Eugene Browne, a relative of the second Marquess of Sligo, former Governor and Vice Admiral of Jamaica, acquired the Tryall estate at the end of the 19th century and established a plantation that produced a million coconuts a year at its peak in the 1930s.
By the mid 1950s, however, the coconut market had declined to such an extent that the property was sold by William Delisser, husband of Eugene Browne’s daughter, to a group of Texan businessmen.
They planned to develop the estate as a resort, bringing in another native of the Lone Star state, architect Ralph Plummer – who laid out great courses at the likes of Preston Trail Golf Club and the Cypress Creek course at Champions Golf Club – to design an 18-hole layout at Tryall.
Opened in 1958, the course was one of the first of real character to be built in the Caribbean. Whilst it has never been the longest in tournament golf , measuring just over 6,300 yards when first constructed, it has never been torn apart in half a century of play, even by the pros – thanks mainly to its imaginative design and, of course, the trade winds that can bemuse and befuddle the very best of golfers.
The first six holes at Tryall are routed on the flatter part of the property near the coast and provide a gentle start to the round. From the 7th onwards, the fairways are intuitively laid out over rolling foothills and one good hole follows another, uphill and down, with the 450 yard 14th rated one of the best par four holes in all the Caribbean.
A number of important tournaments have been held at the club, starting in the mid 1980s. The Mazda Champions LPGA – Senior PGA tournament was held from 1985 to 1987, followed by the LPGA Jamaican Classic from 1988 to 1990. The prestigious Johnnie Walker World Championships then came to town between 1991 and 1995 with Fred Couples (twice), Nick Faldo, Larry Mize and Ernie Els – all Majors champions – winning.
Before the first of these World Championships, it had been mentioned that one of the pros would break 60 at Tryall, which then measured under 6,800 yards. Not only did nobody score a magic 59 or less, only Fred Couples, the winner, had a total score that broke par for the four-day tournament!
Having read the reviews, I was in the area and dropped in to play Tryall. The welcome from Michael in the pro shop was very friendly, and I met up with Bernie my caddie, who read the greens well, gave good advice on positioning and was happy to talk about the area as well. Everything you want and need for an experienced caddie (he's been there 32 years!).
Tryall is well worth playing if you are in the area, several good par 4's, the 5's give you a chance of a bird, and the 3's can add just enough challenge. A nice opening dog-leg left par 4, sets you off nicely, especially if you can hit a nice draw around the corner. The par 3 2nd over water, and the dog-leg left par 5 3rd get your attention and set you up for the 4th, which is the one people look out for and features in many pictures. The carry over the river to the green next to the sea grabs your attention, and you must take enough club. The drive on the next par 4 aims straight at a palm tree in the middle of the fairway, and from there you go on a trip up and down the mountain with some challenging a fun holes. The Par 4 9th is deceptive, and the down hill 10th, par 3 requires good club selection. The last 4 holes are similar length par 4's and so the end of the round can feel a bit like you're just playing the same hole over again. The course was in good condition for the region, and the greens ran fairly true, although one or two were a little two-paced. If you are around it's worth the trip to play.
Sneaky short but definitely a challenge when the wind is blowing. With all of the elevation changes through the hills this course is all about management and good putting.
Long knockers will poo-poo the length but being in the right side of the fairway to be able to hit into the wind is critical much more than how far the ball goes.
Lovely course on a fabulous resort.
Everything is wonderful here ....well apart from a few blobs on the scorecard!