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Gear Editor James Tait didn’t really know what to expect from a golf break in Barbados. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable trips he’s ever been on…

(Photos Apes Hill/Dexter McKeating)

Barbados is wildly popular with holiday goers from all over the world enjoying the beautiful beaches, rum punch, and incredible food the island has to offer. But it’s not perhaps considered a traditional golfing destination.

I have been fortunate enough to have played golf in all corners of the globe, but the Caribbean has so far eluded me. So when I was invited to Apes Hill, one of just a handful of courses on this glorious island in the West Indies, I was both excited and intrigued by how it would compare.

Just 25 minutes from the airport, it wasn’t long until I was checking into my stunning villa and, as it was already long into the evening, the only glimpse I got of the golf course was from my personal infinity pool that overlooks the 18th green. Fast forward a few hours and watching the sun rise over this breathtaking scene was well worth the wait.

After breakfast, I took my golf cart – each villa comes fully equipped with transportation to get around the resort – down to the clubhouse.

With its incredible winding driveway shadowed by palm trees, water features, and rock formations, you feel like you’re driving onto the set of a movie. You’ll almost certainly have never seen anything like it.

Around the back of the clubhouse, the 20th Hole Bar & Grill offers a wonderful menu of fresh fish, red snapper, and breadfruit chips. Everything served at Apes Hill is organic and grown on the island and it’s some of the finest food I’ve eaten.

My recommendation, though, is the West Indian lamb curry. An absolute must, and it’s even better when you can enjoy it while watching golfers take on the 19th hole, a short par-three hole with an island green designed to settle any sudden-death matches or, indeed, any bets.

Apes Hill
Apes Hill Golf Club 16

What makes APES HILL unique?

The property, which covers an impressive 475 acres, sits 1,000 feet above sea level, and the course is carved into the natural surroundings alongside the Scotland District Mountain range.

As you can image, this results in stunning views from every hole, stretching all the way down to the ocean below.

The course itself is undulating, with natural rock features and deep gullies adding to the fairways which wind through 100-foot-tall ancient, bearded fig trees and towering palm trees. My neck was sore by the end of the round as I struggled to take in all the beauty on offer!

Wildlife thrives at the resort, with mongoose and large troops of Barbados Green Monkey residing in the forest.

It really is a special place, and we haven’t really spoken about the golf courses yet…

The Championship Course

You know that feeling when you’ve played just a handful of holes at a course, and you already know it’s going straight into your top ten?

The Ron Kirby design is a masterpiece, and it’s easy to see why. With views across Caribbean Sea and out into the Atlantic Ocean, this par-72 layout will have you itching to return to play it over and over.

With challenging approaches and picturesque tee shots the outward nine is a fair test that rewards successful risk takers and punishes those who get it wrong. With large greens and grain to go with it, you’re putting will be tested from a distance, but you’ll get a pure roll from wherever you land on the dancefloor.

With picturesque par-threes, strategic par-fours, and a mixture of long and reachable par-fives, every hole offers its own challenge.

For me, though, the back nine is where Apes Hill comes into its own. There’s a delightful moment where you drive your buggy through a splendid rock formation which opens up into the dramatic downhill par-three 12th, which plays all of its 225 yards through the palm trees.

The 13th was my favourite hole, with its towering and enveloping trees making it a must-hit fairway. And when you do get down there and toward the green, the views out into the ocean are simply breathtaking.

That’s surpassed when you get to the 15th tee. The highest point on the golf course, so make sure you take a few moments to soak it all in. It’s like something from a postcard.

And we’re not even done there, because the 16th hole is simply insane. The rock formations give it a stadium hole feel, while water on the right and a gaping cave over the back of the green provide backdrop. It’s easy to see why Apes Hill chose this as their signature hole.

A golf course that perfectly blends beauty and enjoyment. What more could you ask for?

The Short Course

Apes Hill also has a short course which is made up of holes based on iconic par-threes from around the world.

