By Carling Nolan

Key West is known as the “Gateway to the Caribbean,” boasting award-winning restaurants, nightlife, diving, fishing, and home to Key West Golf Club, the only Caribbean golf course in the United States.

I knocked it around at Key West Golf Club just last week, and here are five reasons why I fell in love with it, and five reasons why you will, too!

The Drive In

I had the chance to drive over the long bridgework that connects from Miami to Key West. It was a glorious three hours with music blasting, windows down, and miles and miles of blue ocean. You can fly to the island, but I strongly encourage the drive.

The Wildlife

At the entrance to the island of Key West, the unique Key West Golf Club’s 18 holes encompass more than 200 acres of beautiful Florida Keys foliage and wildlife. I felt like everywhere I looked I was in awe of the exotic birds swooping in and out of the golf course.

The Design

Famous golf course architect Rees Jones designed Key West Golf Club. It stretches out to 6,500 yards. That may not seem far for you big-hitters, but the course plays much longer than the yardage! Jones was ingenious when he made due with the small amount of land available on the island. He made sure almost every green was elevated, forcing golfers to add at least one extra club to their shot. Jones also made the shorter holes the toughest on the golf course. The finishing holes on the front nine will really test your abilities. These tight, dog-legged fairways might have you considering a lay-up off the tee, but even a stray 3 wood could find its way into the environmental areas on both sides of the fairway.

The Mangrove Hole

Key West has an infamous par 3 that is only a short 143 yards, but do not let the yardage fool you. The green is completely hidden from the tee box by a field of thickly intertwined tropical mangroves. It is truly a sight to see. I would suggest picking your club, taking dead aim, and trust it! Either that or bring plenty of golf balls.

The People

When you play golf in the Caribbean, you have the chance to meet people from all over the world. It feels like every person I met was on vacation, and they just wanted to have the best time of their life. At Key West Golf Club, I was paired with two friendly gentleman from Europe named Andre and John. Andre lives here full time now, but John just came in for the winter months. While I was trying to keep my ball out of the wet stuff, they filled my time with funny anecdotes from their time on the Island and told me of all the hot spots around town. Don’t be surprised if you meet your new best friends at Key West Golf Club, and end up spending the entire week together.

So next time you’re planning your upcoming trip down to Florida, don’t forget about the little island off the south coast. Key West Golf Course is exotic, beautiful, challenging, and a friendly golfer’s paradise.

If You Go

Key West Golf Club

6450 College Rd

Key West, FL 33040

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