If you're looking for a golfing holiday, or a holiday with golf in it, you've come to the right place.
The Bahamas doesn't have an abundance of courses, but it does offer quality: layouts designed or refurbished by such greats as Dick Wilson, Joe Lee, Robert Trent Jones Jr, Fred Settle and the Fazio family.
Several courses are being contemplated, or are under way. They include a new Greg Norman course already under construction at the Emerald Bay resort in Exuma; a new course at a proposed $140-million resort at Winding Bay, near Cherokee Sound, Abaco; and a course the Bahamian Golf Federation wants to build on New Providence.
Golfers wanting to play more than one course can choose between New Providence and Grand Bahama. The only other island with a full course today is Abaco, although at least
10 more are planned or actually under construction. Treasure Cay Resort in Abaco has its own 18-hole, 72-par golf course. The Dick Wilson-designed championship course was judged to be "best in The Bahamas" by Golf Digest in 1999. With 66 strategically placed sand bunkers, the Treasure Cay course presents a formidable challenge, with ocean winds, tight fairways and a layout that makes you ponder every club selection.
Golf New Providence Two courses offer public play in New Providence: the Radisson Cable Beach layout and the South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort course, at the south-west shore of the island. (For the exact locations of golf courses, pick up a copy of Bahamas Trailblazer Maps, offered free in hotels and shops.)
The venerable Cable Beach course was recently rebuilt from the first tee to the 18th green by international golf designer Fred Settle. It was the first major renovation of the old Emmet Devereaux course in 70 years.
With the former nines reversed, the new Cable Beach layout is a superb challenge whether you play from the blues (6,453 yds), whites (6,001 yds) or golds (5,412 yds). There's water on eleven holes.
South Ocean Golf Club was opened nearly three decades ago by Canadian financier and developer of Lyford Cay, E P Taylor. Designed by Joe Lee, this 6,707-yd course features ponds, two blue holes and ruins off the 11th hole, believed to be slave quarters from the days before full emancipation was legislated in 1834.
There are two other courses here: the Lyford Cay Club in the posh gated community of the same name on the western tip of New Providence, and the Ocean Club Golf Course on Paradise Island, which is exclusive to property owners in Ocean Club Estates and guests at the Atlantis complex, including the upscale Ocean Club hotel.
This course was originally designed by Dick Wilson back in 1958 but it has recently been redone by former PGA tour star Tom Weiskopf, now a designer and sometimes player on the senior tour.
You can see the ocean from just about anywhere on this 7,123-yd par-72 gem. Weiskopf incorporated the island's cross winds and rolling terrain into the challenge. It's hard to keep your eye on the ball with so much natural beauty on all sides.
Ocean Club hosts several golfing events that garner lots of media attention every year, including a televised celebrity tournament hosted by basketball legend Michael Jordan.
Grand Bahama's five There are five courses to play on Grand Bahama: the Reef and the Lucayan courses, operated by the Our Lucaya resort; the Ruby and the Emerald, owned by Royal Oasis Golf Resort and the Fortune Hills Golf and Country Club - a superb nine-hole layout designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee.
The Ruby and the Emerald, on either side of West Sunrise Hwy, were recently renovated by the Fazio Design Team and are in excellent playing condition, says acting director of golf Scott Goetzee, a South African who is part of the golf management team.
"The two courses are completely different experiences," says Goetzee. The Emerald plays "a bit tougher than the Ruby," partly because the tree-lined fairways are tighter and there is more topsoil on the course, reducing the roll on drives.
The Lucayan, off Midshipman Rd, is home to the Butch Harmon School of Golf, which offers high-tech instruction to wannabe-better golfers. Harmon is widely known as one of the most knowledgeable and successful golf coaches in the world.
The Lucayan is a great place to try out a newly remodeled swing: a 6,824-yd par-72 course designed in 1962 by Dick Wilson. Characterized by tree-lined fairways and challenging doglegs, the Lucayan has been rated for many years as one of the best courses in The Bahamas and in the entire Caribbean region.
The nearby Reef, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, was reopened in 2000 and has quickly gained a reputation among visiting golfers.
At 6,930 yds, the Reef features wide fairways, rolling greens and water on 13 of the 18 holes. Greens on both courses are seeded with Tifton, a fine variety of Bermuda grass, and they can be "very quick," warns pro Max Russell of the Lucayan.