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4.3
8 Reviews (8)
5 Stars
4
4 Stars
3
3 Stars
1
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
4.3
Value
4.1
Layout
3.4
Friendliness
3.9
Pace
5.0
Amenities
4.5
80.4%
Recommend this course
7 out of 8 reviews
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0
5 Stars
0
4 Stars
0
3 Stars
0
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
0
Value
0
Layout
0
Friendliness
0
Pace
0
Amenities
0
0%
Recommend this course
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Average Rating
Avg Rating
4.0
3 Reviews (3)
5 Stars
1
4 Stars
1
3 Stars
1
2 Stars
0
1 Stars
0
Conditions
4.0
Value
4.0
Layout
2.7
Pace
5.0
Amenities
4.3
StaffFriendliness
3.3
66.7%
Recommend this course
2 out of 3 reviews
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About

Holes 18
Type Public/Resort
Par 72
Length 7001 yards
Slope 140
Rating 74.1

The Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course offers a championship course that provides plenty of challenge in addition to scenic ocean vistas. Designed by Greg Norman, the golf course features numerous bunkers that are strategically situated around the greens and the dramatic fairways that snake through seaside dunes. The golf course has six signature holes, which all skirt the edge of the scenic Emerald Bay peninsula. While the Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course's back nine has more scenic views, the first nine offers an interesting variation of holes that feature marshes, lakes, and rock outcroppings. Due to its oceanfront location, wind is a definite factor on the course.
Formerly known as Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club and Four Seasons Golf Club Great Exuma at Emerald Bay.

Course Details

Year Built 2003
Golf Season Year round
Architect Greg Norman (2003) Tad Burnett

Rentals/Services

Carts Yes - $35
Clubs Yes

Practice/Instruction

Driving Range Yes
Bunker Yes
Caddies No
Teaching Pro Yes
Pitching/Chipping Area Yes
Putting Green Yes

Policies

Credit Cards Accepted Yes
Metal Spikes Allowed No
Walking Allowed No

Food & Beverage

Restaurant

Available Facilities

Banquet Facilities, Spa

Reviews

4.3
8 Reviews (8)
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Recommended
Handicap
Age
Type of Golfer
Gender
Played On
Reviews 22
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Golf Advisor
First Time Playing
Windy weather
Used cart

Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course: playground on the sea

The Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course is a memorable 7,001-yard championship Greg Norman design that has hosted the Korn Ferry Tour’s Bahamas Great Exuma Classic since 2015. The six-hole stretch from hole 11 to hole 16 are some of the prettiest oceanside holes I’ve ever seen. There are no dramatic forced carries over frothing coves, but with the electric sea as a constant companion, the vistas are nothing short of heavenly. The waters around Exuma seem to glow from beneath, they’re so blue.

Some holes are short because, as Greg Norman told me himself (see my full review of the course and Sandals Resort at MidwesternGolf.com), the layout was originally heavily constrained by surrounding houses. In fact, all the spectacular holes on the back nine that run along the sea back were supposed to run between houses, which would line the shore on both sides. The original developer when bust, though—luckily for golf. When Sandals took over, Butch Stewart, Sandals’ Founder, listened to Norman and allowed him to re-route the back nine to take advantage of the ocean vistas. Stewart carefully “protected and managed the course back to life,” said Norman.

The course today not only hosts a Korn Ferry Event, but also offers Sandals guests one of the best golf deals in the Caribbean. Non-guest green fees are $155, with cart fees $25-$35. Sandals guests pay no green fees, so a golf-addled vacationer could play 36 holes (or more!) of tournament-quality seaside golf—every day—for practically pennies. (Rental clubs and shoes are also available for the more casual player for $65 and $15, respectively.)

