As if a visit to Key West needed any added fun, to think golf can be on the list when you are on an island that is only 2 miles by 6 miles, is just a bonus. Then to find out it was designed by renowned architect Rees Jones, you figure it might be a lot better than it has to be, since it is the only option for a Championship Golf Course in over 100 miles.
What a pleasant surprise! Playing about 6,500 yards from the tips, the course has a terrific variety of short and long, narrow and wide open holes throughout the 200 acres. The wind direction and strength is a daily variation and we caught the typical trade winds gusting at about 20 miles per hour adding in a real challenge. The first impression of the course was on the putting green next to the first tee. The greens were so fast and smooth we knew we were in for a fun day, kudos to the golf course Superintendent and his crew.
The front nine starts off with an open Par-4 but the 2nd hole steps up and actually played longer at 412 yards into the wind, than the Par-5 3rd, playing at 475 yards, down wind. Once I got used to the large, dinosaur looking Iguanas walking around, I was able to settle into the demand on accuracy required by the 4th – 8th holes. The 4th is a short Par-4 with a bunker down the left you want to avoid and trees down the right so you can lay up off the tee and have a mid-iron in or get aggressive and enjoy a sand wedge in if you can keep it straight. The 5th is a benign looking Par-3, but with the wind in your face it plays a couple clubs longer and if you cannot miss the two bunkers guarding the left and right, a par is nearly impossible. Par is possible on 6 with a ball in the fairway, but no matter where you hit it on 7, it is one of the toughest approach shots on the course. The green is protected by mangroves short and right, but if you bail out left, up and down is a real challenge. Four through 7 set you up for the signature shot on the Par-3, 8th hole. A mid length shot completely over the mangroves, which make the yardage look longer than it really plays, so club selection and hitting a solid shot are imperative.
My favorite holes on the back nine were the 12th, 16th and 18th holes. The Par-4, 12th hole is short by most standards, but a carry of about 220 yards over the water down the left and a well placed bunker in the middle of the fairway put a focus on placement off the tee. The beautiful Par-3, 16th is a short hole as well, but it is tucked into the trees and has another carry over water to a wide and sloped green. The Par-5 finishing hole is a great way to end the round and any bets if you have a close match going. The water is reachable off the tee, which we found out after our first guy teed off, saving the rest of us from the same result. The water then continues up the entire hole on this slight dog leg right. Into the wind, it is a layup on the 2nd shot all day long, but get the wind behind you and get it in the fairway, a long hitter might have a chance. The green is one of the more challenging on the course and makes birdie a really great score for a Par-5.
Key West Golf Club gives you the feel of the only Caribbean Golf Course in the U.S. and the wildlife does not disappoint. Throw in the Iguana at the top of the driving range net (still not sure if it was real or not) and you have a first class golf experience that is perfect for a laid back vacation in paradise.
To learn more about Key West Golf Club, check out – www.keywestgolf.com.