Family Fun for Oosthuizen, in Praise of Weiskopf, and a Reborn Ross Muni

Image of golfer Louis Oosthuizen with his family and the DP World Tour tournament trophy, won at La Réserve Golf Links in Mauritius. (Image: La Réserve Golf Links)

Louis Oosthuizen had his family in tow when he won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on the course he co-designed. (Image: Heritage Golf Club Mauritius)

Thoughts on Louis Oosthuizen’s heartwarming triumph in Mauritius, the time I played a few holes with the great Tom Weiskopf, and why I suddenly feel the urge to visit Sarasota.

Well, you couldn’t have scripted that better.

Louis Oosthuizen, the co-designer of the spanking new La Réserve Golf Links in Mauritius, didn’t just cut the ceremonial ribbon—he went out and won the DP World Tour tournament timed to coincide with the course’s official opening in December. All this on the heels of the South African’s victory on home soil the week before in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Oosthuizen’s first tournament win in five years.

“The course is spectacular,” Oosthuizen opined modestly of La Réserve after shooting a final-round score of 69 to notch his victory in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. “I love links golf because I feel strongly about shot-making in golf and that there should be more than one way of playing a golf course. A lot of shaping went into the course. You have to feel your way around and use your skill. Of course, the views here are very special, too.”

La Réserve is the sister course of highly regarded Le Château Golf Course at Heritage Golf Club Mauritius. Oosthuizen and his design partner, fellow South African Peter Matkovich, built a demanding links-style course with running fairways, pot bunkers and native grasses. Elevated tees showcase sweeping views of tropical ocean bays.

The week in Mauritius was a family affair for Oosthuizen, with wife and daughters tagging along for a beach holiday. It was the first time they had been present to witness him win.

You can read more about why this lushly tropical Indian Ocean isle is fast becoming a must-play destination in my short feature story, Why Golf In Mauritius Is Worth the Jet Lag.

In Praise of Tom Weiskopf

Archival photo of Tom Weiskopf raising the Claret Jug after his Open Championship victory.

Tom Weiskopf with the Claret Jug after his victory in the 1973 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Having recently posted a story about Black Desert Golf Course, the last course the great Tom Weiskopf designed before his death in 2022, I’ve been thinking about the wondrously gifted golfer with the powerfully elegant swing who once seemed the heir apparent to Palmer and Nicklaus.

Though Weiskopf won 16 PGA Tour titles between 1968 and 1982, including the 1973 Open Championship, it’s generally thought that he never quite lived up to his potential as a player. But no one can deny the quality of Weiskopf’s second career as a golf architect. Among his most famous designs are Forest Dunes (Michigan), the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale (Arizona), the Ocean Club (Bahamas), the Resort Course at La Cantera (Texas), and the Club at Castiglion del Bosco (Italy).

Weiskopf’s work at TPC Scottsdale, home of the wildly popular Waste Management Phoenix Open, was instrumental in helping the twin cities of Phoenix-Scottsdale become one of the game’s most popular golf destinations. Designed in tandem with Jay Morrish, his design partner at the time of the course’s launch in 1986, Weiskopf’s work at TPC Scottsdale vividly illustrates the magic that can be worked by gifted architects on even the most uninspiring patch of saguaro-dotted lowlands.

I met Weiskopf at TPC Scottsdale in 2015, when he unveiled a US$12-million updating of the Stadium Course that included the repositioning of several greens, the reshaping of bunkers and the planting of more than 250 trees. What a pleasure it was to play a handful of holes with the man who led wire-to-wire at the British Open in 1973 at Royal Troon, in the end besting Johnny Miller and Neil Coles by three strokes. That gorgeous swing was still intact and Weiskopf’s smile was wide as he showed off his design handiwork.

Someone recently asked me which of Weiskopf’s courses I would most like to play or re-play? Hedonist that I am, I’d have to go for the Club at Castiglion del Bosco, a private course that twists through hills, valleys and vineyards in sun-drenched Tuscany. Italy’s only private golf club—and Weiskopf’s only design in Continental Europe—enjoys a close partnership with Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, an ultra-luxurious property rated the No. 1 Hotel in the World in 2022 by Travel + Leisure.

Weiskopf’s Tuscan course is about to receive a major upgrade overseen by Phil Smith, his collaborator on the original design. Changes include the building of new back tees that will lengthen the course to 7,500 yards.

Already in place at the Club at Castiglion del Bosco is a gorgeous little 19th hole, the Brunello Hole, built by Weiskopf for guests to settle matches and play for a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino,  the pride of the five-star estate’s prestigious winery.

Muni Magic in Sarasota

Archival photo of golfer Bobby Jones at the Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota, 1927.

In 1927, Bobby Jones played an exhibition match at the Sarasota course, which was then renamed in his honour.

Despite my already noted love of luxury, I haven’t lost my ingrained working-class appreciation for affordable and attractive municipal courses.

A Florida muni I’m keen to play is Bobby Jones Golf Club, which reopened in December following a US$12.6 million overhaul. Designed by the immortal Donald Ross, the course became a pillar of the Sarasota golf scene when it launched in 1926. The year after it opened, the city invited Bobby Jones to participate in an exhibition match, and then renamed the course in his honour.

Like many underfunded municipal courses, Bobby Jones Golf Club slowly declined with the passing decades. Civic leaders finally decided a resurrection was in order. Golf architect Richard Mandell, armed with a set of Donald Ross’s original course drawings, painstakingly restored each of Ross’s original holes, with only minor adjustments for routing and drainage purposes.

Also put in place was a conservation easement that will protect the land from future development. Over half the site is home to a 100-acre nature park, immediately adjacent to the municipal course.

Already unveiled is a new practice facility with 65 hitting stations. And a nine-hole short course is scheduled to open in mid-2024.

But best of all at Bobby Jones Golf Club, visitor green fees top out at just under US$100.