Located close to Bauerfield international airport, Port Vila Golf and Country Club was established by Ati George Sokomanu, the first Vanuatu President, in 1984. The original 9-hole course that was set out was increased to a full 18-hole layout a decade later, with many of the fairways running parallel to the Mele Bay shoreline.
Port Vila’s course now measures around 6,500 yards from the back tees and it’s conventionally configured, with two par fives and two par threes on both the outward and inward half. On the front nine, the short par four 5th is a favourite of many whilst the toughest hole on the card is kept until last, at the 440-yard 18th.
The Vanuatu Golf Open was inaugurated shortly after the course was extended to its present size and it plays a large part in promoting the course’s profile in the region. More than twenty years after its inception, the Open now attracts professionals and top amateurs alike from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
This course was a disappointment. After playing a couple of courses in New Caledonia last week, the standard was higher and there are of course fewer golfers in Vanuatu and Port Vila is smaller, so maybe I should have reset my expectations.
PVGC is a parkland course set 15 minutes out of central Port Vila in a rural area. The course is pretty rural too, with broad leaf grasses on most fairways (as you'd expect in the tropical climate), fairly ordinary quality greens that were being sanded (hopefully this will make them a little smoother) and nothing really strategic about the design. Basic golf with, I guess, a realistic green fee cost as the only "proper" golf course in Vanuatu. Front nine near the ocean was much nicer than the back, but did have crabs making holes in a number of the greens. There are ocean glimpses rather than ocean views from the course.
Staff were all friendly and there was no problem getting a game during the week.
During my time in Port Vila I was staying at the Warwick Le Lagon resort and it has a notional 13-hole golf course. It's definitely a course as it has teeing areas, more closely mown areas for greens and a score card, but it's very rudimentary golf and would be a 1-ball if it existed on this site. Holiday Inn resort (formerly the Le Meridien) also has a 'sort-of' course like the Warwick. I didn't play there but it looked no better. There used to also be White Sands GC east of Port Vila, but apparently it doesn't exist any more.
So then, golf in Vanuatu is for the very keen...or slightly crazy, like me.