Overlooking turquoise waters in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, Port Royal Golf Course is a must play for any golfer planning an escape to Bermuda. There is stunning natural beauty everywhere you look at while. visiting this impeccable British overseas territory, which is only a two and a half hour flight away from Miami.
Designed in 1970 by legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., Port Royal has grown into one of the world’s premier public golf facilities. In order to keep it up to date, in 2009 the course underwent a major renovation led by original design team member Roger Rulewich.
The Bermuda government, which owns the property, invested $14.5 million on the renovation project.
“This place is pretty special,” says Lanto Griffin, a PGA Tour champion who came here for the inaugural Bermuda Championship in October of last year. “(During our first practice round) we were walking on seven green and it was just incredible, like the whole world just opened up.”
On a course built on high ground that sweeps down to cliff edges on the island’s southwest shore, the views are breathtaking. Trent Jones Sr. took full advantage of the pleasantly undulating land to provide a fair challenge. “I was surprised how hilly the course is. I didn’t really know what to expect coming in, so the hills were definitely a little bit of a surprise”, says the 2020 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler.
An island golf course means a windy golf course, with the sea winds acting as its main defense “The crazy part is how much (the wind) changes,” adds up-and-coming star Aaron Wise factoring the wind in. “All of a sudden, if the wind switches to the dead opposite way, a ball goes 50 yards shorter or longer than it did the day before.”
Although there are several good holes at the hilly par 71 that plays 6,828 yards long, No. 16 stands out as one of the most spectacular holes in golf. The par-3 plays over a short cliff to a green perched above the water on a peninsula, with the ocean all the way to its left. It’s amazing, but it’s also intimidating.
“It’s like trying to hit a 3-iron into a bathtub,” says local pro golfer Daniel Augustus. “You just have to hit a really good shot and just buckle down”.
Before Port Royal’s renovation that hole used to play 180 yards long. Now, it can play as long as 235 yards with the wind remaining a big factor. Those who walk down to the back tees, will run into a plate that will make them aware of a comment made by 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. While playing the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an exhibition that brought other big-time stars such as Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Bubba Watson from 2009 until its final year in 2014, Glover went on to say: “man, I’ve never been so nervous on a shot.” Not exactly words of encouragement.
“Sixteen is awesome, but you don’t need to see that (plate). I kind of looked at it like no, no, no, we’re not thinking like that. Yeah, that’s just kind of mean,” joked Harry Higgs, a charismatic Tour player who claimed Bermuda Championship runner-up honors last year.
Returning later this month, the PGA Tour event held here will keep enriching Port Royal and Bermuda’s reputation as a top destination for golf and leisure.
Port Royal Golf Course at a glance
Par/Yards: 71 (36/35) / 6,828
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr.
Grass: Bermuda and TifEagle (greens)