The flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Lyden Pindling International Airport in the bustling Bahamas town of Nassau is a short one. Two hours and 40 minutes to be exact. Most of that time is spent cruising over the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea’s northernmost section. According to anecdotal reports from Bahamian locals, around half the passengers on any given flight are bound for one of two mega resorts: Atlantis Paradise Island or Baha Mar just minutes from the airport.
Both properties feature golf courses ranked among the best in the Caribbean and Mexico by Golfweek. The Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club is available for guests of Atlantis, and Jack Nicklaus-designed Royal Blue is the centerpiece of Baha Mar. For golf course architecture aficionados, the gravitational pull from both highly-regarded layouts is formidable. With Weiskopf passing away following a battle with pancreatic cancer earlier this year, a reverential round at the Ocean Club is the perfect way to pay homage to one of the modern game’s greatest designers.
Unlike Baha Mar and Royal Blue, Ocean Club is located offsite from Atlantis and is a 10–15-minute cab or shuttle ride away. It’s part of the Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas, owned by Access Industries. Ocean Club functions in part as a member-driven business model operated by Troon but is also available to guests of Atlantis and the Four Seasons. The upshot? Conditioning is top notch and pace of play is pleasantly brisk. Troon is the best in the business in this space, and it shows. Golfers will find a more-than-adequate clubhouse with a restaurant, a fully-stocked golf shop, and a spacious practice facility with range and short game areas.
Weiskopf completely revamped the course in 2000 during his salad days as one of the game’s most thoughtful, elegant designers. He and his team were able to stretch the yardage to 7,159 from the back tees, which weigh in with a redoubtable course rating of 76.1 and slope of 140. Several holes feature unobstructed views of the Caribbean, starting with the fourth hole, a long, strong par 4 with a green protected by a tidal pool on the right and the ocean behind it.
The balance of the front nine returns inland, but the ocean is never out of sight. Ocean Club’s enviable seaside setting reprises on the par-3 12th, one of the toughest one-shotters in the Caribbean. Weiskopf stretched No. 12 to nearly 200 yards, and with the prevailing coastal breezes, it plays as the No. 2 handicap hole on the course. However, the undisputed signature hole at Ocean Club is No. 17, the proverbial, drivable Weiskopf par 4. This two-shotter plays just under 300 yards from the back tees with its entire fairway and green complex running along the ocean.
Because of its location, quality and pedigree, Ocean Club is no stranger to hosting marquee tournaments and events. It’s hosted the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. At the time of this writing, the club and Atlantis staged the Steve Harvey Charity Classic. Celebrity sightings on the course and around the clubhouse are almost the norm, not the exception. On this occasion, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal turned more than a few heads.
Atlantis Paradise Island
Atlantis Paradise Island offers a “Tee Time” package that includes a round of golf on Ocean Club, $25 golf shop credit and $50 food and beverage credit. Note: the package currently requires a five-night stay and runs through Aug. 31, 2023. The resort features one of the largest water parks in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 140 acres of water slides, lazy rivers, multiple swimming pools and beaches. Atlantis Paradise Island also houses a casino and sports book in The Royal – the main hotel at the property’s center. Guests can choose from numerous restaurants onsite, many of which are in the marina area just a short walk from The Royal.
Lyden Pindling International is a U.S. Customs clearing airport, meaning you’ll clear customs there and not back in the U.S. The convenience factor is off the charts, as it rarely adds much, if any, time in getting to your gate … This setup also makes bringing your clubs exponentially easier, but should you opt to leave the sticks at home, Ocean Club does have rentals sets that are in fair condition … Atlantis is not an all-inclusive resort, so be sure to do your homework on the “all-in” cost of a multi-day itinerary.