Situated along the northeast coastline of Bioko, a 20-minute drive east of the capital Malabo, the fairways of the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf course were literally carved from the dense tropical rainforest that covers most of the island by architect.
Built by Bouygues Construction (which also expanded the nearby Estadio de Bata at the same time to its new 35,000-person capacity for the 2012 African Cup of Nations football tournament), the course was the first 18-hole layout to open for play in Equatorial Guinea.
The Sipopo course extends to 6,105 metres, with the back nine cleverly routed inside the front nine. It’s set out on hilly terrain where playing corridors are often tight due to the proximity of native banana, mango palm and ceiba trees that have been preserved.
There are three par fives on the outward half, the longest and toughest of which is the left doglegged 532-metre 5th hole. On the inward half, the 355-metre 17th is rated as the signature hole on the card, playing uphill to a green that’s sand-protected to the right.
Holes 4, 9, 12 and 18 are tackled in a northerly direction, allowing glimpses of the Gulf of Guinea in the background, and on a clear day the volcanic peak of 4,000-metre high Mount Cameroon looms large sixty kilometres away on mainland Africa.