Cabot Saint Lucia

Words by: James Wilson
Photography by:Ollie Allison & Harvey Jamison

It is without doubt the most ridiculous tee shot I’ve ever laid eyes on. We’re standing on an island tee that is more of a helipad, jutting out into a crisp blue Atlantic ocean. Ahead of us, weaving from left to distant right is a towering, angular terracotta cliff face. Waves crash and lap the rock pools at its base. On top of the cliff a fairway weaves towards a white pin flag. I scramble in my bag for a handful of balls. We’re going to be here a while.

A few weeks ago rumours of a Caribbean golf trip began to spread around the MANORS office. The staff whispered about the latest WorldTop100 golf course. Clips of dramatic coves and crashing waves crept onto my social feed. I paid them little attention; these were promises too grand to execute. No one actually goes to these places.

Then the flights were confirmed. And with two additional seats. Super Bowl Champion and New York Giants Legend Victor Cruz and sports TV personality Josh Denzel fancied popping along too. Ye right.

We arrive late on a Friday night, just in time to knock back a few rum punches at the infamous Gros Islet Street Party. Dutifully, we drag ourselves away from the reggae anthems and towards an early curfew.

The drive through the gates at Cabot St Lucia is mostly inconspicuous. Ahead of us, a pathway winds up the hill through the Caribbean jungle. Like a rollercoaster ticking towards its peak, we ascend. Gradually, the van levels out and the foliage thins. Point Hardy comes into view, rising like a colourful pop up book from the bottom of the windscreen. Cartoon style gasps fill the van.

Deep blue ocean flickers under Caribbean sunshine, down the hill to the left an emerald green sits out on a headland of rock, to the right a fairway meanders along the cliff edge. Waves glide toward the partially obscured beach below, followed by soft explosions of sea mist.

Wide eyed, we stumble out of the van and grab our clubs. The oasis of green and blue is doused so vividly in tropical sunlight that the colours appear artificially altered. I reach for my Spektrum sunglasses.

The clubhouse hasn’t been constructed yet so we shelter from the midday sun under a wooden gazebo with thatched roof, set amongst sprawling cacti. St Lucia has just entered its tourism off season, on account of the blazing heat. But that means we have the playground all to ourselves. We lather our face and arms in SPF and hold cold towels to our foreheads.

Golf balls are presented on the driving range in customised Jones ball pouches next to a bespoke wooden tee-pee bag stand. The turf is recently sewn and firm, but the surface is immaculate. It flows up the hill in front of us like a tidal wave, truncated at the far end by dense foliage. A warm up in this heat doesn’t seem necessary, but an atmosphere of determination is building in the group.

I don’t get nervous playing golf these days, but I can feel that old hunger for a good performance rumbling just a little. I can sense the others have a taste for something similar. After all, we’ve flown 10 hours to play one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world.

The opening holes venture uphill and inland, from this vantage point, snapshots of the holes that lie ahead reveal themselves on the distant shoreline. Josh Denzel, our 30 handicapper associate, is here on the grounds that we capture him attempting to make a par from the back tees. He hits his opening approach, a 9 iron, to 5 feet on the severely undulating green. Cushioning it up to the hole to secure his par 5, he dances out of frame. The tone for the day is set (the tone for building tension in our par making series is obliterated).

The halfway house on the 5th hole is where Point Hardy begins to brag. A contemporary, wooden clad hut with a balcony that looks down a chasmous valley to the headland beyond, offers fuel for the coming holes. Tee shots land like butterflies from the raised tee as we make our way towards the coastline.

The 8th tee shot is the first real postcard moment. A 260 yard carry across a sea inlet takes you to a small raised green protected at the front by deep white sand bunkers. On any other golf course in the world, this is the undeniable signature hole. At Cabot St Lucia, its one of 5.

All of this was close to never existing. In 2020, as construction got underway the realities of building a mindblowing golf course on the northern coast of a small Caribbean island reared their ugly head. Gargantuan construction tasks were completed by small local teams, completely unfamiliar with golf, progress was halted when word spread that the surrounding beach site may contain an ancient Amerindian burial ground (it didn’t) and tropical rainstorms repeatedly washed away the newly sewn grass.

Like the waves that descend on the cliffs, the team persisted. And in a far less heroic way, we too.

The 10th is perhaps the only hiccup on the site. A par 4 that snakes up a hill so steep that a ball that doesn’t reach the green might well roll 120 yards back to your feet. Fear not, the payoff for your patience is worthwhile.

The next few holes soften, heading back inland, building to a crescendo as we progress to the 14th tee. From there, the music starts again, louder this time. Drives takes us over the hill revealing the ocean view where a green is perched in the distance, protected on the left by dense greenery and on the right by the cliff.

We tap in for our pars (and bogies) and head back to our buggies. As we snake down the hill towards the water the 15th hole reveals itself.

It is without doubt the most ridiculous tee shot I’ve ever laid eyes on. I scramble in my bag for a handful of balls. We’re going to be here for a while.