When it comes to golf in the Caribbean, Barbados and the Dominican Republic are hard to beat. In fact, impossible to beat. But I was on Antigua, so Sandy Lane or Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo weren’t among the options.
So which was it to be? Jolly Harbour or Cedar Valley? I’m very wary of such as Trip Advisor when it comes to making these decisions: consecutively, one can find a hotel praised as romantic in one post and as rubbish in the next; restaurants should on the one hand be visited by hygiene inspectors and on the other be nominated for a Michelin star. It can be the same with golf courses – Jolly Harbour was variously described as being an enjoyable day out and, condition-wise, as being close to unplayable.
So I checked out the respective websites. Of course, nobody is going to put up material that makes what they offer look unappealing, but Cedar Valley looked a little more enticing. Also, it was closer.
A round cost 60 US dollars; with buggy $100. Condition-wise, it wasn’t too great, the fairways being patchy – which doesn’t really matter if you elect to play preferred lies – and the greens a little bumpy. Hey, but then the greens were a little bumpy for the US Open at Chambers Bay last June.
I’m not sure how many cedars there are on the property but the word ‘valley’ is not inappropriate since it tells you that, topographically, as well as lows there will be highs. You do want that buggy. For example, the 9th hole is like a rollercoaster and when I say the second shot on the par-four 12th holes plays uphill, I mean it makes the 18th at Augusta seem a gentle incline.
But we had a fun time, the funniest aspect being when we were waved through by a couple on the 6th tee. After previously producing a great deal of rubbish, my tee shot on the 5th was perfectly into the angle of the dogleg, which they would have seen and presumably were impressed. (They had disappeared before seeing me hoick my second shot into the undergrowth.) My drive on the 6th, which plays gloriously downhill into one of those valleys, might have been the best I hit all year – and under the pressure of them standing beside the tee! My second shot, an 8-iron over a tree in the middle of the fairway, finished 20 feet past the stick. “Good shot,” they shouted.
I was tempted to walk in right there, but I played on. And on. When we’d finished, my wife said: “Well, it’s not the best course I’ve ever seen but I have seen worse.” Hardly a recommendation the club will want to put on a plaque but she was right.
Robert Green’s ‘Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius’ is available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @robrtgreen