A team of Oyster reporters spent weeks exploring 40 top hotels in Jamaica. We slept in the beds, ate in the restaurants, tested the service, and scoped out the neighborhoods, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here’s a list of our favorite hotel golf courses.
At the peak of a mountain, with 16 of 18 holes overlooking the Caribbean Sea, White Witch mocks the low-lying, much easier courses below, including the Half Moon golf course. According to most guests at the hotel (as well as Travel + Leisure), the White Witch golf course is about the best golf course in the Caribbean (athough Teeth of the Dog at the Casa De Campo in the Dominican Republic is a worthy challenger). As one guest put it, "Not playing White Witch is like going to California and not playing Pebble Beach."
Once the Upton Golf Club -- opened in 1951 as a nine-hole number designed by P. K. Saunders -- the Sandals Country Club (not an actual country club) quickly grew to a championship-grade course. It's free, or so they say, but you'll still have to drop at least $57 for a round. Should you leave the clubs at home, anything you need is available to rent, including Nike clubs ($45) and Nike shoes ($16, but they include free socks). Still, once you also throw in the required caddies -- $17 a bag plus tips, also required -- and the golf card ($40 for 18 holes), the "free" round of golf could develop into a $200-per-couple excursion. Being fairly short (6,311 yards, with a par 71 and 128 slope from the blue tees) it's great for a less golf-centric couple.
Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Hals Moon's course is certainly a terrific Caribbean Golf Course, with 7,119 yards of difficult driving areas, plenty of bunkering and great undulating greens. Greens fees out of season range anywhere from $85 to $130, and in season range from $105 to $150. While the fees are steep, it has been home to many international tournaments and also was newly renovated during the 2004/05 season and is very well maintained.
The Rose Hall Resort is home to the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course, which along with Half Moon Course and White Witch at The Ritz-Carlton, is one of the three premier courses of Jamaica. The course features a Par 71, 6,637-yard layout with stunning ocean and mountain vistas. Like other premier courses on Jamaica though, a round can cost anywhere from $159-$199.