Some tips for golfing at the Upton golf club that’s ‘free’ to use while staying at Tower Isle and San Souci. I don't see a recent post on that anywhere here...
Overall, the course is quite nice, and worth your time if you’re an avid golfer. More specifically…
Pace of play:
You’re generally going to get done in well-under 4 hours, and quite possibly close to 3 hours. Those caddies do a great job of maintaining pace of play. There is a way however, of getting your round in under three hours. If you take a taxi to and from the course ($20 - $25 USD each way), eschewing the free shuttle, and get there before 7:30am, you should be back to the resort by 10:30 or 11:00. Of course, you’re paying close to $50 more for taxis, but you’re getting a few hours of your day back. If you can find someone else to share the cab ride with you, then it becomes an easier decision.
The problem with the free shuttle to and from the club is that it gets you there right at the same time that other resorts that use the club show up too. There are no reserved tee times here… you show up and play. Two times on my last trip, I got into the clubhouse only to find a line a dozen deep of people waiting to pay. With only one cashier, this can take up to a half-hour of your vacation day. And then you’re stuck behind a lot of these guys on the course too. And then you’re also stuck waiting after your round until the shuttle shows up at 1:30. They have a decent if not expensive 19th hole… $4 beers, $12 sandwiches, etc… while you wait for the free shuttle, or you can pay for a taxi back. Either way, you’re paying.
Very knowledgeable, and after a couple of holes they can figure out exactly what your distances are. I’ve played three different rounds there with three different caddies, and only once did they steer me wrong with the club. You have to pay the $20 for them at the clubhouse (if you’re walking, more to ride), and then tip them after the round. The sign at the club says that the customary gratuity is $10-$30. Plus, if you’re buying yourself a drink from the cart girl, I would hope you feel obligated to buy your caddy a drink too. It all adds up though… I’d plan on bringing $40 cash for the caddy (they don’t accept cash in the clubhouse, BTW).
My first trip there, I rented clubs. They were pretty nice, and got the job done, but they obviously weren’t my own, so they took some getting used to. They are expensive to rent at $60. I only played once on that trip, so that was worth it to me to rent and not have to lug my clubs all the way to Jamaica. However, my second trip there, I wanted to play (at least) twice, so it made more financial sense given the airline bag fees to bring my own. I played better as a result too. It’s just one of those decisions that you have to make, but it would seem that the break-even point given airline bag fees is two rounds.
Lush and well-kept, fairly serene. There’s only one hole (the 10th green and 11th tee) that has an ocean view which is well off in the distance. Otherwise, you’re in the middle of a rain-forest. Fairways are well-kept, the greens are small and slow. The sand in the bunkers is generally inconsistent, but with the amount of rain they get, I would imagine it’s hard to keep dry white sand. Water only comes into play on a couple of holes, and even then, not prominently (of course, I put one in one of those non-prominent ponds).
Overall, I would love to go back and play that course some more. Given the costs associated, it’s very nearly the same as what I would pay here in Southern California for a weekend morning. Not “complimentary” like the website says, but worth the costs in my golf-addicted brain.