There is not a great deal of choice for golfers on Grand Cayman. With just two courses, opportunities are limited. Factor into that equation, one of the two is only a 9 hole course, albeit owned by Ritz-Carlton, and you are left with just one. Fortunately, that one is North Sound Golf Club Grand Cayman and it’s a real gem of a course.
I suppose you could say being the only 18 hole course on the island is such a huge advantage, the management can put their collective feet up and just let the endless supply of players get on with it. That may well have been case with the original owner who over the years had done little to keep this track ship shape.
The good news is cue new owners, a passionate and committed General Manager and a pledge to reinvest serious money in the course. That commitment has already paid off with North Sound looking very good to me despite recent heavy rain that left standing water on many of the fairways.
Jeff Sauvage, has taken to course management like a duck to water following a career as a golf pro and recently came to North Sound attracted by the transformation potential. “The course design layout is exceptional” Jeff tells me as he joins me for a round “so all we had to do is focus on the gardening.” Of course, as gardens go we are talking about a pretty big back yard, but with such highly fertile soil improvements are quick to show.
There are some spectacular holes to negotiate on this championship course , with plenty of lake water to avoid but the 11th is far and away the signature hole. A 203 yard par 3 with the gleaming waters of the North Sound behind and that means of course the wind will be a major factor here coming straight at you.. “Don’t be embarrassed to hit a driver here” Jeff tells me as he sweeps away a majestic mid iron to the middle of the green (well he is a pro after all). I nail a hybrid over the green into the white sand bunker beyond, a bunker he had omitted to tell me about as if that would have made any difference.
The course abounds with wildlife, but green Iguanas, so plentiful on The Cayman Islands outnumber everything else. We pass many of the lizards just sitting on the fairways basking in the sun, unlike the very rare and endangered blue iguanas only found on Grand Cayman which are thankfully making a resurgence on the island thanks to the efforts of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park rangers.
The closing three holes are highly challenging, culminating in the 525 yard par 5 18th stretching right around a huge lake and ending in a green heavily defended by water. I escape with a lucky par and send Jeff running for cover, defeated but dignifyingly proud, a fitting end after all, I was the visitor!
Green fees are $175 but many of the hotels are able to offer sizeable discounts.
Reserved tee times are recommended. Say hello to Jeff for me.