Golf in Bermuda: A colorful array of challenging courses and island scenery

By Brandon TuckerOctober 30, 2012, 2:12 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda -- I hadn't been in Bermuda longer than a day before realizing I'd packed for my golf trip entirely wrong.

The black golf shirt I was wearing while on the fairways of Tucker's Point should have been a pastel orange or pink. Later that day, when we attended the PGA Grand Slam of Golf Champions dinner, those in attendance wearing a sport coat with bermuda shorts and knee-high socks all seemed to be the best dressed with the biggest smiles on their faces as they held colorful cocktails in their hand, in all likelihood a 'Rum Swizzle,' a signature Bermudian libation. Silly me, thinking that gray slacks and a lager were the way to go on day one.

The Bermudian way of life is certainly a colorful one. An array of Hibuscus flowers and other flora bloom beside narrow, two-lane winding roads that make the girth of rural Scotland roads appear generous. The ocean's bright blue color with pink sand beaches allure around every corner. Maybe that's why you've never seen taxi drivers honk so politely.

'We 'toot' not to say 'get out of the way' but to say 'hello,'' explained our driver and tour guide for the week, Beldwin Smith, who seemed to know just about everyone we passed during the week. There are only about 60,000 residents in Bermuda, and family lines run deep.


 

 

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Left: underground corridor at Fort St. Catherine's. Center: an old Bermuda golf advert on display. Right: a pink hibiscus blooms beside the road. 


 

Bermuda, once called 'The Bermudas,' is made up of a collection of seven main islands (365 total if you include all the tiny ones) that span 22 miles east to west and are connected by bridges and ferries. The many twists and turns of these islands mean that it takes awhile to get around thanks to few straight roads. The national speed limit of 35 kpm, slow enough to spot roadside lobster vendors selling their fresh catch of the day. Another benefit of this peculiar topography is that there are countless little bays, coves and secluded beaches, where visitors can find their own little piece of the 'rock' for an afternoon if they keep their eyes open.

For golfers, it also means there are few flat lies to be had beyond the tee box.

Golf on Bermuda: deep roots, sloping lies

Golf has been a fixture in Bermuda since the 1920s, when ship lines raced to build courses in hopes of luring tourists to this exotic spot in the middle of the Atlantic. While winters are cooler here than in the Caribbean islands, highs usually in the 60s mean it's prime time to ditch the bathing suit in favor of 'golf and spa' season.

With seven courses today, the country claims more golf per square mile than anywhere else in the world. It's pedigree is strong, thanks to abundance, tradition and recent upgrades to some of its facilities. Port Royal, where the PGA Grand Slam has been staged since 2009, was originally built in 1970 by Robert Trent Jones Sr. but redesigned by Roger Rulewich. 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf winner Padraig Harrington finished with a two-day total of 9 under. That's quite an achievement, considering the course is under 6,900 yards and the wind laid down for both rounds, and that two of his opponents -- Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson -- have serious long game.

Port Royal is the island's supreme test of golf, climaxed by the island's most famous par 3, the cliffside 16th. But laid back, traditional golf can be found at one of the island's first courses, Riddell's Bay. You can see its bayside location from above at the nearby Fairmont Southampton hotel, the island's top spot for golf groups and home to its own 18-hole executive golf course.

Riddell's Bay has some of the island's flattest golfing terrain to walk, while Belmont Hills, another 1920s design, has hillier terrain to navigate. Meanwhile, Mid Ocean Club, which came along in the 1921, is the island's most impressive Golden Era course. A C.B. MacDonald design, the first hole's rippling fairway slowly trudges uphill to an exposed, elevated green site perched high up overlooking the ocean. The ensuing 17 holes deliver all sorts of unique features, which creates a sensory overload to any architecture buff's palette. 

Sharing a boundary with Mid Ocean Club is the semi-private Tucker's Point, part of the Rosewood Tucker's Point and the centerpiece of an affluent neighborhood whose part-time residents include big shots like Michael Bloomberg and H. Ross Perot. Similar to Mid Ocean, this course, opened in 1931 but later redesigned by Rulewich in 2002, yields virtually no flat lies, which makes for a topsy-turvy round full of demanding shots but also extraordinary scenery. Everything great about Bermuda comes comes together on the par-4 17th hole, which plays from an elevated tee overlooking the ocean. Unlike Port Royal's infamous 16th, which will have your knees quaking a bit - this drivable par 4, with its grand scenery and high birdie potential, will have you licking your chops.

Click here to view Bermuda tee times and golf packages at GolfNow

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.