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Jamaican me crazy! The golf is good in the home of reggae

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There’s so much to recommend Jamaica as a travel destination that you really shouldn’t need much convincing. Warm temperatures, balmy breezes and a relaxed vibe make Jamaica one of the most popular spots in the Caribbean. For golfers, there’s the added bonus of a handful of courses that offer challenging tracks, great conditions year-round and breathtaking views of Jamaica’s mountains and beaches.  If you like salt air, sunshine and tall rum drinks on the course, Jamaica golf is the ticket, mon.

Here are some “insider” tips to make sure that your Jamaica trip is smooth sailing:

Flights
Direct flights are available from major East Coast cities to Montego Bay and Kingston, and connections are available from anywhere. Prices are low during U.S. Spring and Summer.

Currency
Bring lots of $1s, $5s, $10s and $20s in U.S. dollars. Carry your money in a fanny pack until you get a safe (make sure your room has safes…some don’t) and once you get your room and key to your safe, put the money and your airline and ID stuff in the safe and take out what money you’ll need for the day. If you need JA money, just exchange what you need when you need it. Most everyone will take U.S. money.

As far as day trips, the best thing is to hire a taxi for the day and agree on a price before going. You can check the prices for tours out of your B&B and compare them with a taxi for the day to the same places. I wouldn’t book any day trips before you leave.

If it’s $50 is for two people and luggage to and from the airport, I would say that’s a pretty good price…depending on how far the B&B is from the airport. If it’s only about three or four miles, I’d hire a taxi to go out and another to go back. Taxis are everywhere.

Ground Transportation
Bus and transfer services are available once you get to Jamaica, but the smart move is book ahead of time to avoid unnecessary trouble and strife. Check online for reputable and highly-rated options. It takes a little while to get from one side of the island to the other so plan your trip so that you don’t spend hours navigating the roads.

Recreation
When you aren’t on the golf course, Jamaica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and there are great venues for reggae music listening. The atmosphere can be intoxicating, but whether you prefer you’re fun in a glass or in a pipe, make sure that you use common sense.

Suggested Golf Courses

White Witch Rose Hall Golf CourseThe White Witch Golf Course is built on the countryside of Jamaica’s historic Rose Hall Plantation and is an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Robert von Hagge and Rick Baril. This 6,758-yard, Par 71 treasure is named for the plantation’s beautiful but wicked 19th-century plantation mistress, Annee Palmer (her ghost is said to still roam the property). The newly launched tour, Annee’s Escape, combines the Great Houses with golf, the beach, and the rich cultural history of Jamaica.

Jamaica White Witch Golf Course

Cinnamon Hill: Designed by von Hagge and Rick Baril, Cinnamon Hill gives visitors a chance to take in the best of Jamaican golf. Learn about the rich history of the Johnny Cash estate on the Cinnamon Hill Great House Tour and visit the 15th green where scenes were shot for the James Bond movie, “Live and Let Die.” On the Cinnamon Hill Great House Tour, journey into the lives of Country and Western greats, Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter-Cash. Experience their home that captured the essence of the life they lived in Jamaica, not as superstars but as warm individuals.

Cinnamon Hill Golf Course

Half MoonDesigned by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and modernized by Roger Rulewich, Half Moon resort provides a country-club atmosphere with an award-winning 18-hole par-72 championship course. The course includes 20 grassed practice bays, a bunker practice green, putting green and a 50-yard pitching green. Golf tournaments frequently held at Half Moon include the Jamaica Open. It is the perfect blend of social event and exercise. The renowned golf course is one of the best walking courses creating a masterpiece of beauty.

Half Moon Golf Course

Runaway Bay Golf ClubWith an 18-hole championship golf course, the Runaway Bay Golf Club was designed by Major John Harris from Britain and offers a one of a kind experience. You can perfect your game while swinging across long rolling fairways, large flat greens protected by grassy mounds and sand bunkers. Following a lively round of golf, unwind and relax in open-air pavilion restaurant and bar. Its hosted many major tournaments including the Ryder Cup-style match between the United Kingdom and West Indies, The Jamaica Open, The Brinks (JA) Classic, The Heineken World Cup Qualifier, CNBC Nations Cup and numerous JGA Qualifiers.

Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort

 

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Chris Wegner

    Mar 23, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Disappointing to see an article on golf in Jamaica that misses probably the best and without a doubt the most famous golf course on the Island. Tryall Golf Club is a must play while visiting the island, without a doubt before any of the above listed courses.

    Here’s some help from wikipedia on what should be a rewrite to this article…

    Founded in 1958 and designed by Ralph Plummer, it features a 6,800 yard 18-hole course. In 1963, it hosted Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match between Dow Finsterwald and Peter Alliss. It also hosted the LPGA Tour’s The Jamaica Classic from 1989 to 1991 and the unofficial PGA Tour event Johnnie Walker World Golf Championship from 1991 to 1995. In 2005, it was voted the Best Golf course in the Caribbean by Caribbean World Magazine.

  2. Jerry

    Mar 22, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    I’ve been to JA 19 times and have played golf on 3 trips. My experience tells me 2 things. 1-The courses are going to be more goat pathy (literally) than you’re used to. 2- and more importantly, there is way too much to see, do and experience inna Yard than spend 5 hours on a Bumboclaat golf course. Get out and about. Go meet people, see things and experience cool stuff. Forget about golf for 1 week and go to a local soundsystem instead. 🙂 If you want, go play golf who gives a ras.

  3. Billable Hour

    Mar 22, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Played White Witch in January 2018 – in poor shape, rental clubs were a mismatched set of women’s and men’s Nike’s circa 2014. Some cool views but overall not a good use of time or money.

  4. ES

    Mar 21, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Missing Tryall.

  5. S

    Mar 21, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    I think you smoked something and breathed it in too deep

    • mj

      Mar 23, 2019 at 8:27 am

      He’s been hanging out with Robert Garrgigas lmao

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The deal abides! 5 ways to get the best deals during shoulder season

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The dictionary defines “shoulder season” as “a travel period between peak and off-peak seasons.” For the savvy traveler, shoulder season means big savings on travel and golf some of the best destinations around. It’s the time when demand is at a low point for a course or resort, and they are willing to offer significant discounts to fill those rooms, tee times and barstools. We talked to some experts and found out the 5 keys to getting the most out of shoulder season travel.

1. Pick Your Spot Then Pick Your Dates

The first rule of shoulder season is to find out when the shoulder is in the places you want to visit. Shoulder season is related to when the peak and off-peak times are on the calendar in a given region, and those seasons are different depending on the region.

According to golf travel consultant Sarah Forrest, “The term shoulder season is a loose phrase as there are no defined start and end dates.  From state to state and country to country the dates will change so do your homework. By being sensible you can travel the world from the Northern to Southern hemisphere and play the shoulder season for exceptional value almost year-round.”

For example, most areas that are warm during the months of December through February (e.g. Florida) have their shoulder seasons for the two months on either side of those months. To give some practical examples shoulder season for Bandon Dunes is March, April, and November. May is a great time to visit places in the Midwest like Sand Valley or Whistling Straits.

2. Shop Around

There are dozens of online sources of information on discount golf travel and they will all be busting with information on shoulder season travel. The destinations will be eager to get the word out about room and tee sheet availability, so all you have to do is find it. Resources like Trip Advisor, Golf Advisor, and even Kayak can give you the ability to comparison shop for the best overall deal for your family or group. Forrest adds, ”Be prepared to be flexible with your dates, if you can flex your dates, tell the resort and ask for more than one date price to determine the best price and of course don’t expect great weather, although you can be pleasantly surprised at times!”

3. Aim High

Shoulder season is the perfect time to check off a couple of those wish list experiences. From the golden oldies, like Pinehurst and the Greenbrier, to the new classics, like Bandon Dunes and Streamsong Resort. The lower prices will bring many of the elite destinations into a reasonable price range.

