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.
Played the course in October and greatly enjoyed it. This is not the most difficult of layouts but that doesn't mean its a bunny either. Some of the holes you can really just let fly with a driver but others you will need to plan out from the tee to get the best shot in. Some of the holes have sea views but as an overall, that is just a nice added feature to the course. The fairways were actually fairly quick and forgiving under the club, there was some standing water but that wasn't a massive issue. The bunkering was a bit thin on sand but there was enough to get under the ball which is all you can really ask. The greens were fairly consistent in pace which was a very pleasant surprise, they weren't large, but they were fair. There is a small creek that runs through part of the course as well as some lakes, but they can be avoided with the right plays off the tee. The 18th is a cracker of hole with your approach over the creek to a very pretty large green.
The wind will be a feature of this course as is the nature of the Island, as will the temperature and humidity, so plenty of sunscreen and water is needed.
The course is close to Vila and about $70 AUD with a pull cart. The club house is basic but it does what it needs to do. Take a local bus to the course as they are much cheaper than any other option. From the Warwick it cost $3 AUD, a taxi would've been $25 AUD. Bookings weren't difficult and the staff were genuinely lovely people, but I think that's also the Ni-Vanuatu way of life. If you come to the Island give this a go, you're on holiday, enjoy it with a hit.
(Side note - the Warwick has a 13 hole course, mostly par 3's, its hilly but the views from the top of the hills are great. The fairways and greens are the same grass as the rough, just mowed lower. The Holiday Inn also has a course, not dissimilar to the Warwick so for proper golf PVGC is your primary option)
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.