To make this clear right from the start: I really like this course. In retrospect that’s probably a very brave and self-destructive thing to say, but I absolutely enjoyed the hours spent on this course. I know there is a lot of criticism out there and I will touch on some things later, but let me assure you, if you are a keen golfer and you know how to strike the ball, then this is one great course for you!
But in chronological order: I was picked up at my hotel by the Le Touessrok shuttle – a great service! They pick you up, where ever you stay on the island, take you to the resort, let you have fun for some hours and then take you right back to your hotel—completely free of charge! I wished the Anahita resort had a similar service…
So it happened that a couple of golf fanatics found themselves in the back of the Le Touessrok golf shuttle on their way to Ile aux Cerfs. This is the name of the island on which the course was built. So after a 10 minutes boat ride you get off the vessel and stand on a golf course on its own tropical island… believe me when I say I was really excited. Some guys told me some negative things about the course but I was willing to make my own experiences and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.
The Ile aux Cerfs is a very famous tourist attraction, obviously not for the golf course but for the beautiful white beaches around the island. So it’s fair to say that parts of the island are pretty crowded with tourists. Some of which never been to a golf course before and therefore somehow sneak onto the property and watch some golfers execute their lousy swings.
Le Touessrok was designed by the German Bernhard Langer and what he created is a hell of a golf course. And at the same time it’s the better golfer’s dream. In order to explain that, it’s a beautiful course but very challenging at the same time. It’s not the typical or usual architecture at all, it’s new, it’s different and it’s more the case that you are reminded to do proper course management with every single shot. Golfers have to assess properly their abilities how to strike the ball. Those who are straight and know their distances are in golfer’s heaven. Those who struggle with slices, hooks, pulls and pushes have a hard time.
This sounds very negative but I mean it in the most positive way. Nearly every single hole has the potential to be a signature hole on its own, be it island greens, forced carry tee shots, huge water hazards or simply intimidating vistas. There are a lot of obstacles between you as the golfer and the par! But exactly this makes it so astonishing! Not a course where you get bored early or seem to have played such hole before in life. This is somewhat unique. Langer managed to fit 18 creative holes into one single course in between mangroves and lagoons on a tropical island, and all this without ever being on-site!…
Yes, the starter told me Bernhard Langer has never been to this island! He planned everything at home and never checked the construction site as you would normally suppose golf architects would do. I was told that many famous players came here to play: Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter and many others, but the architect himself never set a foot on this land. That’s a bit strange (…if it’s true after all).
I was playing with two British guys, both keen golfers, handicap 9, playing off the white tees. There are 4 tee boxes available where white (“Championship”) is the second longest. Only the pro tees (“Langer”) are longer and the difference to the “Forward” tees makes up to nearly one astonishing kilometer in total! I was asked what my handicap is and both the starter and the Brits advised I should go with the white tees. Only after I told them that I only play with irons and that I have no woods in my bag, they briefly reconsidered their advise and then went: “come on, you can do this, play the white tees”. And so I did, and it was a mistake.
I heard some strange stories, that the course record is still 72, that for 10 years nobody shot a below-par round, and I’m not sure if all these stories are true. What I can confirm however is that the course is really tricky if you are the normal weekend golfer. At many of the holes there are forced carries, sometimes mangroves, sometimes water and every golfer has to make sure to chose a tee box to his abilities. Otherwise it ends up with a huge loss of balls and disrespect for this great golf course. If you treat it well, it treats you well.
The condition of the course was fantastic for the most part, the fairways were in great shape, the greens have been some of the best I’ve ever seen. The only thing which could give reason for complaints is that at some holes the club management decided to widen the fairways or to enlarge the greens in order to please more golfers and to make it a bit easier. This construction work was apparent from time to time and hence looked a bit premature.
The only thing which totally annoyed me was the number of people on and off the course. As I mentioned before, there were quite a few tourists wandering the paths between holes. Then there were again some of these “golf ball collectors”, sneaking out of the bush, offering their white gold to players like me (on the 11th I’m almost sure one of these guys stole my ball right from the middle of the fairway) and there were quite a number of people having their BBQ on the beach. And as the beach in parts of the course forms the natural border of the rough, these people were having their fish right next to the fairway! One club too much on the 12th hole and the ball gets grilled—literally! We actually had at least 10 Asian beach tourists filming us putt on that hole. That must have been a new situation for them as well. But nobody was hurt, no human casualties to report.
Other than that it’s a great thing to have the Indian Ocean right next to the fairway. You obviously don’t find this very often. But when you do, you should enjoy every minute of it. Yes the course is a difficult one. Therefore my advice for golfers of all abilities: it’s such an interesting design, breathe in the beauty of the sport and don’t get spoiled by too much risk or too much ego! Stick to your irons when you are not dead straight with your woods! Lay up when you are not 100% sure you can make it over the water. Absolutely no need to score par on this course, and if you go with these rules, a great round of golf is waiting for you.
All holes are great (besides number 2 maybe) but my absolute favourites are:
Hole 3: (more or less) a peninsula par 3.
Holes 11/12: right along the Indian Ocean, with “beach guests” unfortunately.
Holes 16 through 18: absolute top-notch holes to the end of the round, long forced carries over the lagoon or mangroves, with very interesting second shots into the green.
I recommend this course without doubt, just stick to the tee box which is right for you (not the one which you wish is right for you!). The Anahita course, not far from Le Touessrok, is supposed to be even better. So this remains on my bucket list for my next trip to Mauritius! And I would definitely schedule in a second round at the Le Touessrok, and I’m sure I’d be much better (from yellow)!
Continue reading Bernhard Langer’s revenge: Le Touessrok Golf Club