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ISLAND GOLF COURSE REVIEW

CINNAMON HILL GOLF CLUB (876) 953-2650

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Jamaica golf course review

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CINNAMON HILL GOLF CLUB at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort (876-953-2650) has undergone a complete facelift, including extensive re-routing with special attention applied to conditioning. The greens, tee boxes and fairways were dug up and totally re-planted. The practice facility was relocated and now includes a beautiful grass range with two tee areas and a spacious putting green. What was once a non-conventional layout - a bit “rough around the edges” with some “tricked up” holes, is now one of the most respected designs in the Caribbean.

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Situated on what used to be a 400 acre sugar plantation, Cinnamon Hill, offers a great variety of mountain, island and ocean views. Sprinkled about the property, which traverses through lush tropical vegetation, are remnants from cultures of antiquity - such as aqua-ducts, inlaid stone walls and sugar mill plantation ruins. Those who have played the Rose Hall Course in the past will be impressed with the considerable improvements in design and conditioning. What was once an interesting course is now truly a gem - and is on the Two Guys Who Golf list as a “must Play” in the Caribbean. Together with Tryall, Half Moon and the world acclaimed White Witch, Cinnamon Hill completes a four course line-up of outstanding courses - perhaps unmatched in the islands. What’s more, 3 of the courses are within 10 minutes of each other and Tryall is only 30 minutes away, at most.

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The opening hole is now a straight-away par 5, featuring bunkers and deep grasses left and a tree line with out of bounds right. It is a wonderful way to begin. The restructuring of the first hole now allows for a short par three, which leads from the first green to the third tee. This occupies turf that was once the approach to the first green. A huge bunker on the left encourages a shot to the right center here. The third is nearly identical to the old layout, playing uphill with a sharp dogleg right on the approach. Long hitters can tempt fate by bending a shot over the edge of the tree line on the right. Number four has been “cleaned up” considerably , and is now one of the prettiest par threes of the course. You will hit from an elevated tee, over water, to a green that is quite undulating. There is a lot of bail out room to the right.

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The fifth occupies land that was formerly the driving range of the old course. This long par four plays right to the beautiful blue Caribbean. A long tee shot will put you into position to reach the green in regulation on this dogleg left, which plays downhill to the ocean-side putting surface. Your camera will be put to good use here. The sixth is likewise beautiful. This spectacular par three plays over the Caribbean to the right, with traps and bail out room left. There is room for error long - so choose enough club and go for the hole!  Number 7 is now a dogleg right and a significant challenge - a par four that plays into the prevailing wind. The location of the green, snuggled in between bunkers and trees with slight elevation, makes this hole special. The 8th and 9th used to be the old 5th and 4th - with the fairways now playing in opposite directions. Eight is a playable par 5 and one of the best birdie opportunities of the round. There is plenty of room left off the tee. The closing hole on the front features extensive mounding and fairway traps, and plays to an elevated green. Again, the best location for your tee shot is middle-left.

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Like the old course, the back nine plays into the mountains. The tenth is unchanged except for a few minor tee box alternations and conditioning improvements. Long hitters will end up with a short chip to an elevated green if they can stay on the fairway off the tee. A depression 100 yards in front will guide the ball towards the putting surface. The eleventh is also similar to its original design. The fairway has been spruced up and there is more open landing area on this dogleg right par five that plays uphill all the way. A huge tree 50 yards out still stands in the middle left of the fairway, demanding a high, soft approach to the putting surface that features an extreme right to left break. The twelfth continues the uphill climb, and is a tight but reasonable par four. Past players will remember the considerable left to right roll on the fairway. This is now slightly toned down, though placement to the left side is still the preferred direction off the tee. The green complex is in a vastly superior location, making this one of the most improved holes on the course. Thirteen is still a post card quality par three, playing uphill to a green that slopes right to left. The hole location has moved and the cart path now runs along the right side.

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The next 4 holes have been significantly re-designed. The fourteenth has been moved noticeably to the right, with a gentle dogleg left playing downhill to a gorgeous green complex. The Johnny Cash residential property to the left is not any more in immediate danger of having balls flying through the windows! This hole is now much more playable. One of the most beautiful par threes in the Caribbean follows. With the tee box located in what was once the approach area on the long par five, this hole plays downhill over a gorgeous jungle ravine with a waterfall and gently running stream as the backdrop. This location is still used for Jamaican weddings, and is one of the lushest scenes on the island. You must be accurate here! The 16th used to be a difficult par three, and has been restructured into a short but daunting par four. You will have to lay-up with a short or mid iron to a narrow fairway, and hit an accurate approach to a green bounded by jungle right and a trap and jungle ravine left. Only those who have scoffed down a few too many rum punches will go for the green off the tee here. What follows is a hole aptly named “ The Ruins”- a long par 4 playing from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway that opens up slightly on the approach. It is worth it to stop for a photo from the tips on this hole. A huge bunker slopes towards the jungle ravine to the left, so a right side approach to the undulating green is recommended. After passing through the sugar mill plantation ruins, you will find the 18th almost exactly as it was before. This formidable par five can be reached in two by adventurous long hitters who cut the corner by driving one over the tree on the left. Most likely you will lay-up before the ravine that is precariously located just a wedge away from the elevated putting surface. This is a beautiful and challenging “risk/reward” finishing hole. The stone wall fronting the green helps to make this one of the prettiest holes on the course.

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As someone who has played the old course at least a half dozen times in the past, I was thoroughly fascinated by the redesign of the Cinnamon Hill Course. It is understandable that it has recently been recognized as one of the top designs in the Caribbean. It is simply a gorgeous course - and 4 stars out of five in my book. Highly recommended! For more information visit our detailed information page by clicking here.

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