Island Golf – Jamaica Style

Posted in A Couple of Travelers, Golf Writers Column by on February 19th, 2013

Once you go, you know, Mon, that Jamaica is an island of golf treasures. In Montego Bay, the turquoise blue waters of Jamaica captivate an idyllic golf setting at the White Witch, Cinnamon Hill, Half Moon and Tryall Clubs. There is no vegetation depravation as the hilly jungles burst with exotic foliage, flowers and birds, framing superior ocean views.

White Witch Golf ’s thick lush terrain follows the natural slope of hillsides and streams longing for the shore. From the driving range stations perched high overlooking the Caribbean Sea, a deep valley swallows the shots as the scenery sets the tone for an exhilarating ride through the jungle on this Robert Von Hagge and Rick Baril designed course. A pair of green parrots flew over the tee box of the first hole, giving a great white hope of a birdie on the challenging White Witch’s par 5. The course name’s reference is to the murderous Annie Palmer, whose “Rose Hall” plantation Great House of long ago is a nearby tourist attraction. Cinnamon Hill Golf Course wraps around Annie Palmer’s Rose Hall, journeying into the mountainside where the waterfalls off the famous number 15 green served as a backdrop in the James Bond film, “Live and Let Die”. The final holes are a quest to the sea, divided by streams and jungle, demanding math skills, as addition morphs into multiplication with errant shots. Hole 17 ends at the 18th-century aqueduct, separating the green from the tee box of the long finishing hole. Moses has been the caretaker at Cinnamon Hill Golf Club for over 30 years. In his rubber boots and maintenance cart, his private tour of Johnny Cash’s former homestead a short iron away from Rose Hall, included singing en route, the ballad Johnny had penned: “On the Island of Jamaica quite a long, long time ago, at Rose Hall Plantation where the ocean breezes blow Lived a girl named Annie Palmer the mistress of the place, and the slaves all lived in fear to see a frown on Annie’s face…

Moses shared all of Cash’s favorite spots.  He crumpled a leaf from the pimento tree and gifted it for a sniff that blew us away with its mixed sweet aroma. Jamaica is spicy with pimento the key ingredient of smoky jerk seasoning and homegrown nutmeg and cinnamon flavoring fresh fare of seafood and produce.  You must taste Jamaica and drink it in. Wake up to Blue Mountain coffee. Hydrate with coconut water, sipped from the shell and enjoy the Jamaican rum mixed with fresh juices.

The IBEROSTAR Rose Hall serves the local flavors and international cuisine, all-inclusive with pristine beaches, extraordinary amenities, and a butler. What does the butler do? The mini bar is stocked with your top shelf choices (yes, no charge), clothes ironed and baths drawn upon request. No worries, Mon, so head to the pools or beach with water so warm that sharks are never a threat. Kayak, catamaran or join the “Star Friends” in activities like pool scuba lessons, aerobics, beach volleyball and more. When the sun goes down, the excitement goes up with entertainment venues for dancing, Broadway shows and musicals.

Now, back to golf. Legendary for its heritage and spectacular setting, the Tryall Club is built around the former sugar plantation’s Georgian Great House. The 18th century waterwheel is still in working order off the tee box, standing as the focal point of one of the Caribbean’s finest golf venues.

Jamaicans take pride in their simple island life. Passing through town and the Hip Strip, famous for arguably the first Margaritaville restaurant, our driver passionately described the transformation of Jamaica into a unique and welcoming vacation spot. From the 1600’s, invasions by the British, French, Spanish and pirates influenced the culture, architecture, and language. So much history of strife and conflicts inspired the famous Bob Marley songs and push for “One Love.” The soft reggae beat permeates the culture reflecting an attitude of peace. Caddies and everyone you meet exhibit a happy, healthy contentment that is contagious. A 90- minute flight from Miami transports to this island of happiness to golf, swim with the dolphins, and hike to the waterfalls, snorkel, dive or lounge. Check out the Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am – “Annie’s Revenge” at or For all about Jamaica see

Once you go, you know you must return to this island of golf treasures. No pressure, no problems, Jamaica style, ya Mon!

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