The Daily Telegraph, April 26, 2013
A guide to the Caribbean's best golf courses and resorts, featuring exceptional golf courses in The Grenadines, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Barbados and the Bahamas.
The Grenadines Estate Golf Club
Canouan, The Grenadines
Length 6,900 yards, par 72
Perhaps the most beautiful of all Caribbean courses, this one, designed by Jim Fazio, rises dramatically from sea level to the 840ft-high rim of an extinct volcano. Rich green fairways and hibiscus-lined borders contrast vividly with the cliffs, turquoise waters and talcum-white sands below. Dog-legs and tricky tee-offs make the opening holes quite difficult. The back nine are the most dramatic, with the par-four 11th forcing you to drive over a deep ravine on to an angled fairway.
Signature hole: The 13th is the one that will be etched in your memory forever. Occupying the highest point on the course, it offers views of Mustique to the north and Mayreau to the south.
Teeth of the Dog
Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
Length 7,471 yards, par 72
After 40 years, Casa De Campo still vies for the title of best course in the Caribbean. Veteran designer Pete Dye’s masterpiece put the Dominican Republic on the golfing map in 1971 and now forms the centrepiece of a luxury five-star resort. Dye claims the design was simple, as “God made seven holes” – all of which skirt the ocean (more than at Pebble Beach, the legendary championship course in California). He only had to come up with another 11. The course took its name from the razor-sharp rocks lining its ocean-front holes, but the dog really begins to bite when the wind picks up off the ocean, with several shots requiring nerve-jangling carries between cliffs. Deep bunkers and fast, contoured greens maintain the challenge when conditions are more benign.
Signature hole: The 194-yard par-three 16th. Perched on a rocky outcrop shaped like a set of snapping jaws, with surf frothing over the rocks, this is the hole that inspired the course’s name.
Port Royal Golf Course
Length 6,842 yards, par 71
The island’s exclusive, members-only Mid Ocean Club has been joined in the upper echelons of Caribbean golf by Port Royal . Taking the best features of Robert Trent Jones Senior’s 1970 layout, the course has been lengthened and strengthened, with new bunkers, improved greens and artificial lakes. With Atlantic views from nearly every hole, it remains true to Trent Jones’s philosophy of being enjoyable for all levels of golfer. Each autumn, Port Royal hosts the Grand Slam of Golf (this year from October 15-16), the culmination of the golfing calendar, when the major winners battle it out for bragging rights – and a US$600,000 (£392,000) cheque.
Signature hole: The 16th: a 235-yard crescent-shaped par-three with nothing but Atlantic swell between the tee and the pin. One for the camera.
Sandy Lane, Barbados
Length 7,343 yards, par 72
Masterminded by Tom Fazio, who has been designing world-class courses from his Florida base since the 1970s, the Green Monkey at Sandy Lane zig-zags across a tabletop landscape. Its first few holes are slightly anticlimactic, but the ninth is a glorious par-five plunging 100ft into a man-made quarry. Dropping through towering walls of rock, it is 635 yards long and prepares a player for the dramatic back nine, which carve their way through undulating terrain where exposed limestone rock faces contrast with the lush, rolling fairways.
Signature hole: The 16th. From an elevated tee, you stare down at a green 225 yards away, guarded by a bunker where your only salvation is a grassy island carved in the shape of a monkey.
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club
Greater Exuma, the Bahamas
Length 7,200 yards, par 72
Designed by Greg Norman, this championship course uses environmentally friendly paspalum grass, its rich green hues a pleasing contrast with turquoise waters and white sand. The front nine wind through dunes, mangroves, lakes and rocky outcrops, while the back nine hug the shore, culminating on the peninsula with a spectacular ocean view. With the trade winds playing a part, and some challenging fairways, the layout encourages low “bump and run” shots.
Signature hole: The 14th, one of the most spectacular tee shots in the region. Surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic, you are close enough to the ocean to hear the waves lap the shore as you drive off.