A Guided Tour of The Black Pearl
In addition to being one of the most sought after golf courses in the world, The Black Pearl is the only full golf course in Central America and the Caribbean. It is like no other, boasting 18 holes designed by the Pete Dye with many unique features from islands to views of the barrier reef.
The Black Pearl is an eco-friendly golf course – one of only a few internationally to use a special strain of grass called Seashore Paspalum. Known for its environmental compatibility, ease of irrigation and maintenance and translucent green hue, this saltwater-tolerant grass shines next to the turquoise Caribbean waters.
Looking for some tips before the big game? Find out more about each hole in Pristine Bay Resort’s entertaining and challenging Black Pearl golf course.
HOLE # 1
The opening hole is a short par 4 dogleg right. Avoid the out of bounds left of the fence of the tee as well as the approach. There is a waste bunker dividing the 1st and 9th fairways. Bunkers surround this long green which narrows toward the back half. A good tee shot will leave you with a shot iron or wedge and a chance to start off the round with a birdie.
The second is a par 5 that plays longer than advertised. The tee shot should be toward the right side as once again, avoiding the left side and the out of bounds must be a priority. Bunkers divide the fairway around the 175 mark. Creeks on both sides of the fairway from this point along with a sharp dogleg to the green is straight uphill make the approach more difficult. The green is multi-tiered so aggressive shots to tucked pins can be risky or rewarding so choosing when to be patient and when to be aggressive is a key element not to be overlooked.
The first par three is generally always into the wind so consider taking an extra club. The hole is built on steep hillside sloping down from the right so a tee shot left where pot bunkers drape the slope down from the green, or a tee shot long are two mistakes you must avoid. The green is long, narrow, and slopes slightly from back to front. The hole plays more difficult depending on which tees you play from.
The 4th hole is a short par 4 back down the hill. A tee shot over a dip and up to a wide, slightly elevated fairway, has bunkers guarding the left side. Finding a flat lie is important but a wedge or short iron approach should leave you with a good opportunity to make a good score. Bunkers surround the green and a drop off left of this green make the approach tough, but one that should be manageable with a good shot off the tee.
The 5th hole is the one of the shortest par 4’s on the course. There are long bunkers on the left side that run the length of the hole. A thick marsh which is designated a hazard, butts up to these long bunkers and also stretches all the way up to the green. The green is set off to the left but is surrounded with trouble. Any miss other than just off the front can lead to a lost ball and a bad score. The green is one of the flattest on the entire golf course so a decent shot in can leave you with a chance for a birdie.
The sixth hole is a par 5 playing uphill off the tee to a flat landing area. The hole is protected on the right side from tee to green by the forest. The hole is unique as the tee shot must be played around a large tree that sits in the middle of the fairway. Hitting the tee shot to the left of this tree is the smart play with the forest running down the right side. The approach to the elevated green is narrow. A drop off to the left side of the green is steep and should be avoided. Keep the ball in the center the length of the hole will give you a good chance at four. Accuracy, more than length, is the key to playing this par 5 successfully.
The seventh is a par 3 which is played off an elevated tee, over a large gully, and down to a large undulating green. The hole lays on the foot of a large hill and over a small canyon which slopes down from the left side. Avoid hitting the tee shot right of the green as a steep drop off down to a small pond. Anything right of the green will make par a difficult score to achieve. Par is a good score on this hole but will be difficult if the tee shot is slightly off line.
The eighth is a par four played from a slightly elevated tee box and to a relatively flat fairway with hills sloping down from the left on both sides. The slope increases along the right side as you get closer to the green and should be avoided. A narrow, two tiered green leaves work to be done once you reach the putting surface. A smart approach along with precise distance control with the putter is key to walking off this hole with a good number.
The ninth hole is a long, difficult par 4. The right side of the fairway has a waste bunker dividing the ninth and first hole extending from the tee down to the hundred yard marker. From here, thick hazards run the rest of the hole on both sides of the fairway and thru the green. A long bunker helps on the left for shots slightly off line but is narrow. Depending on which tees you play from, making a good number here will require smart, accurate shots. This is one of the most difficult holes on the course, especially from the back tees.
The start of the back nine doesn’t get any easier than where you left off with the ninth. One of the most difficult holes on the course, this long par 4 has water virtually the entire length of the hole and through the green to your right. Stay left on both your tee shot and approach to avoid making a round shattering mistake. Get out of there with a par, and you are a shot ahead of the field.
The eleventh is the signature hole on the course. This par three is a gorgeous hole played from an elevated tee down to a Pete Dye signature Island green and is simply stunning. There isn’t much room for errant shots. A bit of rough down to a little bit of sand that lays on the waters edge will collect balls slightly off line but most will find the water. This is simply one of the most beautiful holes anywhere in golf that you will ever play and one never to be forgotten.
