Putting with birdies and banyan trees

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have al­ter­na­tive beaches of al­most com­pa­ra­ble beauty closer to hand.

Those beaches have loungers and wait­ers bear­ing cock­tails. Anse Ge­or­gette has noth­ing. No café, no car park – a glo­ri­ous ab­sence of fa­cil­i­ties. It isn’t plagued by ants or sand­flies, at least none that found me dur­ing a re­search ef­fort stretch­ing to sev­eral hours and a re­peat visit. It re­ally is the stuff of trop­i­cal is­land dreams.

There are three over­land ways to ap­proach it. The rugged coastal path from Anse Lazio – more than an hour each way – would be quite an un­der­tak­ing in equa­to­rial heat. Or you can ap­ply to Le­muria to be one of the two dozen non-res­i­dents al­lowed in each day. But the best ap­proach is to stay at Le­muria, play its golf course and, af­ter com­plet­ing the short 15th, down tools and wan­der through the woods to the beach for a swim and a pause be­fore brav­ing the hor­rors of the 16th, a fiendishly nar­row up­hill dou­ble dog­leg par five.

There’s no hurry.

Le­muria doesn’t do fixed tee times, nor is it the sort of course that chivvies the golfer with no­tices say­ing:

“If you started more than

56 min­utes ago, you’re play­ing too slowly.”

Res­i­dents en­joy the free­dom of the course, start­ing and fin­ish­ing when and wher­ever they want and paus­ing at will.

If this fos­ters a care­free ap­proach to the game, that will soon be dis­pelled by the course it­self, which although not long is hemmed in by an ex­otic as­sort­ment of prob­lems in­clud­ing palm trees, ponds, quag­mires and waste ar­eas in­hab­ited by crabs that steal golf balls and carry them down their holes. I know this; I saw one do it. Re­place with­out penalty (Rule 18-1).

That’s on the flat part, holes one to 12. Af­ter that, the course heads for the moun­tain­ous jun­gle zone, cut­ting a steep swathe through for­est and scrub.

The 15th is one of those ver­tig­i­nous holes typ­i­cal of hol­i­day cour­ses in hilly places. It’s al­most as high as it’s long. The tee is a giddy perch 250ft above Anse Ge­or­gette and the green. It of­ten fea­tures on lists of the world’s most beau­ti­ful holes. Af­ter the chal­lenges of the pre­ced­ing 14 holes, this is one of the more straight­for­ward shots on the course. The ball hangs in the air for long mo­ments of sus­pense be­fore land­ing with a smack, if well di­rected, or a splash in the stream at the back of the green. On holes like this, it’s all about club se­lec­tion.

“Peo­ple al­ways take too much club the first time they play it,” Le­muria’s man­ager Bruno in­forms me, about half a minute later than would have been help­ful. Bruno buses ho­tel guests to this belvedere for sun­down­ers at six, pours the fizz and scat­ters hi­bis­cus petals on the tee to add to the ro­mance of the oc­ca­sion for the hon­ey­moon­ers who choose Le­muria and wisely leave the golf for some other time.

In ad­di­tion to their rou­tine du­ties, which in­clude twist­ing tow­els into ele­phant shapes and tend­ing the palm trees to make sure Le­muria doesn’t add a golfer to the global toll of 150 deaths a year caused by fall­ing co­conuts, ho­tel staff are happy to ar­range a pic­nic lunch. Start your game around 10am and you should reach the 15th in time to co­in­cide with the ar­rival of a box of fishy treats and a chilled sauvi­gnon blanc by South African golfer and wine­maker

David Frost.

Doze the af­ter­noon away, with half an eye open in case a hawks­bill tur­tle emerges from the waves to bury her eggs on the beach. Re­sume the con­test in fad­ing light when enor­mous fruit bats are on the wing, cast­ing shad­ows over the ser­pen­tine 16th fair­way.

Le­muria is the only 18-hole course in the Sey­chelles and the ar­chi­pel­ago does not fea­ture on the radar of golf tourism. Golf is a bonus, on top of so many other things to en­joy: a boat trip to a nearby is­land in­hab­ited by ground-nest­ing terns and gi­ant tor­toises born in the Vic­to­rian era, per­haps; or a bike ride to Praslin’s Val­lée de Mai na­ture re­serve, with its BA (ba.com) flies non-stop to both the Sey­chelles and Mau­ri­tius. Chaka Travel (02890 232112; chak­agolf. com) of­fers pack­ages in­clud­ing golf, flights and trans­fers priced as fol­lows (per per­son in a shared room):

Twin cen­tre: five nights at Con­stance Le­muria, Sey­chelles (B&B) plus five nights at Con­stance Belle Mare Plage, Mau­ri­tius (HB): £3,295.

Sey­chelles: seven nights at Con­stance Le­muria, £2,995 (B&B).

Mau­ri­tius: seven nights at Con­stance Belle Mare Plage, £2,325 (in­clud­ing half board and pro-am en­try); Con­stance Prince Mau­rice: £3,035.00 (B&B and pro-am en­try).

Le­muria 6,100yd par 70; Leg­end 6,650yd, par 72; Links 6,500yd par 71. Golf is free for ho­tel res­i­dents; bug­gies charge­able, ex­cept for Prince Mau­rice res­i­dents.

MCB Cham­pi­onship (Euro­pean Se­nior Tour)

Dec 7-9; am­a­teur com­pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing pro-am from Dec 3. See also con­stance­ho­tels.com black par­rots and coco de mer trees, of the sug­ges­tively shaped nuts that are so re­lent­lessly ex­ploited to pro­mote the Sey­chelles’ “Is­lands of Love” im­age. The great­est treat is do­ing noth­ing in the balmy seclu­sion of Le­muria, keep­ing quiet with the lights low, so as not to dis­turb the tur­tles.

Although BA has re­launched di­rect flights from the UK to the Sey­chelles, there’s ev­ery rea­son to twin Le­muria with a golf­ing stopover in Dubai or Mau­ri­tius. The lat­ter in­volves more fly­ing but seemed to me the more tempt­ing des­ti­na­tion, with its mix of French, Dutch and Bri­tish in­flu­ences.

Com­pared with an ea­gle or

PER­FECT PEACEOn Sey­chelles beaches; bot­tom, lux­ury at Le­muria

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