Tee off at these beautiful Caribbean golf courses.
A CARIBBEAN CRUISE IS A WONDERFUL DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PUERTO RICO
In the northern part of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico boasts 20 worthy golf courses. A handful rank up there with the best in the region including TPC Dorado Beach, which has hosted two World Cups; and Coco Beach, which boasts a pair of fine layouts. The Championship course at Coco Beach annually hosts the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open while the International course delights all levels of golfers with its scenic and challenging mountain layout.
On the northeast corner of the island, not far from San Juan, is El Conquistador, an exciting Arthur Hills design built on the side of a mountain that offers stunning ocean views and breathtaking elevation changes. Puerto Rico’s busiest sports resort, Palmas Athletic Club, features another pair of fine courses: the Flamboyan, a championship layout designed by Rees Jones that skirts a 20-acre fresh water lake; and the Palm, which is a Gary Player design that’s shorter and less demanding than its sister course. opportunity to visit exotic islands, meet new people, and learn about other cultures. For avid golfers, those several-hour–long shore leaves are made even better when you can grab your clubs and tee off at some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
After playing more than 500 different courses in 21 countries, I suggest the following (in no particular order) as four of the best islands for golf in the Caribbean.
Dominican Republic has established itself as a premier golf destination thanks to architects such as Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, whose designs regularly top the lists of Best Caribbean courses. Casa de Campo resort features three Dye creations, but Teeth of the Dog is world-renowned and almost always listed as the No. 1 course in the region. The stunning seaside layout, where the wind howls and the water is often in play, should be added to every avid golfer’s bucket list. Punta Espada at Cap Cana is never far behind in the rankings. The Nicklaus design hugs the cliffs above the sea with occasional plunges to the beach below. Two more solid Dominican Republic options are Punta Cana, by Tom Fazio, and Playa Grande, one of Robert Trent Jones’ last designs.
The stunning seaside layout, where the wind howls and the water is of ten in play, should be added to every avid golfer’s bucket list.
Farther to the north, the Bahamas beckon. While some of the best golf courses are private and would need some pretty special connections, two of the must-see accessible courses include the Ocean Club at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island and Royal Blue at Baha Mar Resort in Nassau.
The Ocean Club is a gorgeous seaside layout with some greens and tees right on the beach and inland holes built around wetlands and lagoons. Royal Blue is a brand-new Jack Nicklaus Signature with two distinct nines. The front is a traditional ocean course built along the tablelands adjacent to the water with lots of sandy areas, while the back features dramatic elevation changes with great views of the water and fairways and greens that are framed by incredible limestone walls.
In the Southern Caribbean, Barbados is a premier spot to tee off. While some courses are private or exclusive to resort guests, the right onboard connections can often get you a tee time, including at Apes Hill Club, which was built on an old sugar plantation 1,000 feet above sea level and offers majestic views of both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The par 3s at Apes Hill will rival any in the region, too. At Sandy Lane Resort, the Green Monkey course by Tom Fazio is built on the remains of an old limestone quarry and blends rocky outcroppings with broad sweeping fairways, long winding bunkers, and subtly contoured greens.
Farther up the west coast is Royal Westmoreland, considered by many to be the best golf course on Barbados. There are enough bunkers here to make you think you’re still at the beach and the challenging greens can leave you flummoxed. Ultimately though, this gorgeous Robert Trent Jones Jr. design is a challenging but fair test of golf and will definitely be a course you add to your list for a return visit. That’s just four of the best islands for golf, but the good news is that there’s no end to amazing, unique courses all over the Caribbean. You can experience terrific golf on St. Kitts and Nevis, Tobago, Curaçao, Jamaica, Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, and many more. But unless you have your own yacht, you’ll need to schedule recurring cruises to • play them all.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Clockwise from top: TPC Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico; Royal Blue course at Baha Mar Resort, Nassau; Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic