This should be one of the shortest reports on record, because there really are only a few words that could adequately describe these two golf facilities....Unbelievable and Awesome!
As a guest of Sandals Royal Caribbean, in years gone by I could avail myself of a relationship that this resport had with the old Ironshore course across the street from the property. Back then, with nothing to compare it to, the course seemed enjoyable and adequate. Sandals has broke off this relationship now that Ironshore was bought by Superclubs - Superclubs loss, my gain!!!!
If you EVER get the chance to play either Cinnamon Hill or the White Witch, jump at it. Plain and Simple. Cinnamon Hill is loosely affiliated with the Wyndham Hotel in Montego Bay. I was able to make Tuesday tee time reservations the previous Sunday thru the concierge office at my hotel. Upon arrival at the clubhouse, I was greeted by a host who took my clubs and escorted me to the pro shop to check in. Green fees were $130.00 US. When I exited the pro shop with card and receipt in hand I was introduced to my caddy and playing partners for the morning.
You see, my wife doesnt golf....and she hung out by the resort pool while I "hit that stupid ball into the little hole"....I'm sure that you all know the drill!
I thought it was excellent that the course paired me with a 3-some so that I wouldnt be out alone. Green fees included the caddy and a shared electric cart - one caddy per twosome.The caddys have it pretty good; one takes a position up the fairway watching your drives and the other stays at the tee and explains each hole for you. They do know the course distances and are excellent at reading the greens - grain and wind play a role in putting here like you wouldnt beleive, so when a caddy says that your ball will break uphill, LISTEN to him!
The course was well equipped with a snack bar and several beverage carts that made the rounds and caught up to us every couple of holes. Take a bottle of cold water with you to get you started - its important to stay well hydrated there!
The course wasnt overly long from the mens tees but still proved to be challenging and very picturesque. It was certainly very good value for the price. The holes kind of wrapped their way up around a huge hill (little mountain?) affording some very pretty views of the water and coastal areas around Eastern Montego Bay and then took a dip and actually went right down to the seashore beside the Wyndham hotel where a few holes were played over the beach from tee to green. The entire round took about 3 1/2 hours and we played at a respectable pace.
The course was in fine condition with very green fairways (good irrigation system), flat tees and undulating greens. I found the bunkers to be well sanded, raked and contoured. We each tipped our caddy $ 20.00 for the day- they were well worth it! This course was actually in better condition than a lot of the courses I play in Southern Ontario, Canada in July.
On a scale from 1 to 10, I'd rate Cinnamon Hill at least 8 1/2 and would not hesitate to play there again.
Now for the real task - trying to describe a morning at The White Witch. I'll get to it in a few minutes when I explain my first conversation with my caddy. This course is owned by the Ritz Carleton and is an absolute MUST play. First class all the way. I was fortunate enough to find a web site that referred me to the course and I was actually able to book my tee time a week in advance by email. My web crawling put me in touch with an Executive Admin Assistant from the property who coordinated everything for me - 'cudos' Tracy, and thank you again!
This property is further up the same mountain that houses Cinnamon Hill. The drive to the clubhouse is steep and winds up a paved road to the beautiful white structure perched on a plateau with an absolutely unbelievable view - dinner on their patio would be worth any price - period!
I was met by a greeter who took my name and clubs and accompanied me into the club house. There I was given a brief tour of the mens room, locker room and pro shop and introduced to the manager who signed me in and took my payment. The fees here were $189.00 and included time on their driving range, greens fees, caddy and souvenir pewter bag tag. I'd have paid twice that if they asked! There is a huge putting green in front of the club house which also boasts a real nice restaurant. The driving range is near the first tee, but oriented to the East (the first hole plays to the north) so you're actually practicing off the same mountain precipice, just hitting your range balls in another direction. I do mean precipice too, as the drop off to the landing area must be at least a hundred feet. The range does accommodate your hitting every club though, and there are a number of target greens, way way down there, for you to aim at.
At this point, I was introduced to my caddy for the day - same arrangement as at Cinnamon Hill with 2 caddies per group. We went over to the first tee and I was awestruck. He asked me it I was OK. I mentioned before that I would try to describe a morning at The White Witch for you. The nearest thing that I can think of is suggesting to you that this must be what it feels like the first day that you wake up in heaven. The view is spectacular from literally every tee on the course. I'll try and post some pictures for you so you'll see for yourself. It's hard to believe a golf course so beautiful that they must have had a difficult time selecting a signature hole, but that's what you'll be faced with here. If this were Disney, there would be hundreds of 'Kodak Picture Place' signs up everywhere!
The golf course itself is a very good test of golf. It is in excellent condition - flat tees, beautifully manicured lush fairways and huge undulating greens. The bunkers are plentiful and play fantastic - take my word, because I was in my fair share of them! The caddies are extremely knowledgeable and know every blade of grass on this course. I've played La Costa, Pebble, Torrey Pines and a bunch of world class Canadian courses, but none of them held a stick to The White Witch. 18 great holes of golf without gimmicks, just pure clean enjoyment. There was bit of construction along one or two fairways but it didnt detract from the game or the beauty of this track at all. The Again, we tipped our caddies $20.00 which was well worth it.
I was paired with another 3-some here and we made it around the course in exactly 4 hours. There were several beverage carts and we stopped at the turn as well to grab a sandwich and a Red Stripe. Tee to green, this has to be one of the best golf courses that I've ever seen - when I asked the Manager why there hasnt been any tournaments there (Johnny Walker, World Championships, LPGA, Sr. Tour etc.) he shared an interesting fact with me - this course would be pure hell to walk - trying to get around it without a cart is darned near impossible, so it doesnt lend itself to that type of play. The elevation changes hole to hole could be as much as a couple of hundred feet in some cases from tee to green and I found that it really affected my depth perception a lot. That's when the caddy came in handy!
On a scale of 1 to 10, the White Witch gets a 12, plain and simple, and if you're a golfer and you get to MoBay and you don't play here, then you've missed the opportunity of a lifetime!
I'll try and post some pictures for anyone who's interested. If you would like any additional information or detail, please dont hesitate to post a question on this site and I'll try my bset to answer it.
Thanks for reading about my trip!