Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 13
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 13
The 13th hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club is a short but sweet par 3 of 122 yards. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 12
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 12
The wind whips and scenery soars on the difficult but awesome 12th hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 14
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 14
After a blind tee shot, the short 14th hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club finishes at a green on the water. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 15
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 15
The par-5 15th hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club follows the turquoise waters of Emerald Bay. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 16
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 16
The dramatic Cape Hole at 16 is the grand finale on the water at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 11
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 11
There isn't much room to land a shot on the scenic 148-yard par-3 11th hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club
The views at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club will mesmerize. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 17
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 17
Sand surrounds the 17th green at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 2
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 2
The 228-yard second hole is the longest par 3 at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 3
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 3
Bunkers line the par-4 third hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 4
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 4
The fourth hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club looks like a par 3 but it's a narrow, intimidating short par 4 of 291 yards. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 6
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Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club - hole 6
The island is large enough that the par-3 sixth hole at Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club isn't too intimidating. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Worship the water at the stunning Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas

EXUMA, Bahamas -- First comes the jungle exploration straight out of an "Indiana Jones" movie. Following is an ocean encounter that would make Jacques Cousteau jealous.

Together, the front and back nine of Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club at Sandals Emerald Bay resort add up to a memorable round of golf that rates as one of the best in the Caribbean.

Greg Norman designed the 7,001-yard course upon one of the most scenic settings in the world. Holes 11-16 hug the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and Emerald Bay on the eastern shores of a small, narrow island southeast of Miami. This stretch of golf delivers sensual overload with the wind howling, waves crashing and turquoise water wherever you look.

All this beauty comes at a cost. Emerald Reef plays wicked tough. The Shark never needed bailout areas, so he didn't design many. Wind makes the narrow fairways feel even more constricted. Ponds of the coastal marshes lurk on five of the first eight holes, notably the fourth, a drivable par 4 of 291 yards, and sixth, a 165-yard par 3 to an island green.

The par 3s of the back nine -- the 148-yard and 122-yard shoreline stunners at nos. 11 and 13, respectively -- are sandwiched around the 12th hole, a monster par 4 with unsurpassed beauty. A blind tee shot over a ridge forces a strategic layup on the short but sweet 303-yard 14th hole. The par-5 15th and par-4 16th holes provide the last moments of bliss along the water.

"This is a golf course you want to play before you leave this earth," says Richard Gibson, the club's head professional.

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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Worship the water at the stunning Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas
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