When you use the term “royal blue” with the ever-scenic Caribbean, it can mean a lot of different things.
It can certainly refer to the sky and the weather, which are blue and full of sunshine for a vast majority of the year. It can also refer to the Atlantic Ocean waters that lap up to the shores of this island golf kingdom in a variety of scenic spots.
But, thankfully in this case, it refers to the spectacular Royal Blue Golf Club, the Jack Nicklaus design in Nassau, adjacent to the equally spectacular Baha Mar Resort which forms one of the most inviting inlets of this small island and one of the easiest to access.
The annual host of the fabled Derek Jeter Celebrity tournament, Royal Blue is open to all during the year and is almost walking distance from the resort or just a few minutes via van from the huge multi-tower resort.
Like many great courses, Royal Blue, which been ranked as high as No. 1 in a variety of Bahamas surveys, did not start out with this name or this routing. It was originally known as Cable Beach in the early 2000s, featuring a flat, almost Florida-like layout, which is not exactly what you want to see if you’ve flown this far from the US of A.
When Nicklaus finally opened the course in 2017 with some routing help from Texas architect Chet Williams, it featured a lot more natural scenery … from the lush natural vegetation, limestone outcroppings, plenty of water, both manmade and natural views, plus sand and 7,100 yards of all the challenge you need.
Of course, since you’re in paradise, you don’t want too much struggle, so move up to the correct tees for your game, avoid the water and enjoy the views.
Most of those come on the back nine. Where the front is fairly flat with lots of lakes and bunkers and other places to devour your golf ball, the back is scenic, tight and has even more places to capture your prized golf balls. But you’ll definitely enjoy the views looking for your misplayed shots.
Case in point is the short par-4 10th , which you’re hitting from an elevated tee to what almost looks like a quarry around the back of the green after mastering the uphill approach. The par-3 12th is another short and scenic challenge with plenty of sting to it. The par-4 uphill 14th hole is played as the No. 1 handicap hole, with plenty of places to miss the fairway, and try hacking your way from the Bahamas jungle with a large limestone wall behind the green. Meaning a too-aggressive approach could come rocking right back to you.
The par-4 15th hole is back downhill, but it all leads to the signature par-3 16th hole, where a greatly elevated tee box offers you a dazzling view of the ocean in the distance and Lake Cunningham which touches the green all over the back side of the putting area, just close enough to drown another misplaced shot.
The 16th measures 165 yards from the back to a narrow at first, but then a widening green with the lake very much in play. Here, there’s no future in being either short or long; both can be gone. It’s a daunting tee shot, but a great reward if you hit the green or sorrow if you come up short.
There are two uphill holes hard against the native limestone to finish until you see the well-appointed clubhouse, which includes a well-stocked souvenir shop, on-course dining and a courtyard with a large stone water fountain.
If it’s enough golf to challenge and entertain celebrities like Jeter, Gronk and Ken Griffey, Jr., then it will be plenty for you.
But let’s face it; you didn’t come all this way just to play golf, even one as top-ranked as Royal Blue. There is plenty to see at Baha Mar Resort, which is unique in every way.
It doesn’t really seem right to use the term Texas-sized to a resort in the middle of the Caribbean, but the description certainly fits with Baha Mar.
It’s actually three resorts in one. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar: The distinct East and West Towers of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar consist of 1,800 contemporary rooms, including 230 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. Guest rooms offer lavish amenities, contemporary décor and outdoor balconies for guests to enjoy the fresh ocean air and views of the beach, resort pools, dramatic fountain shows and Royal Blue Golf Club
Next is the SLS Baha Mar: SLS brings its standards of style, luxury and service to the Bahamas with the arrival of SLS Baha Mar. The hotel consists of 299 guestrooms and suites designed in light, modern Caribbean décor, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and spectacular views of Cable Bay. The lobby at SLS Baha Mar overlooks the breathtaking turquoise waters and resort pools. With over 12,000 square feet of unique event space, SLS Baha Mar offers a myriad of experiences for business, incentive or social events. The property also features Privilege Pool, an upscale, invite-only lounge pool with open-air cabanas and dedicated pool concierge. The destination is also home to Skybar, Nassau’s only rooftop lounge.
Finally, Rosewood Baha Mar: Rosewood Baha Mar opened in June 2018 as a sanctuary of exclusivity within Baha Mar enclave. Featuring the modern charm of British colonial architecture with luxury amenities and contemporary beach cottage interiors, the rooms, suites and villas at Rosewood Baha Mar epitomize Bahamian refinement and sophistication. Sense, a Rosewood Spa and private gaming salons. Rosewood features multiple cocktail and culinary concepts, including Manor Bar, The Library, Costa and Café Boulud.
Trust me; there is no Gold-Silver-Bronze in this category, as all three combined to feature 2,300 rooms with multiple suites, spas, dining and all manner of creature comforts.
There are 45 food and beverage outlets on site, along with 30 retail outlets and, at 100,000 square feet, the largest casino in the Caribbean.
Among my favorite places to dine are The Regatta Buffett. which has a wide variety of local and American food items for lunch and dinner. Why decide when you can just have it all? There is also The Swimming Pig – a winner for its name alone—set right on the beachfront.
Café Madeleine is a French café and bakery and is the perfect way to start your Baha Mar day with some coffee and a few items off the menu, and views through the palm branches to the beach in the distance. Of course, I’m also partial to the Skybar, which sits on top of the SLS Baha Mar and is the only rooftop skybar Nassau with soaring views of the entire complex that covers hundreds of acres.
If there is a non-golfer in your life (we all seem to have them), the latest attraction, the 15-Acre Bahia Bay Water Park, should have them covered. There all types of water slides, large to small to scary, wave pools and private cabanas to rent just to watch the world go scenically by.
Of course, you’ll need a map or a large supply of breadcrumbs to remember where you went or where you’re going next, but there are much worse problems to have in paradise.
There is plenty of Royal here, plenty of Blue and plenty of Caribbean Baha Mar fun to check out at any time of the year.
For more information, go to bahamar.com or bahamar.com/golf.