The town of Dorado, Puerto Rico, founded in 1842, derives its name from the golden color of the sand as it sparkles under the diurnal star.
In 1905, Alfred T. Livingston visited Dorado representing a group of real estate investors. While a deal never came to fruition, he was so enthralled with what the area had to offer that he took up residence. He purchased 1,700 acres with plans to grow coconuts and grapefruits for export.
Livingston went on to build a home and brought his wife and daughter to Puerto Rico. His export business thrived, and he became famous around the world. Alfred passed away when his daughter Clara was just 22-years-old. She went on to manage the property for over two decades after his death. One significant construction project done under her management was the building of a new hacienda and her private airport. She built her new hacienda in 1928 after a hurricane destroyed the original wood house. To ensure that would never happen again, she built her new house out of concrete, which is still on the premises today.
Clara always had a love for flying. After making her first flight in 1927, she became the 11th female pilot in the world, and only the third female helicopter pilot. Clara even went so far as to build a runway on the property to give flying lessons. In 1937, Amelia Earhart, a dear friend of Clara’s, visited the island before disappearing over the Pacific.
Clara eventually sold the property to Laurence Rockefeller in 1955. Laurence was the grandson of the American oil magnate, John D. Rockefeller. It was surmised that Clara sold the property to him because of their mutual interest in aviation. Laurence Rockefeller had a dream to turn the property into a resort and natural sanctuary. He sought the best architects in the world to help with the project, ever mindful that the natural settings would be minimally disturbed. The project was complete and ready to be displayed to the public on December 1st, 1958. Laurence invited 150 of his friends to the resort, each a millionaire. The guests were encouraged to come back on a regular basis.
In its construction, Laurence would not allow any roof to be higher than the nearest palm tree. Hence, the guest rooms are two-story structures that face the Atlantic Ocean. The first rates at the Dorado Beach Hotel were a mere $15 per single and $20 per double room, per night. Among the hotel’s list of clients were Joe Namath, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Joan Crawford, Phyllis Diller, Ava Gardner, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Kissinger, John F. Kennedy, and Mr. And Mrs. George Bush, Sr.
When the property opened in 1958 it featured only two 9-hole golf courses, the East and West courses. Both courses were designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who had already established a great reputation as a golf course architect. Each course subsequently added an additional 9-holes by 1966, and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. added a tropical forest, fruit trees and a lagoon, to add to the natural beauty of the golf courses. The Dorado Beach golf courses have been touted as both some of the best and most aesthetically pleasing golf courses in the world.
Ed Dudley was hired as the golf pro to oversee Dorado Beach’s Caribbean golf resort, and Chi Chi Rodriguez was hired as his assistant pro. Chi Chi won the attention of Mr. Rockefeller through hard work and good humor and was later promoted to head golf professional. The golf courses have hosted several (8) Senior PGA-events, the 1963 Canada Cup, the 1964 World Cup of Golf and Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf event, which pitted Doug Sanders against Chi Chi Rodriguez. Chi Chi won the $3,000 prize with a score of three under par.