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ISLAND GOLF COURSE REVIEW

NEGRIL HILLS GOLF CLUB (809-957-4638)

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Jamaica golf course reivew

Located on the main highway with easy access from the famous 7 mile beach in Negril, Negril Hills Golf Club offers a very affordable and interesting round of golf. For those of you who need a break from the extreme beauty, vibrant and adventurous culture, and gorgeous beachfront and rock cliffs that are Negril, this course will meet the challenge. Everything about this facility is unpretentious - from the clubhouse to the practice area to the course itself. Nothing fancy, just a good test of golf in a spectacular setting. After a few days of lazing around on the beach, it was good to be back " in the mode".

Though hilly, this course is very walk-able, playing at just 6333 from the tips. Negril Hills CaddieYou can save on the cart fee, but should expect to tip on the high side if someone is going to carry your bag. Bring along a bottle of water, as there is little of the drinking variety on the course. If walking, go easy on the rum the night before (first hand knowledge). As with most courses in Jamaica, your caddie is not only good company - but has abundant course knowledge, and will help with yardages off the tee and on the fairway, and can assist you in reading the greens. On my visit, I found my caddie (Ronald Simpson) and the head pro (Garfield) to be extremely courteous and helpful - as were all the employees at Negril Hills.

Negril HillsThe front nine opens with a tee shot that plays quite a bit uphill, and with an approach that is even more extreme. Use 2 clubs extra to reach the green and hope for a par, which is a great score here. An elevated tee shot greets you on the short par 4 second. The green plays uphill and is guarded by bunkers both left and right. A mid range dogleg right par 5 follows. A shot aimed to the left side of the fairway will work well here. A hidden water hazard far left can be reached if you stray too far to that side. A Caribbean marsh must be carried on the short par 3 fourth, which proceeds one of the prettiest holes of the layout. The sixth is a beautiful dogleg right. You need to be long off the tee to have any chance to be successful. Negril HillsThe number 1 handicap is next. It features a slight dogleg right off an elevated tee, to a green that is quite uphill. The easiest hole of the front follows. It will play 1 or 2 clubs less, depending on the wind. You will tee it up out of a shoot on the mid-range par four eighth. Once you pass the tree line and reach the fairway, you will find a huge tree middle right, blocking your path to the elevated green. It is important to play your approach from the left middle of the fairway if you are to have any chance of reaching in regulation. The front finishes as it began, with a par four that plays uphill all the way.

Negril HillsThe backside plays a little shorter, with all the par fours playing at less than 385 yards. The opening par three will play 1 - 3 clubs longer depending on the wind. Accuracy is important on #11, which features a rolling, narrow fairway. Like 10 and 11, the par five 12th plays uphill to a narrow fairway, though there is some room for error to the left. Elevated tees will greet you on the next four holes. Stay near the cart path on the thirteenth and cut the dogleg on number 14 for two of the best birdie opportunities of the layout. Both play at under 360 yards from the blue tees. Negril HillsA lay-up to the 150 stake is required off the tee on 15. Anything long right will reach the small ravine, which will challenge your attempt at par. The mid-range par three 16th is another easy hole. Take 1 or two clubs less to reach here. A tight driving hole follows. This dogleg right par four features an approach over a small ravine. The closing hole is also tight off the tee. It plays downhill with water along the left side on the approach. Though this par 5 plays at only 454 from the tips, it is listed as the number 2 handicap. You will have to lay-up off the tee, and stroke it accurately on the approach. There is a bit of bail-out room on both sides of the green.

If you enjoy hilly layouts Negril Hills will be one of your favorites. Almost all tees are elevated, and many greens are too. The Bermuda grass is tough stuff, leaving few divots and hardly a ball mark. Accuracy, rather than distance is a priority, though there are ample opportunities to use driver off the tee. This is one of the Caribbean's better values. A fun round of golf, away from the hustle and bustle of the bars and restaurants along the seven mile beach - highly recommended to fit into your vacation if you are in the area.

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