There is no better vacation destination for a golf lover than the Caribbean. In a place with a nearly perfect climate year round, there is no such thing as a bad day for golf. Players of all ages and experience levels can escape into paradise while playing a round or two at one of the region's many beautiful tropical courses.
Take a deep breath and enjoy the cooling breeze and the smell of the salt air as you prepare to tee-off. But don't let these gorgeous surroundings fool you. That cool sea-breeze may feel relaxing, but it can sometimes create quite a challenge for your game. Although you'll be surrounded by lush tropical foliage and enjoy views of the beautiful Caribbean sea, many of the region's courses contain difficult sand traps and water hazards, as well as tricky fairways that wind up and down hills. The island terrain is often perfect for par-three holes, which are very popular with golfers in the Caribbean. The setting is so peaceful and calming, you might not even feel the sting when you miss that last "gimme" putt.
Golf is a popular sport throughout the Caribbean, but especailly on the larger islands where there is more land available. All in all, there are more than 150 different courses for golfers to chose from. Whether you want to go to a place that has lots of different courses close together so you can have a new experience with every game, or you're looking for that one perfect course to play that one perfect game, there's a course here for everyone.Most courses are open to play by visitors, with instruction and equipment rental offered. But, should begin your planning well in advance. Greens fees can often be quite reasonable, but costs vary widely. Some of the nicest courses are located at luxury resorts, and playing can be quite expensive. It's also important to realize that some of the top-notch courses are closed to the public (limited access to members and guests staying at affiliated hotels) during the peak winter season. Budget-concscious golfers should research the golf packages offered by various resorts. Greens fees, caddy service, and carts may (or may not) be included in each package, and some of these items may be offered at reduced prices.
There are several strategies you can use when planning a golfing-oriented vacation. So to make things a little easier, we have created various sections below to help guide you to the perfect location for your golfing vacation.
If you want start the planning process by first selecting a destination and finding a hotel, while being confident you'll have a chance to play golf -- preferably at a variety of different courses -- this first list is a good place to start. This list is mostly composed of larger islands, where there are many different courses, but it also includes some smaller areas where golf is particularly popular In almost every case you can be confident you'll find multiple golfing options, in addition to the ones mentioned here.
|Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic||Casa de Campo Resort Dye Fore|
|Puerto Rico||Dorado del Mar Golf Club|
|Grand Bahamas, the Bahamas||Lucayan Golf Course|
|Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands||Blue Tip Golf Course|
|Holetown, Barbados||Sandy Lane Country Club|
|La Romana, Dominican Republic||La Romana Country Club|
|New Providence Island, the Bahamas||Albany Golf Course|
|Punta Cana, Dominican Republic||Hard Rock Golf Club|
|Riviera Maya, Mexico||Moon Palace Spa & Golf Club|
|Rose Hall, Jamaica||Cinnamon Hill Golf Course|
Golf has enjoyed a tremendous growth in popularity in the Dominican Republic for both tourists and locals over the past 20 years. There are a number of famous courses located throughout the island. One place that is particurally well known for golfing in the Dominican Republic is Casa de Campo, which is home 4 different 18-hole courses. Golfers fly in from all over the world to play these courses. One of the four is a less-known course that is mostly enjoyed by local golfers; La Romana Country Club. If you check it out, you'll likely enjoy the game in peace, away from other tourists.
Jamaica is another excellent choice for golfers of all skill levels. Everyone from beginners to seasoned pros can enjoy the courses here. The island is known for, or some of the more enthusiastic players say "cursed" for, it's deviously tricky ocean breezes. Jamaica is home to many famous courses that have been played on by some of golf's most notable players. Mulitple championship golf touraments have been held on the Tryall Club Jamaica in Montego Bay. And the Half Moon course at Rose Hall Plantation Grounds is a member of Jack Nicklaus' "Great Golf Resorts of the World."
With more than a dozen championship-quality courses at various spots around the island, Puerto Rico is another famous destination for golf enthusiasts. Some of the best-known course architects, like Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Gary Player, and Greg Norman have credits here.
You might be planning a vacation that is centered around golf, but maybe some members of your travel party aren't enthusiastic about the sport. If this is the case, a good strategy is to stay at one of the outstanding destination resorts listed below. Each of these resorts has at least one excellent on-site golf course -- one that is considered to be among the best in the region. But the reason they are included in this list is because they also offer many other on-site activities and amenities, like Full Service Spa's and tennis courts. Many also feature a Kid's club or other amenities for children, as well. So, you can be sure that there will be something for everyone in your group to enjoy while you are out on the links.
