Located on Puerto Rico's northwest coast, Royal Isabela is a new, private golf course that is sure to become one of the Caribbean's most talked about designs.
Conceived by Puerto Rico natives Stanley and Charlie Pasarell, the brothers teamed up with former Pete Dye associate David Pfaff to build a course on 426 acres of oceanfront property. The team says they "found" holes more than designed them, and the result is a course that appears very natural and wild in parts.
The wind can be especially prevalent on the back nine and dictates which holes will be brutes. "Tropical Scotland" is how Stanley Pasarell likes to describe this one-of-a-kind experience.
The course's 17th hole is a showstopper. The par 3, which plays over the seaside bluffs, can play up to 200 yards. The green is guarded on the right-hand side by a "chicken tree" that lies beside the green. The 18th hole then plays back uphill toward the clubhouse to a green surrounded by mounding.
Royal Isabela will open up a hotel and a limited amount of real estate. The course, now open on a limited basis, doesn't expect to host more than 1,000 or so rounds each year and will limit play to stay-and-play golfers and membership.