Which Caribbean destination is right for your golf vacation?

By Brandon Tucker, Jason DeeganDecember 20, 2012, 5:24 pm

So you've narrowed your winter golf trip down to somewhere in the Caribbean, but still not sure where? Here are six of the best options and their unique selling points: 

Luxurious new facilities and restored classics in Puerto Rico

Native legend Chi Chi Rodriguez has been out of the golf spotlight for awhile, but Puerto Rico has upped its golf and resort game in a big way recently. Those who want a luxurious resort splurge complete with championship caliber golf courses, many of which are either new or recently redone, will find its new breed is as good as anywhere.

On the island's northwest side is Royal Isabela, an ambitious, seaside development boasting luxury accommodations and golf course with dazzling views on several back nine holes hugging the cliffs. Closer to San Juan, Bahia Beach Golf Club debuted in 2009 and mixes a closing oceanside stretch of holes to go along with a lavish St. Regis Resort.

On the other side of San Juan, Chi-Chi's home club, Dorado Golf & Beach Resort, recently renovated the famed Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed East Course. This large resort and golf development dating back to the days of the Rockafellers is also set to open a six-star Ritz-Carlton Reserve Resort along with a renovated West Course in 2013.

Couple these new developments with elder statesmen like like Rio Mar's Ocean and River courses, 36 holes at Trump International Golf Club and hilly, jungly El Conquistador Golf Club, help round out a golf scene that makes for one of the Caribbean's most versatile.

View Puerto Rico tee times and travel information

Rich, historic golf in Bermuda

Though technically not in 'Caribbean' proper, Bermuda is a convenient, four seasons getaway for east coasters and Europeans alike. About 500 miles off the coast of North Carolina, it has an illustrious golf history dating back to the 1920s. Back then, steam ship companies looked for ways to lure tourists to this tropical oasis when New Yorkers were bundled up. It's emergence as a golf hotbed coincided with the golden era of golf course architecture. The most prestigious course is Mid Ocean Club, an innovative design by C.B. MacDonald and a regular in Top 100 rankings to this day.

Thanks to a uniquely shaped string of rocky islands that yields few flat spots, most holes throughout Bermuda aren't easy. Golfers can take on hilly and scenic Rosewood Tucker's Point. Or play the island's supreme challenge: PGA Grand Slam of Golf host Port Royal Golf Club, home to the country's most photogenic hole, the cliffside 16th.

For something more beginner-friendly, the Fairmont Turtle Hill Golf Club is home to one of resort golf's better executive courses - and it's even lighted on certain evenings.

View Bermuda tee times and travel information 

Resort golf buffet in Mexico's Riviera Maya

Playa Paraiso at IBEROSTAR

Resort golf courses stack up along the Riviera Maya, a vacation destination better known for its Mayan ruins and wild party scenes in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen before golf. These courses are set on mostly flat, sandy soil, a stark contrast to the most mountainous, cliffside designs on Mexico's west coast. That said, many are well-run, high-end facilities with courses designed by top names in the game.

Greg Norman designed the most high-profile of the bunch: PGA Tour host El Camaleon at Mayakoba Golf Club, as well as Playa Mujeres Golf Club. His old foe Nick Price contributed the Grand Coral Riviera Maya and the TPC Cancun, the first TPC facility outside the U.S. Nicklaus boasts his own foursome of designs: Moon Palace Spa & Golf ClubRiviera Cancun Golf Club, Cozumel Country Club and a well-regarded par-54 executive course called El Manglar Golf Course Riviera Maya. 

The Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club by P.B. Dye remains the best of the two IBEROSTAR resort courses. Or, if you're feeling nostalgic, don’t overlook Robert von Hagge’s PlayaCar Golf Club.

View more tee times and travel information in Riviera Maya

A wealth of seaside splendor in Dominican Republic

No destination in the Caribbean does soul-stirring ocean golf better than the Dominican Republic. At Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada Golf Club at Cap Cana, eight holes were routed so close to the shore, golfers can get wet if big waves crash in at the wrong time.

Of the 45 holes at the PUNTACANA Resort & Club, 10 of them straddle the Caribbean Sea, six at the luxurious Corales by Tom Fazio and four on the less exclusive La Cana Golf Course.

Near La Romana, Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011, showcases the shoreline seven times, including three spectacular par-3s.

The Playa Grande Club & Reserve, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. creation that sits isolated along the northern coast, rides 60-foot cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Should the shuttered-yet-spectacular Roco Ki Golf Club ever reopen near Punta Cana, the course will add even more seaside marvels to D.R.'s resume. There are nearly 30 golf courses in total in D.R., more than any other Caribbean island.

Video: Golfing World showcases Dye' famous Teeth of Dog

Jammin' golf in Jamaica 

Sugar plantations, secluded beaches, great coffee and reggae music make for Jamaica's allure, but the island's golf scene has become pretty extensive, now with a dozen courses. In particular, Jamaica excels in all-inclusive resorts, where golfers can not only enjoy courses by the top designers, but bevy of other activities, too.

The hub of golf resort activity is in Montego Bay, where you'll find Half Moon Resort, home to the Red Stripe Pro Am and a David Leadbetter Golf Academy. 

Not far away is the mysterious (and many say, haunted) Rose Hall. Located next door is the Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort and the country's best-known course, White Witch. The Robert von Hagge & Rick Baril design is notoriously challenging, though views of the Caribbean from nearly every hole more than make up for it.

Monkey business in Barbados

The small, West Indies nation of Barbados boasts eight courses, including one of the most stunning newer designs in the Caribbean: Apes Hill Golf Club, built 1,000 feet above the coast overlooking both the Caribbean and Atlantic, while monkeys often serve as your group's gallery.

This new course is on top of the already terrific, Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed resort course at Royal Westmoreland. Nearby, Sandy Lane features three courses, including the famed Green Monkey Course and Tom Fazio-designed Country Club course. Golfers will also enjoy the course that put Barbados golf on the map, Barbados Golf Club, in the southern parish of Christ Church. Renovated in 2000, this Ron Kirby design has hosted a European Senior Tour event as well as the Barbados Open on several occasions.

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Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”