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Grand Bahama Island : Turquoise Waters, Breathtaking Beaches and Championship Golf
http://www.publinksgolfer.net/articles/36/1/Grand-Bahama-Island-:-Turquoise-Waters,-Breathtaking-Beaches-and-Championship-Golf/Page1.html
John Torsiello
 
By John Torsiello
Published on 02/17/2005
 
The enchanting isles of The Bahamas offer a number of superb golf courses to delight the senses and test the playing abilities of visitors at all skill levels. Ample sunshine, scintillating views, manicured fairways and greens, and soft ocean breezes warm the spirit and make for a truly memorable, magical golfing experience any time of the year.

Endless Summer - Grand Bahama Island
Sun, sand, and sea are merely perimeters of the Islands Of The Bahamas, a 700-island chain where island golf dates back to the Roaring 20s. At the core of the islands you'll find a big heart, open arms, and a way of living life that is both timeless and new. It is the heritage of the Bahamas and it is your departure from everyday life.

Lying closest of any Caribbean Island to the U.S. mainland, located just off the eastern coast of Florida and reachable in only a fraction of an hour by air from Florida lays a paradise with golfing that is waiting to be savored.

The enchanting isles of The Bahamas offer a number of superb golf courses to delight the senses and test the playing abilities of visitors at all skill levels. Ample sunshine, scintillating views, manicured fairways and greens, and soft ocean breezes warm the spirit and make for a truly memorable, magical golfing experience any time of the year.

The islands are home to courses designed by some of the biggest names in golf course architecture, names like Fazio, Trent Jones, Wilson and Weiskopf who have lent their talents to the country's best layouts. While the islands may not offer the quantity of courses found at US golf destinations they make up for this in quality.

"Golf is becoming a very important part of the visitor experience here in our islands," said Randy Clare, golf marketing manager for The Bahamas. "We don't have a lot of it, but what we have is very good and affordable. We have hosted events featuring Champion Tour Players and are attracting more and more international groups here for competitive golf. We have had several of our courses renovated or redesigned and
others are on the drawing board to be built."

The Bahamas boasts two of the most revered and historic courses in the Caribbean-- the Lucayan Country Club in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island and the South Ocean Golf Club in Nassau, located at South Ocean.
Lucayan Country Club on Grand Bahama Island was designed by Dick Wilson in 1964. It sits on a naturally hilly area overlooking the Bell Channel. One of the most notable features of this superb tract is the white coral rock that forms natural hazards off fairways beyond natural rough areas. There is a sense of privacy and solitude here, with foursomes rarely seeing one another during a round. This was the last club the great mid-20th century golfer Craig Wood represented, and it was here that he shot a remarkable 66 only days before his sixty-sixth birthday. Wood, a US Open and Masters champion, assisted in the design of the course.

There is a lake running down the final 200 yards of the short, 374-yard par-four 17th hole that scares even the best players. The 489-yard par-five eight is a superb long hole. It doglegs to the left and a fairway bunker guards the landing area. Big hitters can reach the putting surface in two, especially if the wind is at their backs.

The par-threes are a strength, the toughest being the 210-yard seventh. There are a number of doglegs that demand proper club selection and accurate shot making to avoid those nasty natural hazards off the fairways. The course measures 6,824 yards from the tips and plays to a par of 72. Lucayan is also home to the renowned Butch Harmon School of Golf.

        The South Ocean Golf Club, which is undergoing renovations, was designed by Joe Lee in 1971 and is known as one of the best tests of golf in the country. Situated on South Ocean near to the airport on the island of New Providence, where the capital city of Nassau is located, the course offers 18 unique holes carved out of dense tropical jungle.

Water comes into play on several holes at South Ocean and the huge greens are well guarded by sand bunkers, some with trees in them, Lee's trademark signature. One of the toughest holes on the course is the 509-yard par five 16th that has a double dogleg. It plays around a lake off the tee and has a second stretch of water to the left that leads to
a green guarded by four bunkers.

South Ocean is a bit of an eclectic course, with several short holes added to the mix. Such as the 104-yard par-three 11th that seems much easier than it plays. The little hole features an elongated green that is protected by ample bunkering on all sides. On the other end of the spectrum, number eight is a superb par-three that measures almost 200
yards and has water to the left of the putting surface. The course is slated for renovation and some redesign this year.

Two are other great courses are to be found on Grand Bahama Island. At the Crown Plaza Resort they offer two championship 18-hole tracts, The Ruby and The Emerald.  The courses recently underwent multimillion-dollar upgrades that brought them a new luster that rivals other top Caribbean layouts.

The Fazio Design Group reshaped the fairways, bunkers and greens at the Joe Lee-designed Ruby Golf Course and created a new level of "playability" for golfers of all skills. Still, with the trade winds blowing in your face, this 6,884-yard, par-72 tract can play like a bear. The sugar-white bunkers look pretty set against the emerald-colored fairways. But steer clear of the deep traps to preserve your temper and your score.

The Emerald Course, also reworked by the Fazio Group, was cut through thick vegetation, but offers wide, forgiving fairways. Numerous bunkers protect the greens here and sand traps guard the landing areas on some fairways. The 6,679-yard, par-72 course features long, demanding par-threes and par-fives that big hitters can reach in two. A trip to the Crowne Plaza Golf Resort is a real joy.

The newly built Reef Course at Our Lucaya is the only course in the islands designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It features picturesque lakes on 13 of the holes and has large, undulating greens, wide, winding fairways and an overall links feel. It plays to almost 7,000 yards from the tips.

     In Nassau, on Cable Beach is the Jim McCormick-designed course at the Raddison Cable Beach Casino and Golf Resort that underwent considerable renovations in 2002. Work upgraded fairways, greens and bunkers on the 7,040-yard par-72 tract that has 13 lakes or ponds and some 50 sand traps.

Spacious fairways and mounding around the greens make this a "player friendly" tract. One of the most scenic holes is the short, par-three 14th that calls for a full shot across water.
On Paradise Island, we find The Tom Weiskopf 'One And Only Ocean Club Golf Course’ that is accessible only to visitors at the Atlantis Resort and Casino properties, homeowners and members. This luxurious course was newly designed out of the old Paradise Island Golf course and is one of the most beautiful and challenging layouts in the Caribbean. It can stretch to 7,100 yards and offers spectacular views of the ocean from a number of tee boxes and greens. Troon Golf operates the golf course.

On Abaco Island is the Treasure Cay Golf Course, also routed by Dick Wilson. It is a traditional design that has narrow fairways that demand accurate shot-making both off the tees and on approach shots to the greens. The long game is a premium on this layout.

On Exuma is the new entry into the golf product mix of the Islands of The Bahamas. The course was designed and built by Greg Norman for the five-star Four Seasons Resort located in Great Exuma, Bahamas at Emerald Bay. Water and wind are a major consideration when playing this challenging tract. The fairways are narrow, water is everywhere and the greens are well bunkered.

Bahamas courses offer rentals and have on course refreshment services. Several have on course snack bars, others restaurants in the resort that serve as ideal post-round meeting places, and yet others that boast fully stocked pro shops in addition to the foregoing. All have available practice facilities.

Apart from golf there are, of course, stunning beaches where you can shake off those bogeys, as well as one world-class casino at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise, and two casinos on Grand Bahama Island, one located at the Our Lucaya Resort and the other at the Royal Oasis Resort. There are also all sorts of recreational venues, sightseeing and wonderful dining in a true island setting to be found. Indeed, there is no end to the unique experiences the traveling golfer will find in this fascinating island nation.

For more information about Grand Bahama Island visit
www.grandbahama.bahamas.com