American architects Nicklaus Design and French construction company Gregori International were the main players when Moorea was established in 2008, making it the first luxury resort in Polynesia.
Centrepiece of a high-end development on a 400-acre site that includes a clubhouse, five star 154-bedroom hotel and 115 residential units, the layout sits on the northern coast of Moorea island.
Building the course involved moving 200,000 square metres of earth, excavating several lakes to aid irrigation and drainage, sand capping fairways to a depth of six inches as well as installing cart paths and grassing 100 acres of the landscape.
I was very excited to play golf at Moorea Green Pearl as we'd spent a few days on nearby Tahiti and I'd played at the Atimaono course on that island and it was very basic. But I viewed it as a warm-up for when we moved over to the island of Moorea and I could play at Green Pearl.
Unfortunately, reality is a little less than the descriptions of the course that I'd read online. Something that had such promise but disappointed in many areas was redeemed by the sensible green fee and some of the holes on the back nine.
Clearly the course was designed as a spectacular, championship resort course, but it just wasn't. The problem with a high-end course in the tropics is that it will therefore be difficult to look after. I saw no resort, or hotel or other element that would effectively subsidise the course, so my assumption is that the course exists with a small membership and has visiting green fee players such as I was. The resulting conditioning was therefore quite ordinary.
Fairways were a mottled collection of grasses and with too many soft patches; bunkers were unkempt; and the greens were ok, but not championship standard. Of course conditioning can be improved over time and there is a pretty spectacular part of the back nine in terms of design and it's golf on a lovely tropical island, so the aesthetics are nice. Front nine was mostly back and forth except for the feature par 4 7th heading toward the water with a large waste bunker prominent off the tee, but from ground level there aren't really any sea views unless you walk behind the green. The par 3 8th requires a mid to long-iron water carry all the way to the green.
The back nine from holes 12-16 wind their way up a jungle-clad hill and do offer excellent views as well as fairways mostly isolated from one another. These are the pick of the holes on the course. However, don't miss the fairway as there's no real cut of rough just straight into thick jungle. The 16th is a par 5 heading straight back down to the flat level of the rest of course; 17 is a split fairway short par 4 and then the 18th is a tough finishing hole as a long par 4 with a lagoon all the way down the right hand side.
Could be so much better.