Prior to the Great White Shark, golf on the Bahamas was nothing to write home about. It was clear that things were about to change when Greg Norman disembarked from his multi million dollar yacht and stepped onto the dry land of the in-vogue island of Great Exuma.
There’s tropical beauty by the bucket and spade load at the former Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay (now owned by Sandals Emerald Bay), not to mention the crystal clear water.
Emerald Bay, or Emerald Reef as it is was once called, opened for play in 2003 and it’s a bit of a monster, measuring 7,001 yards from the back tees. There are five tee boxes to choose from, so take you medicine appropriately. This course is set to become one of the world's greatest ocean-side layouts and, once more, Norman has considered the environment and seeded the layout using friendly but lush seaside paspalum grass and the result is about as close as you might get to a tropical links.
The holes are routed thoughtfully and many are as dramatic as they are beautiful with the most memorable holes hugging the Emerald Bay shoreline. This peninsula makes for pulsating golf and we can’t think of a more stunning location for a course anywhere in the world. If the wind is blowing at Sandals Emerald Bay, hold on to your hat and wave goodbye to carding a decent score.
Staying at Sandals Emerald Bay I played the course 3 times during my week there. The course features on the Korn Ferry Tour, and quite rightly. The front nine winds it's way through he mangroves before sending you out around the spectacular peninsula with the ocean crashing beside holes 11-16.
The opening drive with water all down the right and trees down the left gives you an taste of what you're in for, with water & thick vegetation lining the holes, it provides a visual treat and the obvious punishment that befalls any wayward shots, whilst providing a challenging layout.
But it's the back nine that sets this course apart. The 10th and 18th are played either side of a lake, and from 11 to 16 you play around the loop with the sea providing the vista. A couple of good long par 4s, are balanced with the short 14th which provides a birdie chance, but can quite easily lead to a card wrecker if you get out of position. The par 5 15th gives a chance to go for it if you get the drive away but beware you will need carry all the way to avoid a wet ball. Definitely worth playing, and my favourite course in the Caribbean so far.