While the ocean features on six holes of Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course, the trade winds feature on all eighteen, though the inland holes are somewhat sheltered. This is especially true at certain times of the year, including the week of the Korn Ferry Tour tournament. During the first year of the Korn Ferry Event, the par-4 12th had a stroke average of 5.8, thanks to the winds whipping in off the sea. Pro-tip: bring lots of golf balls and don’t start your round thinking that you’re going to shoot a career low score. Once you get to the greens, though, your putter might help save you. The greens are generally fairly flat without much break, even toward the ocean. There are a few double-tiered greens (like on the par-3 13th, where the back of the green is dramatically lower than the front), but for the most part, keep the ball inside the hole within 10 feet.

Because of the tempestuous winds, the course plays differently every day. Even the gorgeous par-3 11th, which stretches to only 148 yards even for the pros, can be a demon if the wind is in your face. Pros at the Korn Ferry event often hit 6-irons on this hole when the wind is up.

For all the postcard beauty of the seaside holes, the real test of an oceanside golf course is the inland holes. At Sandals, there are some memorable holes hewn from mangroves and wetlands, and there are plenty of water hazards that aren’t the Atlantic Ocean. One of the real beauties is the 165-yard 6th, a downhill par-3 to a peninsula green that is wide but shallow. The longer inland holes are often straight-away, and landing areas are fair enough. But with the wind, and if you’re playing rental clubs or shaking off winter rust, keeping the ball in play will be a challenge. There’s not much rough, so if you hit it off-line, chances are, your ball will be lost in the vegetation. Lots of the Korn Ferry pros hit 2-irons off the tees to ensure their second shots are playable.

For visitors, the secret to enjoying your round (or rounds) here will be choosing the right tees not just for your skill set, but also for the conditions. If the wind is whipping, play up. In addition, always prioritize hitting it in the fairway over hitting it a long way. No matter how you play, take plenty of time to soak in the sun and sea, along with plenty of photos of what might just be the most beautiful corner of the Caribbean.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Good
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
First Time Playing

Interesting

The front 9 winds through marshland with ponds and brush lining both side of fairways. Not boring, but also not overly impressive. The back 9 has multiple holes along the coast and was unbelievably fun to play. Accuracy is king here. I’m a long hitter who can get wild and this course are me up. Greens were generally flat and slow but very nice. A couple par 3s under 100 yards and a couple par 5s over 520 yards

Conditions Good
Value Good
Layout Average
Friendliness Good
Pace Excellent
Amenities Average
Played On
Reviews 1
Skill Advanced
Plays A few times a week
Incentivized Review
3.0
First Time Playing

Missed opportunity

A beautiful piece of real estate, But a disappointing layout.

Conditions Average
Value Average
Layout Poor
Friendliness Fair
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Played On
Reviews 6
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Windy weather
Used cart

A Gem

My wife and I went to Sandals for vacation and I played four rounds in the afternoon. Had the course to myself almost every time.
The conditions are superb, I can't say enough great things about it.

The front 9 is inland while the back 9 has six holes along the ocean and it was stunning! Take time to watch and listen to the waves crash up against the rocks.

This course is by far the best and most favorite I've ever been to. Even though I lost many balls to the sea.

Staying at the resort gave us unlimited green fees aside from the $35 cart that you must purchase.

Conditions Excellent
Value Good
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Somewhat Challenging
Played On
Reviews 4
Handicap 10-14
Skill Intermediate
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
First Time Playing
Perfect weather
Used cart

Favorite Course I've Ever Played

I've gotten to play a few PGA courses (public and one private) that have hosted yearly PGA tournaments and majors, but this is my favorite course I've ever played. It's extremely rare to be able to play 6 holes in a row directly on the ocean, like close enough to the ocean that you can toss your ball off right into the waves from each hole. These are hands down the most breathtaking views you will ever see on a golf course.

This course was actually one of the main reasons we chose this Sandals location. It was actually great value considering it was an added bonus to a resort that is fairly expensive whether you will play golf or not while there. It only cost $50 per round total for both my wife and I to play. I could easily see this course costing $300 to $500 per person per round if it were in the U.S. being oceanfront.

