Examining the appeal of Bermuda

By Jeff Rude/COMMENTARY

SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda–This little fishhook-shaped island in the Atlantic Ocean can name-drop. President Eisenhower and Sir Winston Churchill discussed world affairs here. Mark Twain wrote here. Babe Ruth swatted golf balls out of play here. A couple of famous Michaels, Douglas and Bloomberg, own homes here.

The name also has been associated with a triangle, shorts, grass and dunes. But what a trip here represents is an escape into endless beauty. Little wonder Twain said, “You go to heaven if you want to, I’d rather stay right here in Bermuda.”

Then there’s golf. It was Twain, of course, who supposedly maintained that the ancient game could spoil a nice journey afoot. But a golfer of any skill level won’t be disappointed with the course options here. Name-dropping can continue, for the terrific Mid Ocean Club was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald, and beautiful Port Royal, of PGA Grand Slam fame, was constructed by the Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the universe.

Mid Ocean, which Jones touched up in the 1950s, can compete with the world’s best tracks, no hyperbole. The collection of holes has an old-school charm, the ocean is always a glance away and the history is told through urban legend and photographs upstairs on a clubhouse wall. 

There’s no disputing Eisenhower and Churchill met in a 1953 summit. Less clear is how many golf balls Ruth lost on the 433-yard dogleg-left fifth hole, called Cape. Various accounts have the sultan rinsing a dozen or so on the left side while trying to drive the green almost a century ago; perhaps a more accurate tale has him making a watery 11 on the hole.

The remade Port Royal is another visual delight, featuring the island’s most photographed hole–the cliffside 16th, which tips out at 235 yards. But then the views here never stop. The island has seven courses, four of which your correspondent played on a recent trip, and blue scenery is a constant. That goes for the sky and about five shades of blue in the Atlantic.

Bermuda wants to be a golf destination and arguably has enough to qualify. A bonus is Turtle Hill, a fun but challenging 18-hole par-3 track that features constant ocean views and elevation changes. It again will host the Grey Goose World Par-3 Championship in March and, get this: You can play. The first 120 to sign up are in.

Bermuda has some reasonably priced golf packages available (gotobermuda.com/golf). That’s good news for the Great Unwashed because Bermuda is not inexpensive. Jewels are known to be pricey, and that applies here, from the multi-million-dollar real estate down to a $14 glass of wine. So bring a high stack of chips. Also bring a significant other and/or a foursome of golfers, depending on mood and mission.

You should be cautioned on two other fronts. One, don’t head off to the Caribbean, for 21-square-mile Bermuda fools the geographically challenged since it is stationed some 700 miles off the North Carolina coast. Translated, that’s a two-hour flight from Atlanta.

Two, beware pouring too many Dark ’N’ Stormy cocktails,  for the local specialty goes down like lemonade. Behind that smoothness is  the dark (Gosling’s Black Seal rum) and the stormy (ginger beer).

Bermuda beauty

Jeff Rude sampled golf, lifestyle and gorgeous views when playing in the Hackers Cup in Bermuda. Have a look.

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The moon on top of Port Royal flagpole just after sunset.

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Sunset view from Port Royal clubhouse. No need to buy a postcard.

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The par-3 16th at Port Royal, the most photographed hole in Bermuda

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Great way to start day: Rainbow viewed from Fairmont Southampton balcony.

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Nightfall outside Ocean Club in Southampton

Podcast: Golf & lifestyle in Bermuda

Jeff Rude goes live from Bermuda. Rough duty. He stopped sipping the island’s  Dark and Stormy drinks long enough to go deep on all things Bermuda with Andrew Brooks, longtime director of golf for Bermuda Tourism Authority. We talk golf, largely about the special Mid-Ocean Club, a scenic Charles Blair Macdonald design that features rolling hills along the Atlantic Ocean. Legend has it Babe Ruth once ran out of balls there. We talk about Port Royal, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout that hosted several PGA Grand Slams through 2014. And we explain how you can enter the Grey Goose World Par-3 Championship in March at the fun Turtle Hill, an 18-hole par-3 track here. Have a listen: