Mid Ocean Club - Bermuda

The Mid Ocean Club,

  • +1 441 293 0330

  • Frances McManus

  • Charles Blair Macdonald and Robert Trent Jones

  • Kevin Benevides

Set on the northeastern tip of Bermuda in weathly Tucker's Town, is one of the world’s finest golf courses. The “Father of Golf Architecture”, Charles Blair Macdonald, originally laid out the Mid Ocean Club in 1921 adjacent to the Atlantic.

Mid Ocean is totally unique with much of the course routed across glorious undulating ground. The Atlantic Ocean does not play a major part in the design of Mid Ocean it merely provides a beautiful backdrop to a number of holes, the majority of which are set back a little further inland amongst the stately pines, the pretty glades and the dramatic valleys.

The layout was modified by Robert Trent Jones, in the 1950s and today’s layout is a stern test, especially when the trade winds are freshening, but with numerous tees to choose from it’s also a very enjoyable course for the handicap golfer. Perhaps Mid Ocean's most notable and most treacherous hole is the 433-yard par four 5th, with its elevated tee atop a hill with a glorious view across the shimmering Mangrove Lake.

If you are only remotely interested in golf, a walk round Mid Ocean is a joy and naturally you must wear the mandatory Bermuda length shorts. Contrary to Mark Twain, Mid Ocean is most definitely not “a good walk spoiled”, we tend to agree with Mr Twain’s alternative saying, "you die and go to heaven, I'll stay here in Bermuda".

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Reviews for Mid Ocean Club

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Description: The “Father of Golf Architecture”, Charles Blair Macdonald, originally laid out the Mid Ocean Club in 1921 adjacent to the Atlantic. Rating: 6 out of 6

Mid Ocean Club is a private club that was designed in 1922 by Canadian born architect Charles Blair Macdonald and revised in 1953 by legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones. Home of the 2007 and 2008 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, this is a true ocean Mid Ocean Club - Photo by reviewercourse that consistently ranks as one of the finest in the world. Big greens, possible 35 mph winds and six par 4’s over 400 yards will definitely test your skill and patience. The first three holes run parallel to the ocean but the 3rd hole is probably one of the most picturesque on the island, a downhill par 3 that runs perilously close to the rocky cliff ocean shoreline. The 5th hole is the toughest on the course. With Mangrove Lake in play all the way down the left side, this is a very intimidating hole. You will find there are plenty of bunkers to contend with but the sand is very consistent. Be forewarned though that the Bermuda rough or “snatch grass”, as I like to call it, will grab your ball and settle in or bury. Mid Ocean is a private course but allows guests on Monday, Wednesday and Friday only.
July 24, 2013

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Mid-Ocean Club (MOC) is the jewel in Bermuda’s golf crown. It shares with all of the Island’s serious golf courses the quirk that the ocean itself is never in play, but unlike the others, it’s only rarely that you even you see it! It’s essentially a parkland course with wide fairways; its defences are clever bunkering and (usually) fast, highly contoured putting surfaces. It’s a delight to play, with mostly gently changing elevations unlike the mountain goat demands of the adjacent Tucker’s Point. The flow is continuous, green to tee walks are only a few yards, and they do attempt to enforce pace of play standards, unlike the other main courses in Bermuda where you can grow old finishing a round. The ambience of MOC is that you’re stepping back 75 years to a time when courses were designed to be finessed rather than bludgeoned.

For today’s young gun, there’s nothing that approaches a par 5; the bombers can easily reach its longest holes in two comfortable shots. So there’s an air of cultured restraint about the place, like a suburban Surrey course, where hitting a ball too far might be regarded as a bit infra dig; not quite sporting, perhaps. It’s a course where you place the ball (if you’re good enough) where it needs to be placed to open up the second shot – for to score well you will have to be near the hole to avoid three-putting. The greens can be very difficult. It’s a fine collection of holes, a couple of relatively weak ones being overwhelmed by three terrific examples – the great 5th and 17th, and the very challenging 12th The 5th is a “Cape” hole, the 1st at Machrahanish re-visited, except that the tee is 100 feet above the distant fairway. A drawing drive, biting off what you think you can chew of the pond’s shoreline, leaves you an approach to a raised, large, sloping green tucked back towards the pond but guarded by a massive bunker. The green is lighting fast, and many a good player has putted off it, misjudging both its slopes and its pace.

