Best Golf Courses in Puerto Rico

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, which means that it is controlled by the U.S government, without being part of the country. This fact is the reason why lots of Americans visit it for some luxury vacations, where golf is a total must.

The courses of the island (around 30) are mainly spread through different resorts, and most of them have similarities between them: great views of the Atlantic Ocean, palm trees and perfect playing conditions, while offering lots of amenities and comfortability. Most of them are not cheap, however, there are some exceptions.

Here is our top-10 list for the best public courses in the ‘island of enchantment’. Enjoy!

Best Golf Courses in (Province/State)

1. TPC Dorado Beach – East Course (Dorado)

Rating: 5.0/5.0

The city of Dorado stands in the northern side of the island of Puerto Rico, and due to its touristic attractiveness, it counts with some of the best golf courses of the island, all of them part of different resorts. From all of them, the Dorado Beach is the top facility, counting with 4 different courses: The East, the West, the Sugarcane and the Pineapple. However, they are doing some renovations, due to the damage that Hurricane Maria left in 2017, so make sure of calling beforehand and get informed about the current state of each course. In 2015, Dorado Beach was invited to join the TPC family, a distinctive that shows the support of the PGA and the great quality of the golfing here.

From the four courses, the favorite one is the East course, which counts with the design of legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr. in year 1958. Then, in year 2011, it was his son Robert Trent Jones Jr. who restored the track, adding 700 yards to the layout, reshaping the greens and bunkers, and changed the grass to create a modern course which still distills a genuine classic essence.

There are plenty of spectacular holes here, some of them with outstanding views of the ocean, such as the 1st, 9th and 18th. Apart from these fantastic holes, another signature one may be the famous par 5 4th, featuring a double dogleg in a ‘Z’ form, two lakes and a green with views to the ocean. 

There is also the possibility of playing accompanied by a caddie, an experience that will make you feel like a real pro!

2. Royal Isabela (Isabela)

Rating: 4.9/5.0

Charlie Pasarell was a Puerto Rican tennis player, known for his success in the doubles circuit in the 60s and 70s. Although he was retired a long time ago, in 2009, together with his brother Stanley and architect David Pfaff (a former associate of the famous Pete Dye) created an 18-hole layout in Isabela, in the northwestern side of the island.

What really makes this course great is its tremendous location, on top of some 200 and 300 feet cliffs, overlooking the ocean. Apart from the spectacular views, it has a classic links style: the elevation changes, the fact that there are almost no trees and its fast and rolling terrain are the main characteristics here, and what gives this course a fun and enjoyable round of golf. 

There are numerous memorable holes at Royal Isabela. One of them is the 6th, called ‘Fork in the Road’: an original design that plays from the tee over a pond, to reach a fairway that suddenly splits in two different holes, where you have to choose whether going to the right, and play a par 4 hole; or to the left, and play a par 5.

Another great hole is the 9th, called ‘The Devil’s Pond’ or ‘La Charca del Diablo’ in Spanish: a par 3 that plays to an island green.

Another favorite hole is the 17th, an intimidating par 3 which plays over a cliff. 

3. Palmas Athletic Club – Flamboyan (Humacao)

Rating: 4.83/5.0

Palmas Athletic Club is one of the biggest resorts in the Caribbean, and its offers a wide range of activities: here you can play tennis, go fishing, ride horses and of course, golfing. Two championship courses lie here: the Flamboyan and the Palm, being the former the strongest one.

The Flamboyan course was designed by the renowned architect Rees Jones, son of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and opened its doors to the public in year 1998. Water plays an important role here, in different forms: a 20-acre lake, the Candelero River and the Caribbean Sea come into play in some of the holes here.

The signature hole is the 12th, a par 3 with a carry over a canal to an elevated green with some breathtaking views of the island of Vieques as background. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.) Another great par 3 is the 8th hole, with a carry over water to a peninsula green protected by two huge bunkers.

4. Coco Beach – Championship (Rio Grande) 

Rating: 4.7/5.0

Currently counting with 36 holes, the enormous resort of Coco Beach started with 18 holes in 2004, and two years later another 18 were added. At that time, Tom Kite, the designer, crated four distinctive nines, called the Palm, the Mountain, the Lakes and the Ocean. Finally, the Lakes and the Ocean were united to form the Championship Course, and the Palm and the Mountain formed the International Course.

As a curiosity, this course was formerly named Trump International, however, it was never owned by Donald Trump. It was a strategy from former owners, in order to try to boost the facility. However, in 2015 the resort filed for bankruptcy and went back to its original name.

The Championship counts with a variable terrain, although it is mainly flat, water hazards and a really well-maintained layout, making it the strongest of the two courses. Its signature hole is the 12th, featuring the best views of the ocean and the beach.

As for rates, expect a fee of around $200 for a round. Some may think it is a bit overpriced, however, it is what you can expect being in one of the most touristic attractions of the island. 