The 6 holes along the ocean actually looked even better in real life than the pictures show, they were breathtaking and almost worth the trip in itself. My favorite hole was #14, the short Par 4 on the tip of the peninsula, you feel like you're at the edge of the world when you approach the green. The front 9 is also fun to play with some great holes as well.

The first time we played we literally felt like the only ones on the course. We played fast through the front 9, and then spent a lot of time taking photos while playing the ocean holes on the back 9.

The course conditions might not be quite as "immaculate" as some of those other PGA courses, but it is in really great shape especially for where its location is, definitely still tournament worthy conditions (they do host a Web.com tour event).

I even ran to grab a pizza and more beets to go after 9 and they were fine with it. The second time we played there were a couple groups in front of us but the pace of play was still good. They give you beer/water with ice in the cart’s cooler, just make sure to ask them. We also stopped at the turn to get more.

We hope to return again in a few years!

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Layout Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Moderate
Played On
Reviews 68
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
5.0
Top 250 Contributor
First Time Playing
Excellent weather
Used cart

The most beautiful hole I've ever played

I stayed at the Sandals resort from Dec. 8 - Dec. 17 playing this course on back-to-back days. This being the 200th different course I've played it ranks as the third best in my official list of courses just behind Torrey Pines South and Wolf Creek.
Like mentioned before, the front nine is much different than the back nine is difficulty and scenery. Don't get me wrong, the front is every bit as enjoyable to play but without the views. However, it is very stunning on the front as well in it's own special way.
The back nine is picture taking central. The most incredible views that I have ever seen. The ocean waters of the Exuma islands are hard to put into words. Hole 13 has to be the most breathtaking one I've ever played.
As for the course itself, it is very challenging but lucky for me I had very little wind on both days I played it. The greens are large and receptive and the fairways are pretty generous too. I absolutely loved this place from start to finish. With an uncapped amount of beverages they give you at the starters area, the beverage cart was not needed.

Conditions Excellent
Value Excellent
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Excellent
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 508
Handicap 5-9
Skill Advanced
Plays Once a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
Golf Advisor
First Time Playing
Average weather
Used cart

Five star views

I debated long and hard if this course has what it takes to earn five stars. It's close but the lack of playability holds it back a bit. It's one of the toughest resort courses I've ever played, a typical Greg Norman ball-buster. If you play it losing less than four balls - especially in the three club wind we experienced - you've had the round of a lifetime. The front nine disappears into the mangroves. It's loaded with water. I would love the 291-yard fourth hole if it had a bit more room to land safely. I pumped two into the marshy lake on the left and moved on. The back nine is an entirely different experience. It's wet and wild with the wind picking up as you head out onto exposed land jutting into the sea. The short 11th and 13th holes are simply magical par 3s. Both my playing partner and I let out a 'wow' when we turned the corner and saw the par-4 12th hole, where waves crash on the rocks up to the left side. The 14th starts with an interesting blind tee shot on a risk-reward 303-yard par 4. The par-5 15th and par-4 16th are both downwind but treacherous. What a visual experience - if you don't run out of balls first.

Conditions Good
Value Average
Friendliness Excellent
Pace Excellent
Amenities Average
Difficulty Extremely Challenging
Played On
Reviews 7
Handicap 5-9
Skill Intermediate
Plays A few times a week
I Recommend This Course
4.0
First Time Playing
Excellent weather
Used cart

Nice course but not amazing...

Played this course 3 times with a friend of mine. We stayed at Sandals Emerald Bay for the week. Course is nice and good condition. Front nine was a bit boring with straight away fairways and nothing appealing to the eye. The back nine had holes along the ocean and a bit more challenging than the front. It's almost as if they are letting this course go down hill. I expected to be blown away and wasn't at all. Would I play it again? Sure cause I love golf! Can I wait to go back? Let just say I'm in no rush...

Conditions Good
Value Average
Friendliness Average
Pace Excellent
Amenities Average
Difficulty Moderate

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