Despite the Paradise Links clubhouse and other amenities still being under construction, Blacktip Island entrepreneur Rich Skerritt will open Blacktip Island’s first golf course Saturday. “This’ll boost the Blacktip economy more than you’ll ever know,” Skerritt said. (photo courtesy of Snively Skerritt)
Blacktip Island sports enthusiasts will have a new option this weekend with the opening of the Paradise Links golf course on the Caribbean island’s southwest coast. The course is the brainchild of local hotelier and entrepreneur Rich Skerritt.
“This another gem in Blacktip Island’s tourism crown,” Skerritt said. “A golf course puts us on the map. Makes the big hotel and retail chains realize they need in on the action.
“We only have three holes so far,” Skerritt said. “Some folks pushed for a more family-friendly mini-golf sort of thing, but we wanted to keep it classy.”
With flat land at a premium, course builders set most of the fairways across the island’s rough coastal ironshore.
“We routed as much as we could over the beach, but most of the course is on some pretty rough terrain,” Ferris Skerritt of Skerritt Construction said. “We put down indoor/outdoor carpet for the greens and tee boxes, and filled in enough ironshore to make cart paths, but otherwise it’s raw nature.”
The terrain necessitated some golf club innovations.
“Ironshore’s the big course hazard,” course designer Chuck Mulligan said. “You hit your tee shot solid, the ball carries right over it. But get down in one of those crevices, you’re screwed.
“You should’ve seen all the broken clubs,” Mulligan said. “We ended up milling special stainless steel pitching wedges with sharpened, tungsten carbide heads that’ll blast through the limestone. Kablam! Guests love it. Plus, the chipped stone fills in the course, and makes great gravel for Ferris’ cement plant.”
Some Blacktip residents, though, decried the new course.
“People come to Blacktip Island for its unspoiled natural beauty,” Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens said. “The last thing we need is fake grass and a bunch of yahoos playing whack-and-chase, pick-axing the hell out of the ironshore. You come here to get away from that kind of crap.
Others welcomed the new course.
“Anything that adds to this little rock’s veneers of civilization can’t be bad,” said longtime resident Rhodes Batten. “And there’s talk of making it a private club. People are already lining up for membership.
“It’d be relatively exclusive, too, in Blacktip Island terms,’ Batten said. “They’ve floated the idea of not allowing Huguenots. Or Hottentots. I get them confused.”
Rich Skerritt would confirm only that he plans to expand the course as soon as is feasible.
“We’ve got two more holes in the works, including a par five up the side of the bluff,” Skerritt said. “We’ll have a putting green and an aqua-driving range on the beach, too.
“That means even more construction and service jobs,” Skerritt added. “Boosting the economy every whish way. Pro shop staff. Restaurant staff. Groundskeepers, too, to keep an eye on stuff like manganese. And chinch bugs. Ironshore can be tricky to maintain properly.”