3. Go to the Source

There are any number of websites that will consolidate discounts and offers, and there’s no reason not to let them do the initial work for you . But once you decide on a location or two, contact the resort directly to find out if they have additional discounts that haven’t been published online. It’s also a good time to ask for the availability of rooms that may have a special touch like a great view, big bed or an in-room sauna or jacuzzi. Even if they say no, there’s no harm in asking!

5. Give and Ye Shall Receive

In the Internet age, golf courses, hotels, and resorts value positive feedback online as much as you appreciate a good discount. So it only makes sense to channel your inner Kardashian during your stay and post early and often to social media. Saying good things about the place you are staying will get you noticed, and may get you a few perks. Ask to take a picture with the head pro or the head chef, and definitely post pics of your meals and your rounds on the course. If the marketing department notices, they will find a way to show their appreciation.

 

 

 

 

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Puerto Rico is back: A talk with J.P. Polo of Discover Puerto Rico and Alexandra O’Laughlin of Golf Channel

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The PGA Tour returned to the island of Puerto Rico for the first time after skipping a year last year. Everybody knows about the challenges that were posed in the last two years there by an outbreak of Zika and then Hurricane Maria. But I was amazed by what I saw when went there recently to witness first-hand what had transpired in the year since the hurricane.

I spent some time talking to J.P. Polo of Discover Puerto Rico and Alexandra O’Laughlin of The Golf Channel, who gave their thoughts on the miraculous and courageous recovery of the country.

Michael: J.P., talk about what’s happened in Puerto Rico for the last two years that posed such a challenge for the island.

J.P. Polo: Well, you know, we had the Zika outbreak and then Hurricane Maria here September 20th, 2017, and now we’re a little over a year after Hurricane Maria and, to tell you the truth, there’s still some work to be done. But as it pertains from a tourism perspective, we’re ready. We’re ready to host everybody who wants to come down here to the island. We’re ready to celebrate with them and showcase everything that we’ve got in Puerto Rico. Particularly the golf courses that we’ve got, which are magnificent and we many different types of courses, which is something a lot of people don’t speak about, but we’ve got, you know, diversity here in terms of golf courses that people can play.

Michael: You’re from Puerto Rico originally?

J.P. Polo: I’m originally from Puerto Rico, born and raised, and then I had a chance to live in Washington D.C. for a couple years. But yeah, born and raised here on the island.

Michael: D.C. is my hometown, so we have a lot to talk about there. You’ve seen other storms; was Maria the worst you’ve ever seen?

J.P. Polo: Well, I was in Washington D.C. when Hurricane Maria hit. From everything that I saw in the media, from everything that I saw in pictures and from what my family told me, it’s definitely the biggest storm that’s hit Puerto Rico in our lifetime. You know, there was a bigger storm many, many years ago but it is the biggest storm that has hit Puerto Rico in our lifetime.

Michael: We’ll get to golf in a minute, but how has the general recovery gone up until now?

J.P. Polo: So it’s gone well for the general public. Life is back to normal as much as it can be. There’s still, you know, some infrastructure damage that we need to take care of but, again, it’s minimal at this point where we’ve done a lot of work. Not only the local communities, grass-roots organizations, the local government, the federal government, FEMA. We’ve had a lot of people come together to help out in the recovery of Puerto Rico. It was a hard storm; a lot of people weren’t ready for what had happened. But we’re back at it, and it showed the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people, the resiliency of how people can come together and tackle problems as a community. And it did really showcase Puerto Ricans at their best.

Michael: Well everything you’re saying is what I experienced when I was there. People returning like yourself, people contributing like yourself, people really pulling together. Alexandra, from a golfer’s perspective, how does it look to you? How does it feel to you? And did you have any expectation of what the golf experience was going to be before you got to the island?

Alexandra: I knew very little about Puerto Rico, especially the golf here before I came. But I think it’s great for young people here. Just talking to everyone and seeing who really excels in golf. Young people are targeted. They get a lot of opportunity. For instance, in the Puerto Rico Open you see a lot of young players get to the top of the leaderboard. I think it’s just a very welcoming environment and it’s fun. And you know being 22, 23, 24 years old out here, it just makes you love golf and want to have a good time because everyone is so nice. The courses are in great condition and that was something I didn’t expect, especially coming out of Hurricane Maria. But the players I played with in the Pro-Am for the Puerto Rico Open, they completely agreed, said they didn’t even notice difference in conditions from playing this year from past Puerto Rico Opens they’ve been in. So it’s impressive what they’ve done. Very impressive.

