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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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.