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Caribbean Islands Top 50 Golf Courses 2012

05 December, 2011
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Caribbean Islands Top 50 Golf Courses 2012

Top 50 Golf Courses of the Caribbean Islands assembled for the first time

The Top 100 website has featured the best golf courses across hundreds of countries and regions for years, but we have never before assembled the best golf courses of the tropical Caribbean Islands.

There are many countries that enjoy a Caribbean coastline such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela but we decided to omit these from our list because they are not Caribbean Islands. We also left out the North Atlantic islands of Bermuda but included the Lucayan Archipelago of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos in our collection, even though they are geographically in the Atlantic.

The crescent-shaped Caribbean Islands stretch for more than 1,700 miles from Florida to Venezuela and for many golf course aficionados, these tropical islands slot neatly in the mould of family holiday destination with a little golf rather than a pure, out-and-out golfing vacation.

For many years, the main Caribbean island golf course attraction was Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic but in the last ten years or so, things have changed, and the reason is largely down to the grass. First of all let’s not get our grasses confused. We’re not talking about the Jamaican variety, we’re referring to the tough-as-nails hybrid called Paspalum. The pros and cons of Paspalum versus bermudagrass or bentgrass are for the agronomy debate but, essentially, Paspalum copes miraculously in the Caribbean’s hot sunshine and salty conditions. It’s the enabler for high quality golf courses to be built in challenging climates.

We first experienced tee to green Paspalum at the fantastic Abaco Club on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas in 2006. Billed a tropical links, which we thought would surely be a misnomer, the Abaco Club is impressive and it’s a beguiling Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie creation that deserves close inspection.

The Jack Nicklaus Punta Espada course at the Cap Cana resort is another Paspalum success story and, coupled with the Tom Fazio-designed Corales, which opened in Aril 2010, there are now two further world-class layouts within the Dominican Republic’s burgeoning portfolio. Factor in the four courses at Casa de Campo, throw in the Faldo Legacy course at Roco Ki Golf Club along with the Robert Trent Jones-designed Playa Grande and you’ve got one a stunning collection of golf courses that are real jewels in the Caribbean’s crown.

However, the Dominican Republic is not the only strong Caribbean golfing island. Barbados has three courses in the Caribbean Top 10 and there’s little to choose between RTJ II’s Royal Westmoreland and Tom Fazio’s creations at Sandy Lane. Many golfers think the Green Monkey is the best Barbadian course but you’ll have to stay at the resort in order to find out for yourself.

Puerto Rico is often billed as “the golf capital of the Caribbean” but despite its relatively large size, the island’s courses are not as well regarded as one might imagine. Some commentators reckon that golf in Puerto Rico consisted of too many bland resort courses but Donald Trump has now left his mark with two courses at his ubiquitously named Trump International Golf Club. One Puerto Rican course to watch was created by tennis star Charlie Pasarell, his brother Stanley, their business partner and David Pfaff – a former associate of Pete Dye. It’s called Royal Isabela and it’s routed along the Atlantic facing cliff tops of the island’s northern coastline.

Hats off to Paspalum! That clever little hybrid has helped to create some cracking new tropical golf courses.

Click the hyperlink to see our all-new list of the Top 50 Golf Courses of the Caribbean Islands. Alternatively scroll down to see the 2012 list.

The Top 100 Team

1 Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog) Dominican Rep
2 Cap Cana (Punta Espada) Dominican Rep
3 Royal Westmoreland Barbados
4 Sandy Lane (Green Monkey) Barbados
5 Trump International (International) Puerto Rico
6 Punta Cana (Corales) Dominican Rep
7 Sandy Lane (Country Club) Barbados
8 Playa Grande Dominican Rep
9 White Witch Jamaica
10 Casa de Campo (Dye Fore) Dominican Rep
11 Abaco Club Bahamas
12 Trump International (Championship) Puerto Rico
13 Roco Ki (Faldo Legacy) Dominican Rep
14 Apes Hill Barbados
15 Tryall Jamaica
16 Casa de Campo (La Romana) Dominican Rep
17 Cinnamon Hill Jamaica
18 Ocean Club Bahamas
19 Grand Lucayan (Lucayan) Bahamas
20 Trump International - Canouan St Vincent & G
21 Palmas del Mar (Flamboyan) Puerto Rico
22 Lyford Cay Bahamas
23 Temenos Anguilla
24 Tierra del Sol Aruba
25 Blue Shark Bahamas
26 Dorado Beach (West) Puerto Rico
27 Grand Lucayan (Reef) Bahamas
28 Royal Isabela Puerto Rico
29 Bahia Beach Puerto Rico
30 Guavaberry Dominican Rep
31 Old Quarry - Santa Barbara Plantation Nether Antilles
32 Dorado Beach (East) Puerto Rico
33 Palmas del Mar (Palm) Puerto Rico
34 Punta Cana (La Cana) Dominican Rep
35 Rio Mar (Ocean) Puerto Rico
36 Casa de Campo (Links) Dominican Rep
37 Emerald Reef Bahamas
38 Mount Irvine Bay Trinidad & Tobago
39 Half Moon Jamaica
40 Blue Bay Nether Antilles
41 Four Seasons Nevis St Kitts & Nevis
42 Mahogany Run US Virgin Islands
43 Provo Turks & Caicos
44 St Lucia St Lucia
45 Royal St Kitts St Kitts & Nevis
46 Cedar Valley Antigua & B
47 Sandals Jamaica
48 Martinique Martinique
49 Plantation (Sugarcane) Puerto Rico
50 Carambola US Virgin Islands
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