Don't let the golf detract from the scenery at Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club in Bermuda

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

HAMILTON, Bermuda — Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club is the oldest golf course in Bermuda, built back in 1922, back before they started building them in the hills to give tourists views of the ocean and bays.

Riddell's Bay Golf Course - Water
Riddell's Bay plays along a slender peninsula with great views of the water.
Riddell's Bay Golf Course - WaterRiddell's Bay Golf Course - No. 9Riddell's Bay Golf Course - Sailboats
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Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club

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Opened in 1922, Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club is the oldest golf course in Bermuda. The course is situated on a narrow peninsula that measures only 600 yards at its widest point, creating some design difficulties for the architects that have worked on it over the years.

18 Holes | Private golf course | Par: 70 | 5794 yd. yards | ... details »

The result is that the course is more flat, and the views — there are plenty — are more up close and personal. Located at the southern end of the island in Warwick, many of the views at Riddell's Bay in fact are not of long-range vistas, but of small inlets with moored sailboats, their banners flying and the sun sparkling off that beautiful water.

The Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club course plays through Bermudian flowers, blooming bushes and Australian pine, winding along a peninsula that is only 600 yards at its widest point. Nearly everywhere you look, there's that sparkling turquoise water again.

It's a short golf course, even for Bermuda, at a shade less than 6,000 yards and — let's face it — not all that difficult. It has some short, drivable par 4s, only one par 5 and a par of 70. The slope rating is a pussy cat-like 121.

"I'll say forgiving," Assistant Professional Slaine Eve said. "It's very forgiving. It has its challenges, especially when the wind blows on the back nine, but coming in on 17 and 18 is pretty easy."

So if you want to drink in the Bermuda scenery and not be distracted, Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club is for you. It has terrific back-to-back holes, Nos. 8 and 9.

Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club's ninth hole is a 350-yard par 4 that is all water carry, if you go for the green, and it's possible with the wind behind you. The green juts out into the bay, which lies to the right of the fairway. Otherwise, play it safe like a normal dogleg right.

The par-3 ninth is 247 yards from the back tees, with only a few pine trees standing between you and glory. This is a tough one-shotter where you're hitting over a finger of the bay. You have to either hit it high over the trees or play a fade.

Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club: The verdict

Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club is a pleasure to play, with the stunning scenery, but don't expect to have your driver out all day. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the fact you're in Bermuda and work on your short game, except for those two holes mentioned above.

Riddell's Bay Golf & Country Club is a private club, but fairly easy for visitors to get on. For July and August, the club is charging $50 green fees for member guests.

Bermuda stay and play

Elbow Beach overlooks the waters of South Shore and close to the capital of Hamilton. The property has 235 rooms including the main building and cottages, all set among 50 acres of gardens that slope down to the beach, which is reserved for guests. Most of the rooms have ocean views.

The main building is more than 90 years old, painted a classic Bermudian shade of yellow. It houses a restaurant, Veranda bar, cigar room, shops, function rooms and a business center. Butler service is available.

There is also a spa, which has six, self-contained suites, with granite soaking tubs, bamboo flooring and river pebble-lined steam showers.

The Pompano Beach Club is a smaller, boutique property. It has cottages, many of them brand new, with terrific ocean views that look like they've come straight from a magazine ad. The owners here are extraordinarily friendly, calling almost all their guests by name.

The spa at the property has all sorts of things they do to you to get you to chill. There are seven types of massage, including chocolate aroma, and lemongrass stress relief. There are body treatments, including the "tutti-frutti salt glow scrub," the "micro buff body polish," and the "serenity mud wrap." If you're not limp by then, they also have baths, like the whipped milk bath and mocha milkshake bubble bath.

The Reefs is also a smaller property, though larger than the Pompano. It also offers cottages with spectacular ocean views — in my room, for example, the ocean filled two picture windows in two different directions. Possibly the best ocean view I've ever had without actually being in the ocean. Each cottage suite has its own "garden setting" with private patio and Jacuzzi.

Bermuda dining

Elbow Beach will do nothing if not feed you; there are no less than seven places to eat and/or drink.

The Seahorse Grill has fine dining, including prime, dry-aged Angus steak dishes. The Veranda Bar, just off the lobby, is Bermuda's first rum bar, Blue Point is a poolside grill, Lido, located just above the beach, has a Mediterranean influenced menu, Mickey's Beach Bistro and Bar is on the beach and serves more casual food, the Sea Breeze Terrace offers cocktails and Deep is the nightclub.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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