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Bahamas

Bahamas Golf Courses

The Bahamas offer a world-class golfing experience to beginning and avid golfers alike. Its nine courses offer spectacular ocean views, a variety of course styles and some of the best golfing in the world to those willing to subject themselves to warm ocean breezes and palm-lined fairways. Year-round play completes the package for golfers hoping to add a little golf to their island vacation or a little island to their golfing expedition.

Blue Shark Golf Club

Blue Shark Golf Club offers a Greg Norman-designed, 72-par course that, at nearly 7,200 yards, plays long. Located along the coast, wind can be a significant factor, though less experienced players will benefit from wide and gentle fairways. The greens also offer a somewhat forgiving experience, though features such as challenging bunker placements and variable green sizes and speeds keep players from getting too comfortable with their short game.

The course is playable by beginning golfers, though experienced players will find meeting par challenging on a number of holes, including the “Shark’s Teeth,” three consecutive holes beginning with the 10th which offer a multitude of bunkers, water hazards and marshy areas.

Among the course’s attractions are two “Blue Holes,” deep hazards that actually reach beneath the island and connect with the nearby Caribbean. Players may also take in some of the island’s history, as the stone ruins of an old plantation’s slave quarters lie between the 11th and 12th holes. The course offers two putting greens, a driving range, a fully-stocked clubhouse and iced towels for hotter days.

Fortune Hills Golf & Country Club

Fortune Hills Golf Club is a nine-hole course that plays to 3,458 yards. Though the course offers wide fairways, the greens tend toward the smaller side and severe elevation changes provide for challenging play. The course offers a popular restaurant and bar at the clubhouse, and players hoping for a little more golf can take advantage of the secondary tees, which are well placed to make for a second round that is significantly different than the first. One of the course’s draws is the par five, which at 530 yards is the longest hole in the Bahamas. The course offers a putting green and cart rental.

Lucayan Course

The Lucayan Course, one of two courses at the Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort, was designed by Dick Wilson and opened in 1962. At 72 par and 6,824 yards, it plays rather long for an island course, though rests comfortably near the standard for a mainland course. Two lakes provide water hazards on three of the holes and 73 yawning bunkers make smart shot selection and accurate play a must.

The fairways are tight and often sharply angled, earning Lucayan a reputation among many for being the Bahamas' most challenging course. Also the oldest golf course on the island, its age makes for lush stands of well-developed trees along the fairway. These trees don’t just provide for challenging play, as they offer shade, privacy and a variety of wild birds. The course prides itself on offering a blend of straight, left-to-right and right-to-left approaches to challenge – and reward – every style. The course also offers a driving range, putting green and chipping green, as well as rental clubs and refreshment carts.

Reef Course

The Reef Course, one of two courses at the Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and opened in 2000. The course is 72 par and 6,930 yards. Though the course offers a wide variety of playing options, the dominant feature on the Reef Course is water. The course is dotted with 11 lakes, which come into play on 13 holes.

Though the fairways are ample, the 57 strategically placed bunkers will punish any player who tries to take undue advantage of this space. Its large, flat greens can be deceptive, and players hoping for an easy two-putt on every hole may find themselves in for a surprise. Often in the running with its sister course at Our Lucayan for consideration as one of the most challenging in the Bahamas, the Reef forces a thoughtful game, though its design and lack of crowds allow for a leisurely pace of play. The course offers chipping and putting greens, and a driving range is available at its sister course, Lucayan.

Radisson Cable Beach

At 72 par and 6,453 yards, Cable Beach is a local favorite and represents one of the more casual and authentically Bahamian playing experiences on the islands. Offering fewer amenities than some of the resort courses, the course offers twilight play for a mere $35. This course attracts tourists and residents alike, so individuals hoping to meet locals or escape from some of the more tourist-oriented elements on the Bahamas can find what they’re looking for at Cable Beach.

Though the fairways are wide and forgiving, water hazards on 16 of the 18 holes force careful play, and tall grasses and trees lining the fairways can also keep you on your toes. The course is relatively light on sand traps, so any balls that can avoid the heavy rough or water tend to be rewarded with an easy lie. Despite the $35 fee, Cable Beach has developed a reputation for interesting, challenging play.

Emerald Reef

A Greg Norman designed course characterized by monster bunkers and water on nearly every hole, Sandals-owned Emerald Reef is a course for the precision golfer. At 7,200 yards and 72 par, its numbers represent a fairly standard course, though its setting and design is anything but. Six holes stretch along a narrow peninsula jutting into the Caribbean Sea, and the aptly named Emerald Bay and rolling sand dunes provide a spectacular backdrop for all 18 holes.

While many of the longer tee shots offer forgiving fairways, approaching the green is a task easier said than done. The course takes full advantage of its beach setting, and some holes feature almost more sand than grass. Many holes feature jutting bunkers and angular fairways befitting a Dr. Seuss illustration that can turn a minor miscalculation into a desperate fight for par. The unpredictable coastal winds add a final layer of difficulty. The course also offers a clubhouse, two comfort stations along the links and a driving range, putting green and clubs for rent.

Abaco Club on Winding Bay

Abaco Club offers players a Scottish-style course with long, gentle fairways and small, deep bunkers. At 72 par and a long 7,165 yards, this course rewards powerful drives, and the deep bunkers are a stern punishment for those who let their approach shots wander. Seven holes play along the beach, and wind can be a significant factor, especially on the later holes, which feature more drastic elevation changes than the front nine.

The course’s final and signature hole, a 553-yard par 5, finishes 60 feet above the surf atop bluffs that provide ample reward for even the most disappointing round of play. The course also offers a driving range and putting green.

The Ocean Club

Home to the Michael Jordan Invitational, The Ocean Club features a recently redesigned course offering views of the Caribbean from nearly every hole. At 72 par and over 7,100 yards, the course uses wind, white sand bunkers and deceptive contours to challenge its players. Located on an island peninsula, elevation changes are not a significant factor on this course, though the strong and variable winds can create a similar challenge to consistent play.

Tall, windswept palm trees are the only obstacles to panoramic views, and several large lagoons challenge players to maintain control even as the long, gentle fairways encourage powerful drives. The course offers club rental as well as a driving range and putting green.

Treasure Cay Golf Club

The final course designed by the renowned Dick Wilson, Treasure Cay stands at 72 par and 6,985 yards. Though ocean views on the course are rare, golfers will no doubt need to focus on the course itself as the dense rough, unpredictable winds and narrow fairways create an unforgiving environment. Four freshwater ponds provide for water hazards on five holes, and wild waterfowl is a common sight.

The course augments these challenges with deceptive elevation changes and 66 small yet strategically placed bunkers. Though critically acclaimed, the course is rarely crowded, and tee times are not even offered, making planned outings simple to arrange and keeping the door open for a spontaneous round. A driving range, putting green and rental clubs are also available.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Recreation   

December 24, 2010
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