Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort in Curacao was named after a historic limestone quarry on the site. // © 2016 Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
Feature image (above): Golfers who visit Royal Isabela in Puerto Rico will have access to an on-site golf academy. // © 2016 Royal Isabela
The Caribbean has some of the best golf courses in the world, including venerable favorites such as Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic and the Green Monkey at Sandy Lane in Barbados. While these classics and others draw golfers to their links, there’s a continuous stream of new courses still to come.
Here are some of the best golf courses to open over the last several years, as well as a heads up on yet-to-open courses on the horizon.
Amanera, Dominican Republic
Over the last decade or so, the Dominican Republic’s north coast languished in the shade of tourism powerhouse Punta Cana. North coast resort area Playa Grande is part of a turnaround for the region. Perhaps the biggest news is the luxury 25-casita Amanera resort, the first property from Aman in the Dominican Republic.
A centerpiece of the resort is the reinvented Playa Grande golf course. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the 18-hole course saw an intensive revitalization from course designer Rees Jones, renowned for his work on U.S. Open courses. The 370-acre course, which has 10 oceanside holes, is framed by lush jungle and the Cordillera Septentrional mountain range. The course’s Aman Clubhouse contains a restaurant, a bar, a pro shop, tennis courts and an Aman Spa.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
The 350-room Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao embraces both business travelers and families, making it a good choice for clients who wish to bring their family along while attending a corporate event. The resort’s Old Quarry golf course was designed in 2010 by Pete Dye. The 18-hole, par-72 golf course was named after a historic limestone quarry on the site. The course’s dramatic layout follows the shore of Spanish Water Bay and features dramatic sea views.
Royal Isabela, Puerto Rico
The master-planned Costa Isabela complex is located on Puerto Rico’s northwest shore, about 70 miles from San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. This is where clients will find the beachfront Royal Isabela residential community, which also contains an 18-hole golf course, as well as a luxury boutique hotel targeting the golf traveler. The links-style course was designed by David W. Pfaff and offers sweeping ocean views during play. There’s also an on-site golf academy and restaurant La Casa.
Puntacana Resort & Club, Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic
Golfers demanding variety will want to put Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic on their radar. The beachfront La Cana course, designed by P.B. Dye, was recently bumped up to 27 holes. This demanding course offers 14 holes that overlook the Caribbean Sea.
The 18-hole Corales course was designed by Tom Fazio and is restricted to hotel guests and homeowners in the complex. The course presents a variety of settings and landscapes, including sea views, cliffside holes and holes winding past an old quarry.
Golf Courses in the Works
The Ironwood development on Grand Cayman is slated to open its 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Arnold Palmer, later this year. When fully open, Ironwood will also contain a residential community, shops, restaurants and a hotel.
The Kittitian Hill complex on St. Kitts will include an 18-hole championship course designed by Ian Woosnam. The Irie Fields course layout wends past tropical farmland and offers sea views that include glimpses of the islands of St. Barts and St. Martin. The course is scheduled to open next December and is billing itself as an “edible golf course” — it will contain organic crops and trees, and golfers are free to pick a sun-ripened piece of fruit for an extra burst of energy.
The oft-announced Baha Mar megaresort in Nassau, Bahamas, has endured enough drama to power a season-length run of “Dallas.” While mired in delays, the $3.5 billion resort is said to be 97 percent completed. If and when it does open, the resort will contain a championship 18-hole, par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Course offering ocean views and a layout that features 15 species of native trees.