The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations and golf courses are a large part of its allure. Teeth of The Dog is not only ranked as one of the best courses in the Caribbean, but also the world. Located within the Casa de Campo resort, legendary designer Pete Dye incorporated plenty of his trademarks including a fiendish dogleg, making this course particularly tantalizing.
Over on the eastern tip of the island, players can test-drive Jack Nicklaus’s signature course at Punta Espada where eight holes are played shoulder to shoulder with the shimmering Caribbean Sea. Meanwhile on the north coast, the Playa Grande golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, deserves a look-in for its equally handsome cliff-side fairways and curvaceous sloping greens.
Named after Barbados’s ubiquitous cheeky primates, Sandy Lane’s Green Monkey course designed by Tom Fazio draws VIP golfers from across the globe. Carved out of an old quarry, the terrain makes for exhilarating play and the spectacular scenery makes this 72 par course a must-try.
Neighbouring Royal Westmoreland created by Robert Trent Jones Jnr summons a Caribbean of yesteryear thanks to its grand colonial clubhouse, which is still the place to be seen at drinks-o-clock. Comparative newcomer, Apes Hill Club, is also worth jeeping over to. It benefits from smashing views thanks to its elevation at 1,000 metres, and allows players of all abilities to enjoy a first-class game.
With 700 swoon-worthy islands making up The Bahamas, it’s hard to know which to choose. For golfers, the star has to be the private isle of Great Guana Cay, home to Baker’s Bay. Laid out by Tom Fazio in 2010, every one of its 18 holes is to be savoured – and its Atlantic-facing first nine holes are certain to test skills. But the real beauty of this course is that it is completely void of stuffiness.
Similarly inviting, Abaco Club on the island of Abaco in the northern realms of The Bahamas, which was designed by Tom Mackenzie and Donald Steele, is the first Scottish-style links course in the region.
The electrifying Riviera Maya has fast become a trendy holiday destination and El Camaleón promises an appropriately thrilling game of golf. The course, designed by OMEGA brand ambassador Greg Norman, is dazzling. It meanders through jungle, mangroves and beach – just be sure to give the four cetones (natural caves) a wide berth. With state-of-the-art golf buggies that let you know how other players are faring (and from which you can order a beer), it’s somewhat ahead of its time.
In contrast, over on Mexico’s west coast in Cabo San Lucas, golfers can find something more traditional at Dunes Course nestled among voluptuous sand dunes. Meanwhile, across the gulf, there’s a truly unique experience to be had at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita: during high tide, players are whisked offshore to play hole 3B (aka the ‘tail of the whale’) on a rocky landmass out at sea.
Another Robert Trent Jones Jnr designed masterpiece, Bahia Beach is a top choice for eco-conscious travellers – it’s actually won awards for its preservation of the local environment. Featuring scenic lakes and gently undulating fairways, it’s a putter’s paradise and is suitable for all abilities.
Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach is equally blessed by Mother Nature, and benefits from not one but four, championship golf courses. The best of these are the East and West courses occupying a secluded bay within the former Rockefeller estate. Not to be eclipsed, Trump International, a 36-hole championship course, and the location of the Puerto Rico Open, delivers plenty of Trump’s trademark luxe and is conveniently placed just 20 minutes from the airport.
Popular with bohemian jetsetters, Jamaica has also plenty going for it golf-wise. Sitting between the rolling green hills and the white-sand shores of Montego Bay, Rose Hall Plantation offers a triptych of delightful courses. There’s Cinnamon Hill and White Witch, both designed by Robert von Hagge and Rick Baril, or Robert Trent Jones Snr’s award-winning Half Moon course recently renovated by Jones’ protégé, Roger Rulewich.
Nearby at Tryall Club, even the most accomplished golfers will be challenged by the tight fairways bordered by swaying palms. Nine of its 18 holes are caressed by the shoreline; the other nine meander through lush tropical hills.
St Kitts & Nevis
Described as the world’s most edible golf course, Irie Fields on the pristine island of St Kitts is part-golf course, part-working farm. Players weave their way through rows of crops and fruit orchards, which not only makes for a scintillating game but also reduces the course’s overall environmental impact. Win-win!
Not to be underestimated though, Royal St Kitts Golf Club located on St Kitts’ south east coast, has been receiving golfing royalty since 1976. In 2002 it was revamped by architect Thomas McBloom to grand effect playing as a fantastic 18 hole par-71 course.
On neighboring Nevis, one of the Caribbean’s least spoilt islands, Four Seasons Nevis makes the most of the island’s colourful history. Highlights include Nevis Peak, where you can practice your swing to a backdrop of abandoned sugar mills and, if you’re lucky, impress an audience of green vervet monkeys.
OMEGA & Golf
A passionate supporter of many of golf’s most celebrated personalities and events, OMEGA has a long-standing association with the game. As part of a partnership extending to 2022, OMEGA is, for example, Official Patron and Official Timekeeper of the PGA of America and Official Timekeeper of the Ryder Cup when it takes place in the USA. The iconic watchmaker is also title sponsor of many of the game’s most prestigious events in Europe and the Middle East, including the OMEGA European Masters, the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic and the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters. OMEGA is also set to be Official Timekeeper when golf makes its return to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil after a hiatus of more than a century. In its support of a roster of ambassadors which includes legendary player Greg Norman, leading lights Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie, as well as rapidly rising stars Harris English and S.Y. Noh, OMEGA has helped to raise the profile of golf as a global sport.
Upcoming Golfing Events from Around the World
PGA of America Events
Senior PGA Champ
76th – French Lick Resort, Indiana, USA
21-24 May 2015
PGA Professional National Championship
Philadelphia Cricket Club – Philadelphia, PA, USA
28 June – 1 July 2015
97th PGA Championship – Whistling Straits,Kohler, Wisconsin, USA
13-16 August 2015
41st Ryder Cup Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota, USA
27 September – 2 October 2016
European Tour Events
Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates Golf Club, UAE
26 January – 1 February 2015
Omega European Masters
Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre – Crans Montana, Switzerland
23 – 26 July 2015
Globetrotting travel writer Leo Bear also writes for Condé Nast Traveller, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, House & Garden, Aspire and The Mayfair Magazine.