26 May 2017

Sport: Redesign on track for Fiji International golf tournament

12:53 pm on 26 May 2017

The redesign of Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course is on track, with less than three months until the Fiji International tees off.

Three time major champion Vijay Singh was a part of the course's original design and has been heavily involved in the latest makeover, with some element of work being done on 15 of the 18 holes.

Fiji golfer Vijay Singh

Fiji golfer Vijay Singh Photo: PGA of Australia

Tournament Director for the Fiji International, Andrew Langford-Jones, said after three years of playing tournament golf it was obvious that some changes needed to be made.

"It always was a very good course. But in the last month of the original build an enormous storm compromised the design with a number of the greens being washed out meaning they weren't built as was originally designed," he said.

"This redevelopment is going to be a dramatic improvement on what was already a good course."

The new 14th green at the Natadola Bay Golf Course, moved from up on the hill to the left.

The new 14th green at the Natadola Bay Golf Course, moved from up on the hill to the left. Photo: Fiji International

Andrew Langford-Jones said the greens will be more accomodating and the redevelopment will be a dramatic improvement.

"For the Pros, I think it will be a fairer test of golf. Some of the ridges in the greens have been eliminated which has resulted in more pin positions on each green," added Langford-Jones.

"But the best thing to come out of the re-design is that the greens are friendlier to players of all standards.

"The jungle is still the jungle; it has been cut back in a number of areas which will also make it easier for amateurs.

"Plus the landing zones have been significantly increased in area so it is much more user-friendly for the amateur golfer.

"Anything that sees the Pros shoot 10-under to win a tournament is a definite challenge and for the amateur golfer it will be excellent fun."

Having just completed an inspection of the course, Langford-Jones said everything was on target to be ready in time for the next edition of the Fiji International in the middle of August.

"The greens have all been sowed and the final fairways are being laid so from now until the tournament it is a matter of settling in and growing the greens and surrounds," he said.

"We have plenty of time to do that. We have 12 weeks of growth and normally in Fiji it would only take four or five with the conditions they have.

"A lot of the holes won't be opened until tournament time, just to make sure they are in the absolute best condition for the tournament."