Pride of the Pacific

With the opening of the magnificent Natadola Bay, Fiji now finds itself on the global golfing map

Such has been the extent of golf course construction in Asia in recent times that it's easy to overlook the fact that developers and architects alike have been hard at work elsewhere.

While the number of new course openings in the United States is at an all time low, the emerging golf markets of South America and the former Eastern bloc countries is thriving. Australasia, too, is witnessing something of a renaissance. But it's in Fiji, gateway to the Pacific Islands, where Hong Kong-based golfers can now turn their attentions.

Better known to golf fans as the home country of Vijay Singh, Fiji's ascent to fully-fledged golf destination status, like its ever-improving reputation as a tourism hub, is a direct result of a new era of economic stability. From Hong Kong, the islands are now within comfortable reach – Air Pacific, the national career, have launched nonstop flights to Nadi, Fiji's international airport.

While new golf courses aren't springing up at quite the same rate as they are in, say, Vietnam, the game is most definitely on the rise, a fact that has been highlighted by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation's decision to select the islands as venue for the 2011 Nomura Cup, the region's premier amateur team competition.

Fiji is home to four championship courses and a number of other layouts – including the interesting if a little scruffy Nadi Airport Course, where Vijay's name is listed as its "C" grade champion from nearly 40 years ago. But the cream of the crop – and one of the most exciting courses to have opened anywhere in recent times – is Natadola Bay, the island's newest layout, which is part of a near HK$2 billion project that encompasses a luxury resort and planned real estate components.