Putting with birdies and banyan trees
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
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