Located near the Renzo Piano-designed Jean-Marie Tijbaou Cutural Centre near the capital city of Nouméa, Tina is one of four 18-hole golf courses (along with Deva, Dumbéa and Ouenghi) in New Caledonia.
The lush fairways at Tina Golf Club are laid out along the coast overlooking a lagoon and each hole is revealed as the course winds its way through mangrove plantations within a special nature reserve, allowing visitors to experience a truly tropical game of golf at this golfing jewel in the Pacific.
The 5,889-metre Tina is probably the premier New Caledonian layout and the course uses the natural lie of the land to great effect with a hilly front nine and a back nine which follows the shoreline. A number of locally important golf tournaments have been held here and according to one commentator, Tina is considered by seasoned golfers to be one of the best French courses at the other end of the world.
A parkland members course in Noumea that mixes straight-forward tropical golf with some spectacular seaside holes, mostly on the back nine where use is made of bays and coves to hit over on par 3's and 4's, leading to a number of feature holes. Greens excellent for the tropical conditions. Mangroves, slopes, water and OOB all regularly in play, making it more difficult to play the first time.
They have a very good deal for Monday's: 5000XPF for round and included cart. I'm not usually a fan of carts and much prefer to walk, but with a couple of stretches between holes and the regular heat and humidity of tropical New Caledonia, could abide it on this occassion.
Some of the more interesting holes were:
- The opening tee shot is from above the first fairway adjacent to the clubhouse. As the fairway dog-legs, the best play is cut the corner over the vegetation and strike the ball well. 3-wood is probably all that's needed.
- The steeply downhill par 3 3rd. There were a couple of peacocks and hens wandering about on the hillside which was rather unusual.
- The 6th is a short par 4 (only 288m) that probably has many detractors. The fairway runs along the crest of a ridge, so miss to either side and the ball will roll down into vegetation. I liked it, because it's a type of golf hole I'd just never seen before. Tempting to take driver and try to get the drive as close to the green, but also more sensible to hit a rescue or long iron for safety.
- On the back nine was the par 3 11th which requires a well struck mid-iron over some mangroves. It's the perfect practice for the par 3 13th which has a similar layout, except the carry is completely over a bay. Aside from the spectacular views, the similarity of these two holes could be a downside of the layout, but it's easy to see why they've been used as the 13th is just too great an opportunity for the layout to pass up that hole location.
- The 15th is the par 4 version of the 13th, with a tee shot required over an inlet lagoon. Some coconut palm trees sit directly on the line of the green, so the recommended line is clearly to play to the open fairway to the right. I decided to try and fly the ball either over, or worst case, into the palms and got lucky with only a little chip left onto the green for a relavtively simple birdie. Even if the ball had ricocheted back into the lagoon, standing on that tee and drinking in the view would erase any ill-will to the golf course!
If in Noumea, this is the must play course. (apparently they get plenty of visiting cruise ship passengers on a day trip) However I'm in two minds about whether this is the best course in New Caledonia: the Sheraton Golf de Deva about three hours drive north of Noumea is a much newer, championship, resort course, but I think I preferred my round at Tina.