With all but two of its fairways offering stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, the 18 holes at White Witch are carved through acres of lush green vegetation on Jamaica’s Rose Hall Plantation, just outside Montego Bay.
Interestingly, the layout is named after the “White Witch of Rose Hall,” Annee Palmer, who was an early 19th century mistress on the former sugar plantation, reputed to have practiced voodoo, abused her slaves and murdered three husbands!
The course opened in 2000, designed by Robert von Hagge, Michael Smelek and Rick Baril – the design firm was also responsible for the reworking of another old course next door at Cinnamon Hill – and holes are laid out on a wild, rocky part of the estate with intimidating carries and tumbling fairways.
The round begins with an eye-catching par five that gives notice of what lies ahead, plunging from the tee to a fairway that then rises sharply past bunkers on the right to a small, semi blind, pulpit green.
Towards the end of the round, many will remember the stunning par three 17th, where the white sand of the greenside bunkers contrasts sharply against the rich green of the putting surface with a lone tree in the background standing against the blue of the ocean.
The golf experience here is first class, from pewter bag tags inscribed with the visiting golfer’s name to white-suited caddies or “concierges” as they are called. Just don’t blame the ghost of Annee Palmer which is said to roam the estate for any of those three putts.
One of a pair of quality courses belonging to the Rose Hall estate the courses are next to each other but have their own entrance, clubhouse, driving range and putting green White Witch is carved out of jungle like terrain high on a hillside this course offers stunning panoramic views from numerous spots on the course none more spectacular than the first tee which is located in front of a beautiful clubhouse 100 feet above the first fairway a par 5 which runs off into the distance with the ocean as a backdrop.
The first hole gives you a good idea of what is to come many of the fairways at White Witch slope heavily and fall off dramatically into dense vegetation which can make for many lost balls if you are having a bad day with the driver however most of the fairways have ample width and the mandatory caddies are quite adept at finding anything hit not too deep into the jungle.
The course has a good variety of holes with significant elevation changes throughout it has a couple of interesting short par 4’s, there are three quite spectacular par 3’s two from very elevated tees over water and the third across a ravine with the ocean as the backdrop the longer holes also provide great interest with the fast and hard conditions providing a lot of run out on drives and helping most players reach the greens in regulation.
The course condition was far from ideal when I played this course many of the greens had significant damage with large grassless patches I found this peculiar as its companion course Cinnamon Hill was in pristine condition.
Overall I can recommend White Witch for a very interesting and entertaining round however if you only have time for one round play Cinnamon Hill which I found to be the better course even when ignoring the conditioning.