Port Royal - Bermuda

Port Royal Golf Course,
5 Middle Road,
Southampton,
SNBX,
Bermuda


  • +1 441 234 0974

  • Steven Lambert

  • Robert Trent Jones

  • Dwayne Pearman

Bermuda is approximately 20 miles long from tip to toe and if you laid out every single one of Bermuda’s golf holes along this necklace of tiny islands in a Scottish out-and-back fashion, they would stretch out the full length of Bermuda and nearly half way back again. Bermuda is virtually one enormous golf club and Port Royal is the most popular golf course on the islands.

Regularly considered to be one of the world’s best public courses, Port Royal is basically a government run municipal and Robert Trent Jones laid it out on high ground overlooking the Atlantic in 1970. Host to the annual Bermuda Open Championship, Port Royal is a challenging course with huge, gently undulating greens where three putting is commonplace.

The signature hole is the 16th, a par three played from a tee on the cliff edge and it’s perhaps Bermuda’s most photographed hole. Measuring 235 yards from the tips, your tee shot, which could be a mid iron or a driver depending on the wind, must carry a yawning gap to reach the safety of the green which is perched on a promontory. It’s an absolute cracker.

Port Royal played host to the 2009 PGA Grand Slam of Golf which was won by Lucas Glover. Ian Woosnam was the last European to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf way back in 1991 at Kauai Lagoons. Two Europeans appeared in the 2010 end-of-season Grand Slam at Port Royal but Ernie Els came from three strokes behind with five holes to play to claim the title.

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Description: Bermuda is virtually one enormous golf club and Port Royal is the most popular golf course on the islands. Rating: 5.3 out of 6 Reviews: 3

Port Royal Golf Course was designed in 1970 by renowned architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. After a $15.9 million renovation in 2009 by Robert Rulewich, a Jones protégé, it was lengthened to 6,842 yards so that it could host the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Port Royal has more of a modern feel with a new computerized irrigation, rebuilt TifEagle greens, professional Proangle sand that has been perfectly setup for Port Royal Golf Course - Photo by reviewertournament golf with wide fairways and big amphitheater greens. Even though holes 2 to 6 are relatively flat, for the most part this layout offers undulating terrain and dramatic ocean-side cliffs. Holes 7 through 9 have amazing ocean views but the 10th green and 11th tee block offer the best perspective of the entire course. Hole #16 is undoubtedly one of the all-time great par 3’s and very reminiscent of the infamous Pebble Beach #7. At 142 yards from the whites (or 180 from the blues), you are faced with a daunting iron shot that hugs the edge of a coastal cliff and needs to carry a chasm to a green perched on a cliff jutting out to the ocean. If the wind kicks, up as it usually does, then your club selection could vary by 4 or 5 clubs. This is definitely a Kodak moment! This course was in perfect condition and one of the worlds’ premier public golf layouts offering breathtaking tropical landscape, sweeping ocean vistas and one of the greatest holes in golf.
6 / 6
Port Royal
July 24, 2013


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The second playing of the Grand Slam at Port Royal provides the opportunity to critique the course, of which I am a member – for the second time, having joined it originally nearly 40 years ago when it first opened, left it as it deteriorated and family raising intervened, and rejoined when it re-opened two years ago.

In the early 70s it was raw, but the potential was there to create an outstanding course. As the years ticked by, lack of proper funding and mismanagement by the government agencies (rather than municipal as is sometimes mistakenly stated) responsible for it caused the course to become run down, unkempt and not worth the effort of playing. Bermuda’s Tourism Minister and, now, Premier (due to retire at the end of the month), a forceful character, demanded and got the many millions (in very good financial times for the island) needed to rebuild and then maintain the course to the required standard – unofficial estimates are that at least $20 million has been spent over the last four years. I played on it last week and it is in fantastic shape.

The course is a mixture of seaside and parkland, with the latter comprising 1 – 6 and 11 – 13; the other holes provide various panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean and the pale blue waters of Bermuda’s south shore. They are stunning visually, although it’s only possible to actually hit the ball into the drink at the 16th, and it would really be an awful shot to do so. That 16th is the most famous hole, a par 3 that from the back tees forces a carry over a pink beach guarded by small cliffs. A beautiful hole, but not, in my opinion, a very good one, being far too long from the back tee (235 yards) for the shot required to hold the tight, firm, narrow green. The best hole is the 15th, a tight drive to a slightly dog-legged fairway running along the plateau above the ocean, followed by a mid-to-long iron into a well-guarded, tricky green - an excellent hole.

So is the remodelling a success? For the thinking golfer, the answer has to be no. Technically, great work has been done to recover the course and re-present it beautifully with lovely greens, and in removing the hideous casuarina trees which had so blighted it by obscuring many of the views, littering the fairways and rough with needles, and preventing the sun reaching many of the seaside fairways. The lengthening is a failure as it mainly comes from making the (new) short 13th and 16th holes much longer than they should be, and by extending the 5th with a back tee that no-one can use (except at the Grand Slam) because the drive crosses a public road. And my personal bugbear is that many of the remodelled greens have been given false fronts with embedded bunkers that have to be cleared with high dropping shots, eliminating the run-up and low driving approach on almost every hole on the course.

