Golf Travel Advisor: Caribbean golf in the Bahamas

When I went to the Bahamas years ago, I wasn’t after golf or lush green fairways. I wanted to sit by the pool, on the beach, have some tropical drinks and enjoy the sun. And I did exactly that.

There are however many more activities you can go for in the Bahamas and all of them excel even in combination with each other. The facilities are there, the weather is mostly picture perfect and what could be better than outdoor sports in this environment?!… Exactly, nothing.

While there is an abundance of water sports activities possible here on the islands, there is golf, too. And as you are most likely interested in golf, let me break down some must do’s when it comes to golfing in the Bahamas.

Point taken, the clubs are private to a certain degree and there might be some restrictions to get on and play a round, but sometimes this is no problem depending on the day of the week, the time of the day or the hotel you are staying at. So there’s still the chance to play some exquisite golf, you won’t be disappointed at all.

COURSES

Paradise Island Golf Course

The Paradise Island Golf Club, as the name suggests, is located on Paradise Island, the small island that is attached to New Providence and downtown Nassau by two bridges. Despite the small size, Paradise Island is what most people think of Bahamas in the first place. It’s home to the famous Atlantis Resort, to the Ocean Club as seen in James Bond movies and it’s also featuring the Paradise Island Golf Course, which some relate to as Ocean Club Golf Course.

It’s a Troon Management course and not less than 7 holes directly border the ocean with its stunning blue waters of the Bahamas. It’s a Tom Weiskopf design and offers 18 holes in a par-72 setting. 6,100 meters from the yellow tees offer a great day of immaculate golf. The rating for yellow is 73.5/136.

The Abaco Club

The Abaco Golf Club on Winding Bay is situated on the beautiful Great Abaco Island, north of Providence Island and was voted the number one golf course in the Bahamas. Already that tells you what to expect; Exquisite golf right by the beach with utmost challenge and quality. “Bring your A-game and your camera”, the website suggests, and it’s truly not exaggerated.

It’s a Donald Steel & Tom Mackenzie design that praises itself to be Scottish-like linksy but in a perfect outdoors environment. It’s a par-72 setting, right by the sandy beach with 6,500 meters from the yellow tees. The rating is 75.5/137–so indeed bring your A-game or don’t expect to shoot your handicap. Instead just enjoy a real treat of this awesome sport.

Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club

The Baker’s Bay golf course is situated on the most northern tip of Great Guana Cay, a rather small island north of Great Abaco. Guana Cay is not offering much but what it offers indeed is the superior Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club. That’s an ultra exclusive, 585-acre holiday and real estate property featuring a Tom Fazio-designed golf course from 2011. This area might have been famous for pirates in the past, but it should also be known for extraordinary accommodation combined with excellent golf.

The course is a par-72 with 6,750 meters of length from blue. The rating is a 74.7/132.

Albany Golf Club

The Albany resort is situated in the south-west of New Providence Island, Bahamas’ hustling and bustling part. Here however you can find the beauty and tranquility you might be after. The resort features vast accommodation, real estate, a mega-yacht ready marina and an Ernie Els-design golf course that indeed staged numerous professional tournaments already. The Hero World Challenge, a PGA tour constant is teeing up here for good reason.

It’s an 18-hole, par-72 course with 6,800 meters in total, opened in 2010. It combines the best of links and desert features with windswept dunes and numerous scenic and strategically challenging water features. With all the vegetation around the holes, it’s truly a picture perfect setting that will take your breath away.

Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course

On Great Exuma Island, south-east of New Providence you’ll find another upmarket holiday resort, the Sandals Emerald Bay with long white beaches, a top all-inclusive resort, a marina and excellent golf.

The Sandals Emerald Reef golf course is a Greg Norman design, is proud of not less than six signature holes along the coast on a peninsula and was rewarded “Leading Golf Resort of the Bahamas” in 2016. Playing the course is free when you stay at Sandals which is really a nice thing, considering the magnificent setting this course finds itself. The first nine holes meander through sand dunes an mangroves while the back 9 are on rocky grounds of the peninsula, right next to crystal clear emerald and turquoise water.

The course is 6,400 meters long, par-72 with a rating of 74.1/140.

