Apes Hill Golf and Beach Club in St James, Barbados, is undergoing a major renovation with sustainability at the top of the agenda. With its ground-breaking sustainable initiatives, Apes Hill is working to become the most environmentally responsible golf course in the Caribbean – from the preservation of wildlife to operating in a power neutral way.
Renowned golf course architect Ron Kirby, one of the most experienced architects in the world, has been engaged to plan and renovate the new sustainable golf course which has been underway since the end of 2019 and is scheduled to open in January 2022.
Apes Hill Golf and Beach Club is committed to becoming power neutral within three years of opening by building a solar energy farm. In addition, irrigation considerations have taken centre stage with the redesign, which has helped contribute to the development becoming Audubon* certified.
An expert agronomist selected Zoyza Zorro grass for the course, which requires less water, reducing the number of sprinkler heads from 1800 to 800. Out of play areas will have organic mulch and feather grass, which also requires less watering and fertilizer.
An artificial lake is being installed to collect rainwater for future irrigation and the latest technology is being used on the irrigation system to minimize watering with weather forecasting and remotely controlled watering.
Spread across a 470-acre site in St James, biodiversity has been another key focus in the redesign of Apes Hill, avoiding disruption of local habitats and trees, and creating new habitats through clever landscaping to enhance the development’s natural state.
Close to the island’s highest point, Apes Hill’s golf course is nestled among lush jungle and deep winding gullies that are populated by families of chattering green monkeys, birds and an abundance of tropical foliage. This combined with its dramatic vistas over the wild east coast and Atlantic Ocean and beautiful natural coral rock formations make it arguably one of the most spectacular golf experiences in the Caribbean. Apes Hill’s 18-hole golf course will have 13 sea view holes, four of which will boast views of both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Twelve acres of ‘out of play’ pockets around the golf course have been set aside for growing indigenous fruits and vegetables including pineapple, mangos, coffee, aloe and sweet potatoes. In total, Apes Hill will be creating 50 acres of farmland for hosting livestock and growing fresh produce on the east coast side of the golf course bordering holes 12, 13 and 14. In addition, beehives will be established in the gullies and habitats created to promote butterfly breading in ponds around the course.
Upon completion, Apes Hill Golf and Beach Club will have a fully renovated 18 Hole, Par 72 championship golf course, with the addition of a 19th Hole modelled after the island-green 17th Hole at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, a new Par 3 course with a relaxed dress policy – the first of its kind in Barbados. In addition, there will be a state-of-the-art Golf Performance and Teaching Centre with a Titleist Performance Institute – the first one to open in the Caribbean.
Architect Kirby is no stranger to Barbados, having renovated Barbados Golf Club in 2000. Now aged 88 and a lifetime member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Kirby’s name is attached to more than 70 courses around the world, including Old Head Golf Links in the Republic of Ireland.
Kirby is considered one of the most experienced architects in the world having worked alongside Robert Trent Jones Senior, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
Commenting on the new design of the course Kirby, says: “We were very careful with the design to focus on reducing the footprint of the grasses that need full maintenance, water and fertilizers. Using the latest technology for irrigation, we have been able to reduce the number of sprinkler heads on the course by 56%. In addition, the new Zoysia Zorro grass we planted needs less water. We have reduced the number of bunkers from 107 to 38. All these factors combined have helped us to significantly reduce the overall volume of water and chemicals that will be required in the maintenance of the course.”
Joining the world class team are shapers Justin Carlton, who recently finished the renovation of Adare Manor in Ireland, the 2027 Ryder Cup Course, and Gary Shapiro. Both have been on site since the start of 2020 and have been responsible for softening the course considerably by reducing the slopes on greens, eliminating 59 deep and sometimes unplayable bunkers, and accentuating the beautiful natural environment and vistas across Apes Hill’s 470-acre site.
Other additions planned for Apes Hill Golf and Beach Club include a renovated clubhouse with the new Drunken Monkey bar and veranda restaurant, fitness centre, lap pool and yoga garden, hiking and biking trails with outdoor calisthenics gym, pro shop and farm shop, which will sell the fresh produce grown on site. Scattered throughout the development is a growing collection of luxury homes which are available for sale.