Is it time to change winter blues for island “greens?” The ideal outdoor, distanced, leisure activity, golfing got a shot in the arm over the last couple of years.
Even less committed golfers dusted off the clubs during the pandemic, rediscovering the delights to be found on the greens. And now that people are travelling again, the clubs are coming along for the ride.
Here are three Caribbean island golf resorts with a unique twist to freshen up your game in tropical, seaside breezes. Plus, their luxury resort game is as strong as their golf experience.
Which ones have you golfed?
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
It’s been called the Mecca of golf in the Caribbean. A one-of-a-kind resort with 63 holes over three legendary golf courses designed by Pete Dye.
The golf architect calls Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog (above and top) his best work. It remains the only Caribbean course that consistently makes the list of top 100 in the world – usually the top 50. Hand-cleared from wild scrub way back in 1971, it pioneered the dramatic, seaside island golf course. In addition to the breathtaking ‘Heaven 7’ oceanfront holes framed by the sea and dramatic coral shoreline, the course has been described as ‘labyrinthine’ – it remains a challenge this many years later.
There are two other courses on the resort. The Links, which is thought to be even more challenging, and Dye Fore. Golfers will find 7 holes run along 300-foot cliff tops, and navigate diverse terrain including lagoons, jungle, and a path down to the resort marina.
The three courses are all part of the 7000 acre Casa de Campo. Described as the Caribbean version of the Hamptons, it has a resort and nearly 2000 private luxury villas, a modern marina, dozens of restaurants, acclaimed facilities that give non-golfers plenty to do at the shooting club, tennis club, polo and equestrian club, and even a cliffside replica historic European village that includes a 5000-seat amphitheatre that hosts global entertainers.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis
The tiny island of Nevis – half of the twin-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis - punches above its weight in golfing. Its legendary and groundbreaking Four Seasons Resort put Nevis on the map for luxury island resort lifestyles. Part of that is its 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course.
It’s considered the best in the Eastern Caribbean. Boasting four tee locations at each hole (and one black tee), this par 71 course offers breathtaking scenery on every green and fairway.
Nevis’ standout feature is Mount Nevis, an old, extinct volcanic peak soaring into the clouds. The resort hugs the beach and Mount Nevis rises steeply behind the Four Seasons. The golf course cuts through a former coconut plantation, tropical rainforest and steep ravines over 450 feet of elevation change with scenic views high over the sea. The 15th hole plummets off Mount Nevis itself! To top it off, the island’s famous green vervet monkeys have been known to join golfers along the way.
In addition to private lessons and weekly clinics, the golf program at the Four Seasons Nevis has fun with the game that can sometimes be taken too seriously.
'Foot Golf' games - similar to golf but played with a soccer ball instead, have players working toward a 21-inch 'cup' in place of the usual golf hole. The player who finishes the course with the fewest shots wins!
And with 'Eco-Bio Golf', players are actually encouraged to hit a golf ball or two into the sea. The balls turn into fish food within 72 hours after hitting the ocean floor. Guests can have beach-side golf competition while feeding the ecosystem. The entire family will get to enjoy practicing their swing on a mini beach driving range.
The resort is a favorite for jetsetters in the know. Nevis is only reachable by water by private yacht, small cruise ship, or water taxi from St. Kitts. It was completely re-imagined just before the pandemic, and the breezy, elegant, tropical design, ocean-facing infinity pool, beachside cabanas where guests can go fishing for local lobster with the chef and then have them barbecued for a luxury seafood meal on the beach – is the stuff island vacations are made of.
Sandy Lane, Barbados
Both the resort of Sandy Lane on Barbados’ platinum coast, and its golf club have received award after award after award.
The three resort golf courses have some of the best golf in the world. Golfing guests can choose between the charming Old Nine course, the resort-style 18-hole Tom Fazio designed Country Club course, with its spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. For a real ‘wow’ destination golf challenge, golfers can't miss The Green Monkey, another Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole course, carved out of an old limestone quarry that retains towering stone walls. There’s even a green monkey silhouette carved into turf in honor of the equally green monkeys that invite themselves to join golfers on the course. It’s reserved exclusively for resort guests.
This is where Tiger Woods got married. That says as much about the resort as the golf. British-style tropical hospitality in classical Palladian-style buildings reigns at Sandy Lane. Lush gardens surround an immense pool with a cascading waterfall, with the Pool Bar just the beginning of dining experiences. On one of the best beaches on the island, shaded by mature mahogany trees, with attendants with cold towels, sunglass cleaning, Evian misting and other luxurious touches, the beach is the best 19th hole!
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Images courtesy of their respective resorts.