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Apes Hill Golf Course

by | Mar 14, 2024 | WHERE TO PLAY

Apes Hill Golf Course: Breathtaking Views and Championship Play in Barbados

Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Barbados or a frequent guest, among the first things you notice is the hospitality. Although technically an independent UK Commonwealth nation, Barbados generally is considered the “most British’’ of the Caribbean islands once ruled by the Crown.

Only 166 square miles, Barbados is ideal for activities that range from surfing and diving to hiking and even cave exploring. It also produces what many consider the best rum in the Caribbean.

Perhaps most important, Barbados is a golfer’s paradise, particularly with the reopening of Apes Hill in 2022.  Rising as high as 1,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Architect Ron Kirby’s final project before his death at age 90 in 2023, the renovated Ape’s Hill now takes its place as one of the Caribbean’s “must play’’ courses.

Straddling the island’s East and West coasts, Apes Hill Golf Course (7,002 yards) is Barbados’ most elevated golf resort and community (literally and figuratively), with 475 acres comprised of lush tropical vegetation, indigenous gullies, bearded fig trees and rare panoramic ocean views of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Set within the undulating topography of the Central Highlands, Apes Hill hugs the geologically unique Scotland District..

“It’s like the ‘Jurassic Park’ of golf,’’ said Head Golf Professional Jody Addison.

Well… substitute in the Green Monkeys for the Raptors  and you get the idea.

“I usually don’t tell (first-time guests) much when they get here,’’ Addison said. “I kind of let them find the showcase holes (12, 13, 14 and 16) on their own. Those holes are pretty different and the ones people talk about when they come off the course.’’

Justin Carlton, who now has his own golf design company, was Kirby’s lead shaper at Apes Hill.

“The original design was pretty good,’’ Carlton recalled. “We went in and exposed a lot of of rock features that show off the natural beauty of the island.’’

To that end, Kirby and his team re-laid the fairways Fairways and tees with the more drought tolerant Zoysia Zorro grass, and put TifEagle on the greens. The number of bunkers (many of them deep and virtually unplayable) was reduced from approximately 100 to 50.

A new reservoir, which can hold 58 million gallons of rainwater, helps irrigate the resort and the hundreds of trees, fruits and vegetables growing on the property.

More significant changes:, Kirby moved the par-3, eighth hole to play in the opposite direction; he opened up the vistas on the 235-yard, par-3, 12th hole to where players can view the Atlantic and Caribbean; and he moved the green in the No. 16 signature “Cave’’ hole slightly to the left and lowered the front by four feet.

“When we got there, the whole thing was completely overgrown,’’ Carlton said of the 130-yard,  16th.. “So we pulled (the green) left and centered it more on the cave.’’

The difference? The 16th went from being just a pretty hole to one of the better par three holes you might ever play.

The course finishes with another short par 4 at hole 17, followed by a monstrous downhill par 5 on the home hole where a gully snakes along the left-hand side and round to the back of the green.

Apes Hill Golf Course is available to club members and guests who stay in one of the 10, three-bedroom cottages on property. Another 14 cottages (four bedrooms each) are expected to open by year’s end.

Likewise, the only way to play all the island’s other renowned courses is to stay at Apes Hill. Those courses include Royal Westmoreland, Barbados Golf Club, and the two courses at Sandy Lane (Green Monkey, Country Club), each close by, as are an array of restaurants, shops, and other attractions just below Apes Hill in Speightstown – the second largest city in Barbados after the capital of Bridgetown.

Apes Hill will stage the Legends Tour’s Caribbean debut when the inaugural ‘Barbados Legends hosted by Ian Woosnam’ takes place on May 3-5.

In addition to the Apes Hill course, the property features a state-of-the-art Apes Hill Barbados’ Performance Centre that utilizes some of the more celebrated technology in the industry, including Swing Catalyst and PuttView. Through interactive games such as those offered by PuttView, the Performance Centre aims to make golf accessible for players of all ages without compromising the offering for more advanced golfers.

Also, the 19th Hole pays homage to island greens like No. 17 TPC Sawgrass; and a nine-hole  short course by Kirby  – Little Apes – that will complete construction later this season. Six of the nine holes are already complete.

“For those who haven’t been here, I don’t think they quite know how good Barbados is as a golf destination,’’ Walker said. “Whether you’re a scratch player or a beginner, you’ll love it here for many reasons.’’

Photo: 16th at Apes Hill (Russell Kirk)

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About the Author

<a href="https://golfonemedia.com/author/steve_pike/" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the PGA.com website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California. Steve lives in Delray Beach, Fla, and posts his golf and travel content on his website at spikeongolfandtravel.com. He can be reached at spikee41@hotmail.com.