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Competition can be fierce on Bermuda, but that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no fun. As Fat Tuesday (sail number BER113) crosses the finish line a few minutes later, we hear a shout – “Heads up!” – as several cans of frosty Corona Light cannonball their way into our boat. I pass a beer to Ramsdale, who cracks it open as he jots down finishing results. “Fat Tuesday, you say? Well, we’ll certainly be adjusting their time,” he says with a mischievous smile.

HamiltonIn downtown Hamilton, a businessman commutes on his scooter past Bacardi’s global headquarters, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. 

Being smack dab in the middle of a sail race is a dizzying experience. (Contrast that with my proposal to Neil Speight to make a George Plimptonesque cameo in the Evening Cricket League: “It’s probably not a good idea to let those boys start throwing a hard ball at 110 kilometres an hour toward your head.”) But by now, my own competitive monster is screaming to be let out. Golf is my best chance to show the locals my stuff. Bermuda crams seven courses across the islands’ 54 square kilometres – more golf courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world – and attracts the world’s best for an exclusive tournament each October called the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Only four pro golfers are invited each year: the winners of golf’s four so-called major tournaments.

“The most important rule is to have fun,” says Andrew Trott-Francis, the dreadlocked caddy master at Port Royal Golf Course, as I follow in the footsteps of Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy by teeing off at the Grand Slam’s current venue. Hogwash, I think. By now, it’s clear that I’ve caught Bermuda’s sporting fever. With the blue waters of the Atlantic framing a picture-postcard (and not much larger) green, my nerve-wracking tee shot on Port Royal’s par-3 16th hole yields a near miss for birdie.

Port Royal Golf CourseThe 17th green and 18th tee at Port Royal Golf Course. 

The next day, I press my luck at the Mid Ocean Club, a 1921 design that hosted the Grand Slam from 2007 to 2008 before the tournament shifted over to Port Royal. The club’s starter, Dennis Joell, peers out from under his straw hat as I take practice swings that brush over the perfectly manicured Cynodon dactylon, more popularly known as Bermuda grass. “They say the worst round of golf is better than the best day at the office,” says Joell after my drive disappears against the backdrop of a single white stack of Cumulus congestus far on the horizon. “But they didn’t mean an office like I’ve got here.”

Coming home four hours later on the long par-4 18th hole, I try to spot Joell in his hilltop workplace, perched next to the pink clubhouse that has hosted Churchill, Eisenhower and Pearson. I hope he’s watching – all of them, really – as I stripe a beauty of a drive and hit the second shot pure to the front edge. But then I muck up the short game, and I’m still thinking of what could have been 20 minutes later as I sip Amstel Light at Mid Ocean’s beautiful, knotty Bermuda-cedar bar. Peering out the picture windows that frame the choppy, perfect blue waters of the Atlantic, I let go of my defeats little by little. Even on vacation, I don’t like to lose, but maybe I’ve come to the right place.

Mid Ocean ClubMid Ocean Club

Travel Essentials

01 The Bermuda National Sports Centre in Devonshire Parish is the place to catch matches by Bermuda’s national football and cricket squads on the island’s top pitches. Since the summer of 2013, the Centre also features a true Olympic-quality 50-metre outdoor swimming pool that’s open to the public.

02 Discovered in 1905 by two teenagers chasing their lost cricket ball down a hole, Crystal Caves is the awe-inspiring result of 30 million years’ worth of subterranean geological formation – an ideal spot to learn the difference between stalagmites and stalactites.

03 Captain Mike Voegeli has run Bermuda Windsail Charters for more than three decades. Today he crews a fleet of three Morgan yachts with his daughter Melissa, leading catered sailing excursions on the Great Sound to destinations like Paradise Lake.

04 Though the upstairs balcony’s view of Hamilton Harbour is terrific, true punters know that Flanagan’s Irish Pub really livens up in its downstairs Outback Sports Bar, where locals take in English Premier League football and all other manner of sports on 24 screens, and wash the action down with a pint of Boddingtons.

05 Among Bermuda’s seven golf courses, two stand out: Port Royal is a target-style public course from 1970 that hosts the PGA’s annual Grand Slam of Golf tournament, while the Mid Ocean Club, which dates to 1921, is a private links-style course that offers limited public tee times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Royal Palms is a Bermudian boutique hotel in the classic sense of the word, with an attentive and welcoming staff dishing up hospitality and charm to guests of the coral-toned hotel’s 32 rooms – not to mention a relaxing breakfast that’s best enjoyed on the colonial-style wraparound porch.




Getting There

Air Canada offers the most non-stop flights to Bermuda from Canada, with five weekly non-stop flights from Toronto.

Comments… or add another

Maurice Steede

Wednesday, February 5th 2014 09:23
Tuff Dogs went on to win the Bermuda 2013 Evening League Championship in convincing fashion!!!
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