Singh to Build Course in Fiji

The world’s No. 1–ranked golfer, Vijay Singh, is returning to the island of Fiji to build a course near his hometown of Nadi. Singh has been criticized in the past for maintaining only limited ties with Fiji. He left the islands in 1982 to pursue a career as a professional on various world golf tours. But the three-time major championship winner recently told the Orlando Sentinel that he plans to build a new course about 30 miles from Nadi.

“I’m going there to design the golf course, strictly, and to see if I can get something started for junior golf, with a golf school going over there under my name just to help the local boys over there,” Singh told the Sentinel. “It’s not just for older guys but for the younger kids who have probably read about me and all that, but have not seen me and don’t know anything about golf.

“It’s to start something there and see how it catches on or not. If it’s there,” Singh said, “I think a few guys might pick it up. But we’ll play it by ear and see how well it goes.”

Singh last visited Fiji in 1997. The 41-year-old is now a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. His father and two golfing brothers, Mira Singh and Krishna Singh, also professionals, still live there. His dad, Mohan Singh, is credited with helping design and build the course where Vijay caddied and learned the game. That place, Nadi Airport Golf Club, offers panoramic views of the South Pacific.

Despite the heroics of native son Singh, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour this year and the first player ever to top the $10 million mark in a single season, Fijians haven’t supplanted their favorite sport, rugby, with golf. Singh’s accomplishments have generally been met with an indifferent shrug by his 850,000 countrymen.

But maybe he can change that. Singh plans to visit the island in late January to scout for a suitable site for a golf course. Fijian government officials are aware of his impending visit, and plan to hold a state-sponsored affair to celebrate his outstanding performances in 2004.

The course would not be Singh’s first foray into international golf course development. He designed what’s been dubbed the Vijay Course at the sprawling Mission Hills Resort in Shenzhen, China, home to designs by several top professional golfers. With 180 holes and perhaps more on the way, Mission Hills is widely considered the world’s largest golf resort.