In the mid 1990s, a couple of developers from Belgium took a rather barren 175-acre site on Senegal's "Petite Côte" and converted it into a lush botanical golfing extravaganza, one that you would never expect to find in a country that has such little annual rainfall.
Over 50,000 trees were planted – many of them imported from neighbouring countries – and water hazards were formed, most notably on the closing three holes. As a consequence, Saly attracts all sorts of wildlife to the course, birds in particular.
Golf de Saly was designed by another Belgian, architect Vic Bernstein, and he fashioned the fairways to play wide and easy as it’s holiday golf that golfers come for here, not serious tournament play.
The front nine opened in 1996 with the second nine following two years later. Although Saly is a green oasis compared to the surrounding landscape (thanks to a water recycling system) the fairways are dry in the early months of the year and golf balls must be placed on a winter tee to protect the turf.