Spring Break: Researching the Caribbean Golf Business Model

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16 days, 10 islands, 6 rounds of golf.  The golf experience in Aruba, Curacao, Tobago, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, and Barbados was as varied as one can only imagine.  From exorbitant fees and dreadful course conditions (Tierra del Sol – RT Jones, St. Francis International – Norman) to the pristine, unparalleled service in St. Lucia and Barbados.  The course conditions at Tierra Del Sol ($159) and St. Francis have to seen to understand how bad they were.   In contrast, Point Hardy and the County Club at Sandy Lane were marvelous.

To see the varied experiences, download the pictures from the courses you choose.

Aruba:  Tierra Del Sol (RT Jones) Download

Barbados:  Sandy Lane – Download

Curacao:  Old Quarry – (Dye) Download

Trinidad and Tobago: Madgalena Download

Guadelope: St. Francis International (Norman) Download

St. Lucia:  Point Hardy (Coore-Crenshaw)  Download

There is a clear winner regarding the golf course that should be on everyone’s bucket list:  Port Hardy – Ben Cowan Dewar’s masterpiece vision.

On March 30, 2024, Links Magazine, in a sponsored edition, cited the following:

“When architect Bill Coore visited the location for the golf course to be built at the Cabot brand’s new residential development on the northern tip of Saint Lucia, he called it the most visually dramatic site for golf he’s ever seen. Now that it’s open, the golf world has taken notice, with Point Hardy Golf Club at Cabot Saint Lucia ranking No. 76 in GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World (2023–24) in its debut year.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s jaw-dropping design is an embodiment of the enchanting island on which it resides. Half of Point Hardy’s 18 holes have a green settled above the frothing Atlantic Ocean, including its final five that deal players two par fives (14 and 18), a short par four (15), and back-to-back par threes (16 and 17). Other holes play up, on top of, and down a volcanic hillside through lush, native terrain.

The golf course is the crown jewel in this sparkling, 375-acre private community, which also features a dazzling 1.5 miles of coastline. Cabot Saint Lucia’s ultra-premium real estate mix showcases custom homes on both hilltop lots and beachfront sites, as well as the turnkey, four-bedroom Horizon Villas, each overlooking the golf course and outfitted with a central courtyard and infinity-edged pool.”

Below is a summary of what one can expect would visiting their courses:

Scroll table to see additional columns

Island Course Name RT Taxi from Port Green Fee Cart Included Caddie Architect Source of Players Rating – Experience Green Course Condition Comment
Aruba Tierra del Sol $50 $159 Yes N/A Jones 1) Residents; 2) Tourists 2 4 1 27 Inches of rain annually on windy, barren landscapes result in substandard conditions where basic maintenance is lacking. You can lose ball in fairway.  Bunkers not attended to.  It was the worst conditioned course that I have ever played for the money paid.
Barbados Sandy Lane CC $180 $260 Yes $50+ Tip Fazio 1) Tourists; 2) Sandy Lane Hotel Guests 9 10 10 Excellent resort golf course. Wide fairways, well-maintained rough and smooth putting surfaces.  Service very attentive.  Caddie, 11 handicap, I played had a match on 13 – 17 with the ultimate in trash talking.  Spotted him 24 years and hit it five yards further.  He birdied 13 to the biggest collective laugh of both of us.   Fun round.  Barbados with Royal Westmoreland and Apes Hill rivals the Dominican Republic for outstanding golf.
Barbados Green Money $180 $4,000 Yes $50+ Tip Fazio 1) Sandy Lane Hotel Guests N/A N/A N/A $400 green + caddie for hotel guests. $4,000 for outside play per 18 holes.  Non-players not allowed to buy Green Monkey logo merchandise amply stocked at Sandy Lane clubhouse.
Curacao Old Quarry $160 $225 Yes N/A Dye 1) Residents; 2) Tourists 8 9 10 Fabulous first 10 holes.  11 -13 and 15 – 17 cut from the hillside with up to 60-foot drop-offs around greens. Ocean borders first two stunning holes.
Guadeloupe Golf St. Francis $240 $79 No N/A Norman 1) Locals; 2)Tourists 1 1 1 Just awful.  Hard to decide which course condition is worse:  Tierra del Sol or Golf St. Francis.  Basically unplayable. Amenities sorely lacking.
St. Lucia Point Hardy $104 $500 Yes $50+Tip Coore-Crenshaw Private facility currently accommodating member and prospect play, and some invited guest play while membership opportunities are still available. 10 10 10 A masterpiece by the visionary Ben Cowan-Dewar on an extremely difficult site (similar to Shanqin Bay in China) crafted by Coore-Crenshaw.  The five most visually spectacular finishing holes.  One of top 10 courses in the world on the must-play bucket list.  Superior customer service.
Tobago Magdalena $50 $80 Yes N/A Hunt-Blackburn 1) Resort Guests; 2) Tourists; 3) Locals 6 7 5 Mediocre resort course, that if in better condition, worth playing.

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