Golf is coming back to Eleuthera, a former hotbed of the game in the Bahamas
Cotton Bay

Golf is coming back to Eleuthera, a former hotbed of the game in the Bahamas


Much of the Bahamas' high-profile golf currently centers around Nassau, its capital and overall tourist hub. But the island of Eleuthera, home to only 12,000 people, a former outpost of the game with significant history is gradually getting going again.

Old-school golf on Eleuthera centered around the Cotton Bay Club, which in the 1950s and 60s came to be known as a vacation destination for the era's celebrities. It was developed by Juan Trippe, one of the 20th century's business pioneers. In 1927, he founded the iconic midcentury airline Pan American (Pan Am) Airways, and would later found the Intercontinental Hotel Group. Trippe is credited with helping to bring commercial and intercontinental flight possibilities to the world's travelers.

Trippe was also an avid golfer and member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews. He hired Robert Trent Jones, Sr., to design the original Cotton Bay course, which opened along the eponymous body of water on Eleuthera's southern third in 1959. The course helped pioneer golf in the Caribbean; in 1968, it hosted a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf match between Arnold Palmer and Julius Boros. Trippe died in 1981 and the club changed hands before closing, seemingly for good, in 2005 after sustaining hurricane damage.

Now, it is being revived by Jones' son, Robert Trent Jones II, whose team plans to begin building the golf course in November 2024. Using most of the former Cotton Bay course's footprint, Jones plans a totally new routing of two intimate clockwise nine-hole loops, with a large "social green" putting course by the first tee and practice facility as well as a central hangout spot in the middle of the routing called "The Carousel," where four greens sit in close proximity to one another. Expansive fairways interspersed with sandy areas in between promise to give the new Cotton Bay course a more rugged aesthetic than its predecessor. Private residences and villas as well as a hotel are also in the plans for the next chapter in the history of one of the Caribbean's

Cotton Bay is not the only new golf coming to Eleuthera. Just a skosh north, Jack's Bay Club can be credited with officially reintroducing golf to the island, having opened up a 10-hole short course by Tiger Woods called The Playground in 2020. The next couple of years should bring the opening of a new 18-hole golf course by Jack Nicklaus to the mostly residential club. Between Jack's Bay and Cotton Bay, Eleuthera looks to be getting back to its golf roots in a significant way.