With spectacular tropical ocean settings and some of the world’s most challenging courses, the Caribbean has continually evolved over the past 40 years or so as a go-to place for serious golfers, hosting countless international tournaments. Here’s our pick of nine of the meanest greens on the scene.
Cap Cana on Punta Espada in the DR ranks among Jack Nicklaus’ finest creations. It earns its place on the Champions Tour with long, smooth greens that reward confident drives, water traps to challenge most players and an unforgettable 13th hole where you’re forced to pitch across the ocean.
Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog course designed by Pete Dye puts even the coolest head into a cold sweat. Taking its name from the jaggy rocks that dot the coast, its labyrinthine swerves and curves come mostly from its coast-hugging layout, with fast moulded greens upping the ante, putting it at no. 52 in the top 100 courses worldwide.
The legendary laidback island of Jamaica swings into life at the exclusive Tryall Club, an ex-sugar plantation on the banks of the Flint River, with steep green fees at this par-72 course that hosts the Johnny Walker Tournament and makes good use of a historic aqueduct whose pillars frame your tee shot.
Elsewhere on the island,Ritz Carlton’s 600-acre White Witch course may well spook you (named after the legendary White Witch of nearby Rose Hall Great House), thanks to its fiendish mix of strategically placed bunkers, elevation changes and deceptively tricky opening hole.
Tierra del Sol is the oldest of Aruba’s several internationally-acclaimed courses. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Junior, it offers a 7am tee-off time and features 18 holes amid an atmospheric setting of arid scrubland and cactus.
Another Trend Jones concoction, the Four Seasons Resort combines the contours of Mount Nevis with shore views, slicing through coconut plantations, tropical rainforest and deep ravines. You may find yourself watched by monkeys here as you chip your way along the edge of a dormant volcano.
Greg Norman designed the championship 18-hole island course of Great Exuma at Emerald Bay using special, sustainable grass, with fairways that weave their way through mangroves, sand dunes and rocky headlands, winding up with spectacular views over the peninsula. Trade winds and contours that encourage low shots add to the challenge.
With restricted access, a statement Club House and green fees around the £250 mark, Sandy Lane is a heavyweight golfing destination and perhaps the most famous of several on an island that’s becoming synonymous with the sport. No wonder that Tiger Woods chose to tie the knot here. The resort’s nine hole Green Monkey course takes its name from the colourful Bajan monkeys who dash across it, and was designed by Tom Fazio on the site of a disused quarry.
Assuming you can bag yourself an invite from a member, you may want to pack your sharpest Bermuda shorts for a round at the Mid-Ocean Club. Established in 1921, it’s one of the Caribbean’s oldest courses. The championship course in Tucker’s Town was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and once hosted the post-war summits of Churchill and Eisenhower.