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Sandals Golf Schools in the Caribbean are a hole in one

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

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Play Paradise

Latest offer at Sandals Golf School in Jamaica

Visitors can take their golf game to the next level with the Play Paradise package, available year-round at Sandals Golf & Country Club in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. For $395 per person, guests can add the Play Paradise package to any Luxury Included Sandals Resorts or Beaches Resort vacation in the Ocho Rios area.

The Play Paradise golf package includes one-day PGA Golf School powered by Nike Golf; one golf-club fitting with the Nike 360º Fitting System; complimentary caddie, cart use and advance tee times; lunch on the course at the authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack; and one complimentary wine selection off the Manager’s List.

Plus, for those who would like to experience the Play Paradise golf package with special weekend amenities within a group setting, the school has an exclusive golf weekend Nov. 12-16. Guests that book the Play Paradise golf package with their room accommodations on Nov. 12-16 will receive all of the inclusions of the Play Paradise package, plus a welcome cocktail reception and farewell dinner; a poker night with cigars and cordials; two-person scramble-style tournament; $50 Red Lane Spa credit; 10 percent discount at the pro shop on purchases of $100 and more; and Palm Drive Magazine gift pack.

As travel agents know, the preferences of today’s travelers have changed. Whereas, in the past, clients might have been content spending their vacations lying on a beach doing nothing more industrious than reading a trashy novel, these days, travelers want to be engaged physically and intellectually. They want to come back home feeling that they have spent their vacation time wisely.

 Caribbean//© Kenneth Shapiro_b

 Sandals Golf Schools also offer programs
specifically for juniors.

The folks at Sandals Resorts are undoubtedly aware of this trend and, therefore, the launch of Sandals Golf Schools last fall seems like an especially savvy move on their part. Not only do golfers get to play a round or two while on vacation but, by utilizing the school’s top-notch professional instruction and state-of-the-art technology, they can improve their skills at the same time.

The Sandals Golf Schools are located at the Sandals Golf Club on St. Lucia (at the Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa) and at the Sandals Golf & Country Club on Jamaica (near the Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Golf Resort). On a recent visit to the school in Ocho Rios, professional instructors provided small-group lessons on driving, chipping, putting and more, as well as on-course instruction.

Each morning, our group of golfers was picked up at the Sandals Grande Ocho Rios and taken on the short drive to the golf course. Once there, we were provided with clubs, golf carts, balls and whatever other equipment we needed before going through a series of “stations,” each one dedicated to a different aspect of the game. After a morning spent working with the pros, golfers had lunch on the course. One of the unique features of the Sandals Golf & Country Club is its authentic jerk shack off the 10th green, where golfers can enjoy a delicious lunch of jerk chicken and beef and sides.

After lunch, some in our group returned to the resort, while others chose to play a round accompanied by the school’s instructors. The course itself is a treat for golfers, with wide-open fairways surrounded by lush, green mountains.

In addition to golf clinics, the Sandals Golf Schools feature the Nike 360° Fitting System, which enables technicians to determine the exact club specifications to fit each golfer. The Sandals Golf Schools also feature the JC Video Motion Analysis System, which uses high-end motion analysis video software to capture a frame-by-frame swing sequence for every golfer. This technology allows the school’s pros to capture, compare and analyze every aspect of a golfer’s swing instantly.

Despite all the high-tech bells and whistles, however, during my visit to the school, I found the greatest asset were the instructors, who were knowledgeable, patient, helpful and refreshingly Jamaican in their laid-back approach. It was a far cry from some of the more uptight and intimidating lessons I had taken elsewhere.

“Sandals Resorts was created on the concept that each and every visit should satisfy every desire for our guests — whether it is gourmet cuisine, spa treatments at our Red Lane Spa or a round of golf on a world-famous course,” said Tony Ebanks, general manager of the Sandals Golf & Country Club. “We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that every facet of the Sandals Resorts Luxury Included experience — including our new golf school — not only meets, but exceeds, the expectations of our guests.”

Prices for the golf school range from $85 for a one-hour private lesson to $995 per person for a five-day session. The school runs from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily and includes a maximum 4-to-1 student-to-instructor ratio; video analysis and a complimentary DVD of the golfer’s swing with the teacher’s voice-over; a learning manual with the instructor’s comments; transportation to and from the course; golf towels; and rental clubs.

In addition to the school, there’s also a free golf clinic held at the course twice a week, with complimentary shuttle service from Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, Sandals Dunn’s River Villaggio, Beaches Boscobel and Royal Plantation. Be sure to let your clients know that, while greens fees are complimentary for Sandals’ guests, caddies are mandatory on the Country Club course and tipping is at the player’s discretion.

The nearby Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Golf Resort features multiple properties in one. On one side of the resort is a beach tower just off the ocean; on the other side, guests will find villas scattered in a lush mountain setting around a plantation-style manor house. While the beach side has more typical, large resort-style pools, the villa rooms come with their own private or semi-private pools. Regardless of which side guests stay on, the all-inclusive resort features amenities and activities to suit a wide range of interests.

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