|Body Holiday At Lesport||St. Lucia|
|Casa de Campo||Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic|
|CuisinArt Resort & Spa||Anguilla|
|Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort||Manchebo, Aruba|
|Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar Beach & Golf Resort||Dorado, Puerto Rico|
|Eden Roc Cap Cana||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic|
|El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort||Fajardo, Puerto Rico|
|Four Seasons Nevis||Nevis, St. Kitts and Nevis|
|Grand Mayan Riviera Maya||Puerto Morelos, Mexico|
|Half Moon Club
||Rose Hall, Jamaica|
|Iberostar Rose Hall Beach||Rose Hall, Jamaica|
|One & Only Ocean Club||Paradise Island, the Bahamas|
|Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia||St. Lucia|
|The Tides Beach Resort||San Pedro, Belize|
Casa de Campo, winner of the U.S. Travel Weekly's Magellan Award for "Best Golf Resort"is not only home to multiple fantasic golf courses, but the resort also has an on-site equestrian center and has a priavte beach where guests can jet-skii, fish, or scuba dive. Sports of all different kinds can be enjoyed there.
The Fairmont Southhampton on Bermuda not only has a beautiful on-site golf course, but there are also a great deal of other fantastic golf courses located within a couple of miles of the resort, perfect for keeping every round fresh and exciting.
The Four Seasons Nevis has an on-site course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, that features stunning and natural tropical scenery that can be enjoyed both while teeing off on the course and while relaxing down on the beach.
Every golf course is a little different, and declaring "the best" is nearly impossible. However, if you want to plan your vacation by finding a truly outstanding course where you can play, this next list is the perfect place to start. It is a list of the really outstanding courses in the Caribbean -- ones that have been consistently included in "Best Golf Courses" and "Top 10" lists for the region and the world.
|Cinnamon Hill Course||Rose Hall|
|Dorado Beach East Course||Dorado|
|El Camaleon Mayakoba||Playa Del Carmen|
|Four Season Golf Course||Nevis|
|Golf de St-Francois||Saint-Francois|
|Paradise Island Golf Course||Paradise Island|
|Punta Espada Golf Club||Punta Cana|
|Casa De Campo Resort Teeth of the Dog||Casa de Campo|
|Tierra Del Sol Golf Course||Malmok|
|Tryall Golf Course||Jamaica|
Needless to say, many of these courses offer even experienced golfers a challenging experience, such as Gold de St-Francis. This course appears simple and flat at first glance but the unpredictable winds of the island create quite the challenge for even the most seasoned pros. A different challange is offered at Cinnamon Hill, where the constant changes in elevation throughout the course make for an interesting and difficult round.
But the best doesn't always mean the hardest, some courses were given their titles for other reasons. El Camaleon Mayakoba is known for it's beautiful scencery surrounding the course; oceanfront views, thick forest boarders, and sparkling lagoons are all notable features you'll get a chance to see while playing. Paradise Island Golf Course is also known for it's looks, with stunning ocean views from nearly every hole.
Some of the world's most well known golf course designers have brought their talents down into the Caribbean and created beautiful and challenging courses. If you have a favorite designer, or want to experience play on a course designed by someone you are already familiar with, this next list is a good place to start your planning process. Below we've listed courses created by a few of the best-known designers who have had the greatest impact on golfing in the region.
|Robert Trent Jones (Jr. and Sr.)||Carambola Beach Golf Club
||US Virgin Islands|
|Dorado Beach East Course||Puerto Rico|
|Golf de L'Imperatrice Josephine||Martinique|
|Port Royal Golf Course||Bermuda|
|Tierra Del Sol Golf Course||Aruba|
|Four Season Golf Course|
|Peter Dye||La Romana Country Club||Dominican Republic|
|Casa De Campo Resort Teeth of the Dog||Dominican Republic|
|Old Quarry Golf Course||Curacao|
|Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club||Mexico|
|Jack Nicklaus||Britannia Golf Course||Cayman Islands|
|Moon Palace Spa & Golf Club||Mexico|
|Jaguar Golf Course at Yucatan Village & Resort||Mexico|
Robert Trent Jones Sr and Jr are a father son duo who have together created hundreds of incredible courses all over the world. Their courses are best known for the artistic landscaping of the lush greens which are typically surrounded by large bunkers and water hazards. Their designs encourage golfers to play a bit more daringly. Each of their famous courses located in the Caribbean have an average 70 course rating and a slopes north of 120, making them quite the challange, even for a seasoned golfer.
Thought to be one of the most influencial golf course architects in the world, Pete Dye is known for his distinctive features of smaller greens and his unique use of railraod ties to hold bunkers. His most notable piece of work is located in the Dominican Republic and is considered to be one of the most challanging courses; Casa de Campo Teeth of the Dog. It is the only course in the Caribbean that has consistantly remained on the list of the world's top 100 courses.
Jack Nickalaus, formerly regarded as "the greatest professional golfer of all time," retired from the game in the 70s and began designing his own courses. Although a majority of his courses are in the United States, he has several famous ones in the Caribbean. His designs reflect the tropical location and are mostly done in traditional, seaside layouts. Although his courses can be quite challenging, he is always sure to include holes suitable for golfers of all ages and skill level.
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