This is a Fazio design, and first came to world attention after Tiger Woods visited during his honeymoon. Well, at least the course is still going strong. Make no mistake, this is a premium course with a premium fee attached, and will not be a course that every travelling golfer gets on their CV. In return for that fee, you get a pretty special experience. Tee times are restricted to keep an air of exclusivity, and every group has caddies with them. The caddies know the course very well and give great advice and help on the way round.
The first few holes ease you into the round, which is fine, because you need to get to grips with the Bermuda greens. On the first green, I had a putt which clearly went from right to left. "About a foot from the left, sir" said the caddy "Its the grain". What, you can't be serious. But he was. Putts can be astonishingly quick or slow when down or upgrain. One of two shots looked great off the club, but the caddy said "Nice shot, but a slippery putt", as the ball bounced past the hole. He wasn't kidding.
After a few holes, the quarry setting for the course starts to become the main scenic feature. The ocean is visible, but you are looking at the course. There then follows a series of wonderful holes, played down and uphill, with the quarry walls as aiming targets, obstacles or just beautiful scenic features. Most of the holes offer generous driving areas, and needless to say, beautifully conditioned and maintained fairways. The bunker sand is crushed marble and gives a lovely sound when you play a bunker shot. Approach shots are the real challenge, with a supplementary grain problem for a shot above the hole and downgrain. Discretion is probably the better part of valour for most holes, but a decent player on his game will have a chance to make a decent score.
Star holes for me included the par 3 16th with the bunker with a cut out in the shape of a monkey, and several par 5s played around and between quarry walls and obstructions. The Green Monkey is one of those once in a lifetime courses, unless you are very well funded indeed.
Date: January 19, 2011