantastic vistas on La Reserve Golf Links. This is the view from the 12th tee.

The opening hole is a great start to the round. It is high up the hill and provides a magnificent view of the course.

The hole itself was one of my favourites, a shortish par 4 with multiple, heavy rough covered dunes and bunkers to avoid from the tee with the green framed by dunes either side. The turf is not traditional links turf and plays the way one might expect from courses in this part of the world.

The semi-rough is the same but thicker grass. I should mention that many of the greens were infinity greens, and the majority were raised. The run-offs from them were covered with semi-rough and the ball would run down to some extent due to the steepness but would hold up in the semi. No playing off hard pan lies around the green. 

Another feature of links courses is the difficulty in judging distance and the odd perspectives one gets when first playing them. While not as extreme as some other courses, there was an element of this at La Reserve and I was lasering bunkers and dunes from the tee on most holes to get a bit of confidence about the distances. 

The greens were true, but in preparation for the upcoming AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on the DP World Tour, the grass was being allowed to grow and they had been sanded. The second time I played, they were a little faster. 

The bunkering is spot on, and they were well placed. The sand is quite coarse in the hazards and plays differently from both UK links and inland courses, being easier than fine links sand. The fairway bunkers are not as punishing as many UK links courses but there are some extremely high-lipped bunkers where simply getting out is a good result. 

Many courses have a phrase attached to them – “no two holes the same” – and this is certainly true of La Reserve Golf Links. There are five par-5s and five par-3s, which some may feel leads to too few par-4s, but this was not my experience when playing. The balance of holes flowed perfectly.

In particular, the par-3s were varied and interesting. The 7th is a cleverly designed hole with a teeing area that allowed the hole to be anywhere from 100 to 200 yards long. The green was nestled in front of a water hazard with dunes surrounding the back and side of the green.

La Reserve Links Golf Course, Mauritius
The view from the incredible teeing area on the 7th hole, which allows the hole to play a number of distances.

My other favourite par-3 was the 17th, with the green hiding behind the dunes in a very links-like way, providing an inviting tee shot. It is the sort of hole that you really want to hit a great shot on.

Onto the par-4s, and as I mentioned earlier, the first is a great opening hole. The 6th is a classic risk and reward short par-4 over water which is driveable. The 13th is another in the same ilk, potentially driveable for the longer hitters but with brutal rough catching anything that leaks right.

The variation is the par-5s is also admirable and I have not played a course where they have all been so memorable. The 8th gives you the choice of two fairways, the more direct line to the hole being a more challenging drive. The 12th is steeply downhill from the tee and provides magnificent views. A large sandy area makes it a tight drive with any club.

Even the 15th, which does not have the visual attractiveness of the others, is a fantastic hole with a split in the fairway at the extreme of ones drive, then multiple rough covered dunes and hillocks to negotiate by the green.

Finally, the closing hole is a superb, sweeping, downhill par-5. There is a large ditch which runs diagonally in the last quarter of the fairway where you can lay up in front of or beyond it if going for the green in two is not an option. The green is right in front of the clubhouse and provides a beautifully framed finish.

I should add that while this is a brand new golf course and there were still some finishing touches being carried out, the course itself felt mature and at no point did it feel new.

It is worth mentioning the spectacular and innovative clubhouse. It is luxurious but, with the contrast of modern and rustic components, the architects have avoided it being ostentatious. The rooms, furniture and various adornments are classy. What sets this apart is the centre open air area which will be filled with plants and trees.

The roof has large areas set aside for the planting of more plants and the plan is for the plants to be a significant part of the building. Approaching this from the 18th hole promises to be pretty special when complete.

The spectacular finishing approach at La Reserve Golf Links with the new clubhouse in the background.

La Reserve Golf Links is fabulous and one of the most memorable I have played for some time.

The multitude of tees makes this challenging, yet playable for most golfers. The semi-rough is moderately generous in area. Wilder shots finding the heavy rough will often result in a lost ball, however.

The debate will rage on about links courses. The hole design is definitely in a links style. The turf is what is required by the geographical location. 

The Heritage Resort 

Many visitors at the Heritage Resort are from Europe and this entails a long journey. Potentially, quite a long way to go for golf alone. Fortunately, there is plenty to do.

The Heritage Resort consists of two hotel complexes, the Awali and the Telfair. For golfers, as well as La Reserve there is the excellent Le Chateau golf course. It has been voted the best course in the Indian Ocean.

It is fantastic and provides a significant contrast to La Reserve. It reminds me of many of the top courses in South Africa. Both courses are of high enough quality to play several times each without getting bored.

The resort has a multitude of additional activities available such as water sports. I tried the quad-biking on a superb track through the local forest. There are multiple restaurants to provide something for all tastes. The resort can be a destination for golfers or non-golfers alike. I have friends who went to the Telfair recently for a non-golfing family holiday and had a superb time.

The courses are, in my opinion, good enough for this to be a specific golf destination. It also provides countless options for a holiday with some golf or indeed none. It is a cliché but there is something for everyone here. 

For more information on the Heritage Resort, visit their website here.

For more information on La Reserve Golf links, visit the club’s site here.

Now have your say

Have you ever had the joy of playing at the new La Reserve Golf Links? What was Mauritius like for you? Let us know with a post on X/Twitter!

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