Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Architect: Dick Wilson (1962)/Tom Weiskopf (2000 Redesign)
Date Played: 13th May 2013
International Magazine Ratings
Golf Resort List
When ever I travel, I always like to get a game of golf in. Nothing like adding that extra memory from another place. During our trip through the US we decided to spend a few days in the Bahamas staying at Atlantis Resort. This enabled me to gain access to the Ocean Club, so I jumped at the chance.
Clubhouse at the Ocean Club
The Course was originally designed by Dick Wilson, which saw an airstrip for small planes adjoining and lots of vegetation. In 2000 Tom Weiskopf redesigned the course, integrating the airstrip, but more importantly removed a lot of the vegetation. This allowed seaside teas and greens to be incorporated, but also opening up views to the ocean and allowing the wind to influence play.
LPGA Event Setup
The Ocean Club is a regular stop for the LPGA. At the time of my visit they were preparing the course for the event which was two weeks away. Signage, grandstands and TV towers being erected. Unfortunately for them the weather was atrocious, flooding some of the course and reducing the tournament to a 54 hole event. Lucky for me the weather was perfect.
Map of the Ocean Club
The Ocean Club is a typical resort style course, which is quite open allowing for varying degrees of player. It was previously listed in the Golf Digest Top 100 Resort course list, last appearing in 2001. It is a cart path only course, which I am not a big fan of, but with the heat didn’t complain.
Scorecard at the Ocean Club
One thing I had to keep in the back of my mind, was distances where yards and not meters. Yes not a major thing to convert, just take ten percent off, but if you just happen to forget that one time, the ball could be going a bit long, with the wrong club selected. Play for the day was from the blue tees.
Hole 1 – 359 yard Par 4 – Gumbo Limbo
Starting with a mid length par 4, it was hard not to notice the tree in the middle of the fairway. Not something I come across too often, but not the first time either. Luckily it is a fairly low tree, so playing over the top is not too big an issue, but it may distract you from the two bunkers in range beyond. I did have to remember these were hire clubs though and some adjustment was required. The fairway was quite open, but the cut of rough was fairly thick. They did have the LPGA event coming up after all.
Side view of the 1st Green
The approach was slightly uphill to a green with two bunkers at the front. I was glad to see the green surrounds were cut short for a few meters, rather than rough right up to the fringe. It was a case of dealing with Bermuda grass on the greens though, which is not an everyday event for me. Quite a bit of undulation for the putting surface as well. A nice hole to introduce me into golf in the Bahamas.
Hole 2 – 542 yard Par 5 – Harbour View
The longest hole on the course was up next. This was also the hardest par 5. The fairways were a little sticky so the ball was not running a great deal, so this did play a lot longer. The fairway was very wide, plenty of room to land the ball, but there was water down the left. A slight dogleg to the right is encountered on the approach shot. The one odd thing I noticed was the pole to mark yardage to the green.
The 2nd Green surrounded by Ocean to the right
Making the approach to the 2nd requires navigation around a tree in front of the green on the left edge of the fairway. The right of the green is guarded by a bunker rising above the green surface. The putting surface is much wider than it is deep and has some small undulations. A large collection area is to the left. This played as a true three shot hole. The main strategy was which side of the fairway to position the ball to have the best angle.
Hole 3 – 135 yard Par 3 – Sea Mist
Playing the first par 3 for the day, is the shortest hole on the course. With a bunker protecting the front left, any pin position this side is all carry, not that the course is really conducive to running the ball in. The green is built into the slope, leaving the right side elevated. Leading into the hole is quite undulating, which hides part of the left hand bunker. A nice little tester with some gentle undulations also found on the green.
Hole 4 – 398 yard Par 4 – Lighthouse
Getting to the hardest hole on the course, this gently sweeps to the right. This long par 4 gets even longer playing into the sea breeze. From the tee a large bunker has to be avoided to the right, the ideal line mind you, although this can be carried. Doing so opens up the fairway.
Downhill shot to the 4th Green
One of the more demanding shots required for the day, is the approach to the 4th green, but also one of the most scenic. Playing down hill with water on the right and rear, a large bunker will come into play on the left. Good design where a bit of strategy and confidence is required to make it onto the green in two.
Hole 5 – 402 yard Par 4 – Sol’s Point
A dog leg to the left, with the best line taking the tee shot over the left bunker. The fairway is lined with palms down the right but has a generous landing area.
The Small 5th Green
Making the approach to this small green, is up-hill. Bunkers guard the front on either side. A mound is behind to stop the ball from going too long. Good classic designed hole.
