Sunday, January 1, 2006
Double-bogeys mean nothing when you're in paradise
What you probably have heard of is what’s happening on Paradise Island, a small stretch of island connected by a land bridge to Nassau on New Providence. The Atlantis mega-resort is there, as in a Tom Weiskopf redesign of a classic Joe Lee course at the recently renovated Ocean Club. Built in the 1960s, the resort is amazing, and the course is no less spectacular. Excess foliage was removed to provide more ocean views and the room to build several seaside tee boxes. Like most Oceanside layouts, water and wind are the main obstacles to scoring. Get on while it’s still open to Atlantis guests.
Watch out for Puerto Rico on the golf destination radar. Already known as an excellent vacation spot, with 15 established resorts featuring world-class golf, a solid half-dozen more are in the works. To keep up with new course openings, visit www.gotopuertorico.com.
Of course, the new kids on the island will have a tough time one-upping what’s already laid out on Puerto Rico, including the Wyndham El Conquistador Resort and its dramatic Arthur Hills design, and the Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar Beach & Golf Resort, home to a course designed by Puerto Rico’s favorite golfing son, Chi Chi Rodriguez. They’ll have even more trouble replacing what has defined Puerto Rican golf for nearly 50 years Â– Hyatt Dorado Beach. Once the personal playground of Laurence Rockefeller, Dorado Beach, which sits on 1,000 stunning oceanfront acres about 20 miles from San Juan, oozes class. The two Robert Trent Jones courses (paired by two others at the Hyatt’s sister property in Cerromar Beach) have recently received renovation by Raymond Floyd, who attempted to make the course a stiffer challenge, considering recent advancements in equipment. Nonetheless, classic Jones hallmarks such as runway tee boxes and strategically placed fairway bunkers remain. The West course at Dorado Beach is an ingenious layout. Jones positioned fairways so that the player must hit into each point on the compass, challenging even the most skilled golfer to reckon with the prevailing wind direction on every hole. The East course, like all the Hyatt 18s, is lush with gentle drops and rises in elevation. The calling card of the East is the par-5 4th, which Jack Nicklaus has called one of the world’s toughest holes. The double-dogleg fairway forces the aggressive player to hit two shots over water to hit the green in two. The approach plays straight toward the beach. If any of the new holes on Puerto Rico are as good as this, golf travelers are in for a real treat.
When To Go
The Caribbean has a tropical climate with two rainy seasons, from May to June and September to November. Also, hurricanes tend to occur between June and September, though they rarely have a serious effect on vacationers in the region. Typically there is little variation in temperature year round, but the period between December and April is the best for golfers, with an average temperature that ranges between the high 60s and low 90s. According to locals, the periodic rains that come at this time are a welcome source of refreshment that don’t last very long or seriously interfere with the many outdoor activities available in the region.
What To Bring
The Caribbean has many top-notch golf courses to choose from, but be aware that it is the tropics, and it does rain from time to time. To be prepared, you won’t need the thermal rain suit you took to Ireland, but you should bring a decent umbrella and some type of light rain jacket. Since the temperature rarely drops much below 70 degrees, you can feel pretty safe leaving your wool sweaters, rain gloves and warm socks at home. If you have lightweight golf shoes or golf sandals, bring them. Golf in the Caribbean is not a formal production.
Along with your normal golf gear (clubs, bag, etc.), be sure to bring a couple of hats to protect you from the sun, and plenty of sunblock. In addition, it’s not a bad idea to throw some mosquito repellent in your golf bag, along with some extra golf balls. The tropics feature some beautiful, lush jungle, much of which could be adjacent to the golf courses you’ll be playing, and unless you’re Tarzan, you’ll probably want to re-tee from time to time.
How To Get There
Air service is available to Caribbean destinations from most major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Consult your favorite air carrier for rates.
For a complete source for Caribbean travel and vacation information, visit www.caribbean-on-line.com. Places to stay, play golf, other activities as well as vacation packages are all covered here.
The Jamaica Golf Association’s Website provides comprehensive information on golf in Jamaica and the Caribbean. It also covers current local news on what’s happening in golf in Jamaica, tournament schedules, golf package deals and special events.
Information on vacation golf packages, as well as insights into the many fine golf courses in Puerto Rico can be found at www.gotopuertorico.com. Tips on nightlife, business facilities, local color and historical info can also be found here.
The official tourism Website of the Islands of the Bahamas, www.bahamas.com provides links and info on a variety of golf courses in the area, as well as hotel packages, local sites, attractions and other activities.
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