HANG THE EXPENSE! Let’s go to Bermuda.
Despite only being a couple of miles wide and 20 miles long this tiny series of interconnected islands in the Atlantic is almost one large golf course with seven currently to choose from. Amongst them is probably the most scenic public course in the world, at Port Royal, government owned that opened in 1970 on high ground overlooking a clear, torquoise ocean.
Port Royal was designed by Robert Trent Jones and within nine years was playing host to the Grand Slam of Golf, the off-season tournament contested by the winners of golf’s four ‘Majors.’ Prior to the first ‘Grand Slam’ it had a $14.5m makeover that saw the vast undulating greens re-sown with Tifeagle, a Bermuda grass that is perfectly suited to the warm, windy conditions found on the coast, and a computerized irrigation system installed.
The result is a magnificent resort course, the longest on the island at 6,842 yards, with consistently slick greens, although players must be patient and wait for the visual drama to unfold. After we disappear down a steep slope on the dog-leg first we have five more holes to negotiate in a flat valley floor and parkland-style golf before we climb up to the seventh tee and catch sight of the ocean. From here on in it is a switchback ride of spectacular seaside golf with raised tee boxes, sloping fairways, well-protected greens and outstanding views.
Two of the par three holes are magnificent: the 213 yard eighth hole that takes us straight to the ocean and a raised green that slopes away from us and the epic 16th (see photograph above) a full 235 yards from the black championship tees.
Here we drive across a pink beach below onto a promontory with two little pot bunkers at the front and a huge crescent bunker to the rear protecting what looks a tiny green even from the more forward positions. There is a plaque on the back tee quoting 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, who played the hole and said, “Man, I’ve never been so nervous on a shot.”
By the time we reach the triple tiered green on the uphill par four 18th we will have used every club in our bag and will most certainly be ready to enjoy a beer or the local favourite known as a ‘Dark ‘n Stormy’ the trade name of a potent mixture of ginger beer and rum made by local rum producer Goslings, a family business that has been trading on the island since 1806.
Sitting out on the clubhouse terrace gazing down onto the course or out across the ocean is a most relaxing and restorative experience no matter how many balls we may have left behind us on the course. With British Airways flying direct from Gatwick Airport and discounted green fee packages offered by many of the leading island hotels, as well as transport to and from the course, the hardest decision most keen golfing tourists will have to make is when to go.