Architect David McLay Kidd’s design portfolio is certainly varied. For every public access course he’s designed, such as Bandon Dunes, Machrihanish Dunes or the Castle at St Andrews, there’s an ultra-private layout such as Nanea, Queenwood or Huntsman Springs. His course at Laucala Island falls into the second category, though it is possible to play it at a price!
Austrian Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz bought the 3,500-acre Fijian island from the family of deceased American millionaire Malcolm Forbes in 2003 for $10million and the entrepreneur has added a few new amenities in recent years, like a DeepFlight Super Falcon submarine and, of course, an 18-hole golf course.
As the owner only spends around one month a year on the island, he rents it out (for a minimum of five nights) to those who can afford it, like Elle Macpherson, who had her wedding here in 2013. Twenty-four tropical pool villas on the estate can accommodate up to 72 guests and there’s 350 staff to look after their every need.
Volcanic mountains provide a unique backdrop to the course, with tree-lined, undulating holes weaving around an old coconut plantation. Wetland areas fringe several holes and small creeks cross several of the fairways. “Baravi,” the par five 12th, is the signature hole on the layout, its green located right on the Pacific, next to the sandy shoreline.