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Top Caribbean golf resorts a cure for the winter blues

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

This is the time of year you saps in the frigid north start dreaming of golf in sunny Florida or playing on the even-sunnier Caribbean golf courses.

Teeth of the Dog
Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic is TravelGolf.com's top-ranked golf course in the Caribbean.
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Teeth of the DogWhite Witch - JamaicaWestin Rio Mar - Puerto Rico
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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.

1. Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic: Casa de Campo gets top honors on the basis of its trio of excellent Pete Dye-designed layouts: Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and the Links course.

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.

Honorable mention: Royal Westmoreland, Barbados; Palmas del Mar, Puerto Rico; Wyndham El Conquistador Resort and Country Club, Puerto Rico; Four Seasons Resort Emerald Bay Golf Club, Bahamas.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Golf Courses in Caribbean

    steven faraher-amidon wrote on: Jan 15, 2007

    Just a word about Playa Grande golf course in the
    northeast area of Dominican Republic. I have played teeth of the Dog in La romana and Punta Cana golf course in Punta Cana (PB Dye)..and fine as they are
    they aren't as good as Playa Grande, built in 1997
    as the last course of the venerable and classic golf
    course architect Robert Trent Jones. He called it perhaps his finest, and it was his last. It is built on
    a cliffs region, with 12 holes on or directly adjacent
    to the water..on cliffs 100 feet and more above the
    water. It is not to be missed. Please have someone on your staff play it; you will be astounded. Thanks.

    Reply

    • RE: Golf Courses in Caribbean

      denis debolt wrote on: May 29, 2007

      totaly agree playa grande is definatly a must play,haven'tplayed the rest but would def rate it better than the ones ive played in phoenix area,here are a few pictures
      http://s14.photobucket.com/albums/a350/Festero/Playa%20Grande%203-2007/?

      Reply

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