The prolific modern golf course architect Arthur Hills rarely ventures outside his native North America in pursuit of new design work but in 1993, he did just that, establishing the wonderful 18-hole resort layout of El Conquistador on the north eastern corner of Puerto Rico.
Constructed slightly inland from the coast, the course was laid out on a difficult parcel of land that offered few level lies and many spectacular changes in elevation, allowing Hills to fashion a collection of 18-holes unlike any others in the Caribbean.
With sweeping ocean vistas from many of the holes – especially those with raised tees playing to generously wide fairways – the course routing at El Conquistador allows golfers to fully embrace the coastal views during their round here.
Ken Williams of Arthur Hills / Steve Forrest & Associates kindly provided us with the following comments: “ El Conquistador arose in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, which devastated the island in 1989. The storm destroyed an existing course, and the site, near Fajardo, was lying neglected, with cows grazing on deserted fairways. The Arthur Hills design company was invited by a new ownership group to create an entirely new design on the footprint of the abandoned course in 1990.
Opened in 1993, the par 72 golf course at El Conquistador Resort took advantage of the topography to create a breathtakingly beautiful, challenging and yet player-friendly layout.
Doglegs descending through broad corridors and dramatic elevation changes of more than 200 feet are the hallmarks of the course, with dramatic views of the mountain peak of El Yunque nestled in the adjoining rain forest.
Lakes excavated as part of the irrigation system also
provide an element of strategy for the course, and an imposing double green for
9 and 18, the finishing holes of the course’s two returning 9-hole loops, sits
below the clubhouse, which in turn looks out over ponds and a waterfall flowing
from the hillside against a backdrop of magenta-coloured bougainvillea.”