Fiji's Newest Course Set to Open in June

A new par-72 golf course that promises to be the pride of the South Pacific will officially open on June 1, alongside the new InterContinental Resort at Natadola at the western end of Fiji's Coral Coast.

Design of the course follows the concept originated by Fijian and the world's former top-ranked player, Vijay Singh, although he withdrew from the project two years ago over a conflict with the developers and his name is no longer associated with it.

The Natadola course runs along the Pacific Ocean and stretches into the hills behind the 271-unit InterContinental hotel, which is the biggest addition to the Coral Coast's collection of resorts in the past decade. The layout differs from Fiji's three other par-72 tracks - the Fiji Club in Suva, The Greens (formerly Pacific Harbour) at Deuba west of the capital and Denarau near Nadi - which are all flat in contour.

The four courses will be featured in new golf holiday packages to be offered within a few weeks, Tourism Fiji says. (Fiji's other 18-hole course, the par-70 Nadi Airport, is mainly for locals but welcomes visitors who enjoy viewing the honors board note in the clubhouse, which lists Singh as its C-grade club champion some 40 years ago.)

At last word, the Natadola course had yet to be officially named, with "Natadola InterContinental" one of the possibilities. A head golf professional will be appointed shortly.

The course measures around 6,700 yards from the tips, with five tees per hole providing challenges for players of all abilities. Australian PGA member James Cooper, whose firm Avid Sports will manage the golf operations, played three holes during a recent visit and pronounced the course challenging and fantastic.

He mentioned in particular the par-3 fourth hole alongside the ocean, the long par-4 12th, and the panoramic ocean views from 15 of the holes.

Natadola's front nine has three par-3s, five par-4s and two par-5s while on the homeward nine there is one more par-4 and one fewer par-3 than on the front.

After golf, there are many outdoor activities for guests at Natadola (pronounced Nat-an-dola), which boasts what long has been considered the best beaches in Fiji's 300-plus islands. The resort features two kilometers of white sand with views of distant reefs. Among the plaudits raining down on this area is its ranking among the top-10 beaches in the world by various travel and business publications.

Construction began on the $280 million resort in 2004, and it will have a "soft opening" on May 9. It offers 216 furnished guest rooms and suites at sea level, positioned in clusters like traditional Fijian villages around the 14.2-hectare site and landscaped with lush tropical plants. Guests will also have access to a wide variety of pools, spa baths, lounges, restaurants, room types, 20 beach cabanas, workout areas, spa and children's activities.

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This story originally appeared on www.thewest.comau.