31 July 2022

Guide to Golf in the Caribbean: Another Play in Paradise

The Caribbean is full of white sandy beaches, lush tropical plants, potent rum punches and world-class golf. From the Dominican Republic down to Barbados, we’ll explore some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean and convince you why this region is a premium golf destination.

Why choose the Caribbean for your next golf tour?

While you’d think the eternal sunshine is the first reason why, actually for many golfers it isn’t. The saturation of quality courses is one of the top reasons the Caribbean’s golf product is so enviable. Particularly in Barbados, a “tiny island nation” of only 166 square miles, you can hop off the plane and have your club in one hand and a welcome punch in the other within half an hour. 

Barbados and other small islands’ courses are so close to the main hubs such as airports, sea ports, and capital cities, that the convenience makes the Caribbean a seriously competitive region for golf holidays.

 

 

Which Caribbean islands have great golf courses?

When considering Caribbean golf destinations, you're spoiled for choice. The Caribbean is a diverse region of English, Spanish, French and Dutch territories, with small islands, big islands, islands shared by two countries (like Hispaniola and Saint Martin), and countries in South America. 

 

Of the 30-odd territories of the Caribbean, the highest-rated golf resorts are located in the islands of: Aruba, Puerto Rico, Anguilla, Bahamas, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Croix, Turks and Caicos, and our favourite - Barbados.

 

 

Which Caribbean island is the best golf destination?

It’s like asking “which rum is the best”. The answer may come down to your personal taste, but here’s a sampling to wet your appetite:

 

Punta Espana in the Dominican Republic has been named Golfweek Magazine '#1 course in the Caribbean' from 2009 to 2016. With eight of its holes running alongside rocky shores with crashing ocean waves, it might be all too easy to lose yourself (or a ball) in admiration of the view on this celebrated par 72 course.

 

More than reggae, jerk, and the fastest men and women in the world, Jamaica also offers world-class golf courses. The White Witch and Cinnamon Hill located on the 4,000 acre Rose Hall estate are championship courses carved into the side of a mountain. The golf experience is first class and country music fans will delight in the opportunity to tour the home of late legend Johnny Cash who bought the Cinnamon Hill Great house in early 70s.

 

That brings us to Barbados; coincidentally the birthplace of rum. This charming island could fit many times over in much larger territories such as Jamaica or Dominican Republic, yet it has an exceptional golf offering with incredible value for money. 

 

However, the reason many golfers and their families prefer Barbados is that you can tour the whole island without worry. The beaches are beautiful, accessible and safe. You can stop by corner shops, talk to locals and grab a bite of local grub. You’ll get to know familiar faces very quickly as Bajans are very warm and friendly. As quick as they are to share their story, they’ll want to hear yours too.

 

The courses available here are world-class, such as the Barbados Golf Club, which was sanctioned by the PGA European tour to host a PGA Seniors tournament in 2003. The par 72 course, 6,805 yards, is located in Durants in the southern parish of Christ Church. 

 

Another favourite among golf enthusiasts is the Old 9 at Sandy Lane, an intimate golf course affording a good look at the Caribbean sea. Spanning 7,060 yards, par 36 this course was home to the 2006 World Golf Championship Barbados World Cup.

 

The Royal Westmoreland 18 hole championship course (6,870 yards, par 72) is a five star rated course that is a mixture of challenging holes with a collection of signature Par 3s. 

 

Rockley Golf Club (5,610 yards, Par 70) is not the biggest course on the island but it offers great value and a tough challenge of your golfing ability. The course is a flat parkland course of 9 holes with alternative 18 hole tees. Each hole is 'Out of Bounds' requiring players to play strategically to keep their score low.

 

Finally, Apes Hill at 1,000 feet above sea level means your game will be on a higher level but still down to earth. It’s what happens on the green that’s the real magic. Apes Hill is uniquely situated straddling the east and west. Playing the front 9, you enjoy spectacular views of the “Platinum coast” – the sparkling Caribbean sea, the winding stretches of famous beaches often times glittered with celebrities who may be larger than life but unrecognizable from your perch on the 2nd hole.

