You Want to Play Golf Where?
story and photos by Rob Krieger – PGA Golf Professional
Back in July, I traveled to play golf in Ireland and Scotland. The express purpose of my trip was to experience the history of the game and attend the British Open. However, I recently returned from the beautiful islands of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora, where playing golf was not my priority but it certainly added to a great vacation.
The South Pacific is known for its 50 shades of electric blue water, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, riding wave runners, and outrigger adventures that let you swim with black tip and lemon sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles. Golf is not the first activity that comes to mind when visiting there but I was very happy to discover that there were two courses on the Tahiti and Moorea islands. Yes, there is golf in French Polynesia, and with all the water excursions to enjoy, it was a great way to enjoy – on land – one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
On the island of Moorea, which is a sister island to Tahiti and a short 40 minute ferry ride across the sea, one of the golf courses is a Jack Nicklaus design named The Green Pearl. Built 10 years ago, it is undergoing some renovations with new ownership to get it up to Australian PGA standards and is a gem of a layout. They have new carts, new mowing equipment, new merchandise in the pro shop, new rental clubs, and soon even better course conditions as they go from the dry season to the rainy season. Yann Teagai, the new General Manager, and his staff, provided great service, and were nice enough to have a course employee pick us up at the pier and drive us to the course. They were so accommodating they even let us play as a sixsome so we could all play together. For me, it was a huge contrast in weather, layout, and scenery from what I experienced just six weeks prior in the chilly UK. I never expected to find golf in Polynesia but it shows how global and attractive golf is in all parts of the world to all people.
I was joined by five others (Ron, Greg, Dick, Al, and Candy) from our group of 28 that traveled on the cruise. My main reason for playing golf was to see what kind of course was in this tropical paradise and experience Jack’s design, because he doesn’t just build courses anywhere. But I also wanted to know why the other five in our gang wanted to take the day and go play some golf. Their answers were:
“I can say I played golf in the South Pacific. I didn’t know there was golf here so I wanted to try it and we had a blast.”
“I wanted to be on land for a day after being on the cruise ship and snorkeling. I love the water but wanted to see the island from a different perspective.”
“I wanted to experience something that many would never get to do. I am glad I did it and I am going to encourage others to do it too.”
“I wanted to see how it compared to Hawaii. This fit very well into the laid back attitude of the island and was a fun challenge.”
“I wanted to test my game on a different course and play a game I really enjoy. This was cool and the views of the course, island, ocean, and Tahiti in the background were awesome.”
Let me add, none of us brought our clubs, we all rented them, and most of us played in our tennis shoes. We didn’t take our game too seriously except there was some friendly competition to add to our enjoyment which gave us some memorable stories to share later. Let’s just say that the sharks weren’t just in the water.
That’s why golf is an amazing activity and can always be a part of a vacation. You can play it regardless of location, age, expertise, or culture. It is a game for everyone and anywhere, whether you were planning to play or not. So go play.
Fairways and Greens!