The turquoise ocean is shimmering in the distance, colorful parrotfish are swimming down below, and the coastal rock formations that hug the shoreline couldn’t be more majestic. No, you’re not at the beach. This is the view from Port Royal’s iconic 16th—one of the world’s finest par three holes. And while you’ll be tempted to linger at the tee box where champions like Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose once squared off, there’s more golfing to be discovered on this picturesque island that boasts more golf courses per capita than any country in the world.
“With two championship courses designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Robert Trent Jones Sr., plus a handful of courses where you’ll have fantastic ocean views and demanding holes throughout, you’ve got a recipe for one of the greatest golf trips in the world,” says Andrew Brooks, former Director of Golf at Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course.
It’s no exaggeration. Bermuda may be known for its pink-sand beaches and colorful knee-length shorts, but ever since British Army officers brought their clubs to the island in the late 1800s, this mid-Atlantic archipelago has also been ground zero for golf.
These days, Bermuda is no stranger to hosting championship-caliber events: In fact, the Bermuda Championship—the PGA TOUR’s first official annual event here—will kick off at the Port Royal Golf Course from October 31–November 3, 2019. Fortunately, though, you don’t have to be a pro to golf on the island. Plus, the great weather allows you to play year-round. You can even make golf part of a Bermuda vacation package.
There’s plenty to do when you’re done with your round, too—like sipping one of Bermuda’s two national cocktails at the 19th hole (a.k.a. the clubhouse bar), where you can enjoy a Dark ’N Stormy® or Rum Swizzle as you admire your scorecard within eyeshot of the ocean.
Ready to play? Grab your clubs and get ready to gawk at these gorgeous stretches of green.
2nd hole, Turtle Hill Golf Course Widely regarded as one of the top five par-3 golf courses in the world and the annual host of the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship, Turtle Hill provides a fierce challenge despite its length. And no one hole better epitomizes this rolling, ocean-view course more than the 2nd. Called “Free Fall,” the downhill hole features a stunning watery panorama from the tee and a speedy sloping fairway. You can also look forward to the 16th hole, featuring a picture-perfect glimpse of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, stately perched just over the fairway.
16th hole, Port Royal Golf Course No golf trip to Bermuda should be without a visit to Port Royal, which was originally architected by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1970, then fully redesigned by Roger Rulewich, a member of the original design team, in 2009. In fact, nearly $15 million was spent to revamp this world-class, 6,842-yard course, which features some of the most beautiful ocean view holes in all of golf—like the 235-yard 16th, a cliff-hugging stunner with nothing but the turquoise Atlantic between the tee and the pin. “There’s no other hole on earth like it,” says Andrew Brooks. “It’s one of the greatest par threes in the world.”
5th hole, The Mid Ocean Club The Mid Ocean Club is an ocean-hugging 6,548-yard course that’s widely regarded as one of the world’s best. Originally designed by Charles Blair McDonald in 1921 and then rearchitected by Robert Trent Jones in 1953, the private course provides a stern test, given its stunning coastal location. Even Babe Ruth had difficulties on the iconic 5th hole, a par 4 where he hit 11 balls directly into Mangrove Lake in 1934, before finally clearing the picturesque hazard on his 12th try. It’s possible he was distracted by the view: Flanked by cedar trees and tropical foliage galore, the sprawling inland lake is the main attraction at Mid Ocean’s signature hole.
17th hole, Tucker’s Point Golf Course Challenging and alluring, Tucker’s Point is located next to Bermuda’s turquoise seas. Don’t forget your camera on the 17th, a potentially drivable par 4 that plays from an elevated tee overlooking Castle Harbour. Called “The Banks,” after the course’s original designer Charles Banks, this hole is where you’ll have a spectacular view of Tucker’s Town, Castle Island, and the entire western side of Bermuda. “It’s one of those holes that simply commands your attention,” says Paul Adams, Director of Golf at Tucker’s Point Golf Course. “And if your game takes a turn for the worse, at least you’ll have something pretty to look at.”
17th hole, Belmont Hills Golf Course There are gorgeous water views from many holes on the island, but one of the most uniquely Bermudian is the vista from the 17th at Belmont Hills. Perched high on a hill overlooking Granaway Deep and Hamilton Harbour in the distance, it’s where you’ll see boats motoring through the sapphire seas, plus dozens of islets and cays. It’s also where you’ll get a mighty challenge: The 17th and the 18th holes are the most difficult to play on the Algie M. Pulley–designed course, thanks to narrow fairways, well-bunkered greens, and yes, those endless ocean views (since that’s where your gaze will likely be focused).
1st hole, Ocean View Golf Course This government-owned 2,940-yard Ocean View is aptly named, since the majority of its nine holes have unending water views—like its picture-perfect par-5 opener. The hole simply stares at the turquoise Atlantic, where a well-struck tee shot can bring the small green into play. The smart strategy, however, is to lay up and deal with the well-placed bunkers to assure a makeable par to start the round. Tip: Since the course features as many as six tee boxes on some of its holes, switch tees on your second loop of nine to change driving distances.
For more information on Bermuda’s amazing golf scene and to plan your vacation, visit GoToBermuda.com.