Running alongside the driving range and performance centre, the holes range from 95 to 145 yards and can be enjoyed by golfers of all ages and abilities – a really fun way to spend an hour or so with your family and friends, or simply working on your iron game.

Apes Hill Golf Club 14

Performance Centre

A short drive from the clubhouse, the Performance Centre at Apes Hill includes two state-of-the-art coaching bays which are fully equipped with a Full Swing camera system and Puttview interactive mat, making it the perfect space to teach and learn.

With a large teeing area, the grass driving range offers a number of teeing options and targets to aim at, while the chipping area has different lies and hazards that can be found out on the course. There is even a seating area outside if you want to escape the sun and relax with some sport on the TV.

Where to stay

The accommodation on the property is sublime.

You have the option to book villas, whatever the size of your travelling party, and in return you will get a holiday dripping luxury. Your own little oasis, if you like.

Add in the incredibly welcoming staff and you’ve got yourself the perfect golf getaway.

There is even the option to become part of the Apes Hill community by purchasing one of the villas. Though residency, as you can imagine, does not come cheap.

Sustainability

Sustainability is at the heart of Apes Hill. The grass on the golf course is Zorro Zoysia, which is a drought-tolerant grass irrigated exclusively from a 58-million-gallon rainwater reservoir.

The grass selection has reduced sprinklers being used by up to a third and targeted irrigation is used for the areas which need it the most.

There are also hundreds of fruit trees, as well as vegetables, and herbs planted across the resort, all of which is used in its restaurants.

And the installation of beehives around the course is designed to help with the pollination of fruit trees, which include the breadfruit trees, along with soursop, cherry and coffee trees.

Where to eat

There are a number of great places to eat and drink when you visit Barbados.

The aforementioned 20th Hole Bar & Grill, as well as the clubhouse, will never disappoint, but if you fancy venturing out of the resort there are a number of nearby places we would highly recommend.

For seafood fans, Barbados has several top-class restaurants that are simply a must-visit. My favourite was Sea Shed, down on Mullins Beach, with its incredible menu that will leave you spoilt for choice.

Whether you head down for an afternoon snack and sip – as they call it – or for a more substantial evening out, you will always find a relaxing environment set to the backdrop of waves crashing against the nearby rocks.

If it’s a hidden gem you’re after, then the Scotland View Bar is a must.

Set up in the hills, this cosy restaurant has some of the most delicious home-cooked food you will find anywhere on the island, from grilled marlin, breadfruit chips, and macaroni pies.

And what better way to enjoy your meal than sitting back and relaxing with the stunning views out over the Scotland District and down to the ocean front.

You won’t want to leave.

Other Activities

Back at Apes Hill, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy when you’re not on the golf course, from tennis –both full and paddle – to hiking, swimming, or going to the gym, there are options galore without having to leave the resort.

If you’re an explorer, then the Scotland District is an absolute must. Barbados is the only part of this mostly sub-marine mountain range, which stretches all the way from Trinidad in the south to Puerto Rico further north in the Caribbean chain, which is above water.

And, of course, you can’t come to the West Indies without sampling the beaches.

Fresh sea air, white sand and clear water for those looking to relax, while the thrill-seekers among you will have plenty of water-sport options to keep you entertained.

Sporting events

Cricket is the biggest sport on the island and, whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, a night at the Kensington Oval watching the Barbados Royals is always a party atmosphere.

With rum punch in abundance, and when hometown favourite Rahkeem Cornwall is on the field putting on a show, this is great fun for all the family.

UK flights to Barbados depart daily from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester and take around nine hours. For more information on Apes Hill, and to book your stay, visit apeshill.com


author headshot

James Tait is bunkered’s Gear Editor. Want to know how the latest Callaway driver, Vokey wedge or Scotty Cameron putter performs? He’s the guy to ask. Better yet, just watch his videos on the bunkered YouTube channel. One of the biggest hitters in the UK, James also competes on the World Long Drive circuit and is a descendent of former Amateur champion Freddie Tait.

Gear Editor

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