Tryall Club â€“ Montego Bay Jamaica â€“ December 2009
Since our trip to Jamaica took us to a resort West of Montego Bay this time (Grand Palladium) I finally had the excuse I had been waiting for to play Tryall. Previous Jamaican vacations in Ocho Rios and MoBay had provided me the pleasure of playing at Upton (Sandals GC) Ironshore, Cinnamon Hill and the White Witch and I did submit a trip report and photos of the latter 2 courses to this Forum a few years ago. Tryall is located about 30 minutes West of the MoBay airport by car.
I had previewed the Tryall Club on their web site well before we left for our Holiday and learned a lot about its storied past; the Johnny Walker World Championship Tournaments, big names like Norman and Faldo and Couples, celebrity residences abutting the course (Lennox Lewis) and a couple of signature golf holes that have been used in Print and Television advertisements for 30 years all added to my anticipation. The bus that took us to our resort passed the course upon our arrival, and I must say that the sunny green fairways and white sand bunkers did look mighty inviting.
Our hotel Guest Services representative called the course for me on a Tuesday to check into tee time availability for later in the week and was told that since I was a â€˜singleâ€™ and it was a slow period for them (early December) that getting a tee off time would be â€˜no problem monâ€™ â€“ just show up and they would accommodate me. Boy did they ever, and then some!
I took a JUTA cab over to the golf course on Thursday December 10th at 7:45 a.m. so as to be on the course before the real heat of the day began â€“ they say to try and go out either early in the morning or mid-afternoon as between 11:00 and 2:00 the sun is at its highest and hottest. I checked in at the Pro Shop, arranged for my greens fee ticket, rental clubs, caddy and cart and proceeded to the first tee area where I was to â€˜selectâ€™ my rental clubs. The good news is that their rentals were pretty good quality â€“ I had my choice of Titleist Cavity back irons or Cleveland Cavity Backs - both sets had Callaway Woods and utility clubs and there were 4 or 5 different shapes and weights of putter to select as well. I brought my own golf balls, tees, glove and shoes but the pro shop was very well stocked with supplies if you needed them.
I made my way over to the putting green to warm up a bit before I teed off (they do have a full driving range there as well in case you want to hit a few balls prior to teeing off) and was introduced to Glen, my caddy for the round. The next couple of hours were about to make poor Glenâ€™s day pretty miserable as he was about to spend a lot of time in the woods, tall grass, marshy areas and trees, raking sand traps and looking for wayward golf shots. Glen carried himself as an ultimate professional that day, his course knowledge was extraordinary, he was acquainted with virtually every blade of grass on the greens, every subtle nuance and break, and made my morning at Tryall a real pleasure â€“ thanks Glen!
As much as Glen made my day bearable, the real treat resulted from a little idle conversation at the first tee box about Tiger Woods extra-curricular activities of late. I got into a nice chat with a real gentleman who introduced himself to me simply as Robert. It turns out that Robert is the Pro at Tryall and when I asked him if heâ€™d like to join me, he grabbed his clubs and off we went. What an opportunity â€“ 18 holes of golf at one of my â€˜bucket list coursesâ€™ and a playing lesson from the course pro at the same timeâ€¦now I ask does it get any better than that?
The golf course was everything that I had hoped for and more â€“ a beautiful combination of flat holes and hillside holes, ponds rivers and the ocean, with a few absolutely â€˜to die forâ€™ views (I have submitted a selection of photos for the Forum Moderator to post if he could) and a couple of truly memorable signature golf holes that Iâ€™ll take with me forever. Every tee that we stood on provided a view like that in an art gallery - hole after hole of gorgeous flowering shrubs and trees, tropical foliage, beautiful manicured fairways and in many cases the green-blue Caribbean in the distance. (actually OB left in one case!) The course was in excellent condition, especially when you consider the effect of the constant sun and heat beating down on the grass. The greens were in fine shape and held the ball well, broke true and provided some vicious pin placements. The tees were flat and well groomed as were the bunkers, and the rough was the toughest â€˜birds nestâ€™ type of grass Iâ€™ve ever seen. When your ball rolls in that stuff it literally disappears â€“ without Glen, Iâ€™d have needed a dozen more golf balls than I brought with me!
From the Blue tees the course pays out to 6775 yards â€“ we played the White tees and the 6238 yards certainly provided me with a great test of golf. Unlike a lot of resort golf courses, Tryall is tight and tough. Thereâ€™s lateral OB on at least a dozen holes and even a slightly sprayed drive can put you deeply in jail â€“ the forest, rough, hazards, or ocean ! It was a real treat to play 18 holes with Robert â€“ being able to watch how the game is supposed to be played was definitely an added bonus! I donâ€™t know how he had the patience to try and try to get me to into a full turn and weight shift, but he was the most gracious host and was a true pleasure to play with. Thanks for making this Canadianâ€™s Tryall experience one that Iâ€™ll never forget, Robert!
From start to finish we completed the round in exactly three hours and I was back in the pool at the resort by 11:30. This may seem difficult to believe, but for the entire 3 hours that we were on the course, I saw exactly 1 other two-some. Quite simply, if you ever get the opportunity to play this wonderful Jamaican golf course seize it â€“ you will not be disappointed. From hitting your drive through the ancient hand-made aquaduct to watching the ocean breezes alter the flight of your ball 20 yards back onto dry land on the signature par three 4th hole, this will be one golf course that youâ€™ll never forget. Robert commented to me on several occasions that Tryall was the best test of golf in Jamaicaâ€¦he was right.