Canadian billionaire Edward Plunkett Taylor established the ultra-exclusive private Lyford Cay Club on the northwest corner of New Providence Island in the late 1950s when he commissioned American architect Dick Wilson to lay out a lavish, championship standard golf course for the elite membership.
Wilson, who built many courses on similar flat topographical sites in Florida, was a master at constructing slightly raised putting surfaces that incorporated visually appealing bunkers and he designed Lyford Cay with many of the fairways leading to greens of this type.
A number of spectacular residential sites surround the course though none of the housing ever intrudes. Exotic specimen trees (often labeled with the correct horticultural name) flank many of the subtly doglegged fairways to the extent that a round at Lyford Cay has been described by one of our correspondents as “playing golf in a magnificent tropical garden”.
Bryce Swanson of Rees Jones Design updated the course in 2006, rebuilding green complexes, refurbishing fairway bunkers, reshaping tees and improving irrigation. The original 6,610-yard length of the course was also extended to 7,007 yards and astute fans of James Bond movies will note the subtle reference to Sean Connery (one of the club’s members) in the new overall length of the course.
Gary Galyean, in his monthly Golf Letter from February 2007, commented on the Rees Jones upgrade work at Lyford Cay as follows:
“The restoration of Mr. Wilson’s design attributes returned more guarded hole locations. Also regained were hole locations that had been lost through incomplete or less than profound alterations that had taken place during the previous five decades. Mr. Jones, however, was not in Nassau simply to pastiche Mr. Wilson. In addition to the restoration of Mr. Wilson’s internal strategy, Mr. Jones was able to add distance in order to combat the strengths of 21st century technology.
Mr. Jones’ work included all the elements that might be expected and required to revitalize a 50-year-old course in the subtropics; the latest fine-bladed, heat resistant grass for the putting greens; adjustment of the putting surface slopes to accommodate the increase in putting speed; rebuilding fairway bunkers and adding new ones where strategically necessitated; rebuilding tees; and the removal and cleaning of some of the landscaping that had encroached the long vistas across the course.
All of these items are predictable requisites for such a job. The result at Lyford is stunning, and perhaps that is predictable as well. Continuity has been returned. From the strategy demanded of the first drive- arguably the single greatest improvement to the course – to the silhouettes of the royal palms behind the 18th green, Lyford has regained the panache and style that are an intangible attribute of Mr. Wilson’s best work.”