5. Bahia Beach Resort and Golf Club (Rio Grande)

Rating: 4.6/5.0

Bahia Beach is located also in Rio Grande, the Bahia Beach offers a beautiful jungle-style course along the ocean, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

The course routes along lagoons and jungle throughout the majority of the 18 holes, giving a great feel of isolation in most of it. However, the best part comes at the end: holes from 16 to 18 go along the beach (although hole 17 has been now become inland for development reasons). From these, the signature hole can be the 16th: a par 4 with the ocean breeze coming from your right, only separated by a line of palm trees.

At Bahia Beach you can also find caddie services, a fully stocked pro shop, instruction programs and group tournaments.

6. El Conquistador Resort (Fajardo)

Rating: 4.5/5.0

The course at el Conquistador was designed by Arthur Hills and opened to the public in year 1992. The resort is located on top of a cliff, so lots of elevation changes, blind shots and jaw-breaking panoramic views of the ocean are present throughout the whole course. Great fun and challenges in a layout that does not fit the typical resort course style!

Some say the signature hole of this course comes at the very beginning, with the 1st hole offering everything you are about to experience at the rest of the round: with a tee box located at the highest point of the layout, with some splendid views of the island, this hole counts with a dogleg to the right which creates a blind shot. However, those brave enough to go for it and cut the corner can end up with a second shot close or on the green.

Apart from golf, there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy at El Conquistador Resort: tennis, spa services, swimming pools, walking tours, a water park and much more!

7. ​Coco Beach – International (Rio Grande)

Rating: 4.4/5.0

Created in 2007, only two years later than the Championship, the International was also designed by Tom Kite.

The International Course at Coco Beach has its own fanbase, and some people prefer it to the Championship, however, most players say that it is a bit below its sister course. The main difference is that the International offers far more elevation changes, due to the Mountain nine, and offering some great vistas of the El Yunque, the highest mountain in Puerto Rico. As for the Palms nine, the layout presents some palm forests and wetlands.

In a nutshell, a great alternative for those not able to try the Championship Course at Coco Beach!

8. TPC Dorado Beach Plantation – Sugarcane (Dorado)

Rating: 4.3/5.0

Also built by Robert Trent Jones Sr, the Sugarcane course at the TPC Dorado Beach is also a fantastic layout. In the year 2005 it went through some renovations by Ray Floyd, who added 6 new holes and other three were remodeled (all of them from the back nine), having as a result a completely new track. Together with the Pineapple course, they form the Plantation Club, the Sugarcane being the most challenging one.  

Deep bunkers, contoured greens and water hazards in form of rivers and lakes give this course some challenge and beauty at the same time. The difficulty lies especially in the back nine, where par is a great score for most of its hole. The key here is to have a good start, scoring some birdies in the front nine, and then try to resist the tough back nine!

Here it lies also a brand new 50,000 square-foot clubhouse, for enjoying some rest after an extenuating round, with a restaurant, a pro shop and a great deck to relax watching other golfers end their rounds. 

9. Costa Caribe – 1 to 18 (Ponce)

Rating: 4.1/5.0

Near the southern city of Ponce, the second most populated city in Puerto Rico, lies the Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club, in the Costa Caribe Resort. Opening for play in 2003, the course was designed by the American architect Bruce Besse Jr., who crafted 27 holes divided in three nines. From these, our recommendation is to play the first 18 holes of the layout.

The signature hole here is undoubtedly the 12th, a beautiful yet intimidating par 3 that plays to an island green, that will test your accuracy in a huge way.

The facility also counts with practice areas, such as a driving range, chipping area and putting greens. A 35,000 square-foot clubhouse complete the layout.

But the great advantage of this course are the rates. While the rest of the list is full of luxury resorts, all of them rounding the $200 fee for a round, Costa Caribe offers some reasonable prices, perfect for people who does not want to spend too much: green fees range from $45 to $75 per round!

10. Rio Mar (Rio Grande)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

The Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa counts with two golf courses, the original Ocean and the River, both of them created by acclaimed golf architects: The Ocean was designed by Tom and George Fazio in 1975; and the River by the two-time Major champion Greg Norman in 1996.

Both courses are great options, each of them with their own strength. The River is a bit longer than its sister course, offering a track that goes along the Mameyes River and with stunning views of the El Yunque Mountain and the Atlantic. As for the Ocean, it has a signature hole that it is said to be one of the best in the Caribbean: the 16th is a long par 3 playing to a green skirting the coastline, an absolute delight of a hole!

Wrap up

So, these are our choices for the best ten courses of Puerto Rico. In case you are planning on visiting the Caribbean, and specifically this island, make sure of looking them out and calling for availability beforehand! Once there, only three things to do: have fun, enjoy the Caribbean weather and treat yourself a little!


Author: Abraham

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