Apes Hill Club, Barbados offers an experience that goes beyond the ordinary – there is nothing down to earth about it.
Why? Well, for a start, Apes Hill Golf Club sits some 1,000ft above sea level, by a distance the most elevated golf course on Barbados. It’s not hyperbole to say it’s one of the most incredible high points in the Caribbean.
Set in 475 acres of natural wonder, Apes Hill is in the Scotland District of the island, the only place in the region where an underwater mountain range lies above the water. Mount Hillaby in the parish of St Andrew, at 1,100ft is Barbados’s highest point. That height adds to real drama to the whole experience.
To be the west there are views over the Caribbean Sea. To the east, the Atlantic Ocean. Set in 475 acres of natural wonder, Apes Hill is in the Scotland District of the island, an area – as the name suggests – with strong historical connections to The Home of Golf. Why is it called The Scotland District? Well it apparently because some of the first workers in the sugar industry, pioneered in Barbados, were from Scotland. The connections don’t end there. Barbados’s highest honour is the ‘Order of St Andrew’ and each and every May, the island hosts a Celtic Festival to celebrate those links, complete with pipers and Scottish dance.
You won’t, however, find any purple heather, gorse or midgies here. Instead you’l find sugar cane, monkeys and a fresh, invigorating Caribbean breeze that will accompany you on your way around this par-72 championship course. The layout was redesigned by the late Ron Kirby, and it’s a course where gullies cut through, bearded fig trees line the fairways and troops of Barbados Green monkeys swing from the trees. Kirby described Apes Hill Club, Barbados as his Caribbean Masterpiece. He wanted it to be a place where beauty and challenge co-existed and from the 1st tee to the 19th hole (yes, 19th – more on that later) he certainly achieved that.
The opening three holes at Apes Hill Barbados ease you gently into the round, but it begins to move through the gears from the 4th hole, which steals the show with its sheer re beauty – the views make it a genuine wow moment. As the round progresses, those wonderful moments keep coming. The 5th is a downhill par-3, featuring a green carved out of a rock face – needless to say, all you could hear from our tee shots was the sound of balls ricocheting off rock. The less said about that, the better.
One of the standout features was the speed of the greens, which provided a really demanding test of our putting. The absence of blind shots in the opening strecth really gives you the chance to take in the sprawling beauty of the land. We had a wonderfully quirky encounter on the 7th, involving a local herding goats nearby, which certainly added a touch of Barbadian charm to the round while the 9th, a downhill par-5, demanded we navigate some severe changes in elevation and slope. It was exhilarating.
The course’s commitment to quality is evident in the well-maintained driving range, a comprehensive chipping and putting area, and a pro shop stocked with top-notch equipment, including TaylorMade Stealths and irons for those hiring clubs. The abundance of friendly and helpful staff members enhanced the overall experience, creating a really authentic atmosphere. A break at the halfway house saw us wolf down a delightful club sandwich on the patio, recharging us for the challenges ahead. The back nine at Apes Hill Club, Barbados is a true test of stamina, with its length meaning we were advised against walking.
The 14th hole is where we encountered those aforementioned monkeys, who climb the trees as you play through, creating a truly unique atmosphere. And as the round concluded, the setting sun over the 18th hole added a touch of magic to the day, although I would emphasise the importance of not indulging in too long a lunch in case you run out of light to finish! The 18th is not the grand finale at Apes Hill Club Barbados that comes on the 19th hole, which features a nerve-wracking 100-yard island green surrounded by water, it’s reminiscent of the iconic par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass. Your hands might be shaking. Enjoy it.
Our day ended with dinner at the Noisy Cricket, where the serenade of local critters added an unforgettable soundtrack to the evening. It was fitting end to a memorable day which was packed with memorable moments from first to last.
While there is ongoing development around the course, Apes Hill unquestionably stands out as a place that you would happily call home. Even the green monkeys manage to win our hearts.
APES HILL CLUB BARBADOS: KEY FACTS
BARBADOS GOLF COURSES: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Is Barbados a popular destination for golfers?
Absolutely! Barbados has become a sought-after destination for golf lovers, offering a perfect blend of tropical beauty and world-class golf courses.
Which are the best Barbados golf courses?
There are a total of six 18-hole Barbados golf courses, which are peppered across the island and have been designed by some of the leading names in golf architecture. Apes Hill Club Barbados is one you now know about, but you’ll also find Royal Westmoreland, The Green Monkey at Sandy Lane, Rockley Club and Barbados Golf Club. The likes of Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Royal Westmoreland), Tom Fazio (Sandy Lane) and Ron Kirby (Apes Hill) have designed these courses which has certainly added to the prestige of Barbados golf courses. There are also shorter Barbados golf courses such as the Par-3 course at Apes Hill.
Is the weather good for playing Barbados golf courses all year round?
These Barbados golf courses are blessed by the combination of a tropical climate and a constant and welcome Atlantic sea-breeze. The year-round average temperature is around 80F and while the best time to visit is generally considered to be between December and April, the driest time of the year, no months are off limits if you’re planning to play these Barbados golf courses.
Are Barbados golf courses suitable for golfers of all abilities?
Barbados caters to golfers of varying skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a casual player, you’ll find courses that challenge and inspire you, all while surrounded by breathtaking Caribbean landscapes. The Green Monkey at Sandy Lane will test even tour professionals, while the par-3 at Apes Hill Club Barbados is perfect for those taking their first steps.
What activities are there for golfers to enjoy away from Barbados golf courses?
Beyond golf, Barbados offers a myriad of activities, from pristine beaches to cultural excursions and vibrant nightlife, making it an all-encompassing destination for both golf enthusiasts and leisure seekers alike.