After a stay on Nevis, I took the ferry to its sister island, St. Kitts. This was actually my third trip to the island — previous visits were aboard the now defunct Windjammer Cruises — but this time, as a landlubber, I stayed in beautiful hotels and had more time to explore the island.
The day of my trip, rough and dangerous waters were churning through much of the Caribbean. The waves at Nevis were far from devastating, but still came crashing over the docks, forcing the usual embarkation dock to close. On board we felt few effects of the swells other than an occasional drenching spray that reached the upper deck where I was sitting.
We docked and made our way via taxi to the Marriott St. Kitts, where we picked up a golf cart for the five-minute jaunt to the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club.
Spanning 125 irrigated acres, Royal St. Kitts is the only course that borders both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. From the spring of 2002 through Nov. 8, 2004, renowned Canadian architect Thomas McBroom directed a massive renovation, adding water hazards on 12 holes, 83 bunkers and hundreds of coconut palm trees along the Atlantic, enhancing the course’s natural terrain. You’re sure to spot egrets, lizards and green-tail monkeys frolicking in the surrounding landscape.
Hole 9 (188 yards, par 3)
From the back tee this hole plays nearly 200 yards, with the added challenge of playing into the prevailing winds. Golfers might consider a fairway wood to compensate for the wind and length. An iron will often leave you short of the green which is surrounded by bunkers on both the left and the right. Most players come up short to this green, but can recover with an easy chip.
Hole 10 (427 yards, par 4)
Drive your ball left center — this hole has a slight dogleg right and you must avoid the series of bunkers, on the right. My partner spent a great deal of time in one of these bunkers and it was not a pretty scene! Your approach shot needs to be clean, and it is better to err slightly right rather than left due to the bunkers that Thomas McBroom added to this hole.
Hole 11 (588 yards, par 5)
Here is another long hole — at almost 600 yards it’s the longest par 5 at Royal St. Kitts. A beautiful salt marsh with nesting egrets lies right of the tee box but does not come into play. The hole is a dogleg left with a series of bunkers ready to grab your ball on the left; the water hazard runs the entire right side of the hole. From the high vantage point of the tee, you will get your first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, which was very rough the day we played.
Hole 14 (332 yards, par 4)
A reachable par 4 is made more difficult by the elevated green. Make sure you take in the view of the Atlantic Ocean and Hole 17 below. If your tee shot comes up short, you will be chipping to an elevated green with bunkers to the left. Once on the flat green, you should have no trouble putting, as this green runs true.
Hole 15 (163 Yards, par 3)
Don’t let the distance of this hole fool you. It has a slightly “Pebble Beach” feel, since you need to tee off to the green with your shot likely affected by the wind coming off the ocean. The view from the high vantage point of the tee box is breathtaking, with the Atlantic and the neighboring island beyond. It is also the opening to a string of remarkable and beautiful holes of golf. Eight bunkers guard this green and the putting surface is undulating, making putts difficult.
Hole 16 (390 yards, par 4)
Now you have made it to the Atlantic Ocean, which runs all along the right side of the fairway (the ocean was spraying the fairway when we played). The key to this drive is to stay right center away from the ocean and away from the adjacent fairway on the right. The second shot will be simple to the green, but be aware that the Atlantic on the left is always ready to swallow errant shots.
Hole 17 (405 yards, par 4)
Designed to resemble the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, No. 17 greets you with waves crashing from the Atlantic. The ocean runs the entire length of the left side and a salt pond lies on the right. The key is a clean shot right center so you can make your approach back to the green. Keep in mind the approach will be to a green that returns to the Atlantic like a mini peninsula. This is a truly beautiful hole.
Hole 18 (451 yards, par 4)
This is a nice finishing hole that brings you back to the clubhouse. It takes you away from the Atlantic to a rather straightforward tee shot, as long as you avoid the lateral hazard on the right. You will also need to avoid the left bunker, which was what my partner should have done. The green is heavily bunkered in the front left and juts right to bring the water back into play.
ROYAL ST. KITTS GOLF CLUB
P.O. Box 858
Basseterre, St. Kitts, West Indies
tel 869 466 2700
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Park Hyatt Washington
2008Dec 10, 2012
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