"Take the 5-iron m'lady," my caddie instructed as we approached my second shot. In my mind, I
questioned that club selection. I had never hit a 5-iron over 100 yards and the green was easily at
least that distance, if not a little more. "Trust your caddie," I told myself, and obediently took my
5-iron. I carefully positioned myself. "More to the left," she said. "More," she repeated when I
didn't move as much as she liked. "There, that's good." I swung my club, and sure enough, the ball reached the green and rolled a few feet from the hole. It was a great shot!
She handed me the putter and took the flag, "Give it medium weight" she said, instructing me on
the line and speed of the putt. Unfortunately, the green was drier and slower than I estimated, and I needed two putts, but a bogey on a par 4 was perfectly acceptable for me.
I was playing the Sandals Golf Club in Ocho Rios, on which caddies are mandatory. I thoroughly enjoy playing with a caddie to help me, and this was certainly no
exception. Rose is one of several female caddies at this popular course and has been accompanying golfers for eight years. She was definitely
instrumental in improving my game during the two days that I played the course. It was like taking
a playing lesson. The best part of it was that Sandals guests can play unlimited golf at no cost, except for tipping the caddie. It is well worth it!
Sandals' Golf Course is a very well maintained, fairly simple layout with virtually no surprises. But a
few holes are deceivingly difficult. Sloping fairways require precise second and third shots so the
ball rolls in the right direction. Otherwise, you would very easily be playing from the adjacent fairway. On more than one occasion, Rose's instructions saved me from that type of disaster.
Several holes also have hilly fairways, with blind approaches to the green. Here, it's also very
important to know the direction your ball should travel to avoid pitfalls.
The golf course was definitely designed for enjoyment with just enough challenge to keep it interesting. It is located on the mountainside about 15 minutes
from the resort. Having a caddie allowed me to concentrate only on my performance, reinforcing some of the golf lessons from the past that are easily forgotten when you don't play as often as
you should. And your confidence grows! After just a few holes, I was hitting drives approaching 175 yards, a feat onto itself! But let's not discuss my chipping skills at this time.
Even Rose wasn't able to turn that around in just two days.
The Sandals family of resorts has three very different facilities in the Ocho Rios area – Sandals
Grande Ocho Rios, Beaches Boscobel and Sandals Dunn's River. Sandals Grande Ocho Rios is the largest of the resorts and the closest to the golf course. It is split by the main road into two
sections – The Manor and the Riviera. Manor accommodations include private suites and villas, some with their own pool and are a favorite selection for weddings and honeymooners. The Manor
also has the larger pool where most of the activities take place.
The Riviera section is on the beachside, and includes regular hotel rooms in a 3-story building and
rooms in separate units. Sandals resorts are all adult-only, therefore the rooms all have king sized
beds. Different categories include concierge, with upgraded amenities, and butler suites. Shuttles leave frequently from either lobby for each of the two sections.
Nearby, the Beaches Boscobel caters to families with children. Located adjacent to the beach, the highlight of that resort is the water park for children. It
includes a large water slide, cartoon characters from Sesame Street and a very complete children's program for kids up to 12. The most upscale of the Sandals is Dunn's
Falls, named after pool-side replica of the famous Jamaica attraction. With six-story accommodations and its Spanish-style architecture, this adults-only resort caters to individuals
who want a quiet beachfront getaway while still having access to the free golf, just 30 minutes
away. In addition, guests at any of the Sandals or Beaches properties can take free shuttles to
any of the resorts for dinner or activities. As opposed to other all-inclusive facilities, these resorts do not require restaurant reservations or ask guests to wear wristbands for identification.
Other Sandals and Beaches properties in Montego Bay also offer golf, although it's not
complimentary because the courses are not owned by the chain. Nearby courses to the resorts in Montego Bay include Half Moon, White Witch and Rose Hall. If you don't want to pay $200 for a
round at high season, wait until low season when the prices are cut by half.
Jamaica has definitely grown as a vacation destination. Sandals and Beaches both offer excellent
atmosphere, activities, gourmet food and everything that most people look for in a destination resort. And free golf, with caddies…what else would anyone need?
To book this destination, contact Lilliam at www.monarchtours.net