The long, narrow island of Roatán lies just off the north coast of Honduras and it’s one of the larger islands that make up the Bay Islands Department of the Central American country.
The Pristine Bay resort is located on the north side of the island and this impressive residential development first opened its doors to investors in 2010, citing the Black Pearl golf course as its star attraction.
A round here starts alongside the Caribbean Sea then holes move inland to the rolling hills of French Harbour - fourteen of the fairways offer wonderful views of the Meso-American Barrier Reef - before the routing returns golfers to the seaside clubhouse.
Designed by Perry Dye, son of Pete Dye, Black Pearl is, above all else, a fun course to play. “It’s what I call bohemian golf – the architecture is relaxed,” says Perry Dye. “For instance, I left a few trees in the middle of fairways, just for giggles.”And in case you were wondering, you’ll find a trademark – almost obligatory – Dye island green at the 160-yard 11th. A little more forgiving than its counterpart at the 17th on the Stadium course at Sawgrass, this putting surface is surrounded by a necklace of beach bunker sand that allows a recovery to be played when tee shots narrowly miss the target.
What a pleasant surprise this course was after having visited Roatan by cruise ship many times and found there was nothing but beach I was informed they had a top notch golf course nearby I had my doubts but we had a group of keen golfers so we decided to give it a try. Around 20 minutes drive from the port we entered the resort passing their machine gun carrying security and preceding to drive up a very large hill upon cresting the hill we were greeted with a spectacular view of the golf course below and ocean beyond, Pristine Bay.
The front nine is significantly easier than the back but certainly not without challenge as you would expect from a Dye course. Standout holes are the par 5 second which doglegs left up a hill to difficult green site to a green with great undulation, the short par 4 fifth with the green benched into wetlands making the green un-drivable and the approach shot challenging and the par 4 eight which has a 30 foot drop off if you go right if you do so you will be on the second fairway with a very challenging recover shot.
The course really amps up on the back nine with holes #10 through #15 proving to be a great stretch #10 is the hardest hole on the course a medium length par 4 with water down the right for the last 150 yards. #11 is one of the better island holes I have played this one plays 150 yards from an elevated tee roughly 40 feet above to a large green surrounded by a bunker with a great view of the ocean beyond. #12 is any easy short par 4 which is most welcome after a difficult stretch and #13 is one of the best par 5’s I have played it snakes its way up a hill with a wildly undulating green sitting on top there are countless bunkers benched into the hillside this hole is not long so it is risk reward on the second shot this hole can easily yield anything from eagle to other. #14 is a drive from the top of the hill to a double fairway where you need to be on the top level to have a view of your approach shot and #15 is an elevated tee to a narrow fairway there is water down the left and dunes down the right this hole also requires an accurate approach with trouble all around the green.
The closing stretch is solid without being spectacular overall I highly recommend this course if you happen to be in Roatan and having played extensively in the Caribbean believe it should be ranked higher on the Caribbean list on this website.