By Peter Mumford
A Caribbean cruise is a wonderful opportunity to visit exotic islands, meet new people, and learn about other cultures. For avid golfers, those several-hour–long shore leaves are made even better when you can grab your clubs and play some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
After playing more than 500 different courses in 21 countries, I suggest the following (in no particular order) as five of the best islands for golf in the Caribbean.
Dominican Republic has established itself as a premier golf destination thanks to architects such as Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, whose designs regularly top the lists of Best Caribbean courses. Casa de Campo resort features three Dye creations, but Teeth of the Dog is world renowned and almost always listed as the No. 1 course in the region. The stunning seaside layout, where the wind howls and the water is often in play, should be added to every avid golfer’s bucket list.
Punta Espada at Cap Cana is never far behind in the rankings. The Nicklaus design hugs the cliffs above the sea with occasional plunges to the beach below. Two more solid Dominican Republic options are Punta Cana, by Tom Fazio, and Playa Grande, one of Robert Trent Jones’ last designs.
In the northern part of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico boasts 20 worthy golf courses. A handful rank up there with the best in the region including TPC Dorado Beach, which has hosted two World Cups; and Coco Beach, which boasts a pair of fine layouts. The Championship course at Coco Beach annually hosts the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open while the International course delights all levels of golfers with its scenic and challenging mountain layout.
On the northeast corner of the island, not far from San Juan, is El Conquistador, an exciting Arthur Hills design built on the side of a mountain that offers stunning ocean views and breathtaking elevation changes. Puerto Rico’s busiest sports resort, Palmas Athletic Club, features another pair of fine courses: the Flamboyan, a championship layout designed by Rees Jones that skirts a 20-acre freshwater lake; and the Palm, which is a Gary Player design that’s shorter and less demanding than its sister course.
Farther to the north, the Bahamas beckon. While some of the best golf courses are private and would need some pretty special connections, two of the must-see….
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