by Paul Mermelstein
Barbados, a jewel among the Caribbean islands, provides an idyllic setting for the sport of golf. Whether cruising the islands or being pampered among the worlds aristocracy in your private estate, the courses of this island provide golfers of all abilities an opportunity to play a round in complete paradise.
Royal Westmoreland: A truly exceptional, exclusive, 5 star luxury resort, is the home of this championship 7045 yard, par 72 course. Recently ranked number 31 in the world outside of the U.S. designed by the highly acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Jr, and rated as one of the top ten courses in the world by Golf Monthly. The Royal Westmoreland is situated in the middle of 150 luxury homes ranging in value from 600,000 to over $10 million. Near by homeowners include Masters winner Ian Woosnam, Gary Lineker, Michael Vaughan, Mike Gatting and Andrew Flintoff.
Each hole offers several tees, testing golfers of all abilities with every club. In the near future look for the addition to the Royal Westmoreland of another 18 hole course to be designed by the equally acclaimed Rees Jones, brother to Robert. I played here with Christopher Pitt, Royal Westmoreland's wonderful guest services manager. If you play with him take note… he can hit the ball a ton – even with a sore shoulder!
Non-members of the club and visitors can play between 10am and 11am, Sunday through Friday. The cost for 18 holes is US$250 per person, including a cart. Rentals for golf clubs and shoes are additional. Remember to request a tee time prior to traveling to Barbados as this challenging course has so few tee times available.
Sandy Lane Golf Club: Located in St. James, Sandy Lane is another premier luxury resort. Boasting to be the choice of royalty, Sandy Lane provides 3 courses totaling 45 holes of golfing enjoyment. The three courses at Sandy Lane are The Old Nine, The Country Club Course, and the world famous Green Monkey Course.
The Old Nine: Aptly named was built in 1961 and features 3345 yards of par 36 pleasure. Making its way through the Sandy Lane estate with smaller greens and tighter fairways these nine holes will be a challenge. Old Nine winds through the lower level of luxury homes nearest to the resort and beach.
The Country Club: Designed by Tom Fazio, around five lakes, home of the 2006 World Cup of Golf, this 7060 yard par 72 masterpiece will delight you with its scenery and stunning beauty. This is a new course and home to professional tournaments. I found the course has wide fairways and is a pleasure to play. The clubhouse is stunning. You must have a Caddie to play golf at The Country Club.
The Green Monkey: Also by Tom Fazio,was created out of an old limestone quarry, with dramatic elevation challenges - even the most experienced golfers will be tested by this 7343 yard par 72 work of art.
Apes Hill Club: With its official opening the first week of December 2009, this is the latest edition to the Barbados golf course line up. Offering 7050 yards, this par 73 course is set at a high elevation bestowing views of both the Caribbean and Atlantic. While providing wide, forgiving fairways the design also includes strategically placed bunkers and tees to enforce accurate shots. The layout should play friendly for average golfers yet still challenge the experts.
Almond Beach Village: Set on the site of an old sugar plantation, one of two all inclusive resorts under the "Almond" brand on the island of Barbados. Almond Beach Village located in the parish of St. Peter, provides its guests with a 9 hole, par 3 "executive" golf course. Almond Beach does restrict players to only the use of "Cayman" golf balls, which limits this course to a more relaxing afternoon shoot around than the serious challenge sought after by more advanced golfers.
Rockly Golf Course: The oldest golf club in Barbados is a nine hole course with alternate tees to make up the back nine totaling 5610 yards for a par of 70. This course is designed for all ages and abilities, choose your clubs wisely as errant shots will be out of bounds on the tight fairways on every hole.
Barbados Golf Club: In the parish of Christ Church you will find a favorite of locals and visitors alike. This course was redesigned in 2000 by Ron Kirby and is a 6805 yd par 72 championship course that has hosted the PGA Seniors as well as the Barbados Open. The redesign was focused on providing a challenging yet pleasurable experience for golfers of all abilities.
Regardless of the course's layout and design and regardless of your skill level or ability, any of the golf courses you choose to play on the island of Barbados will provide you with a truly memorable experience, merely by the stunning beauty of your tropical surroundings.