Best golf courses in puerto rico: Best Golf Courses in Puerto Rico

Best Golf Courses in Puerto Rico

Gorgeous aerial view of the Dorado Beach Resort & Club. 

Warm weather, vibrant culture, top golf courses make this Island a Caribbean travel favorite. 

An Island and historic city of enchanting scenery, gastronomy, friendliness, culture, and beaches, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and its nearby vacation destinations exemplify island leisure at its best. With amazing views and welcoming weather virtually year-round, bask in sunny days and gorgeous settings while playing and staying at some of the Caribbean’s top golf courses and resorts. 

A golfer plays one of the two scenic golf courses at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. 

Dorado

In golf history, pairing spectacular land with a top-notch course designer has resulted in many of the world’s best and most iconic golf courses. Pebble Beach and Augusta National are prime examples. This time-proven formula holds gloriously true with the East Course at TPC Dorado Beach, 25 minutes from San Juan. Robert Trent Jones Sr. created a classic seaside course that maintains a modern championship layout that is inspiring for players of all skill levels. Panoramic sightlines of the ocean, bunkers filled with native beach sand, smooth greens, immaculate course conditions, luxury club atmosphere, and a tropical setting combine for a world-class golf experience. Golfers must be guests of the resort to play the golf courses.

Aerial view of the St. Regis Beach Resort & Golf Club.

Río Grande

Golf Course Architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed this unique 18-hole championship layout with a commitment to preserving the natural integrity of the site. Spectacular holes wind along the ocean, undulating fairways and scenic lakes. Managed by Troon Golf, Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club is an amenity of Marriott’s The St. Regis brand, the slogan for which defines the golf experience at this magnificent property – “Where Indulgence Meets Sophistication.” Immaculate course conditions, awe-inspiring views, first-class service, and inventive course design make Bahia Beach an exceptional place to play, relax, and unwind. An Audubon International Sanctuary property, views the adjacent El Yunque Rainforest are highlighted from Bahia Beach.

Cliffside views of the Royal Isabela Golf Course. 

Royal Isabela

Isabela

The Links at Royal Isabela extend dramatically along cliffs 200 feet above the ocean and drop to natural dunes along the Atlantic. The “nature-first” golf course is alive with plants, birds, and butterflies native to Isabela, Puerto Rico. Sod-faced bunkers add a Scottish flair to this Island gem. With trade winds that are your friend one moment and your foe the next, all these elements shape the course’s character and captivate the golf purist.

Sweeping ocean views along the golf course at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf Club.

Río Grande

Everything about Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf Club is neat, fun, and appealing. This starts at the elegant resort and permeates throughout its many amenities, not the least of which is its two 18-hole golf courses. Located in Río Grande, 40 minutes from San Juan, the River Course is by Greg Norman and Ocean Course by Tom and George Fazio. Ocean Course comes by its name honestly, with views of the sea and beach on the back nine. Likewise, River Course features the Mameyes River snaking throughout the property. After an exhilarating round, golfers can enjoy the resort’s casino, spa, pools, multiple restaurants, or oceanfront setting. Managed by Troon Golf, the golf service and new clubhouse are immaculate and rewarding.

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Puerto Rico’s best golf courses

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No island golf destination has faced more adversity in recent years than Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico was battered by Hurricane Maria in 2017, closing one course (the Pineapple at Dorado Beach) and causing heavy damage at another major golf resort (El Conquistador, which was a Waldorf Astoria Resort at the time). A 5.8-magnitude earthquake in January brought more heartache to the southwest side of the island.

Golf has always done its part to help the island rebound. This week, the PGA Tour returns for the Puerto Rico Open at what used to be Coco Beach Golf Resort. Since 2008, the tournament has raised more than $1 million dollars for local charities.

Tourism is a huge part of Puerto Rico. Traveling golfers can pump up the local economy by teeing it up on any of the island’s 18 courses, all open to the public. In this version of The List, I’m sharing my favorite choices. All of them are attached to resorts, so they’re perfect for a stay-and-play Puerto Rico golf package.

  1. The Links at Royal Isabela

    No. 17 at Royal Isabela might be the best hole in all of Puerto Rico. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfPass

    Cliffs that drop 200 feet to the ocean provide a spectacular setting for golf roughly an hour and a half west of San Juan. Check out the photos here. A wild array of nuances make the Links at Royal Isabela feel more like an adventure than just another round.

    Conventional rules of golf architecture don’t always apply. The course was built with an amazing number of 132 total tees, blind shots galore, a tiny island-green par 3, deep pot bunkers and even two extra holes. There are two holes at no. 6 because brothers Stanley and Charlie Pasarell, who are developing this environmentally conscious residential and resort community, couldn’t decide between building a par 4 or par 5, so they kept both. It’s a fun four hours of linksy golf.

  2. East course at TPC Dorado Beach

    A view over the water from East Course at TPC Dorado Beach TPC Dorado Beach

    A 2011 renovation of the famed East course at TPC Dorado Beach introduced me to a local golf legend: The putter-wielding Chi Chi Rodriguez. Rodriguez has a long history with Dorado Beach, working at the East Course during its heyday in the 1960s. He beat Doug Saunders in a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf event there in 1964.

    The work by RTJII added length to the 7,192-yard course, repositioned bunkers, restored his father’s signature runway tees and converted the greens to ultra-dwarf Champion Bermuda. A clearing of undergrowth and brush opened up ocean views from 15 holes and made the entire layout more playable. The first hole runs right along the beach. The better holes on the back nine climb into the jungle and feature rolling fairways.

  3. St. Regis Bahia Beach and Golf Resort

    The finishing hole at Bahia Beach roams along the shore. Courtesy photo

    I haven’t played the St. Regis Bahia Beach and Golf Resort in years, but all the recent Golf Advisor reviews confirm what I recall about the Robert Trent Jones Jr. course. The place is pure. Avoiding lagoons and battling crosswinds are a big part of the challenge.

    User ‘SRT8’ .. called it the «Best Course in Puerto Rico» in his five-star review in 2019, adding «This is a very nice course with enough water to make it challenging, combined with wide fairways. There are several ocean holes worth bringing your camera for.»

  4. Championship course at Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico

    An aerial view of courses at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico. Courtesy photo

    If you want to play where the pros play, head to what used to be known as Coco Beach Golf Resort. The newly rebranded Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico received extensive renovations last December thanks to new owners.

    The Championship course has always been the host of Puerto Rico’s PGA Tour. Players such as Jason Day, Tony Finau, John Daly and others have tackled its wind-swept fairways. Both courses at the resort are Tom Kite designs from the mid-2000s. They feel like traditional Caribbean courses lined with palm trees, bunkers and lagoons. A couple ocean holes on the back nine are the highlight. If you play it, watching the tournament on TV becomes a must to relive the round.

  5. El Conquistador

    A view of the 18th tee at El Conquistador.

    This year is a big one for «El Con». The entire 750-room resort could reopen as soon as August. Roughly 250 rooms are already online. I loved the old resort, and I’m sure the new version will be spectacular again.

    As for the golf, Arthur Hills did his best to tame the wild site of hills. It’s a challenging journey of awkward lies and sloping narrow fairways that kick balls into ponds, bunkers and jungle. The views from its elevated tees are one of a kind. The 15th tee seemingly overlooks the entire island. These panoramic vistas help make up for the lack of oceanfront holes and beachfront greens.

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