The twelfth hole is a short par 4 that is narrow, both off the tee as well as the green and surrounding areas. The hole is protected by a hazard running the length of the hole on your left, and OB to the right. The long undulating putting surface narrows severely as it reaches the back tier of the green. A front pin location is one you can attack but be careful if the pin is in the back, as aggressive shots that are off by a yard or two can find themselves down a sharp drop off and leave a chip back up to a blind hole location. Accuracy is rewarded here for both the long and short hitters.
The thirteenth hole is the first par 5 on the back nine. It is played uphill from the start. Finding a flat lie is hard to come by as the hole is full of rolling mounds, big hills, dips and bumps covering the landscape. The landing area off the tee straight ahead gives you the best chance of finding a flat surface but from there it will be a difficult task to locate another. Pot bunkers cover the left side of the hillside to the left of the approach dropping down a steep slope. The green is one of the smallest on the course and with a false front and a drop off on the left, the green plays even smaller. Approach shots must be precise as this par 5 is much more difficult than it appears on paper. Walking off the green with a five is a good score. There is a lot of work to do from the second shot all the way until the ball finds the bottom of the cup and any miss should be right.
The fourteenth hole is a par 4 that drops downhill from tee to green. This is another hole where finding a flat lie is hard to do once you put the ball in play. Shots that are slightly left will catch the hillside and should drift back down the hill to the narrow fairway. Balls hit right of the fairway extending to the green will drop down a sharp hill which can leave you with difficult and even blind shot back up toward the flag. Like the green on the twelfth, the surface narrows as it approaches the back end. Back pin placements will make par a difficult score to achieve if you miss on either side of the putting surface as there isn’t a lot of green to work with. Another hole that plays much more difficult than it looks and par is a great score.
The fifteenth hole is a beautiful par 4 which is played off an elevated tee down to a relatively flat fairway extending through the green. This hole is much harder than it sounds with many challenges lie ahead. The shot off the tee is the only one you can get away with a small mistake. Avoid the bunkers right and left in the landing area if you are a big hitter and all players should avoid a creek running from tee to green on the left. The approach is to an small green with half encased on the lakes edge. Missing it anywhere but short is crucial. The Green slopes from back to front and compared to others, is not filled with too many tuff reads. This is one of the hardest, but also one of the most beautiful holes on the course.
The sixteenth hole is a gorgeous par 5 played from tee boxes on the edge of a lake and dealing with the water gets tougher as the tee boxes bring more of it in play if playing from the longer tees. The fairway is rolling and hard to find a flat lie but your main task first is the lake. The only other trouble off the tee is if you miss left severely. The second shot is blind as it plays up over a hill which slopes down and then right back up to the green. A creek will come into play on this shot as well as the rest of the hole. Stay left as everything kicks back to the right once over the hill. The approach is guarded with bunkers right from front to back where the left side has only one. The green is similar in the hole landscape as it also contains a big mound in the center you must go up and over. Take this into consideration on your approach as balls will jump or stop depending on if the ball lands into or on the downside of the mound lying in the center. This makes your landing area much smaller and good shots can end up in difficult areas, especially long. The views are majestic late in the day but no matter what time of day you are playing this hole, the beautiful views can distract you enough to end up with a big number so take time to take it in both but focus when its time to hit. Trade wind most of the time helps and can make this a reachable par 5. A slightly offline shot can jump in a different direction from tee to green.
The last par three plays back toward the ocean which can be seen from start to finish here. The green doesn’t have a bunker to deal with at all but the sharp drop off right and long are tuff. The left side of the green has a large grass bowl that can catch shots that were only off a little. The length of this hole has limited area to help any shots that are played left. No water and no bunkers to deal with, but there are plenty off other obstacles to deal. Making a par here is good but to achieve, shots must be hit with precision.
The closing hole is one of the most difficult par 4’s you will play and challenges you until the ball reaches the bottom of the cup. Elevated tees increase with tee box higher but harder as the tips are a sizeable difference in length of the hole. Tee shots as well as the approach have trouble running down both sides of the fairway and green. The right side has a lake running along side for the last half of this hole and the left side has out of bounds stretching the length of the hole. Long bunkers running down the left side can stop shots slightly offline but won’t help with misses that are anything but barely miss hit. Both length and hitting accurate shots the entire way makes the eighteenth hole one of the most difficult closing holes in golf. Can’t loose focus until the ball is in the cup or your round could end with a very large number on the finishing hole.