My first Arnold Palmer
Another first was trying an Arnold Palmer, a drink which is half iced tea and half lemonade. Certainly refreshing whilst on the course and what an appropriate place to try it.
Hole 6 – 482 yard Par 5 – Breakwaters
At this point I noticed that the old camera managed to get dust inside the lens, so now I not only had to concentrate on golf, but also conceal the dust spots with background features (not always possible). A medium length par 5 was up next, playing fairly straight, but requiring a slight carry over the water hazard. Fairway bunkers are out to the right but also in the middle. A choice needs to be made on which side to play.
Bunkers galore leading to the 6th Green
Another bunker is in the middle closer to the green, although plenty of clear area to land exists beyond this. The fairway opens up on the right of the green, but is up a slope. Interesting hole offering many choices, its just a case of what are the right ones.
Hole 7 – 368 yard Par 4 – Peninsula
Heading back away from the water, is this mid length par 4. From the tee water is in play down the right, but leaves a decision on how far the ball can be progressed leaving a shorter approach. The green can be seen from the tee, with more water to its left. Visually intimidating hole.
Well protected 7th Green
Ideally the tee shot would be on the right portion of the fairway, leaving the best angle for the approach to the 7th green, This will be another demanding shot, with water on three sides of the green. You can miss to the left. Good design which can reward the brave, but not punish the timid.
Hole 8 – 166 yard Par 3 – Surf’s Up
Playing back towards the water is the easiest par 3 on the course. The tee shot must carry the water hazard and a bunker before reaching the green.
The 8th Green overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Leading into the green is a large swale, but also a large bunker out to the right may come into play. Anything long, pull out the towel and take a sun bake, as you have reached the real beach. The putting surface is quite long, but not overly wide. Scenic hole which will be remembered for either the right or wrong reasons.
Hole 9 – 343 yard Par 4 – Paradise Found
Finishing the front nine, is a short par 4 turning to the left. Water is found along the left all the way to the green. The fairway is generous for those playing to safety not trying to shorten the hole. No fairway bunkers to deal with here.
Looking back from the 9th Green
Playing the approach to the 9th requires avoiding hazards either side of the green. Water still down the left, but a large bunker to the right, will require good nerves, although the opening at the front is quite large. The putting surface has two tiers, with the back higher than the front. Great design on this hole, which will allow all gofers to enjoy.
Hole marker and pin flag at the Ocean Club
Nice big hole markers ensure you have all the information you need, especially if you are at the correct hole.
Hole 10 – 389 yard Par 4 – Ficus Ridge
Starting the back is a mid length par 4, playing up a slight slope. Playing through a grove of ficus trees, this fairway has lots of small undulations, with a couple of traps to the left. Playing into the green there are three bunkers to contend with. Easy on the eye, this is a basic design which works, but not the most memorable hole on the course.
Waiting for the fairway to clear – time for a selfie
The Ocean Club was also host to the Golf Channel’s Big Break Atlantis show. One of my favourites where various golf challenges on and off the course, are given to the contestants. The winner receives an entry into a PGA or LPGA event.
Hole 11 – 360 meter Par 4 – Atlantis Beyond
The name of this hole says it all, heading back towards the resort, is a slightly curving left fairway, which plays downhill to start. The land slopes to the right, with bunkers this side to capture any wayward balls.
Play uphill to the 11th Green
The approach will require a shot up a slight slope, to an undulating green. There is also an area to the right which will repel any ball not hit well enough. Bunkers are found either side of the green. Nicely shaped hole offering a little bit of strategy, but will test all levels of ability.
Hole 12 – 181 yard Par 3 – Spyglass
Another visually appealing scene to the eye, but also the hardest and longest of the par 3 holes. Play is from an elevated tee to a green with wetlands front and rear. Certainly a testing tee shot if you don’t like water. I like to think it doesn’t exist and if it does I’m lucky enough to skim across the surface.
Great scenery around the 12th green
Two bunkers are found either side of this green, which has the front sloping back towards the water. The putting surface is back a little from the edge of the hazard, so it is not as penal as it could be. Well designed and certainly a memorable hole.
Hole 13 – 512 yard Par 5 – Downwind
Coming to this mid length par 5, we face the easiest hole on course. As its name suggests, this hole plays down wide, making it a lot shorter. Certainly noticed this on my visit. From the tee, the fairway narrows at driving distance, with two sets of bunkers either side. If you are long enough the right side can be carried, finding the fairway which turns to the right.
