Golf’s Caribbean Cheers
Your introduction to Turks and Caicos golf begins long before you blast a drive between the unique conch shell tee markers. As you step from the course’s palm tree lined parking lot, you hear John Donatien’s smooth as spiced rum voice say, “Welcome to Provo Golf Club.”
Donatien’s rock star worthy name is as unforgettable as the service you’re about to receive. Donatien is the senior caddy and club attendant at this golf course located 35 miles southeast of the Bahamas. He began calling Provo home just a few years after the club opened in 1992. Like nearly everyone you meet at the only golf course in the Turks and Caicos Islands, once Donatien learns your name, his goal is see that you become a return customer. You’ll soon discover that Provo is Caribbean golf’s answer to Cheers.
Your second “I could get used to this” moment occurs as you walk into Provo’s one-of-a-kind clubhouse. It’s nearly impossible to not steer your eyes skyward toward the golf flags hanging from the ceiling like mistletoe on New Year’s Eve.
The colorful flags represent some of the most famous golf courses from around the world. You’re soon met by two more Provo Golf Club ambassadors. Long-time Director of Golf Dave Douglas and Pro Shop Manager Craig Hardwick make sure you have everything you need before embarking on an exquisite island golf experience.
Douglas, a native of Sarnia, Ontario, planted roots at Provo Golf Club in 1993 and has never looked back. The second half of Provo’s Canadian Connection is Associate Professional Sean Wilson. After first getting a taste of the Caribbean golf life in Grand Cayman, Wilson started working at Provo year-round back in 2008.
What Provo newcomers discover is that Douglas and Wilson not only assist in prepping for your round; they graciously share insider tips regarding Providenciales or “Provo.” These tips and wonderful stories help vacationers feel more connected with the course and the island. This little bit of hospitality goes a long way toward nudging Providenciales to the top of a vacationer’s return wish list.
What’s interesting is that before loading Provo’s Taylor Made rental clubs into your golf cart and heading in the direction of the first tee, you’re encouraged to refresh after your round at the Fairway Bar and Grill. Not only do Douglas and Wilson plant this “join us later” seed, but it’s likely a club member will also welcome you aboard this paradise-like setting. With kindness threaded into the fabric of Providenciales, one can’t help but feel at ease in these new surroundings. This has as much to do with the friendly Turks and Caicos culture as the near- perfect temperatures.
If this Caribbean version of Cheers seems refreshingly different from previous golf road trips or country clubs you’ve encountered, wait until you get a feel for Provo’s front nine.
Palm Trees, Flamingos, and Grace Bay
Since its opening over two decades ago, Provo Golf Club has planted more species of palm trees than any course on the planet. If a palm’s relaxing sway is one of the reasons you chose Turks and Caicos in the first place, then Provo’s 18 holes will have you feeling more laid back than after a second rum punch at happy hour.
Provo’s value-added formula for bringing you back includes lush fairways, fresh new greens and tee boxes, and a sense of quiet that will have you talking like Jim Nance on the 18th hole at Augusta. In addition to providing immaculate conditions, your Turks and Caicos golf experience may also include a surprise or two.
On both the front and back nine, be prepared to witness the pinkest of Flamingos and even a possible celebrity sighting. Realize that the faces adorning your favorite magazine enjoy Provo’s unpretentious ambiance as much as you do.
By the back nine, you begin to forget that across the street from Provo’s entrance is the island’s stunning drawing card. You’re encore to this fabulous round of golf is Grace Bay Beach, a 12-mile oasis deemed by countless publications and travel advisors to be the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean.
Alas, before reuniting with Dame Grace’s turquoise waters, there are more pressing matters at hand. It’s time to enjoy a chilled island-brewed beer and Provo’s signature Bambarra Rum Burger.
Watching golfers come home to the final hole from the open air deck of the Fairways Bar and Grill is a great way cap your day. Mixing with Douglas, Wilson, and the ever-smiling bartender Evelyn Hutchinson just feels right. You sit back and realize that playing 18 holes at Provo is about making a memory. You’ve become a part of an international fraternity of vacationers who’ve discovered the best-kept secret in Caribbean golf.
Tim Cotroneo is a freelance writer specializing in Caribbean travel, business, and golf.