BBC news presenter Charlie Stayt and his sporty family decided it was about time they learn how to play golf, and where better to do this than in Mauritius.
My first ever golf experience is in the shadow of a mountain overlooking the Indian Ocean under perfect blue skies, with a warm breeze occasionally interrupting the constant chirping of tropical birds.
My family and I have come to Mauritius for a first taste of a sport which until now has passed me by.
I have this vision that I may be one of those with a natural, but as yet untapped gift. I’m seeing the swashbuckling Seve Ballesteros, but as we prepare for day one, at the Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort and Spa, the immediate concerns are rather more basic.
I have no idea what to wear, an foolishly gave it very little thought when packing. After some deliberation, we troop onto the practice green with coach, Hans. We are a motley crew, in sports gear, and leisure wear. In these beautiful surroundings, and in the company of proper golfers, we are easy to spot.
The Dinarobin golf course sits at the foot of Le Morne, a volcanic mountain. The other side of the golf course is the Ocean and you could not imagine a more dramatic setting. It’s worth taking a moment to breathe it all in. I took quite a few.
Hans, our coach, is remarkably patient, and begins with the very basic stuff. P-G-A. Position, grip, alignment. It’s a mantra that serves me well over the next ten days. We start by practising putting, and another principle, the pendulum motion. My tendency is to grip much too hard, to the extent that there is tension throughout my body, and my knuckles are white.
My son and I are both taking the approach that golf has to be conquered, and that straining harder will reap rewards. My wife and daughter are far more responsive to the instruction to relax, to soften the hands, and flow. It’s proving challenging already, and this is just putting.
On our final day at Dinarobin we are allowed out on the buggies, supervised of course. We will tackle one hole, for real. If I’m honest, driving a buggy, clubs in
the back, felt childishly exciting. But setting up to tee off, with a flag to aim for miles in the distance, here was the reminder of just how hard this sport is.
This a great place to have a first golfing experience. Not fussy or precious, but challenging and fun.
We arrive at our next golf hotel, the Belle Mare Plage, armed at least with the knowledge of which club is which. Here we are booked for a coaching session at
the rather more intimidating Legend Golf Course. This is a championship course, designed by South African player Hugh Baiocchi. It’s home to the Mauritius Open and opened in 1994. In the guidebooks this is described as a very technical course. It has a stunning clubhouse, overlooking the perfectly manicured greens and surrounding forest.
One of the delights of an activity holiday, especially one where you are taking on a new challenge, is the afterglow of what you have achieved, or not, as the case may be. Belle Mare Plage, as the name suggest, is built right on the beach, and its restaurants overlook the pure white sands of the Indian Ocean.
A slight backache, eased by a cocktail, and a good view.
Our final days in Mauritius were spent at the Four Seasons on the East Coast. Here all accommodation is in villas and give a real sense of space and privacy. It’s set on its own 11-acre island and you can get around on bicycles. The golf course is dramatic, some of the holes perched on headlands overlooking the ocean. We start on the driving range with coach, Pierre. Possibly for the first time everyone is feeling like they know what they’re doing, albeit without much style.
As we hit the balls, the distance on the shots is greater. I still have a tendency to hammer into the ground underneath the ball, and after a few hours we head for what proves to be the funniest, and the most agonizing part of our golf journey.
The high tec video review.
Nine days of golf is not long, and with the best will in the world I think progress was slow. I was struck by just how varied each of our coaches were, at each club we were advised slightly differently on how to grip the club, and how to stand. We all seemed to take something different from it.
We had a lot of laughs along the way. My son wanted to play more, he wanted to get better quickly and loved the idea of taking on the really long shots. My wife, a yoga teacher, delighted in the flow, and the rythym of the sport, the fact that balance and composure have such a big part to play. My daughter loved that feeling when you hit the ball sweetly. As for me, my style may not be pretty, but I think I could now accept an invitation to play golf without feeling like a complete outsider. That’ll do.
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