The best of Bermuda golf: Five scenic places to play

Bermuda, contrary to the misconceptions of most people, isn't a Caribbean island.

This tiny fish-hook-shaped British territory sits isolated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean more than 600 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The Gulf Stream keeps the island temperature mild in the wetter winter months, hovering between 60 to 65 degrees, an ideal range for golf.

The island is so cramped for space that none of its seven courses are regulation par 72s, yet several of them rank among the best in the world. The top five golf courses in Bermuda combine to create a unique mix of experiences, from an exclusive private club to a professional tournament venue and a wildly scenic par 3.

Port Royal Golf Club

Even those beautiful images shown on TV during the PGA Grand Slam of Golf -- the event pitting the four major champions competing every October -- don't do justice to the coastal charisma of Port Royal Golf Club . A massive $14.5 million facelift completed in 2009 raised the bar at this government-owned course.

Roger Rulewich, who helped design Port Royal with original architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., returned during the redesign to remove more than 1,000 trees to open up the vistas, install new irrigation and plant new TifEagle Bermuda grass on the greens.

The par-4 15th tee sits next to the Whale Bay Battery, an old fort dating to the 1800s. The par-3 16th hole clings to the shoreline cliffs, a heart-stopping adventure.

Mid Ocean Club

The private Mid Ocean Club dating to 1921 accepts public play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Legendary designer C.B. Macdonald routed the 6,548-yard, par-71 course across rolling inland hills thick with lush vegetation and cliffs along the ocean.

The fourth fairway climbs to a crest, revealing the fifth tee, home to the original Cape hole that tempts players to take on a lake. A photo of a despondent Babe Ruth hangs in the clubhouse. The slugger is said to have lost a dozen balls during competition on the fifth hole.

The modern world has encroached on the design -- several roads cut through the back nine -- but this is still pure classic golf at its best.

Tucker's Point Club

The Tucker's Point Club golf course , adjacent to the posh Rosewood Tucker's Point and Mid Ocean, opened in 1932, although a redesign by Roger Rulewich in 2002 spruced it up significantly.

The 6,491-yard par 70 dances across severe terrain. Views of Castle Harbour and the ocean frame the backdrop of several holes. Director of Golf Paul Adams, an architectural buff, hopes to eventually unlock more of the flavor of the original Charles Banks design dating to the 1930s.

Turtle Hill Golf Club

Turtle Hill Golf Club isn't just any average executive course. This 2,684-yard scenic beauty annually hosts the Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship that has attracted former PGA Tour pros and Web.com players.

Designed by Theodore Robinson, Turtle Hill spills out across the hilly front lawn of the pink Fairmont Southampton, overlooking the ocean. It can be enjoyed by beginners and juniors.

The shifting breezes off the water challenge even the best of players with club selection and shot shaping. Bacci serves authentic Italian food inside the clubhouse.

Belmont Hills Golf Club

Belmont Hills Golf Club gets somewhat mixed reviews on Golf Advisor, so it's clearly the fifth option when comparing it to the foursome listed above. Most users, however, rave about the value.

The 6,100-yard course, designed in 2002 by architect Algie M. Pulley, Jr., delivers panoramic views of bustling Hamilton Harbour and the Great Sound. Those who stay at the Newstead Belmont Hills Golf Resort, one guest per room enjoys one complimentary round of golf per day.

Editor's Note: The Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club , the oldest course in Bermuda, dating to 1922, was originally included in this story but it closed in 2016.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Golfers who've never had a hole-in-one should take a trip to beautiful Turtle Hill Golf Club in Bermuda which consists of 18 par-3 holes. If you're thinking "pitch-and-putt" or an undemanding "executive par 3," think again.
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The best of Bermuda golf: Five scenic places to play
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