Named after Annie Palmer (no relation to Arnold), the White Witch of Rose Hall, the White Witch course employs some of the same mix of beauty and voodoo magic sure to distract you from your round. The course has gone through some ownership pains, but was well taken care of in the interim, is open and as lush as ever.
Having only been open again for about 6 weeks after ownership changed at the Ritz Carlton resort, the course was maintained during the transfer and was in perfect condition. There was not much play on the day we enjoyed the course, but that is sure to change as word gets out that this gem is open again. The greens were fast and smooth a pleasure to putt for Bermuda, the fairways were perfect, and the rough not too deep, I was even able to hit a solid 5 wood out of a down lie in the rough, not typical of Bermuda grass. Some of the bunkers need to be rebuilt but otherwise the sand was excellent.
Rating TTTT 4/5 Green Speed Fast
The White Witch also starts with a par 5, and a beautiful view out over the Caribbean, a downhill tee shot, and an uphill second and third shot await, it is a nice start, but the voodoo queen awaits on the next tee, a downhill par 3 over water, while you can miss a shot on one, not so on two. The course wanders the mountainside, with 14 holes having views of the sea. The jungle is lush, don’t hit there or you are not coming back without a machete and a guide. The fairways are wide, the bunkering is fairly penal, and the views are magnificent. Rarely do you see another hole on the golf course, and that is from a distance. Pay attention to your caddie, they are knowledgeable about the changes in elevation.
The greens have some severe slopes and contours. Getting your approaches in the correct location is imperative to scoring or our voodoo hostess will work her magic on your score. Most players love challenging but fair golf courses, this is an excellent example, hit good shots in the right spots, and you can score, hit poor shots and you pay a price, most times it is not a horrible price. Hit a bad tee shot, and you can be looking at a penalty but you are not forced on hole after hole to hit heroic shots. Play to your strengths and you will be fine, unless Annie sneaks out of one of her tunnels and strikes a curse upon your game.
Rating TTTT 9/10 (maybe Pebble Beach would get a 5 tee, but then they have not invited me, yet)
On the range you can watch your ball sail for miles, out toward the Caribbean Sea, there is a large practice green, and a nice pro shop, the grill had yet to reopen, but the drink cart was accessible.
While not having played the Tryall Club, the most famous course in Jamaica, I would find it hard to believe that Tryall is better than the White Witch, which deserves mention among the great courses of the world. Not many places combine a strong course with the stunning views like White Witch. I have played a few of the top courses in the US, and this course is better than courses like Ohio’s Longaberger, which ranks in the top 100, maybe not by much, but the shot values are similar, and Longaberger has some great views, but none match the hole by hole panorama that is White Witch.
The pro, who runs both Cinnamon Hill, and White Witch was interested in my take, since there is a debate as to which is the better course. The White Witch is the stronger test, the greens are more demanding, and wayward tee shots are penalized on every hole at White Witch, there are a few that have some room at Cinnamon to spray it. While Cinnamon has a couple holes that are more than a match for the best at the Witch, and the wind at Cinnamon is more of a factor, the nod still goes by a witches broom to White Witch. But if you are staying at either the Hilton or Ritz, play both, you won’t be disappointed.
For more information, visit the website www.whitewitchgolf.com
For more pictures visit: https://whitewitchgc.shutterfly.com/
For tournament results and information visit neohgolf.com