An island green: Bermuda is brimming with great golf

By Travel ArticlesJuly 2, 2012, 12:59 am

BERMUDA -- It's time for a golf geography lesson.

Bermuda is not in the Caribbean, not even close. The tiny fish-hook-shaped island, which is just 22 miles long and two miles wide at its thickest point, is located about 600 miles east of North Carolina smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The sun doesn't always shine so brightly on this northern outpost as it does in the Caribbean, but the Gulf Stream keeps the British territory plenty warm enough for golf in the winter months. Mild 60-degree days close the beaches essentially three months of the year. Locals call the winter months 'spa and golf season.' Its northern latitude does boast one major advantage: Flights from Boston, New York and New Jersey are simple jaunts for those on the East Coast.

'We looked at Florida, the Bahamas, and we saw the two-hour flight and that was the clincher,' Massachusetts resident Brad Carpenter said as he sat on a bar stool inside the clubhouse at Port Royal Golf Course, which will be home to the 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf in October. 'It is a hidden gem because of the closeness. That's 80 percent of why we picked here.'

It's a shock that Bermuda isn't an A-list golf destination in the winter. It's an affluent place, one that isn't plagued by the Third-World vibe of some Caribbean destinations. The 1-to-1 exchange on the U.S. dollar and the chance to clear customs on the island before the return flight are major reasons to choose Bermuda first.

Unfortunately, the breezy, cooler conditions and the high costs of living and visiting remain obstacles. There are no rental cars on the island to get around, only cabs (brave tourists rent scooters). The lack of direct flights from the Midwest doesn't help, either.

'We are kind of a hidden gem. We need more people to know about us,' said Adam Barboza, the manager of sports marketing for the Bermuda Department of Tourism.

The prices of the island's six 18-hole courses, two nine-holers and an 18-hole par 3 are more affordable in the off-season. What the courses lack in yardage -- only Port Royal is longer than 6,800 yards and none of the six are regulation par 72s -- they make up for with gorgeous settings and strategic routings. They generally remain in good shape year-round.

'When you compare it to other Caribbean islands, our courses are pretty good for the limited resources and how we have to build our courses,' said Alex Madeiros, the director of golf at Port Royal.

Where to play golf in Bermuda

The Mid Ocean Club, dating to 1921, remains a revered classic designed by C.B. Macdonald, one of the founding fathers of course architecture in America. The private club accepts public play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and tee times can only be made 48 hours in advance.

Its ocean vistas on the first three and last three holes are fabulous, but it's the interior routing through hilly terrain that gives the course such personality. The fourth fairway climbs to a crest, revealing the fifth tee, home to a heroic Cape hole that tempts players to bite off more of the lake than they can chew. There's a photo hanging in the clubhouse of a despondent Babe Ruth, who is said to have lost a dozen balls during competition on the hole. Several roads with oncoming traffic cut through the back nine, yet those awkward moments can be forgiven for such a pure round of golf.

'I have played in Hawaii, played in Scotland and Pebble Beach. I still love this the most,' said member Ian Paul, who lives in Canada.

Essentially sharing the same address is Tucker's Point Club, a sporty resort course that is fun to play. Tucker's Point, formerly the Castle Harbour Golf Club, dances across severe terrain. Roger Rulewich redesigned the 6,491-yard course in 2002, but Director of Golf Paul Adams is still tinkering with fairway lines to unlock the flavor of the original Charles Banks design. The short par-4 17th overlooks Castle Harbour.

Rulewich spearheaded the massive $14.5-million facelift of the magnificent Port Royal in 2009. The government-owned course has hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf the past two years, pitting the four major winners (or their subs) against one another. Rulewich revived the greens, installed new irrigation and removed more than 1,000 trees to open up stunning vistas. Like its compatriots, Port Royal rides some dynamic land, leading to an epic stretch along the back nine. The par-4 15th tee sits next to the Whale Bay Battery, an old fort dating to the 1800s. The par-3 16th clings to the shoreline cliffs, a heart-stopping adventure.

'You are overtaken by the scenery,' said Carpenter, who picked Port Royal for his only tee time during a weekend getaway with his wife. 'It is a hard course, but even an 18- or 15-handicap can play it and enjoy it.'

The Fairmont Southampton Golf Course delivers a fantastic change of pace with the same fantastic scenery. This 2,762-yard par-3 course demands some serious shot-making along the south shore of the island, especially at the 216-yard 14th hole. Good players can use it to tighten up their short games, while the ocean breezes will challenge beginners, juniors and higher-handicap players.

'It has the ability to flex its muscle,' said Director of Golf Anthony Mocklow. 'Every destination should have a short course.'

Where to stay

The two best places to stay for golfers are Tucker's Point Resort, a Rosewood Resort that opened in 2009 just 15 minutes from the airport in the northeast section of the island, or the Fairmont Southampton in the southwest corner. The 88-room Tucker's Point, a former Marriott that was entirely gutted and rebuilt, exudes luxury with its gorgeous rooms, spa, library, outdoor courtyards and villas. The resort recently hosted the 150th anniversary party of Bacardi, which calls Bermuda home. Best of all, the resort has a 'relationship' with Mid Ocean that allows guests to play outside of the club's weekday-only policy.

The Fairmont offers nice rooms and a great location right across the street from Horseshoe Bay, one of the most popular beaches on the island. It is also closer to Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club, the oldest course on the island, and Port Royal.

Where to eat

A jacket-only experience comes at The Point Restaurant & Terrace at Rosewood Tucker's Point. The ambiance and menu are sophisticated. A magical mural purchased from Pan-Am's New York headquarters depicts the former airline's many worldwide ports of call. For a night out in Hamilton, Bermuda's capital, try the Port O Call, where the spiny tail lobster and cheesecake rule. Flanagan's Irish Pub was a favorite of Northern Irishman Darren Clarke during his visit for the 2011 PGA Grand Slam.

The Waterlot Inn headlines a handful of fine restaurants at the Fairmont Southampton. The Waterlot Inn has been serving special meals for more than 340 years dockside at Jew's Bay. Just a short walk up the road is Henry VIII Restaurant, Sushi Bar & Pub, a local hangout renowned for its fish chowder, a Bermudian specialty topped off by spicy sherry pepper sauce and dark rum. For nightlife, the Swizzle Inn will quench your thirst for the Dark & Stormy, the island's drink of choice. It consists of Goslings Rum and ginger beer.

Just pray the phrase applies to the drink, not the weather during your stay.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)