Made up of some 700 islands and stretching almost 800 miles from the fringes of the Caribbean Sea north towards Florida, the beautiful Bahamas is home to a population of 330,000. It’s one of the wealthiest nations in the Americas. In fact, in terms of GDP, it only ranks behind the USA and Canada. When you consider that 60% of the country’s revenue comes from tourism, you get some idea of what is on offer for visiting golfers.
One of the most exclusive islands in the Bahamas is Great Exuma. It has long been a getaway for the rich and famous, Princess Margaret and Jackie Onassis amongst them. The Sandals Emerald Bay resort is an impressive development on the island. It provides an extremely opulent and secluded retreat where guests can enjoy a mile-long stretch of private beach, an incredible spa plus an amazing array of dining options.
Emerald Bay also boasts an excellent golf course. Designed by two-time Open champion Greg Norman, the layout begins amidst the scenic dunes and mangroves. The back nine then hugs the beautiful coastline with holes perched on the edge of the sparkling ocean. It’s a testing track, made more so by the changeable trade winds. The resort is also home to the Greg Norman Golf Academy. Those looking to work on their games are extremely well catered for by a team of top professionals who can make use of state-of-the-art swing analysis technology.
The One & Only Ocean Club can be found on Paradise Island just outside the nation’s capital of Nassau. Designed by 1973 Open champion Tom Weiskopf, the course at the Ocean Club is, like Emerald Bay (and like most of the courses in the Bahamas), affected by crosswinds. Those sea breezes demand creative shot-making as you negotiate your way around this skilfully designed layout. There are 105 luxurious rooms at the Ocean Club and with infinity pools, a range of dining options and a salubrious spa, this is one of the Bahamas’ most sumptuous resorts.
Designed by Tom Mackenzie and Donald Steel, the course at the Abaco Club, Winding Bay, can be found in the Abaco Islands at the northern end of the Bahamas. This is a very natural layout where Mackenzie and Steel have displayed their prowess at creating links-style golf courses. Although a private members’ club, packages are available to stay in one of the stunning villas to be found on the sprawling 534-acre estate.
The Bahamas, of course, also provides many non-golfing opportunities for visitors, from tennis to sailing, historical sites to regular festivals. There’s also superb diving and deep-sea fishing, the chance to swim with dolphins or just to explore the region by island-hopping. If you’d rather kick back and relax, the islands are home to some of the Caribbean’s most idyllic beaches. It’s little wonder the Bahamas is ranked as one of the top five happiest countries in the world.