Michael: And I would totally agree. You’ve played Cocoa Beach where they play the tour event. Wonderful golf course, wonderful facilities. Have you played any other courses in Puerto Rico yet?

Alexandra: So I just stepped off TPC Dorado Beach. I’m still here actually. It’s a great scene but I’d say golf was something special. You just get the views of the ocean. The course is in great condition. The caddies- we had this guy today, Joshua, and they know so much about the game. And they’re just passionate, very passionate.

TPC Dorado Beach

Michael: J.P., looking forward, what should we expect to see from Puerto Rico golf and Puerto Rico tourism? Because when I was there, I heard a number that blew my mind. Maybe you can confirm this. I thought that tourism would be 50, 60, 70 percent of GDP. But I heard a number that it’s less than 10 percent, something like 7 percent. Is that accurate?

J.P. Polo: That’s accurate. Tourism is around 6 and 7 of overall GDP in Puerto Rico.

Michael: Wow.

J.P. Polo: We definitely want to make sure that that’s higher in the coming years. Puerto Rico is the perfect destination for people to travel. It’s the perfect destination for people from the United States to come to. You’re in the United States, you’ve got U.S. dollars that you can use. You don’t need a passport. People speak English. And you get that mix of cultures that you won’t experience in other destinations within the United States. So, it’s the perfect destination. In terms of golf, you’ve got apparently 11 out of 17 golf courses that are open. We’re hoping that a couple more are going to open up in the next couple of months to a year. Like I said earlier, we’ve got great diversity in terms of the style of golf courses. And they’re all confined within a 100 mile-long island and 35 miles wide. That means that within one day, you can play one course in the west coast of Puerto Rico right next to the cliff length-style course and then head to the east coast of Puerto Rico and go to a more traditional Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and you know, get 36 holes in one day and then the next day do the same thing.

So, you can play a lot of golf while you’re here and at the same time enjoy everything else that we’ve got to offer from the culture, the great culinary offerings that we’ve got. And you know, primarily the people of Puerto Rico which are happy. They love having people over. Once they get to meet you, they immediately invite you. And we say in Puerto Rico we don’t only invite you to our house, we want you to party with us, we want you to dance with us. So that’s the attitude down here, and we’re sticking to it.

Michael: Talk about everything there is to do off the course, because I discovered so much about the history there. I mean some of the oldest places in America are in Puerto Rico. Some of the most famous historical locations in America are in Puerto Rico. Some of the best bars I’ve ever been to are in Puerto Rico.

J.P. Polo: A lot of people know our beautiful beaches, but we are way more than beautiful beaches. You can enjoy the beaches when you come down here but you’ve got the only rainforest in North America, El Yunque. You’ve got zip-lines that are some of the longest in the world. You’ve got bio-luminescent bays; we’ve got 3 out of the 5 bioluminescent bays in the world. You know, we’ve also got municipality islands of Culebra, Vieques, Desecheo Island, and Caja de Muerto.

All these places are just like pristine paradises for anybody who wants a retreat-style vacation. And, at the same time, you can go to places like Old San Juan, Ponce, and Mayaguez, which are more historic cities with great architecture. You know, cities built by the Spaniards when they colonized Puerto Rico back in the 1500s. So it’s just an amazing place. A lot of history, a lot of culture. And again, just a lot of great people that you can enjoy meeting.

Rio Mar Golf Course

Michael: And Alexandra, I’m going to let the lady have the last word. When you think about this trip and you think what you will tell people about it, how will you summarize the Puerto Rico experience?

Alexandra: Well I posted an Instagram today and I said that the word that comes to mind when you think of golf in Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico in general, is enchanting. And that really sums it all up.

Michael: I think that’s well-chosen.

Alexandra: I just speak from the heart!

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