IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Olivier Breaud International Golf Course in Papara, Tahiti.
THE LAYOUT: California-based designer Bob Baldock found his way to Tahiti in 1968 and carved a sporty championship course out of the jungle across the road from the beach on the south coast of the island, not far from the Paul Gaugin Museum and Botanical Gardens.
Baldock, whose more than 350 courses in California, Nevada and Hawaii include the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, designed a challenging par-72 course that stretches 6,944 from the professional tees, 6,550 from the men's tees and 6,370 for women.
The Tahiti Open, an event on the Australasian PGA Tour, is held every June at Olivier Breaud.
Brett Ogle of Australia, winner of the 1994 Hawaiian Open and 1993 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour, won the Tahiti Open in 1986, and Simon Owen of New Zealand, who tied for second behind Jack Nicklaus in the 1978 British Open at St. Andrews, claimed the title in 1991.
It's not exactly Magnolia Lane at Augusta, but the picturesque, narrow drive into Olivier Breaud International Golf Course is lined by trees whose fruit resembles cumquats.
OWNER, GENERAL MANAGER: Skip Anderson.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Anderson, a transplanted Floridian, used to say he had the best golf course for 2,500 miles in every direction. That's because this layout about 20 miles from the French Polynesian capital of Papeete was the only one in this part of the South Pacific until recently.
However, it is not so remote that as to be off the golf map. Arnold Palmer passed through in the 1970s on a business trip with golf powerbroker Mark McCormack, founder of IMG, and played the course.
The most memorable feature of Olivier Breaud is as difficult a set of par-3 holes as any golfer might want to play. Anderson can remember only a single hole-in-one on the quartet since he came to Tahiti in 1982.
The second hole is 209 yards through the trees. No. 8 is a tight 196 yards. The 14th hole is a challenging 216 yards from an elevated tee to a narrow green guarded by three bunkers and a large gully, and No. 17 is 214 yards to a green surrounded by bunkers.
Another hole to be reckoned with is No. 7, rated No. 1 on the card, a par 4 that measures 462 yards to a green protected by a wide creek. Balancing out the difficulty of the course are two relatively short par-5s and No. 4, a very reachable, 255-yard par 4 from an elevated tee.
The course finishes with a par 5 that measures 559 yards, with a large lake and creek coming into play down the left side some 200 yards off the tee. The approach shot must be precise, with several large bunkers surrounding the green.
Anderson bought the corporation that has a contract with the Tahitian government to run the golf course, which now has a legitimate pro shop and an open-air restaurant that serves three meals a day prepared by a French chef.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: There were no others until the first nine holes of Moorea Green Pearl Golf Club in Temae, created by Nicklaus Design, opened early in 2007, with the second nine opening later in the year.
The Moorea course's location near the ferry dock at Vaiare and the Temae airport have created tourism golf packages on Tahiti and Moorea. The magnificent golf resort was the first new course in Polynesia in 35 years. South Pacific Golf Resort Development, headquartered in Papeete, is planning to build a five-star, 154-room hotel and a hotel residential housing estate with 84 rooms and suites, adjacent to the course.
WHERE TO STAY: Most Americans visiting Tahiti stay at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, Le Meridien Tahiti or the Sofitel Maeva Beach Resort.
On neighboring Bora Bora are the Hotel Bora Bora, the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort, the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and the Pearl Beach Resort.
On Moorea are the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa, the Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort and the Hotel Moorea Village.
The larger neighboring islands can be reached from Papeete by ferry several times a day.
Princess Cruises and Radisson Seven Seas cruise through French Polynesia on a regular basis, and ships from other cruise lines also call at Papeete on longer voyages.
Tour operators provide transportation from your hotel or cruise ship to the golf course.
ON THE WEB: www.international-golf-olivier-breaud-tahiti.com
THE LAST RESORT: The North Sound Golf Club, formerly known as the Links at Safe Haven, in George Town, Cayman Islands.
THE LAYOUT: Designed by Roy Case of Lake Worth, Fla., and opened in 1994, North Sound is located about five miles from downtown George Town on the North Sound of Grand Cayman Island.
The course is adjacent to the famous Seven Mile Beach and plays to a par of 71 and 6,605 yards -- although the prevailing wind can make it equivalent to a course of more than 7,000 yards. It has a USGA rating of 75.1 from the tips, but guests can choose from five sets of tees.
Despite the sometimes strong Cayman winds, the course is very playable for the resort golfer because the fairway target areas are approximately 70 yards wide and the outstanding greens measure 5,000 square feet, on average.
The course is set against the backdrop of North Sound, making for a challenging yet fun golfing experience with panoramic vistas of the Caribbean Sea.
North Sound was closed for several months because of damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Other than a few lost trees, the course came back better than ever.
The course hosted the 52nd Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship in 2008.
GENERAL MANAGER AND HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Jason Deerwester.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Like all island golf, from the British Isles to the Hawaiian courses, you must deal with the wind to succeed at North Sound. However, the breeze, which ranges from gentle to ferocious depending on the day, is not the primary feature on the course.
Water comes into play on 15 holes and on some holes there are hazards on the tee, in the fairway and guarding the green. That's because when they were building the course, they had to dig to get the necessary topsoil, so later they simply filled the holes with water.
The signature hole, the par-3 11th, is a dangerous beauty. One of three par-3s that require a carry over water and into the wind that blows off the North Sound, it plays 235 yards from the back tee right down to the beach.
Even after your shot clears the water, you must negotiate four traps that guard the green, which is 35 yards deep.
No. 3 is a demanding 435-yard par-4, rated No. 3 in difficulty on the card, before the course turns into the wind at the 425-yard par-4 fourth hole, rated the most difficult on the course.
Take advantage of holes 12 through 17, which are protected from the wind somewhat by a stand of high trees, before the strong finish.
The 545-yard par-5 finishing hole wraps around a lake to the right and is made extremely difficult by the usually strong wind blowing across the fairway from the left.
Marcello Santi of Italy, who plays the European PGA Tour, set the course record at North Sound with an 8-under-par 63.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: North Sound is the only 18-hole course in the Cayman Islands, but there are two outstanding nine-hole layouts on Grand Cayman, one designed by Jack Nicklaus at the Britannia Villas Hotel, and the Greg Norman-designed Blue Tip course, known as the "Caribbean Monster," at the Ritz-Carlton.
There also is a nine-hole par-3 course at the Sunrise Family Golf Centre.
WHERE TO STAY: There is no shortage of lodging on Grand Cayman, starting with the Turtle Nest Inn, the Aqua Bay Club, the Regal Beach Club, the Cobalt Coast Resort, the Indies Suites Grand Cayman, Brac Reef Beach Resort, Morritt's Tortuga Club and Resort and the Seaview Hotel and Dive Center in George Town. Right on Seven Mile Beach near the North Sound Club are the Grand Cayman Beach Suites, the Christopher Columbus Condominiums, the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa, the Beachcomber Grand Cayman Condominiums, Discovery Point Club, London House, the Villas of the Galleon and the Plantana Condominiums.
ON THE WEB: www.northsoundclub.com