It hadn’t occurred to me as I was checking in at Grand Lido Braco that the staff – other than the front office people I knew for professional reasons – would remember a wandering duffer from Canada who had landed once again in Jamaica.
It had been nearly a year since my previous visit, but as I sat down for breakfast the next day at the oceanfront Victoria Market breakfast area, several of the grand ladies who I had joked and giggled with before acted as if it had only been a couple of days since I last saw them.
Their bright personalities that lit up as brightly as their canary yellow tropical shirts make breakfast on a breezy morning at this SuperClubs resort about more than just the coffee and orange juice they deliver. Their recall indicated that their gregarious manner is genuine instead of forced by company training.
The Grand Ladies of Grand Lido will set a pleasant tone to a Jamaican vacation that may not be all about golf, but one in which the game enhances a getaway with a significant other.
The experience can include a casual dinner on the outdoor La Pasta, the Japanese offerings of Munasan or the sumptuous offerings of the more formal Piacere. It may include a drink or two under swaying palms at a beachside bar or even – nudge, nudge/wink, wink – a skinny dip in the clothing optional area.
While all of these features may vary or have different names at resorts under the SuperClubs umbrella, they do have an attractive quality that is so important in this difficult economy. Once you’ve paid the initial fee, there is no need to reach into your pocket again, unless you’re reaching for a tee.
Golf is part of the all-inclusive deal at many Jamaican SuperClubs resorts, which include names such as Breezes, Grand Lido and Hedonism, to name a few. The only charges that guests will incur is a caddie fee plus tip, and charges for club rental or cart, depending on your needs.
While the SuperClubs courses are not the equal of higher-priced options in this area such as Cinnamon Hill, White Witch or Half Moon Bay, they are fun layouts for all skill levels, including the nine-hole Village Green executive layout at the front of Grand Lido Braco.
With eight par threes, the Village Green’s longest hole is 252 yards from the blue tees and wraps around water that can come into play with an errant tee shot. The Village Green is a test of wedges for the more experienced player and a non-threatening hour or so for neophytes.
The tougher test came the next day at the showpiece SuperClubs Golf Club at Runaway Bay, a par 72 parkland course that opened in 1960. Also on the grounds is the Golf Academy at Breezes Runaway Bay, which is also open to guests of SuperClubs resorts for practice or a lesson.
The academy also offers practice greens, a multi-bay driving range and video program, while Canadian PGA or PGA of America members often visit to serve as guest instructors, along with the resident teaching staff.
The wind was calm the day I played, but the locals say it is often gusting to make its 6,870 yards seem even longer on a course that can also be played from more forward tees to make it an enjoyable experience for high handicappers, as well.
There’s a touch of home at SuperClubs Montego Bay at Ironshore, a course designed in 1972 by Canadian Robert Moote that is also available to guests of Breezes Montego Bay a par-72 that stretches to 6,633 yards and features a recently renovated clubhouse.
Although it was the roughest of the three 18-hole courses played on this trip, it has potential if improvements if planned improvements are made.
The round at Ironshore was played on moving day from Grand Lido Braco to Grand Lido Negril, where the nearby Negril Hills Country Club is a hilly roller-coaster that definitely requires a cart for all but the most fit golfers on this lush, green layout that plays to 6,333 yards.
For more information, see the website, www.superclubs.com