The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Trans­for­ma­tion works have com­menced at the Sandals Cap Es­tate Golf & Coun­try Club which will see it be­come a world-class 18-hole in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­onship course. It is the ful­fill­ment of a prom­ise made by Sandals when Deputy Chair­man Adam Ste­wart hosted worl­drenowned Hall of Famer turned golf course de­signer, Greg Nor­man and his team five months ago.

The works, which com­menced mid-July, will be ex­e­cuted in two phases cov­er­ing nine holes each. This means the golf club will not be closed to Sandals guests, club mem­bers and other golf­ing en­thu­si­asts.

Gen­eral Man­ager Si­mone Skin­ner ex­plained that both phases will be fur­ther dis­sected with works tak­ing place in­cre­men­tally on three holes and three tee boxes and as­so­ci­ated ir­ri­ga­tion in each. Roads, bridges and golf paths are also be­ing re­de­vel­oped.

“What we are try­ing to do is to en­sure our guests and golf club mem­bers al­ways have ac­cess to the fa­cil­ity. So, while they will not al­ways be able to play all 18 holes, they will al­ways be able to play and ac­cess the fa­cil­i­ties for the va­ri­ety of other rea­sons that they do,” she said.

Skin­ner also cited re­cently de­vel­oped pro­grammes be­ing of­fered at the Cap Es­tate fa­cil­ity to fur­ther en­hance and pro­mote the sport in Saint Lu­cia.

Sandals Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional ac­quired the Golf & Coun­try Club in 2017 and has since in­te­grated it into its long list of Lux­ury In­cluded® of­fer­ings in Saint Lu­cia, fur­ther ex­pand­ing on golf­ing op­tions that be­gan with Sandals Re­gency La Toc in 1992.

The first phase of the up­grade process will run through to Jan­uary 2019.

Se­nior Pro­ject Man­ager at Sandals Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional, Mark Hard­ing, said the bulk of the works are be­ing over­seen by ex­pert golf course devel­op­ers from the Greg Nor­man Golf Course De­sign (GNGCD) team.

He also pointed out that all equip­ment be­ing used for the pro­ject is be­ing sourced and rented lo­cally for the du­ra­tion of the trans­for­ma­tion. Un­skilled labour has also been lo­cally con­tracted, cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment, skill de­vel­op­ment and rev­enue earn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Saint Lu­cian con­trac­tors.

“In the long run we hope that the lo­cal team work­ing along with those from the GNGCD would be able to cap­i­tal­ize on the op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn and maybe even de­velop them­selves in the field and pos­si­bly ven­ture into it as a liveli­hood for them­selves. This would al­low for a lo­cal ac­cess pool for these skills and fur­ther as­sist with di­ver­si­fy­ing not only the is­land’s tourism prod­uct but the skills needed to main­tain that di­ver­sity,” Hard­ing said.

At a news con­fer­ence in Fe­bru­ary Min­is­ter of Tourism Hon. Do­minic Fedee said the “re­sus­ci­ta­tion of the golf course will add sig­nif­i­cant value to the prod­uct of­fer­ing of all the ho­tels in Rodney Bay and in the north of the is­land.”

Greg Nor­man has worked with Sandals Re­sorts on two other golf cour­ses in the Ba­hamas and Ja­maica, both of which have hosted ma­jor tour­na­ments.

Sandals Golf & Coun­try Club boasts plenty of lo­cal em­ploy­ment dur­ing its re­vamp­ing of the Cap Es­tate site.

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