Caribbean Golf - Choosing A Tropical Island Destination And Golf Course
Expectations for a Caribbean golf vacation
Resort golf courses range in size, quality, and fee depending on which Caribbean island you are on. Many large Caribbean luxury resorts offer several 18-hole and 9-hole golf courses with rolling greens and a breathtaking seaside view. Other smaller resorts might have just one 18-hole golf course or a single 9-hole course, often rocky and of lower quality. Other private golf clubs open their course to the public. These Caribbean golf courses can be just as large and attractive as resort courses, in some cases even nicer. Some Caribbean islands even sport municipal golf courses.
In general, golfing at a Caribbean resort costs more than at a public course, and smaller courses in turn cost less than larger ones. Some of the most famous Caribbean golf courses charge up to $400 to use the greens, not including equipment rental and cart rental. Certain island resort courses only allow guests that stay at the hotel to play golf, or charge non-guests an extra fee. Those lodging at the resort may also get complimentary services or equipment, or have free access to facilities such as pitching ranges, putting greens or other sports ammenities. Resort patrons might also earn the option of buying a 7-day pass for golfing at a reduced rate. Some Caribbean resorts offer an all-inclusive vacation package, which includes golfing as well as dining and other sports such as tennis, beach volleyball, scuba diving, and so on.
Public golf courses, though generally cheaper with entrance fees and equipment rentals, can be very glamorous in the tropics. Some are designed by well-known experts, (such as Robert Trent Jones), and rank among the best in the world. A very lovely public club, which presents three challenging 18-hole courses, could cost only about $100 in entrance fees. However, while some public courses allow you to make reservations, others function on a first come first serve basis, and they do fill up pretty quickly especially if popular. Call ahead to make sure there’s room for you and your friends to golf, or get there early to beat the crowd.
As with all activities in the Caribbean, pay attention to the season. While most of these beautiful tropical island destinations come with great temperatures all year, players traveling to play need to note that the busy season runs from just before Christmas until April. Expect more people on the island during the high season times. For you, that means more reason to plan ahead for greens reservations, figure more crowds on the golf courses and in some cases even expect some days when you may not get a round in because of the extra other players. June through November represents the rainy season. While most days still provide the day of your dreams while golfing, it's not surprising to find a quick shower. Sometimes in the tropics you may even experience a torrential downpour that stops in just a few minutes. Bring a poncho and good attitude and you may find the lack of crowds more than makes up for an occasional refreshing rain. On the other hand if you catch the rare day when a tropical storm or hurricane blows through be safe and stay off of the golf course.
Picking an island for a Caribbean golf vacation
Selecting a particular golf course to play requires several steps. For some, the first choice involves choosing an island destination. Depending on how large a portion of your vacation will center around golf you may choose courses first and than travel to the island where you want to play, or alternatively pick a Caribbean destination based on everything else the island has to offer and play on whatever courses may be on that island. As a middle ground you might narrow choices based on golf courses and than make the final Caribbean island selection based on other features from those nominees, or vice versa starting with island features and making final choices based on golfing.
Selecting a specific Caribbean Golf course
When looking at particular Caribbean golf courses to play, try to match what you want in a golf vacation to the course. Some Caribbean golf courses offer everything, especially if you ignore price restrictions, while others only offer certain elements of the perfect Caribbean golf course. Tropical island golf courses can differ from mainland golf courses in several ways besides offers warm weather. Total acreage available for golf courses on Caribbean islands mean sometimes you get a full long course and sometimes not. Some courses, especially at resorts that made a golf course as an afterthought as opposed to a resort built all other facilities around its golf course, are designed to get a golf course to fit in a space that may not suit a golf course. To get an idea of what to expect look at the total par for the golf course and the total yardage. When you see a golf course with a par 59 instead of the standard par 72 you might have a tip off that course got laid out using a limited amount of land. Sometimes these types of short courses also contain an odd layout besides short holes, like odd chip shots from a tee over a rocky ridge to a green they call a hole. These courses can be stunning if they encompass some views of the Caribbean Sea, but adjust your expectations accordingly. The designer provides a tip off a golf course represents an outstanding full length golf course. Look for names you know like Robert Trent Jones Sr., Robert Trent Jones Jr., Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman, even names you might not recognize can indicate a nice golf course. No one is going to advertise their golf course design came from Uncle Fred when he drew it on the back of a bar napkin. At the lowest end of the scale, on some islands where no real golf course exists at all, people will lay out a “golf course” just so they can hit a ball around and have some fun. These types or golf courses can have more rocks than grass and none of the elements of a great Caribbean golf course, but it’s better than nothing. If you are at an island and want to play they may be great, but certainly do not plan a golf vacation around playing at one of these make shift golf courses.
A dream Caribbean golf course offers lush grounds, great layout and design, stunning views, waterfront holes, an affordable price and no crowds. With some careful planning you may find your Caribbean golf dreams becoming reality, even better add to the vision a few birdies too!