Tropical Temptations of the Tour – Morning Reading

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The Grand Reserve Golf Club has hosted the Puerto Rico Open since 2008.

When most golfers fantasize about their perfect winter getaway, the painted image typically involves lush foliage, tall palm trees, gentle breezes, alluring beaches, and a huge body of blue water. PGA Tour players are no different.

From October to March, the Tour stops at seven tropical destinations, in six different countries or territories, five of which are accessible to the traveling golfer. If you’re looking to walk in the famous footsteps of the golf course and then sink your toes into the warm, sugary sands, here are five tournament-tested resort courses that will have you indulging in some fun.

Golf de Port-Royal | Southampton, Bermuda

PGA Tour Event: Butterfield Bermuda Championship

This government-owned 1970 Robert Trent Jones Sr. creation dazzles with camera-worthy opportunities including the gorgeous, yet brutal, par-3 16th. 235 yards from the secluded back tee, the breeze-fed clifftop hole requires a 180-yard carry over the Atlantic Ocean. The target is a long, lean green guarded by bunkers and a rough slope to the right, making recoveries intimidating. “This could easily be the hardest hole you’ve ever played in your life,” Ernie Els said in 2010. Match Par. Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Padraig Harrington made such a mess of the hole that their efforts were removed from the final (delayed) TV broadcast.

Port Royal has hosted the PGA Tour since 2019 and was also home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 2009 to 2014. A few clunkers dot the very rolling 6,828 yard, par 71, including the opening par 4, a 90 degree right dogleg that features an elevated tee shot to a blind landing zone. Hit it too far and the ball will splash into an invisible lake. However, holes such as the 8th par 3 of 213 meters which goes directly towards the sea and the 15th of 412 meters, which passes in front of the ruins of a navy battery fort, with the ocean on the left, more than make up for it.

The last word: “When the wind blows here, this golf course is a real test. Fifteen and 16 are probably my favorite holes – two wonderful holes of golf. It is a magnificent and spectacular course. – Graeme McDowell, winner of the US Open 2010

El Camaleon Golf Course in Mayakoba | Playa del Carmen, Mexico

PGA Tour Event: World Tech Championship in Mayakoba

On a golf course dotted with one delicious oddity after another, it might not come as a surprise that Mexico’s first PGA Tour event of the 21st century was won by a PGA Tour Champions player named Funk. Then 50-year-old Fred Funk won the 2007 Mayakoba Classic in the playoffs with Jose Coceres. Funk clinched the trophy despite starting a final drive that rolled to the edge of ‘devil’s mouth’, opening a gaping cenote, a freshwater underground cave that monopolizes the area of landing.

In 2004, Greg Norman designed this 7,039 yard, par 71 landscaping, which is the centerpiece of a stunning resort and residential community, located 45 minutes south of Cancun Airport on the Riviera. Maya. Throw yourself down limestone-lined canals that cut paspalum fairways in half, jungle-like mangroves framing holes, natural rock caverns and two beachside par 3s and this is one of the sights the most distinctive of the PGA Tour.

The last word: “The course is great. Even though this is a resort course, it still tests many parts of your game. If you are absent you will be punished and if you play well you will be rewarded. The weather is great, the food is great, the people are great. It’s just a combination of everything. – Viktor Hovland, double winner of the Mayakoba Classic (2020, 2021)

Kapalua Resort (Planting course) | Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

PGA Tour Event: Sentry Tournament of Champions

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Win a tournament on the PGA Tour and a huge advantage immediately: you go to Kapalua. This spectacular resort course hosts the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the 24th time in 2022. Past winners include Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and in 2021, Harris English. Each winner has solved one of golf’s great puzzles: the Plantation Course in Kapalua.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw made the sprawling route atop an old hilly pineapple plantation in 1991 and it is unique in many ways, starting with the par of 73. There is only one par 3. on the nine par-37, the 11th 164 yards, which presents a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Second, no other course on the PGA Tour places so much emphasis on the ground game. The wide, firm slopes force players to read the contours and hit a shot that represents the expected bounce and roll, much like the classic Scottish and Irish ties. The last puzzle to be solved is the wind. Stealing the ball with the correct trajectory is often essential for success in Kapalua.

Most exhilarating is the 18th par 5, which, even at 668 yards, is usually accessed in two over much of the course, as it plunges downhill and to the left, with the ocean beyond. Greedy players who shoot any shot will likely find a canyon filled with jungle on the left. Play too cautiously, short and straight, however, and an awkward approach awaits you with a stern right-to-left slope. It’s a perfect risk-reward ratio.

The last word: “Looking at the ocean, you see whales there. Growing up in South Georgia, I never saw this and never thought I would see this in my life. Playing on a golf course like this is amazing. I love it. It’s just a very special place. It’s hard to put into words. This is one of my favorite golf tournaments. I would love to start each year by starting here. – Harris English, winner of the Sentry Tournament of Champions (2021)

Grand Reserve Golf Club (Championship Course) | Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

PGA Tour Event: Puerto Rico Open

The current version of the Puerto Rico Open of the PGA Tour dates back to 2008, with winners including Tony Finau in 2016, Viktor Hovland in 2020 and Branden Grace in 2021. While the host course is in its third name since then. era, the layout of the tournament has not changed. At one time a Trump branded course, then later known by its original name, Coco Beach, Grand Reserve features a muscular 7,551-yard Tom Kite design that plays out at par 72.

Located on the island’s north shore, 20 minutes east of San Juan, Grand Reserve doesn’t offer a lot of individually memorable holes, but as a solid and beautiful test of golf it undoubtedly passes. Tropical breezes, swaying palm trees, a plethora of lakes and bunkers, sweeping views of the sea and the legendary El Yunque rainforest 5 miles to the south lend it an appropriate character. With the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve located next door, there is no difficulty in this Puerto Rican paradise.

The last word: “I love golf. It’s tropical, like Florida, where I live. I like the greens. I like the layout. – Michael Bradley, two-time winner of the Puerto Rico Open (2009, 2011)

Puntacana Resort and Club (Corales golf course at) | Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

PGA Tour Event: Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship

In March 2018, the PGA Tour hosted its very first event in the Dominican Republic. By choosing the Puntacana Resort and Club’s Corales course to host, the Tour has certainly passed the test of the eyes. In 2010, Tom Fazio draped Corales on top of a cliff along the Caribbean Sea. Its appeal was instantaneous. Shaken by the coastal breezes, the spacious 7,650-meter, par 72 layout is generously dotted with ponds, coconut palms, scrub-strewn stretches of sand and a host of elegant Fazio bunkers.

Unforgettable is the closing trio, collectively known as “El Codo del Diablo” – “the devil’s elbow”. The 461-yard, par-4 16th goes straight out to sea, while the 210-yard par 3 17 borders the bright blue danger. Yet the highlight of the show is the 18th par 4 of 501 yards that heads to the right, around a cliff, beach and surf sinkhole.

The last word: “Those last three holes are so hard – long, hard, into the wind. I hit 4 iron, 4 iron, 4 iron in these three greens. On the 18th, especially the second blow to that straight pin, with the wind blowing, I don’t think people realize how hard this hole is. – Joel Dahmen, winner of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship (2021)


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