Aspire Magazine Issue 1 - Page 82

FIELD TRIP: You’ll find Clarke (opposite page) on the back tees, but most days he tackles the new Abaco practice range. the luxury cabanas, villas, and estate homes), studying the form of his American-based players as he contemplated Europe’s bid to retain the Ryder Cup. As such, he enjoys the craic (the gossip and mirth) of the bar, with Theresa, a Bahamian whose sly smile and friendly barbs draw grins from Clarke. Dressed in a pink Abaco Club-branded polo shirt and white tailored shorts (he simply changed from golf to casual shoes for dinner), he also, clearly, relishes Abaco’s relaxed dress code, which signifies this is not a stuffy club trying to show how great it is. It’s easy to be guilt-free lazy here, but if one is a fidget like Clarke, they’ll also be well catered for. There’s tennis, snorkeling, a spa, cycling, kayaking, sailing, and boat rides. One can learn to cook like a Bahamian. The golf course, naturally, attracts Clarke, as does the brand-new Tour-caliber practice range cherished by him and fellow PGA Tour pro Thomas Aiken, who also owns a home here. The course is, as Clarke says, “Not what 80 ISSUE ONE | ASPIRE you expect.” Usually, a sun, sand , and sea resort has a course that flatters its clients’ golf games, where expansive views are more important than exacting challenge. Abaco might pamper off the course, but on-course, it’s the real thing, designed more than a decade ago by Tom Mackenzie when he was working for the famed Donald Steel. Now a partner in Mackenzie & Ebert— the preferred course architects of the R&A, who govern golf everywhere outside the United States and run the British Open—Mackenzie also serves as the president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects. Not the kind of guy who builds frivolous golf courses, Mackenzie is a student of iconic Royal Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands, and invariably creates classical architecture; Abaco’s course just happens to be located in paradise. “Me and Lee [Westwood, the former world No. 1-ranked golfer and Clarke’s best buddy] played it off the back tees, and in the breeze [that] you’re always going to get here, we struggled to break 70. It was as hard as anything we’d played on tour all “ASK ME WHERE I’D WANT TO BE FOR ANY 24 HOURS AT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR AND IT WOULD BE HERE.” ASPIRE | ISSUE ONE 81