 

Once you move to the back 9, the scenery shifts. First, you’re thrust back in time to an almost newborn Barbados, with only a few colourful rooftops visible among the otherwise green carpet of foliage. From the 15th hole, your eyes can roll down the hillside of the Scotland District to the crashing whitecaps of the untamed East coast. The course at Apes Hill is an 18 hole Championship Par 72 course which is really playable and a “must-see”.

 

Seeing the views are why you should play Apes Hill at least once. A fantastic round of golf might bring you back again. Find out more about the golfing experience at Apes Hill here.

 

 

Should I choose a Golf Resort or All Inclusive Golf Package?

Many Caribbean islands offer all-inclusive golf hotels such as Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Puerto Rico but then you never get the real local experience. All-inclusive golf resorts have some pros, such as the proximity of the courses which facilitate travel to and from your room to the course, which is more important for bigger territories. For the aficionados who simply want to focus on golf and absolutely nothing else, an all-inclusive resort will do.

 

But for families, for adventurers, for those who crave new scenery– an all-inclusive can’t satisfy you. That’s why we think when choosing between an all-inclusive hotel or a golf resort, a golf resort ticks more boxes. You can enjoy an authentic local experience, dive into local sights and sounds. Plus, for your family or anyone travelling with you, there’s so much for them to see and do while you’re on the green. They can take tours, visit a museum, go on hikes to explore the nature and wildlife, try street food, visit historic cities and sleepy towns and get acquainted with residents and the culture and rhythm of the island.  

 

 

What should I know about golfing in the Caribbean?

Here’s what you can expect when arriving at the golf club. 

 

While every golfer prefers their own clubs, most respected golf clubs will allow you to rent clubs and you might not need to travel with your own if you don’t have the space. There may be caddies available though not all courses will offer this.

 

Green fees will vary, you may find some courses are very exclusively priced however at many locations you may find you enjoy value for money given the fresh scenery, great tropical weather and course quality paired with holiday happiness.

 

They say that the Caribbean is an eternal summer and the sunny skies can be unforgiving over a prolonged period, so a cool comfortable attire is also a key factor to protect you from the warm weather. Some golf resorts may offer a wide variety of amenities including suitable golf clothing, however it is best to check to ensure if this is an option with your resort.

 

 

Tips on Travelling with your Clubs or Golf Gear

While some Caribbean golf resorts will offer golfing gear and clubs to use you may prefer to stick to your tried and trusted. If so, travelling may provide some new challenges. Most airlines treat golf clubs as standard luggage, so long as they are within weight limitations there is no additional charge of overcharge fee. If you are unsure on the cost or weight allowance, check with your airline or travel agent. 

 

For the safety of your valuables however it is advised to pack all equipment in a hard-sided luggage. In the event that you use a soft-sided bag remember to pack a golf-club protection device. Another way to better protect your clubs and gear is to add a personal ID and contact for your resort to your equipment so they are easily identified and recoverable.  

 

 

Apes Hill Golf Performance Centre

Apes Hill also has a progressive, state-of-the-art Performance and Teaching Centre with exceptional staff. You can have your biomechanics analysed to create personalized golf specific fitness plans. You may also be fitted for clubs from driver to putter, or choose to get a coaching plan with one-on-one coached sessions to improve your game.

 

Head of Sales at Apes Hill, Kim Goddard, notes that the golf Performance Centre is one of the best we’ve seen in the Caribbean thanks to its state of the art equipment. Which, by the way, also happens to be fun stuff. 

 

She describes the equipment, “If you want to work on your putting, they brought a system that is almost like beer pong, where you have to hit your ball to it and you get points. And so it’s making things that are tedious, fun, to help your game.” 

 

The Performance Centre also has a biometrics programme which uses markers on your joints to measure your swing. It provides an analysis to say whether you need more strengthening, more hip flexibility, and gives you a bespoke exercise programme. Equipment like this helps you to protect your elbows, your back, your hips and lets you play longer.

 

 

We can think of a few more reasons to make Apes Hill your favourite Caribbean golf course. Contact us for more information.