Bermuda's Port Royal Golf Club gets Grand Slam-worthy


Golfing has gone gourmet at Port Royal Golf Club in Bermuda. The newest restaurant on the island, 64 Degrees, has opened in the new clubhouse of the public course as the final component of a $14.5 million, government-funded redesign unveiled last July, just in time to host the 2009-2010 PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Diners in the chic, modern eatery's indoor and outdoor seating areas enjoy views of the course's 16th hole and the rest of Bermuda's south shore scenery as they indulge in creations by Chef Troy Smith.

The restaurant, named for Bermuda's geographical coordinates (32 degrees north by 64 degrees west), serves both a casual bar menu and a fuller formal menu featuring fresh meats, seafood and produce. A recent lunch of grilled turkey paninis proved tasty, fresh and promptly served.

Port Royal Golf Club64 Degrees, which also boasts a temperature-controlled cellar stocking top wines, beers and spirits, is open from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily.

The fairways at Port Royal Golf Club, meanwhile, are open from 7 a.m. until sunset in the summer and until 5 p.m. in the winter. Dress code on the course and at 64 Degrees is "smart."

The course at Port Royal, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1970, underwent extensive changes under the direction of a member of Jones' original design team, Roger Rulewich, in preparation for last year's Grand Slam.

The PGA Grand Slam of Golf is a two-day, 36-hole annual competition pitting winners from top tournaments worldwide.

A major element of the redesign was the transplanting of scores of trees that blocked what are now the course's breathtaking ocean views, according to Andrew Brooks, director of golf. Palm trees and Bermudian cedars now line the fairways rather than the oceanfront, providing a more open, spacious environment.

The longest yardage

New lakes on the course are part and parcel of a state-of-the-art irrigation system that keeps the greens' TifEagle grass in fantastic shape all year, according to officials. Yardage on the course has increased by 281 yards, to 6,842 yards, the longest in Bermuda.

Bunkers have been reshaped to follow the rolling natural contours of the land. The result: some of the most stunning golfing vistas in Bermuda, including the par-3 16th hole, which sits on its own peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Course officials claim that the new course "maintains all the playability and feel of the original superb design," offering a challenging course for both advanced golfers and high-handicap players. Golf Digest magazine has ranked Port Royal among the world's best public courses.

Port Royal offers golf lessons by its team of PGA-certified, professional instructors for beginners and players of all abilities. Hour-long and half-hour lessons, junior clinics, three- and five-day schools, corporate clinics and video tutorials are available at the Port Royal Academy. Prices start at $60 for half-hour lessons. Golfing lessons, now bookable online, are available daily from 7:30 a.m. until dusk.

Visitors on site for golfing or just taking in the victuals and views at 64 Degrees can indulge their retail habits at the course's pro shop -- purveying golf supplies, clothing and gifts -- also located in the clubhouse.

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