The 17th is a classic Redan. You stand on the back tee about 200 yards away, taking in the view as the ocean has reappeared for the first time since the 3rd. Ahead and slightly downhill lies the green, set into a steep bank on its right side, and sloping gently away from you from front right to back left. The left side of the green is all steep bunkers. The prevailing wind is into your face. It is a classic hole, surely one of the world’s great par three holes (and streets ahead of the famous 16th at Port Royal, which is similar in concept, but too tarted-up). Good luck.

The 12th is also a very fine hole. A precise, blind drive is necessary, into an area that leaves at least a long iron to an uphill, sloping green. A very difficult shot, and I watched Zach Johnson, playing in the first Grand Slam at MOC, hitting a three wood from a steeply hanging lie, 220 yards on the fly, stopping dead, 1 foot from the pin, the best shot I’ve seen played in person in my life.

The rest of the course is pleasantly challenging, and a great day’s golf. MOC’s condition is always immaculate, and it’s, by some way in my opinion, Bermuda’s best. Scenically, Tucker’s Point and Port Royal, outmatch it. But the golfer will love MOC. It’s a private club, but visitors can access the course at certain times with an introduction from a member or a one of the Islands hotels. Carts are available, but at MOC, unlike the other two is eminently walkable, except on the warmest days. Caddies are also available. There is a fine old-fashioned clubhouse and a friendly staff. It is costly, not as anus-clenchingly expensive as Tucker’s Point perhaps, but still well up there. Probably $300 a head, with cart rental. Caddies might be more, I’ve never used one. But as a special treat, for no golfer can visit Bermuda and not play MOC, well worth it.
June 14, 2011

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I can’t believe that this is the first review of Mid Ocean on this site – particularly given that it hosted the PGA’s Grand Slam over several years. The Grand Slam has now moved on to the newly rebuilt Port Royal at the other end of the island, but Mid Ocean remains for me the top dog on the Bermuda golfing ladder. As the review above says, you see less of the ocean than the club’s name might suggest, although the view down onto the water from the 4th tee has to be one of the best in the golfing world. The land rises and falls dramatically and there are lots of hanging lies even on the largely generous fairways, and although the Bermuda grass prevents a lot of roll the turf sits on firm sandy soil. If feels at least its 6,500 yard length. The course is also fairly heavily bunkered and the clever run-offs for approaches narrowly missing the green mean you are bound to have your sand wedge working overtime. There are no weak holes on the course, but the real standouts for me were: the famous 5th featuring a heart-in-mouth tee shot out over the water and difficult pitch (if you’ve been brave off the tee) up a long, raised green; the 9th which demands an almost blind drive over a crest and testing approach up a wickedly sloping green; the 12th, a long par 4 where only a cracker of a drive, avoiding the bunker on the outer apex of the dog-leg left, will leave you with a long iron in; and the 17th which must be one of the great par 3s in golf, a 200 yard hit down to another big sloping Redan-style green surrounded by deep bunkers.To make a score you have to putt well (I didn’t, twice) and you will always get some massively breaking puts – it’s one of those courses where you’re never in until you’re in, particularly for 5 foot downhillers. The clubhouse is also fantastic and has a nice feeling of being a traditional club but with that relaxed island feel; you really feel you’ve earned your beer looking down over the 18th fairway and out into the Atlantic from the huge windows in the bar. All in all, this is a top-notch golfing experience and you should crawl all over anyone who can invite you on.
July 20, 2010

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