Les Trois-Îlets, on the west coast of the Caribbean island of Martinique, is the birthplace of Joséphine, the wife of Napoléon Bonaparte. Little wonder then that a lady of such historic importance should have this Robert Trent Jones Sr. course named after her.
The Empress Josephine course – or Golf de l'Imperatrice Joséphine, to give it its official title – first opened for play in the mid-1970s and its esteemed architect made skillful use of the tropical topography on a generous 155-acre site to fashion a fantastic collection of fairways.
Martinique Golf and Country Club is laid out in two returning circuits of nine, the course flirting with the coast on the opening hole before returning inland. A stream and a few natural ponds come into play at several of the outward holes before the 13th brings the routing back to some serious water features by the seaside.
The par five 15th – sandwiched between two wonderful par threes that play across the Caribbean Sea from tee to green – is perhaps the best hole on the scorecard, with a spectacular island fairway that doglegs right to a well-bunkered green perched on the shore.
Tragically, they have let the beautifully designed course go to ruin. Every green is completely dead, and the bunkers destroyed.
They have established temporary greens on the fairways, but because these were also not maintained, they have been invaded by broad leaf grass, which cannot be cut short enough to make a putting surface.
Tees are in just as bad a state. Hopefully someone will take this course over and try to rescue it soon.