Cabot’s New Caribbean Course Marks New Approach For One Of Golf’s Boldest Brands

Ben Cowan-Dewar has visited hundreds of sites around the world, ceaselessly searching for the perfect palette upon which to build a golf course. Far more often than not, he’s taken a pass. But five minutes into his visit to the northernmost tip of St. Lucia, the co-founder of the Cabot brand knew he had something special.

“I just had to do this golf course and figure it out,” Cowan-Dewar said of the rugged, coast-hugging site that would become home to Point Hardy Golf Club, Cabot’s first course in the Caribbean.

Partnering again with the renowned design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Cowan-Dewar and his growing Cabot brand have created one of the most eagerly anticipated new courses of the year. The closing stretch at Point Hardy is the pinnacle of drama: heroic holes in a jaw-dropping setting, with forced carries over jagged rocks and crashing waves on each of the closing four holes. For some, images of the back-to-back par 3’s at 16 and 17 evoke comparisons to one the game’s holiest settings in Cypress Point on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

“It’s the thrill of hitting your golf ball across the ocean,” said Cowan-Dewar, who also has established Cabot properties in Scotland, Florida and British Columbia in addition to its original destination in Nova Scotia, Canada, which has two 18-hole courses including the Coore & Crenshaw-designed Cabot Cliffs.

“Giving Bill and Ben nine green sites on the ocean feels like cheating a little bit in our business,” Cowan-Dewar added after we completed a walking tour of the course. “The chance to get to work with them again was really too good to pass up and the site was amazing. So it was really about turning it over to them and trusting them, which wasn’t too hard to do.”

A number of the holes at Point Hardy are playable already, but the course is scheduled to fully open in December. When it does, it will be open only to members and prospective members and homeowners at Cabot St. Lucia, a departure from the dedicated golf getaways Cabot has established in Cape Breton and the Scottish Highlands.

“In some cases, we knew the passionate golfer who would come to Cape Breton would come to St. Lucia, but people travel to the southern Caribbean with their families — whether that’s their parents and their children, or their children and their grandchildren,” said Cowan-Dewar. “Very rarely does anybody come to the southern Caribbean as three guys to go play golf, whereas we see that in Cape Breton and in Scotland.”

For Cabot, golf is always front and center. It’s about building spectacular golf courses in remarkable locations and surrounding that with memorable experiences. But the company’s business model changes in different markets.

“If we keep coming in and imprinting ourselves on to these places, saying it’s going to be the exact same everywhere, I just don’t think it’s going to work,” Cowan-Dewar said. “I never thought that was the approach to scaling and it means you’ve got to be deliberate and thoughtful. But hopefully over two decades you’re listening to your customers and you’re learning what they want.”

St. Lucia unquestionably is more of a family or couples’ destination than a buddy trip golf getaway. In that respect, it’s more akin to the Cabot Revelstoke project, which is in an alpine region known as the heli-skiing capital of the world. But in addition to the water, sun, sand and local culture, there was also an opportunity to create a truly special golf course on a truly unique piece of property in St. Lucia.

“There’s a reason to go to Revelstoke that existed that was amazing without the golf. And I think that’s true of St. Lucia. There are so many reasons you would come here for a holiday,” said Cowan-Dewar. “But when you think of the Caribbean, while there has been so much good golf, there aren’t as many golf courses as we’d see in the U.S. or Canada that might crack that world Top 100. There’s Teeth of the Dog that’s been a mainstay on that list longer than I’ve been alive, so it felt like maybe there’s an opportunity. If we could find an amazing site and turn Bill and Ben loose, we might be on to something.”

And when Cowan-Dewar first visited the Point Hardy property seven years ago with his wife, he knew he’d found that special spot five minutes in.

Crenshaw, a two-time Masters Tournament champion, acknowledged the views are so good that it’s hard to concentrate in some parts of the course. But it’s also a site that’s somewhat unique for a Coore-Crenshaw design, with significant elevation change and severe terrain that might seem antithetical to their minimalist ethos.

“Bill and I said from the outset that we’ve got to make this playable to get people around,” Crenshaw said. “We widened the corridors of play a little bit, and the greens are somewhat larger, but with a typical day out there it’s still blowing 20 (miles per hour). But playing over arms of the ocean, you just don’t get that very often.

“Bill once said about this place that you want to try to match the scenery,” Crenshaw added. “And that’s a lot to ask because it’s so spectacular.”


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