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There are more luxurious resorts in Puerto Rico than the El Conquistador, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. There are better golf courses than El Conquistador. There are more convenient resort beaches. But as a total package, no resort in Puerto Rico delivers a vacation as fascinating and diverse as El Conquistador.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria have devastated Puerto Rico, but golf is doing its best to help the island recover. Celebrity and pro-am fundraisers at TPC Dorado Beach this weekend could raise up to $750,000 or more for local charities.
Since 2008, no Caribbean island has invested more time, effort and money into its golf scene than Puerto Rico -- and it's paying off. There are 21 golf courses currently open in Puerto Rico, led by Trump International Golf Club, which hosts the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open.
Many of the 22 courses in Puerto Rico look a little too much like Florida, but golfers looking for a little more personality in the land should give El Conquistador a spin. There's nothing flat and boring about this Arthur Hills design, which rarely relinquishes a flat lie. "Most people do not play so many uneven lies," Director of Golf Seth Henrich says. "People expect it to be the usual resort course, and it's not.
Shot for shot, the Greg Norman-designed River Course at Rio Mar Country Club in Puerto Rico might be superior to the club's popular Ocean Course. Norman designed his challenging layout around a river, wetlands and six other ponds to gobble up misses. Keeping the ball dry remains the biggest obstacle.
A wild array of nuances make Royal Isabela feel more like an adventure than a round of golf. Conventional rules of golf architecture don't always apply. There's an amazing number of 132 total tees, blind shots galore, a tiny island-green par 3, deep pot bunkers and even two extra holes. Taking caddies is a must just to head in the right direction.
Puerto Rico Golf CoursesWith nearly two dozen golf courses, many on the Caribbean Sea, combined with terrific resorts, culture, nightlife and warm weather year-round, Puerto Rico can be an ideal golf vacation, especially for Americans and Canadians in the eastern half of North America.