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The Green Monkey – Barbados

Course: The Green Monkey
Location: Sandy Lane, Barbados
Architect: Tom Fazio
Opened: 2004

The Green Monkey is one of the highest profile, no-profile courses you will ever find. The course is part of a reported $300-million facelift owners JP McManus and Dermot Desmond gave to Barbados’ the fabled resort.
The resort is the discreet destination of choice for many of Hollywood’s famed and fabulous, and has been the haunt of the likes of Frank Sinatra and Mick Jagger in the past. In the last few years, with the addition of the Country Club and now The Green Monkey, Sandy Lane has also tried to distinguish itself with golf. Since the rooms cost upwards of US$1,000 a night and the Green Monkey only opened officially at the end of 2004, few have seen Fazio’s work.

#1 (below) — This is Fazio’s opening hole, a nondescript par four. It plays towards the quarry, where most of the excitement will occur.

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Below is the view from the back of the second hole — a breathtaking view of what is to come. Sure Fazio has overshaped everything here and the bunkers are too clean, but the view is amazing.

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#9 – Here is a look back at the fairway, including the large cut in the land on the left of the tee. While the green is rather sedate, with a simple roll in the middle, the rest of the hole is exciting and exhilerating. I’m sure the idea was to make you want to rush back to the tee and try it again.
This is the first of the true quarry holes (the eighth, a short par three, plays alongside the quarry), the ninth is a terrific 635-yard par five. One of golf’s great tee shots.

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#16- This is the hole you might have actually seen. A par three of more than 200 yards, this is the “Green Monkey” hole, and Fazio even shaped a bunker to the right of the green in the shape of the monkey that inhabits much of Barbados (it was brought in to kill the rats). Not sure how much you have to pay a golf architect to shape a bunker like an animal, but I’m sure it is a great deal. The hole is more than a bit overdone and, to my mind, not one of the standouts on the course.

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#17 -While the 16th underwhelmed me, I found the uphill 17th, with its tough tee shot, to have a great kick. The tees from where this photo was shot were added after Fazio was in Barbados and force a carry of more than 230-yards off the tee. If you manage that, you’ll still be left with more than 200 yards uphill. A great, tough hole.

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Overall impressions: The Green Monkey has some fascinating holes, but is overall marred by a lacklustre opening and dull finishing hole. The hype on this course is impressive, considering few have seen it. T&L Golf actually sent someone down and paid for a room so the magazine could review the course. That never happens in travel writing, I can assure you.
If you can get a round at the Green Monkey, you’ll walk away impressed. It is a marked improvement on Royal Westmoreland, previously Barbados’ best-known course. But it isn’t so much better that it warrants all the trouble one has to undertake to actually be allowed on its fairways.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I read the GCA site often and it is how I learned about your blog. Inspired by your post, I decided to start my own a few days ago that will be giving some previews and comments on PGA TOUR events as well as golf architecture. You can check it out at golfchat.blogger.com. It is still in its early stages but I have a couple posts up now with many more to come.

    I was wondering what your opinion was on Tom Fazio’s courses in general, considering the beating that he an other “name” architects often take on GCA. I have played a few of his courses and think that they are all pretty good, with Pine Barrens being very good.

    Also, how does this new Fazio course rate against the best in the Carribean as a whole. I have not played anything down there but I have heard that Casa de Campo is probably the best.

    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading and posting comments in the future.

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