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Trustees pledge to address Port Royal course complaints

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Bad reviews: staff prepare Port Royal for the PGA Butterfield Bermuda Championship last year (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Trustees of the Port Royal Golf Course have said they will take action to address the condition of the course after complaints by members and visitors.

While the course recently garnered international attention hosting the PGA Tour Butterfield Bermuda Championship, its state has sparked negative reviews from golfers.

Kim Swan, chairman of the board of trustees for Port Royal, said the board was aware of the issues raised by club members and members of the public including the presence of poa annua, also known as annual bluegrass, on the course’s greens.

When poa annua dies in warmer summer conditions, it is known to leave unsightly bare patches.

“The Port Royal Golf Course has been proud to host significant tournaments such as the PGA Tour Butterfield Bermuda Championship and others, contributing to Bermuda's reputation as a world-class tourist destination,” said Mr Swan.

“While these events have put our course on the international map, they’ve also considerably stressed our green complexes.

“The winter months pose additional challenges for our TifEagle Greens, slowing down grass growth and necessitating intensive maintenance to meet our standards of ‘fast, smooth, consistent’ playing surfaces.”

Mr Swan said the challenges have been worsened by adverse weather and regulatory restrictions on herbicides.

“To address these issues, our agronomy department is exploring innovative solutions and has recently discovered a new product that could help manage poa annua effectively,” he said. “We’re in the process of seeking approval for its use.”

Mr Swan added: “We’re committed to transparency and have engaged with our community through forums and meetings to discuss these challenges and our strategies for overcoming them.

“Rest assured, we are dedicated to improving the conditions of the golf course and ensuring it remains a premier destination for golfers. The timing for these improvements is as soon as possible, understanding the urgency as the tourism season approaches.

“We appreciate our members’ and visitors’ support and understanding as we work through these challenges to provide an exceptional golfing experience at Port Royal.”

Mr Swan said that the board had made adjustments to “standardise” membership rates to ensure the club’s sustainability.

“We’ve standardised rates by eliminating grandfathered fees, ensuring our members continue to receive exceptional value and benefits, such as exclusive tournaments, access to additional facilities, and new partnerships providing even more value to our members,” he said.

The Royal Gazette understands that members of the club complained about the condition of the course at a recent members AGM.

One member said: “Members expressed their disgust with the unfortunate state of the course, especially after a substantial increase in membership fees for the 2024-25 year.

“Furious members demanded to know why no one from the Board of Trustees was present to address their concerns of the deteriorating state of the course since the PGA Tour completed its last Butterfield Bermuda tournament in November.”

The course was scheduled to host the Bermuda Match Play Championships this week, but the event was postponed by the Bermuda Golf Association due to “unforeseen external variables” beyond their control.

‘Worst PGA rated course on the planet’: a photograph of bare patches at Port Royal posted on a negative TripAdvisor review

While the majority of reviews of the club on TripAdvisor are excellent with the course garnering more than 150 five-star reviews, reviews from this year have been far less glowing.

One March two-star review said the staff were friendly and helpful and some of the views were “spectacular”, but the condition of the course was a disappointment.

“We had great anticipation to play Port Royal but the poor green and fairway conditions left us disappointed,” the review said.

“At least half of the greens had some sort of growth on them which caused our putts to bounce and not roll true. The fairways were also very thin and not what we were expecting form a high end course like Port Royal.”

Another March review gave the course its first one-star review, describing Port Royal as the “worst PGA rated course on the planet”.

“Greens are awful, tees are oval shaped (especially the 8th), the review said.

“Fairways are full of divots, no sand on the golf cart to fill any divots. I also overheard lots of people in the bar afterwards discussing how bad the golf course is.”

‘Worst PGA rated course on the planet’: a photograph of the Port Royal Golf Club posted on a negative TripAdvisor review

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Published April 10, 2024 at 7:48 am (Updated April 10, 2024 at 6:58 am)

Trustees pledge to address Port Royal course complaints

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