Crack open a Sands Light and start heading down from the clubhouse toward the 18th green. Make a quick left to watch Michelle Wei or Stacey Lewis tee off on the Par 3 third hole – evading 150 yards of water to rest comfortably on the green. Stay there for an hour, or as long as you desire, as the No. 2, 3 and 4 women golfers in the world take their hacks.
Had enough of feeling bad about your own golf game? OK, let’s move on.
Cross back over near the 18th green and say hello to the friendly Bahamians helping to run the tournament. Maybe they’ll hand you over you a shot of some local John Watlings rum, maybe it’ll be a dance with one of the island’s beautiful Junkanoo dancers. Either way, you can’t lose.
Walk along the twisting and turning Par 5 18th hole. Listen to the sounds of perfect drives down the middle of the fairway, smell the salt from the turquoise Atlantic just ahead and watch the tall palms dance to the light ocean winds.
This is the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course. This is why you fell in love with the game in the first place.
Unfortunately, you already missed this year’s 4-day affair (20-year-old Hyo Joo Kim won with an 18-under 274), but The Bahamas will host the free-admittance tournament every January through 2018. Here’s how to have the best possible experience when you go next year.
Where to Stay:
Book your accommodations at the Riu Palace Paradise Island Hotel – an all-inclusive property located on a private beach, right next-door to Atlantis (casinos, comedy clubs, waterparks) and just 20 minutes from the Ocean Club. The deal includes a tremendous buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner and three separate restaurants of the Asian, steakhouse and seafood varieties. The rooms are exquisite, with balcony ocean views, bottles of Caribbean rum and top-notch Wi-Fi access. Have a drink at the hotel’s sports bar one of the nights, chatting it up with visitors from Montreal, Barcelona and beyond, and dine at the tapas-inspired Krystal. The squash soup appetizer and lamb curry entrée will help to appease your appetite after a long day walking the course.
Where to Eat:
If you’re looking for something familiar and fantastic, make a reservation at Luciano’s of Chicago – an Italian restaurant hidden amongst a forest of palm trees just 10 minutes from Riu. Start with a bowl of fresh lobster bisque, follow it up with a plate of chicken parmigiana and top the night off with the delectable chocolate bread pudding. If you need more confirmation of just how well-respected Luciano’s is, George Myers (yes, of the Myers Rum fame) dines there on a frequent basis.
But you can’t leave the Nassau-area without trying an authentic Bahamian dish and that dish should be had at Frankie Gone Bananas. Located in Arawak Cay, a bustling bayside row of local restaurants, bars and stores, Bananas serves up incredibly fresh seafood from the ocean in its backyard. Pair a grilled Mahi-Mahi with fries and the island staple of rice and peas (we need to make this a New England staple). Have the bartender mix you a cool drink of lime juice and white rum and ask for another when you’re done with the first. Watch the fishing boats glide along the pristine waters out in front of you. You’ll probably figure out why Frankie (whoever he was) went so bananas over this restaurant in the first place.
What to Do (besides golf):
There are sparkling beaches like Treasure Bay, boat tours of some of the 700 (yes, 700!) islands that make up the country, the 65-foot step Queen’s Staircase that you can scale to work off those rice and pea lunches and a newly-expanded 30,000-seat stadium where you can catch a local soccer match or the annual college football bowl game. But for a truly unique experience, a must-see attraction is Graycliff.
The boutique hotel and restaurant is located in a building built in 1740 – where pirates, rum runners and civil war soldiers have all resided/dined. Underneath Graycliff lies the third largest private wine cellar in the world, with total cost estimates ranging in the $10 million range and a case holding the oldest bottle on Earth – a Rudesheimer Apostelwein from 1727. So yeah, do your best not to knock any racks over.
Graycliff also houses a cigar-rolling factory, where Fidel Castro’s own personal roller once worked, and a newly-opened chocolate-making business. The chocolatier will take you through the slowly-disappearing, yet charming cocoa bean-to-chocolate process. You’ll get to sample the product from its bitter beginning to its sweet, sugary end.
And if you’re lucky, near the exit of the wine cellar, you might run into the jovial, colorful owner of Graycliff, Enrico Garzaroli. Hopefully he calls you over for a glass of wine and regales your group (in his thick Italian accent) with stories of his trip from Cuba to Nassau, the time Paul Newman made a woman faint at his hotel and his interesting connection to Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky.
And the golf
Besides Tom Weiskopf’s Ocean Club, there are six other golf courses on the island – designed by everybody from Robert Trent Jones, Jr. to Greg Norman to Jack Nicklaus. Tigers Woods holds an elite, 18-player tournament at The Albany Resort in New Providence and the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational has taken place at Ocean Club in years’ past. Joy Jibrilu, Director General of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, would like to bring even more PGA/LPGA tournaments to the island:
“Look what happened this weekend!” Jibrilu said. “The first hole-in-one on a Par 4 in LPGA history, the great weather, the welcoming atmosphere, 400 volunteers – we want more. We’re open to more.”
Hopefully this happens. It’ll give us more reasons to come back, crack open another Sands Light and roam from greens to tees in that affable Bahamian breeze.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?