Bermuda Hits a Grand Slam for Golfers

By Katharine DysonOctober 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
Tucker's Point Golf Club

Where else but in Bermuda is pink a macho color and men show tanned knees below their coats, ties and pressed Bermuda shorts ' and get away with it.
What is it about Bermuda?
Perhaps its the endless pink sand coves and the lush tropical foliage punctuated by the blossoms of red and yellow hibiscus, pink oleanders and sweet-scented frangipani. Or riding your scooter along winding roads lined by limestone walls, softened by drifts of bougainvillea and mosses.
Or maybe its the fact that Bermuda is home to a whopping eight golf courses per square mile, more than anywhere in the world. The likes of Charles Banks, Deveraux Emmett, Robert Trent Jones, and Charles Blair Macdonald have stamped their architectural brilliance on these links.
Certainly youre in the right place if you covet British tradition. Here, proper teas with scones are laid out each afternoon, cricket and soccer are national passions and in tonier places like The Reefs and Cambridge Beaches, jacket and tie for evening dinner is desirable.
One thing for sure, when players and spectators arrive in Bermuda for the PGA Grand Slam, October 14-15, they will be impressed with the views from the candy-colored houses and cottages to the endless pink-sand coves and stunning turquoise water where whales can be seen spouting beyond the reef.
Located 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, Bermuda is the northern-most coral island in the world. Yet thanks to the trade winds, the fishhook-shaped island enjoys a semitropical climate where golf can be enjoyed year-round. October is idyllic for golf.
The Mid-Ocean Club, venue for the Grand Slam has always been considered the best, though it now has a rival for that crown right next door, Tuckers Point, which runs up and down the same hilly terrain. The former Castle Harbour course has morphed into a world class track under the direction of the Roger Rulewich group.
Any course known by locals as the goat hill course has to have some ups and downs and indeed it does along with nonstop views of the incredibly aquamarine sea of Harrington Sound and the hills. Reopening in 2002, the par-70, 6,361 yard course is a beauty as is the new 29,000 square foot clubhouse. Gone are many of the blind shots of the old 1930s layout although a few remain, like Nos. 3, 10 and 15. Fairways and bunkers have been shaved and sculptured and greens have been planted with TifEagle grass. Its a very playable resort layout.
Where to stay
Bermuda has large hotels like the 593-room Fairmont Southampton Hotel with its own executive par 3 golf course and beach club, a good choice for those who want nightly entertainment, a spa and all the services of a major resort. And there are small cottage resorts like the Reefs, Pink Beach Club, Pompano Beach Club and Cambridge Beaches where the mantra is class, not glitz. Most offer golf packages.
The new Tuckers Town residences and condos offer another, albeit pricey option for visitors while a good deal for golfers who dont need a big beach, is Pompano located a nine iron shot from the RTJ Port Royal Golf Course. Golf Packages typically include golf, accommodations and participation in a dine-around program airport transfers, greens fees, and service charges and taxes.
Greens fees and access
As many courses are private clubs and equipment like clubs, balls and carts have to be imported to the island, greens fees tend to be on the high side of $100 or more. For access to private clubs, you will probably need a letter of introduction from your home club unless you know a member or stay at a hotel which has an agreement with the club.
And bring golf balls. A dozen can cost upwards of $70 on the island for there is nothing about Bermuda that is cheap. Visitors have to take cabs (or go with locals in the bus that runs up and down the 22-mile long island). You cannot rent cars and dining out can easily run you $100 or more for a simple meal.

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson is an award-winning freelance travel, lifestyle, golf and guidebook author based in the northeast.

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