ACCOMODATION

In this rather remote part of the world where it can be trick to get from A to B, it’s important to have an eye on accommodation. Gladly this is easy as there is an abundance of top-notch hotels, resorts, villas and guest houses. Here are some suggestions for a great family holiday with lots of sunshine, water sports, culinary achievements and perfect golf—if your game is up to it, that is.

Four Seasons Resort The Ocean Club

The Four Seasons Ocean Club is famous not only since James Bond stayed here for a while, it is and always has been a playground for celebrities and discerning travelers set along an 8-kilometer stretch of natural, white-sand beach on Paradise Island. Bahamian beauty in an enclave of remarkable seclusion, where intimate low-rise buildings are immersed in 35 acres of Versailles-inspired lawns and gardens.

No matter if you decide for a room or a villa, this is a masterpiece of hotel resort; perfect to start your golf holiday from.

Atlantis Resort Paradise Island

In case you like it a bit bigger and busier, then the Atlantis Resort Paradise Island will tick all your boxes. Next to numerous hotels with more than 3,800 rooms, suites, villas and complete condos, the resort features the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, a 141-acre water park, eleven pools, a 4-kilometer private beach and Dolphin Cay, a 14-acre sanctuary with an 11-acre lagoon, not to speak about the casinos. Enough to get entertained for quite a while.

Baha Mar

Baha Mar is home to three combined, yet exceptional hotels; the Grand Hyatt, SLS and Rosewood – each offering their own unique style of luxury and world-class service. It’s an 1,000-acre resort complex on New Providence island with a total of 2,200 rooms, 280 private residences, a huge spa, a large casino, and–by the way–the Jack Nicklaus-designed Tournament Players Club, a course that didn’t even make it to the above list.

Sandals Emerald Bay

In case you care to spend your trip away from the noise and the action (if you could categorize Nassau that) Great Exuma might be a great island to escape to. Luckily you don’t have to except anything short of pure luxury here, too. With the Sandals Emerald Bay resort you’ll have everything you need, including eleven exceptional restaurants, impressive pools and all sorts of possible activities with the already mentioned Greg Norman-designed golf course.

Sandals is an all-inclusive but adults-only resort which you might take into consideration.

TRAVEL

The Bahamas is a country off the coast of the United States and there is an international airport on New Providence. There are very limited flights from abroad, one example being England, but many from the American continent. While the Nassau Lynden Pindling Airport (NAS) is the biggest one on the islands, there are other islands that feature a local strip as well. So a flight from anywhere in Florida is possible directly to the smaller fields, too.

While a trip to one of the smaller islands clearly is a longer journey, maybe also involving a vessel ride, this pays you back with unreal tranquility, beauty and luxury.

ACTIVITIES

The Bahamas are famous for being one of the hot spots in the Caribbean Sea. Beautiful islands, perfect for relaxation on one hand, but also for vast activities possible on the other. Water sports is pretty obvious, from swimming, snorkeling, diving, to sailing; everything is possible. Many resorts also feature casinos, exquisite restaurants and shopping possibilities. The Atlantis truly stands out with the huge waterpark and marine mammal conservation facilities, definitely something that sticks long after the trip, we’re sure.

And obviously golf plays a big role here as well. There aren’t many courses though unfortunately, but then what do you expect on these islands? Those which are there offer everything you ask for, maybe even more.

VERDICT

One week Paradise Island, one week great Abaco and in addition some small excursions to other islands and snorkling spots make up for a tremendous Caribbean vacation. Golf is a natural thing to play on the rather flat islands, by the sea or in the mangroves. It is a fest to do actually and everybody who had the chance already will agree, once started you don‘t want your round to end.

How does the perfect day look? Wake up after a good night’s sleep, have a great breakfast, have you transferred to a golf course, practice a bit, play a round, enjoy the course, the amenities and the beer afterwards. Enjoy the sunshine on the terrace, then head back to the resort, jump in the pool, enjoy beach life, then freshen up and have a sophisticated dinner with your partner and/or family, a great bottle of wine, a tremendous view over the ocean and a comfortable evening. Period.

Picture © theabacoclub.com

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