Originally designed in the early 1970s by Henry Smedley, this course on the Rose Hall Estate hosted the Jamaican Open four times before it was renovated in 2002 by Robert von Hagge, Smelek and Baril, re-opening as the Three Palms course.
Sitting next door to the White Witch golf course, the now renamed Cinnamon Hill layout stretches to 6,637 yards with a par of 71 and, although it shares much of the same hilly terrain as its neighbour, it also manages to embrace the actual shoreline of the Caribbean Sea.
Built with the resort player in mind, Cinnamon Hill features an open, wind-swept front nine that leads to a tighter inward half where many of the fairways are bounded by thick vegetation.
Various ruins such as stone walls, gravestones and monuments are scattered around the course, but the most outstanding of all these is surely an impressive ancient aqueduct that once brought water to the estate.
“Majestic Blue,” the tough, par four 5th is the stroke index 1 and it often plays more like a par five as the wind blows from either left or right or slightly against. The fairway runs straight down to the sea with a green protected on three sides by the ultimate water and sand hazards – ocean and beach!
In 2012, a number of modifications were made to the course which included extending the size of five greens on the front nine, thus increasing the number of possible pin positions on these holes.
Cinnamon Hill is situated much lower on the Rose Hall estate, compared to its sister-course, The White Witch.
Holes 1-4 stay close to the clubhouse and are relatively subtle and non-memorable. However, once you cross under the tunnel that goes to hole 5, you're in for a treat, with holes 5 and 6 playing right up along the Caribbean Sea. Hole 7 brings the ancient aqueduct ruins from sugar cane processing, and is more of eye-candy than an eye-sore. It doesn't necessarily come into play but I found it to be a cool touch that they left that artifact there.
The back 9 works higher-up on the property and weaves into what feels like a scene out of the Amazon rainforest. I found some of the holes on back needing major tree removal to play to its original intent, and felt that the course became quite one-dimensional at that point. However, the course ends with 2 par 5's which can either make or break your round, which I think is unique and fun.
Hole 5: This long-ish, downhill par 4, plays to a green site nestled back on the Caribbean Sea. It is a demanding tee-shot, but if hit correctly, the golfer is given a chance for a big roll-out and exciting shot to the tucked green.
Hole 6: This one-shotter is right on the sand/ocean. Miss right and you're in the saltwater, and bail-out left, your dealt a delicate chip-shot coming back towards the water. With its location, this hole is very exposed to wind and ends up being a very demanding, but fun shot if the winds are up.
Hole 17: This multi-fairway hole provides an awesome view of the crystal-blue ocean that you miss so much of on the back 9. The aqueduct also comes into the background on this green.
Tips or Recommendations:
Take a caddie.
Ask your caddie to knock down a fresh coconut for you on hole 6 (they keep a long cane near that tee for that reason).
Stop and peak at Johnny Cash's old estate on the back 9.
Find famous poet, Elizabeth Browning's headstone off of hole 4 tee.
Good course - the Jamaica rankings are spot on ie Tryall and White Witch are superior - but still the next best with holes oceanside and views to die for. If squeezing 4 rounds into your Montego Bay holiday the top 4 are all in range and worth a visit
Cinnamon Hill is one of two quality courses at the Rose Hill estate and unlike most 36 hole complexes there is genuine debate about which of the two is superior in my opinion Cinnamon Hill is marginally better due to having two distinct nines with the front being more open and taking you right down to the waterfront while the back nine is similar in character to the White Witch course cut out of thick vegetation on the hillside although the fairways don’t drop off as dramatically as they do on the White Witch course.
This course starts out slowly with a straight par 5 by a main road followed by a flat par 3 and a short uphill dogleg par 4 following this #4 through #7 is a great stretch of holes #4 is a par 3 over water from an elevated tee which provides fantastic views #5 is an exceptional par 4 downhill toward the waterfront #6 is a short par 3 right along the waters edge and #7 is an uphill dogleg par 4 alongside an old aqueduct this hole has a wide open drive followed by a very challenging approach shot over a ravine with a stone wall fronting the green.
The back nine heads back up and around the hillside and has many interesting holes with a couple of short par 4’s and some lovely par 3’s including one with a waterfall as the backdrop the course finishes with back to back par 5’s which is quite unique the 17th is broken into sections by a ravine making distance control imperative and the 18th has one of the most challenging approach shots of the day over a ravine with a stone wall and a large wood paneled bunker guarding the front.
The course was in outstanding condition with lightning fast greens and not a blade of grass out of place I believe they were hosting a tournament the week after I played. I highly recommend a round at Cinnamon Hill and if I had 10 rounds at Rose Hill it would be a 6/4 split in favour of Cinnamon Hill.