Plans were submitted Friday for an 18-hole Arnold Palmer-designed golf course in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman.
Work on the golf course, the first phase of the Ironwood development, is expected to begin in July, pending approval of the Central Planning Authority.
Designs for the course show 18 holes, interspersed with six lakes and inter-connected waterways running through a 500-acre site east of Frank Sound Road.
The plans also show a driving range, golf academy and clubhouse.
Project manager James McVey said the course would also include a 40-room boutique style hotel, which he described as the signature flourish of Arnold Palmer resorts around the world. No specific plans for the hotel are included with the current application, which focuses purely on the golf course.
Significant work will be required to excavate the lakes and sculpt the fairways at the site.
Mr. McVey said the developer planned to leave much of the natural vegetation in place. “We want to try to leave the area as natural as possible because that is part of the character of the golf course.”
He said the golf course was moving forward independently of negotiations with government over financing a 10-mile extension to the East-West Arterial Highway, which was previously viewed as pivotal to the success of the wider project.
Ultimately, Ironwood wants to build retirement homes and a Camana Bay-style town center at the site. Mr. McVey acknowledged that these elements may depend on movement on the road project but he said the golf resort was viable as a standalone project.
He said the involvement of renowned golfer Mr. Palmer, whose company has designed some of the top courses in the world, gave the project additional credibility.
He acknowledged that after years in the pre-planning stages, there was some skepticism about the project.
Mr. McVey, who was also project manager on the Shetty Hospital project in East End, added, “There are some people out there still skeptical about Health City but you’ve just got to drive over the hill and there it is.”
He said the submission of the planning application was a “major milestone” for the developer. “My mantra has been 18 by ’18. I want to be able to play 18 holes on this course by 2018.”
Ironwood spokesperson Denise Gower said the development would also include a separate 9-hole fun course, which would be adaptable for “foot golf,” a mix of soccer and golf, which she described as a growing craze in the U.S.
She added, “This course will be capable of handling PGA-level tournaments, making this development a game-changer for the Cayman golf scene, setting the stage to make Cayman a true golf destination and attracting the type of visitors Cayman likes best – those with dispensable income and a love for quiet, tropical vacations,” she said.
The hearing date for the Central Planning Authority to consider the application is expected to be May 25.