Peter Matkovich, one of the most productive modern golf course designers in South Africa, was the architect who fashioned the course at the Heritage Golf Club (formerly known as Golf du Château) within the enormous Domaine de Bel Ombre estate on the southwest coast of Mauritius.
Unveiled in 2004, the course is characterised by mainly wide fairways and sizeable putting surfaces, a number of which are guarded by water. There are a few elevation changes along the way which force a blind approach to greens and the rivers Citronniers and St Martin come into play on occasion.
Holes are routed in two returning nines around a 9-hole par three course that’s ideal for beginners or for practice. The championship layout is meant to challenge experienced golfers, of course, but with five tee positions on every hole, casual golfers can enjoy a round here too without getting beaten up.Most memorable holes at the Heritage Golf Club include a couple of short par fours at holes 5 and 9 whilst, on the back nine, the left doglegged 18th is a fine finishing par five that’s played from a wonderfully elevated tee position.
In May 2015 the Heritage Golf Club hosted the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the first tri-sanctioned golf tournament endorsed by the Sunshine, European and Asian Tours. George Coetzee overcame Thorbjørn Olesen in a play-off to win the inaugural title. In 2016 Anahita hosted the Mauritius Open but the event returned to the Heritage in November 2017.
The course was designed by Peter Matkovich, the South African who also designed Nelspruit, Leopard Rock, Hermanus and many others in Africa, and who has a real knack for making a course that will be a challenge to a really good player and still be great fun for a regular club golfer like me (I play off 19). I see that the next Afrasia Challenge is going to be held there in May 2015 and that CNN recently ranked the course in the top ten courses in Africa (not that it is in Africa, but when did the Americans ever know about world geography?). The Afrasia Challenge used to be held at Anahita GC, also in Mauritius, so I imagine there are some noses out of joint there.
There are five tees on each hole, for Pros, Championship, Club Golfers, Seniors and Ladies, making the course length for club golfers a manageable 5740 meters (6277 yards). Matkovich has provided pretty wide fairways most of the time, but has positioned bunkers just where you are likely to drive to and has made good use of water and the natural contours of the land so every hole is a challenge. I’d recommend taking a buggy, though my son didn’t, as there are a few steepish if short climbs and it was hot. The course is about half a mile inland so you can see the sea from many holes and on the other side there are rather spectacular mountains so even if your golf is off, the scenery is stunning.
There are some very lovely holes. My family and I particularly liked the 5th, a great risk and reward hole, a Par 4 but only 269 meters (295 yards) for club golfers with the direct line from the tee taking your ball over a deep dip. Come up short and you are 20 feet below the green. The 9th is another short par 4 (also 270 meters) but with water on both sides of a fairly narrow fairway and a long bunker on the right to boot.
The prettiest holes come in a row - the 11th, a Par 4, has well-placed bunkers in the middle of the fairway and water and a big bunker by the hole; the 12th is a great dog-leg; and the 13th is a Par 3 over water. The 17th, stroke index 1, looks straightforward but has a treacherous dip on the right with thick vegetation at the bottom just waiting to snare the unwary, and the actual fairway is very narrow.
The course was in terrific condition when we played – fast, but not over-fast, greens, imaculate fairways and enough rough to keep you honest. Occasionally you would have to wait for some of the green staff to move off fairways where, you suddenly realise, they had been weeding by hand – which gives you some indication of the care lavished on the course.
Once you get back to the small but very pleasant clubhouse, you will be greeted by a smiling attendant handing you chilled flannels. He or she will then whip your clubs away and clean them for you while you have lunch or a drink (a small menu but perfectly adequate). Rouben, the caddy master, will remember your name after you have been only once and he will store your clubs for you as well. Do go and play this course if you are in Mauritius. I really don't think you will be disappointed.