Top 50 Golf Courses of the Caribbean & Atlantic Islands 2017

10 February 2017 Respond to this article

Top 50 Golf Courses of the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands 2017

We rank the fifty best courses within our Caribbean and Atlantic Islands region

We include twenty-five island nations in our Caribbean and Atlantic Islands region. It’s an enormous area of more than a million square miles which – apart from Bermuda – lies southeast of the United States of America, east of Central America and northwest of South America, comprising hundreds of islands, reefs and cays that were governed at various times in the recent past by British, Spanish, French and Dutch conquerors.

Our Top 50 listings are dominated by courses from three countries that occupy almost half the chart positions: Dominican Republic (10), Puerto Rico (8) and Bahamas (6). Fifty percent of the remaining places are filled by layouts from another three countries – Barbados (5), Bermuda (4) and Jamaica (4) – with the final thirteen slots shared between ten different countries, resulting in quite a spread of golf facilities across the region.

There’s lots of good golf to be found in this part of the world and many of the courses are designed by leading architects who were given big budgets to build the best layout possible. Unfortunately, access can be a problem because some private clubs and hotel resorts only allow members/residents the right to play. However, taking our Top 10 as an example, most of the courses are open for public play, proving it is possible to get onto a large proportion of the top tracks – which is what many might think a holiday destination should be all about.

Casa de Campo - Teeth of the Dog 5th hole

At number 1 in our Caribbean and Atlantic Islands chart, the Teeth of the Dog course at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic regularly features in World Top 100 listings (it currently sits at number 67 in our global rankings) and a recent reviewer was particularly thrilled with its proximity to the shoreline: “as you stand on a couple of holes along the sea, water is crashing immediately behind you, to the side of you and ahead of you directly on the same level you are standing.”

Pete and Alice Dye spent many years in their vacation home by 7th green after the course opened in 1971, revising and reforming little things around the course to improve what is undeniably one of Mr Dye’s finest designs. In truth, there can be little doubt that this layout is well worth its position at the head of our regional listings.

The Mid Ocean Club - photo by Dave Finn

In the runner-up spot at number 2, Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda is a 1921 Charles Blair MacDonald course where the close-season invitational Grand Slam of Golf tournament for the winners of the four Major championships was contested in 2007 and 2008. Robert Trent Jones modified the layout in the early 1950s and Renaissance Golf Design has been consulting at the club since 1997.

The Abaco Club

At number 5, Abaco Club on Winding Bay in the Bahamas is a new millennium course designed by Tom MacKenzie when he was working with Donald Steel. Tom Doak, in his Confidential Guide to Golf Courses book (Volume III) opined: “it is quite difficult to recreate the feel of a true links course in tropical conditions, but here on the blustery east side of Abaco, they’ve succeeded admirably.” Golfers should expect to find more than the normal resort course type of challenge when playing here – especially if the wind is up.

Royal Westmoreland in Barbados is at number 7 and it’s a Robert Trent Jones Jnr course that was fashioned by the architect in 2005. The front nine (“Quarry”) holes are routed around an old limestone quarry – it’s said an old man was found during construction living here in an abandoned cement mixer – then the back nine (“Ridge”) holes are laid out on higher ground, where several shots have to be played across a rather intimidating canyon.

TPC Dorado Beach - East course

Another Trent Jones track, this time one designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr in the early 1960s, appears at number 8 in our chart and it’s the East course at TPC Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. Twice host venue for the 2-man World Cup tournament in 1961 (when it was known as the Canada Cup) and in 1994, it was closed and completely refurbished a couple of years ago by… none other than Robert Trent Jones Jnr. Not everyone is enamoured with the nines now being played in reverse order as the former set of strong finishing holes is now encountered half way through the round.

Careful observers will note that the West course at TPC Dorado Beach is not listed in our new Top 50, but that will undoubtedly change next time we re-rank when the West reopens later this year after an extensive renovation.

The Tryall Club

At number 9, Jamaica’s #1 course at The Tryall Club is a late 1950s layout from the underrated architect Ralph Plummer, who designed the course for a consortium of fellow Texan businessmen. Described as “the first course of real character in the Caribbean,” it hosted the Johnnie Walker World Championships from 1991 to 1995, with all five events won by Major-winning golfers. Since renovated by Arthur Hills, the course is still a strong test in the more modern era.

We’re keeping a close eye on a few projects that are still works in progress. There are two new Tom Fazio courses being built, one at Christophe Harbour in St Kitts – the first nine were started some time ago – but this development has been something of a slow burner, and the other at Exuma's Williams Cay in the Bahamas, which is scheduled to open in 2019. Tom Doak’s Tropicalia course at Miches in the Dominican Republic is due to break ground soon as part of a Four Seasons Resort project, and holes are due to be set out a little way back from the coast. Perhaps one of these proposed 18-hole layouts might appear in our next chart update for this region.

Rank/ Course Country
1 Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog) Dominican Republic
2 Mid Ocean Bermuda
3 Punta Espada Dominican Republic
4 Punta Cana (Corales) Dominican Republic
5 Abaco Club Bahamas
6 Baker's Bay Bahamas
7 Royal Westmoreland Barbados
8 TPC Dorado Beach (East) Puerto Rico
9 Tryall Jamaica
10 Playa Grande Dominican Republic
11 Apes Hill Barbados
12 Royal Isabela Puerto Rico
13 Albany Bahamas
14 Sandy Lane (Green Monkey) Barbados
15 Lyford Cay Bahamas
16 White Witch Jamaica
17 Sandy Lane (Country Club) Barbados
18 Casa de Campo (Dye Fore) Dominican Republic
19 Pink Sands St Vincent & Grenadines
20 Ocean Club Bahamas
21 Port Royal Bermuda
22 CuisinArt Anguilla
23 Palmas Athletic Club (Flamboyan) Puerto Rico
24 Coco Beach (Championship) Puerto Rico
25 Cinnamon Hill Jamaica
26 Punta Cana (La Cana) Dominican Republic
27 Bahia Beach Puerto Rico
28 Royal St Kitts St Kitts & Nevis
29 Coco Beach (International) Puerto Rico
30 Tucker's Point Bermuda
31 Tierra del Sol Aruba
32 Four Seasons Nevis St Kitts & Nevis
33 Emerald Reef Bahamas
34 Casa de Campo (La Romana) Dominican Republic
35 La Estancia Dominican Republic
36 Mahogany Run US Virgin Islands
37 Old Quarry Curaçao
38 Casa de Campo (Links) Dominican Republic
39 Half Moon Jamaica
40 Hard Rock at Cana Bay Dominican Republic
41 Belmont Hills Bermuda
42 El Conquistador Puerto Rico
43 Tobago Plantations Trinidad & Tobago
44 North Sound Cayman Islands
45 Provo Turks & Caicos
46 TPC Dorado Beach Plantation (Sugarcane) Puerto Rico
47 Blue Bay Curaçao
48 Cedar Valley Antigua
49 Carambola US Virgin Islands
50 Barbados Barbados

To view further details of our latest Caribbean and Atlantic Islands Top 50 rankings click the link.

If you’ve any strong opinions about the ranking order of our Caribbean and Atlantic Islands chart then please let us know via the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page. We’re always happy to hear from anybody who might want to share their views when we publish new regional listings, so by all means get in touch if you have something to say.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses