The Green Monkey
The Green Monkey comes with a great reputation, people around the island speak about this Tom Fazio design with reverence, so will this very exclusive track live up to its reputation or is it all hype because so few get the opportunity to play here? I was invited along to find out for myself. From the very moment you step into the award winning clubhouse with its views out onto the west coast of Barbados and the Caribbean sea beyond, you can see why Tiger Woods chose this location for his wedding reception.
I walk to the pro shop and sign in, and the pro announces to everyone who’s in ear shot, so you’re playing the Green Monkey today sir, you are in for a treat it’s a fantastic course, everyone in the shop looks around with envy. I am beginning to feel the pressure myself, hoping my game is going to be up to it as I hear myself stating I will be playing off the Masters tees, when asked what tees I will be playing from.
I am introduced to Sean my caddie and I am off pretty sharpish, more from wanting to collect my thoughts than from excitement. I step on to the first tee which looks in better condition than some greens I have played on. It is at this point that you realise why people talk about this track with reverence, I am not sure I could find a blade of grass out of place if I tried.
My caddie advises me to aim down the left side of the fairway and that my target should be a tree in the left hand rough. I duly oblige and I am in the middle of the fairway.
I have 165 yards to go and I am thinking 7 iron and Sean is telling me to hit an easy 8 iron. I win the argument and my third shot is from the back rough as I have airmailed the green. Note to self - listen to the caddie, that’s why he’s there.
Top: Looking down on the Par 3, 16th. Above LtoR; 12th, 15th and 17th holes
Sean turns out to be a great reader of greens, after the first I have learnt my lesson, even when standing over half my putts thinking, are you sure that’s going to be slow and from the right, to me that’s fast and from the left. As I roll another putt in on the exact line he gives me, I wonder how I doubted him.
The course had been designed around an old quarry and Fazio has used the exposed coral and stone to great effect. The 16th is the signature hole and it’s a great hole to play, from the back tees it’s a 3 wood down into the quarry its self, with the quarry walls and a pond framing the green. It's not until you get down to the green you realise just how big it really is.
My personal favourites were the 3rd, which is a 423 yard par 4 with a tough second shot to a raised green protected by coral stone with a 40-foot drop in front. The 8th is another great 198 yard par 3, uphill over a ravine. The 9th is a long 635 yard par 5 from a very high tee looking down on to a perfect fairway.
But be careful to concentrate and not let your eyes and mind wander to much out to the spectacular views of the sea, Bobby Jones once said to stop and smell the flowers. There are not only flowers here but the fantastic views. As you walk off the 18th and make it back to the clubhouse to enjoy a cold beer or the aforementioned massage, you can truly say you have played one of the best courses in the Caribbean.
Looking down the 9th hole with the Caribbean sea as a backdrop