- Sports & Recreation
- Jack Nicklaus
By Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange April 22, 2013 2:10 AM
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 mombat trees, whose fruit resembles a cumquat. 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 Tahitian capital of Papeete was the only one in this part of the South Pacific until recently. But it's not so remote that it's 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. Most memorable at 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 this 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 course's location near the ferry dock at Vaiare and the Temae airport have created tourism golf packages on Tahiti and Moorea. This 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 5-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 Beachcomber Intercontinental Resort, the Sheraton Tahiti, Le Meridien Tahiti or the Sofitel Maeva Beach. On neighboring Bora Bora are the Hotel Bora Bora, the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and the Pearl Beach Resort. On Moorea are the Beachcomber Intercontinental Moorea, the Sheraton Moorea, Moorea Pearl Resort, the Sofitel Ia Ora and the Moorea Village Hotel. 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.worldgolf.com/course-reviews/south-pacific/olivier-breaud-golf.htm; www.international-golf-olivier-breaud-tahiti.com. THE LAST RESORT: Palmilla Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico. THE LAYOUT: The first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Latin America, opened in 1992, is one befitting the elegant Palmilla -- one of the great hotels of the world that was a hideaway for the likes of President Eisenhower, John Wayne and Bing Crosby in days gone by. Palmilla Golf Club, managed by Troon Golf, is located in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains and has views of the Sea of Cortez on virtually every spectacular hole. The Palmilla course is known as the "Grand Dame of Los Cabos golf." The course plays to roughly 6,900 yards, with a rating 74.3 and slope of 144 from the back tees, no matter which combination of the Ocean, Mountain and Arroyo nines the golfer takes on. The Arroyo Nine and the Mountain Nine are of traditional Mexican design, and Jack Nicklaus said creating the newer Ocean Nine was like "designing desert mountains by the sea." There is 600 feet of elevation change on the first six holes of the Ocean Nine, which runs right down to the rocky coast. CLUB MANAGER: Jason Ballog. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: There was no golf in Los Cabos -- a world-class sport-fishing destination -- until the early 1990s, but now there are seven places to play, and 63 of the 144 holes have Golden Bear tracks on them. Golf at Palmilla is like playing a great desert course -- arid weather, target golf -- only with the Sea of Cortez as a backdrop. The most unique hole is No. 5 on the Mountain Nine, a 401-yard par-4 on which the drive must carry 150 yards across a canyon to a plateau fairway. The approach shot is downhill across another abyss to a green nestled in a box canyon. Most spectacular is the third hole of the Ocean Nine, a par-5 that plays 485 yards downhill to within a few steps of the beach. The drive from an elevated tee must carry the old highway and a dry wash, with magnificent homes lining the cliffs. High point of the facility comes on the Arroyo Nine at the 566-yard par-5, which offers a panoramic view of the Sea of Cortez. OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: About 10 miles down the road from Palmilla is another Nicklaus creation, the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, which the best golfer of all-time has called "The greatest piece of golf property on earth." Tom Weiskopf, Nicklaus' former teammate on the golf team at Ohio State, added the Desert Course at Cabo del Sol in 2001. Also located on the 18-mile tourist corridor from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo are the Nicklaus-designed El Dorado Golf Club; Querencia Golf Club, which was Tom Fazio's first venture outside the United States; Cabo Real Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones II; the Raven Golf Club, formerly Cabo San Lucas Country Club, designed by Pete Dye and featuring the longest hole in Baja, at 620 yards; and the 9-hole Campo de Golf Los Cabos, a municipal layout (with plans to add a second nine) in San Jose del Cabo that was the first course in the area when it opened in 1991. Los Cabos was the site of the PGA Senior Slam five times. Raymond Floyd won in 1995 on the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol and repeated at Cabo Real in 1996, Hale Irwin won at Palmilla in 1997, and Gil Morgan won on the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol in 1998 and at Cabo Real in 1999. WHERE TO STAY: The Palmilla Resort, which has been one of the most elegant beach hideaways in the world since 1956, was given an $80-million renovation a few years ago by One&Only Resorts. Palmilla annually is listed among the World's Best Golf Resorts by Travel & Leisure. It is located minutes from Cabo San Lucas on the southernmost tip of Baja California, Mexico, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Among the many other resorts in Los Cabos are the Fiesta Americana Grand Resort, the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort, the Westin Regina Resort, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, the Crown Plaza Los Cabos, the Fiesta Inn Hotel, the Presidente Inter-Continental Los Cabos Resort, the Grand Baja Resort and Spa, the Playa Grande Resort, the Hotel Twin Dolphin, the Pueblo Bonito Rose Resort, the Casa del Mar Golf and Spa, and the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort. ON THE WEB: www.palmillagc.com/index.html.