Unlike my home state, the Caribbean isn't exactly awash in courses - partly for economic reasons, partly for geographic ones (there isn't enough space). But there are world-class golf courses to be found, most of them connected to resorts.
Beware, though - they can be pricey. Green fees at most top-notch resorts are north of $100, though they can be had cheaper with inclusive packages.
Here are TravelGolf.com's picks for the top golf resorts in the Caribbean (Mexico not included). Don't forget the new passport requirements: As of Jan. 23, U.S. citizens entering or re-entering the country from the Caribbean (save for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) must present their documents upon arrival.
Of the three, the Dog stands out. The course placed 17th on Golf Digest's 2005 list of the top 100 non-U.S. courses, one of only two Caribbean courses to earn a spot.
The other was also a Dominican course, Playa Dorada (No. 53), and with more resorts on the way (including CapCana, Roco Ki and Punta Cana), the country has to rank as the hottest of the Caribbean golf hot spots.
2. Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort, Jamaica: Jamaica has about a dozen courses, most of them congregated in the northwest in the Montego Bay. The local Ritz is a AAA Five Diamond hotel situated on 5,000 acres, much of it beachfront.
White Witch, winding through the mountains about 10 minutes from the hotel, has won a number of accolades. The elevation lifts you to views of the Caribbean on 16 of the 18 holes.
3. Half Moon Bay, Jamaica: Not far from the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay has two miles of private beach and a whopping 51 swimming pools. It also has a superb Robert Trent Jones Sr. course (recently revamped by Roger Rulewich) and the Caribbean's only David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
Two other must-plays in the area are the Tryall Club and the Wyndham Rose Hall Resort and Club.
4. Sandy Lane Golf and Spa Resort, Barbados: There are 45 holes here, topped by the superb Green Monkey, carved out of a quarry by Tom Fazio. This is one of the few Caribbean courses that can rival Teeth of the Dog.
Only Sandy Lane guests can play the Green Monkey, but the resort's other courses, the Fazio-designed Country Club and the self-explanatory Old Nine, are open.
5. Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort, Puerto Rico: This 500-acre beachfront golf/casino resort has two courses: the Ocean Course, designed by Tom and George Fazio, and Greg Norman's River Course. And the carts here are GPS-equipped, not always a given in the Caribbean.
6. Four Seasons Resort, Nevis: A beautiful, low-key resort on a beautiful, low-key island. The challenging course climbs, dips and dives around the base of the volcanic mountain that dominates Nevis, giving you misty vistas of the Caribbean Sea and sister island St. Kitts that no postcard can capture.
An hour-long ferry ride will take you to the excellent Royal St. Kitts Golf Club.
January 15, 2007