Those of you who’ve happened across my salivating over The Machrie will understand my disappointment at this. So the claim made by its publicists that PRGC is one of the best seaside courses in the world is nonsense. There are probably 300 better seaside courses in GB&I alone. As a day out on a resort course however, it is much more successful; visitors, and this is important, will thoroughly enjoy themselves provided they play off the correct tees for their game … no one should play off the blacks whose handicap is more than 5, I would say. This is not an easy golf course. If you’re 10 and up the whites (or reds) will be fine for you and you’ll have a really nice day.

The course is really hilly after the 6th, so you’ll need a cart; Bermuda is humid at all times, and HOT from June to October, so you’ll need plenty of fluids – you’ll sweat like the proverbial horse; and be prepared for wind: for all its heat the Island has a 15 knot wind most days and much more than that quite often. The club facilities are competent without being lavish. And be prepared to play for between 5 and 6 hours; the pace of play is abysmal and the management does absolutely nothing to discourage it. Etiquette is not good either, few divots get replaced (by patrons) or pitch marks repaired. This leads one to ponder upon how the course will fare in future in terms of government financial support when the political regime changes in a few days’ time and the current Premier’s enthusiastic (some say dictatorial) backing has gone. A round will cost you about $200 all-in, although there are some better deals, but that is actually moderate compared to North American “resort courses” and the only other courses worth playing on the Island, Mid-Ocean and Tucker’s Point, which are not easy to get on as they’re private (although they do accommodate visitors with introductions). I’ll write on those two later in the year.

In summary then, PRGC is a good outing if you have the day to spare, and is optically spectacular, especially in the kind of weather we’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks, but keen golfers will find it rather artificial, manufactured perhaps, with only the 15th, 16th, and perhaps the 8th remaining in one’s memory after a couple of days. Rating it among Bermuda’s courses, it is number two twice - as a golf course a long way behind Mid-Ocean, and scenically second to Tucker’s Point.
4 / 6
Port Royal
October 20, 2010


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Joey
October 20, 2010
I feel a need to respond to the above review and make a few corrections. I truly love this course and know it to be the finest course in Bermuda. WHen the course was remodeled it was well beyond needing it. The fifth tee across the road was always there. It was one of the only things not touched during the remodel. It isn't a course designed to hit run-up shots. It wasn't originally and it still isn't. For me, Tucker's Point is hardly even a course to mention here as it is really poor from start to finish. Mid Ocean is a lovely LITTLE course but is second to Port Royal in terms of challenge. Play them both but you'll find a greater test in Southampton!
fourputter
October 20, 2010
Joey, it's obviously a personal preference about run-up shots ... I believe there should always be more than one option for the player in approaching a green; PGRC has few of these, and that's a design flaw. As for the 5th, the land was always there but only in the re-modelling has it been constructed as a proper tee. It is used in the Grand Slam only (to the best of my knowledge) because otherwise traffic control would have to be in place on the public road. We'll agree to disagree on the relative merits of MOC, but I certainly concur that PGRC is a far superior course to Tucker's Point; only scenically and facilities-wise does the later prevail.
Joey
October 20, 2010
For purposes of full disclosure I must say that I was part of the design team hired to do the remodel. I think the tee was on the hill there when the course was built in the 70's. We did not even touch that land. They may have mown it down to make it usable. I don't think they even used that as a tee for the grand slam as they were trying to encourage the guys to hit the green from the tee. I may be wrong on that though. We did, however, build a longer tee for the fourth hole. The trouble with this course, as well as all of the courses in Bermuda, is that they just don't have the necessary land to really give them proper length. I did'nt mean to detract from Mid Ocean as a course. I think, design wise, it is a superior course. I do think Port Royal may have different options to play the hole. It requires more of a thoughtful placement of tee shots as to where the hole is located. There is a place for this type of parkland golf out there. I personally agree with you that for me I like the links game and prefer Portrush to Port Royal. Golf in Bermuda is beautiful if nothing else, and that's just great! I do hope everyone that plays it enjoys the challenge
fourputter
October 21, 2010
Joey Nor did I intend to suggest that PRGC is other than an excellent golf course; it most certainly is. The problem for the honest golf nut is how to weight an opinion so that peers can make a judgement. PGRC has been the object of the common Bermuda problem of overhyping its assets, particularly since it is the personal project of a powerful man, obsessed with self-promotion. I'd guess your remit was to build a course that can host a PGA event, but that can make money by attracting tourists (and locals) to play it - and on piece of land 66% of the size of most courses. An almost impossible task! I imagine your problems were highlighted today when Big Ernie, with a considerable wind behind him, from a new back tee that must have made the steeply uphill 18th hole some 420 yards long I would guess, almost drove the green! I as mid-teens guy in my dotage rejoice if I get to the front edge after a fine drive and a good utility from the blue tee 70 yards ahead. How do you design a course to cope with these disparities in skill levels but still get me to pay my money? The sixth was played dead into the wind from the ladies tee of the third, adding some 60 -70 yards, but they never showed the 5th on TV either day ... nowhere to place the cameras I presume. I suppose the answer is that we bow to mammon, play what we have, and enjoy ourselves, for it's better than doing anything else - at my age anyway! Good luck.
A truly stunning club, even more impressive is the fact that it is a municipal. The course is in superb condition and if your golf isn't going well then you have the wonderful views to take your mind off of it. The 16th hole (voted one of the best par 3s in the world) is fantastic and enough to make you want to play the course again and again. We are going back there again when the Grand Slam of golf is played on the course and hope to get a round in afterwards - Can't wait!
6 / 6
Port Royal
March 09, 2010


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