Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club, Abaco Islands, The Bahamas (bakersbayclub.com): Can Tom Fazio top himself in the Caribbean? His layout for the Discovery Land Company opened in July of 2010 for those eager to settle the question. The developing 585-acre private club and community with a deep-water marina is on the northern end of Great Guana Cay. The course is reserved for residential members and guests.
Players will find wide-open, links-style fairways ranging from the Atlantic Ocean shoreline at the start of play to the close of the front nine’s daunting 215-yard par-three carry over the Sea of Abaco. From the panoramic 13th-hole high point to the final hole, Fazio pretty much puts the hammer down. The course measures more than 7,327 yards from the tips; this is not recommended unless you have a PGA Tour card.
Old Macdonald Golf Links, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon, Oregon (bandondunesgolf.com): Not named after the farmer and definitely not a cow-pasture course, this fourth track at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort opened last June and almost immediately joined its three brethren in the top 15 of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list.
Charles Blair Macdonald was the founder of the U.S. Golf Association and the country’s first great golf-course architect. Tom Doak and associate Jim Urbina have created their big-shouldered versions of classic Macdonald holes — the Eden hole, Hog’s Back, Biarritz, Cape, Redan, and Punchbowl — with an uncanny blend of vigor and simplicity.
Wide-open fairways, fierce bunkering, and immense greens — all typically whipped by wind — add up to an intensely satisfying strategic challenge.
Wrap it all up at McKee’s Pub with Grandma’s Meatloaf and a Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and life will indeed be good.
verduraresort.com): Kyle Phillips, who designed Kingsbarns Golf Links and Dundonald Links in Scotland (both regular visitors to our Platinum List), has worked his magic on the southwest Sicilian coast on 36 holes (plus a nine-hole par-three track). Many wend right to the Mediterranean Sea, which is never out of sight during play. If the clubhouse interior is an appropriately Venetian stucco, the windswept course suggests Scottish links play, with the anomalous sightline of distant olive and orange groves.
The West Course has slightly edged the East in some recent rankings; others say a composite routing of all the seaside holes is best. We say play ’em all, and then indulge yourself at the spa of the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, which includes four Thalasso pools in graduated temperatures, varied densities of salt and minerals, and a plethora of jets and waterfalls.
The 570-acre resort opened in 2009, part of The Rocco Forte Collection but the first built in Italy by the luxury hotel company, all on a splendidly private 1.1 miles of coastline.