Looking back from the 13th Green
Small undulations are found along the fairway to give a bit more character, but feels strange due to the palms located around the course which gives the tropical feel. Links type design in a tropical location? Had this once previously in Australia at Sea Temple Resort in Port Douglas, however the ground was much firmer with the ball running a bit. Three bunkers are around the green, with the right side being extremely large and much deeper. The green angles away to the right and has a lot of room to run the ball in at the front. Was definitely the easiest hole on the course, but could quite easily catch you out taking on the wrong strategy from the tee.
Hole 14 – 168 yard Par 3 – Stairstep
With an uphill shot, this par 3 plays longer than the card suggests. Two features detract from this, the housing located behind the green and the path running across short of the green. Three deep bunkers need to be avoided on this hole.
Looking across at the 14th Green
The green is predominantly unsighted from the tee, except the front area which feeds back to the tee. Angling away to the left, the putting surface has some undulation. If in the wrong portion will leave a difficult putt. I liked the design of the hole, but the surrounds did take away quite a bit.
Hole 15 – 283 yard Par 4 – Due North
Every course should have one of these holes, which over great risk and reward. The shortest and easiest par 4 on the course is drivable, from the elevated tee, with the hole playing downhill. There is ample room on the fairway if laying up, but either side has trouble. Left are numerous palms, but the right has sand, sand and more sand. There is even a palm tree growing out of the middle of the bunker. The fairway has medium sized undulation which could cause some awkward stance if finding the wrong spot.
Smallest green on the course is the 15th
The green is small, so an accurate shot will be required if planning to find in one shot. Smaller bunkers are located around the hole to catch errant shots. Great design and play-ability. Probably also found at the best part of the round, especially if you are down a couple of shots. This could have a big swing in a game. One of my holes of the day, even though I got the risk side instead of the reward.
Hole 16 – 475 yard Par 5 – Long Dunes
The last par 5 for the day, has a tee shot over water to reach the fairway. The hazard continues on for some way, so those trying to gain the most distance, also face the risk of a penalty. The fairway is not overly wide, but narrows greatly near the first fairway bunker.
Approach to the 16th Green
Small undulations are found along the fairway, which narrows greatly towards the green, with traps either side. Certainly risk involved if aiming for the green in two. A tough hole coming in to close the round out, but one that can reward those with patience. Like the fact that you have to think about each shot from tee to green. Failing to execute will penalise heavily.
Hole 17 – 290 yard Par 4 – Pintail Crossing
The penultimate hole is another short par 4, which has great views of the ocean. It was also here that the group in front offered me to finish the round with them. With a slight turn to the left from the tee, the fairway has some large undulations, especially just in front of the green. Anyone trying to run the ball to the green will need to carry this to have a chance. Bunkers line the right of the fairway, awaiting anyone with a drive slightly off line. The green is the largest on the course, with one portion hiding behind two traps (that’s what they will do to you if short). Nice hole, but not happy there are two short par 4 holes so close together towards the end of the round.
Hole 18 – 414 yard Par 4 – Coming About
This beast could determine a championship. The longest par 4 on the course with water running the entire length on the right, has a dogleg in the same direction. The fairway is place some distance from the water, but this won’t stop balls finding a watery grave.
Approach to the 18th Green
Bunkers are located to the left at driving distance, as is the huge amount of deep rough. The approach shot is uphill to a three tiered green. If that is not enough deep bunkers are located either side of the green. A tough finishing hole, but designed well.
Drinks after the round
So the locals knew better than to spend their hard earned cash in the clubhouse, so we went down the road to an outdoor bar. I wasn’t going to complain.
In summary the Ocean Club is definitely a resort style course, allowing for all levels of play. The design has been smart enough to challenge all players, but ensure there are usually ways around making it unplayable for beginners, although the forced water carries may be an argument against this. Hole directions were certainly designed to ensure wind direction was not repetitive on either nine. Hole distances varied evenly between par types. Although two par threes had similar design, carrying water and similar distances. As well the two short par 4 holes towards the end, would benefit further separation.
There was a significant amount of strategy which could be employed around the course. Not just a case of hit and hope or giggle. Bunkers were generally in areas where they would catch those taking on the risk, rather than just catching everybody out. There was some great positions which could be utilised for tee placement, as there should be considering this hosts professional events. Conditioning cannot be faulted at all. Greens were great, although I always struggle with Bermuda, offering a variety of shots in the surrounds, although there was the risk of how the ball would react.
Being on holidays, its always a good sign walking away with some great memories, and this course did offer a few.
How to play Ocean Club:
1. Be a members guest
2. Stay at Atlantis or One & Only Resort (I stayed at Atlantis)