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Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am
13 Nov 2006
see also: Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am, White Witch

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by Pete Wlodkowski, for amateurgolf.com

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (November 11, 2006) -- Add two hundred to the number of golfers who know that Jamaica should be on any avid-golfer's short list of "must play" destinations. That's the number of participants and VIP guests who were lucky enough to attend the inaugural Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am, presented by Travel + Leisure Golf magazine.

Teams comprised of a professional and three amateurs represented clubs from across the U.S., from New York's Bethpage to San Francico's Olympic Club -- with golfing hotbeds like Chicagoland (Royal Hawk); Florida (winning team Palm Beach Polo and several others); Houston (Pecan Grove) and St. George, Utah (The Ledges) rounding out the mix. The majority of participants were making their inaugural visit to a country which is better known for reggae music than for golf. Judging player-reaction, all that is about to change.

Host courses Half Moon Golf Club and White Witch Golf Course at Rose Hall provided an excellent lesson in the variety of the Jamaican terrain. Half Moon is a relatively flat Robert Trent Jones Sr. design which was recently given a makeover by Trent Jones' disciple Roger Rulewich. It's fun, fair, and not nearly as easy as it looks at first glance. Just a few miles up a windy road sits White Witch, part of the tournament host Ritz Carlton Rose Hall resort. White Witch is a mountain course with jaw-dropping ocean views. It's remarkably playable given the terrain (the cart paths have speed bumps) and you won't find a better view from a clubhouse anywhere. Once players got a look at "The Witch" they seemed to score better - the low pro on the final day shot 3-under-par 68 from the back tees and an amateur with a three handicap shot 66 on his own ball from the whites.

After two days of counting one ball per foursome, the field was cut into two groups, with the top half playing a cumulative round at White Witch and the lower half playing a start-from-scratch consolation round at Half Moon. Florida's Palm Beach Polo Club edged Shady Valley of Arlington, Texas for the overall title at 43-under-par, while Royal Hawk Country Club of St. Charles, Illinois captured the challenge round at 11-under-par 133.

Tournament Notes:
- The White Witch Golf Course takes its name from the mistress of the Rose Hall plantation, a beautiful woman named Annie Palmer who earned the nickname by killing three of her husbands. Players and their guests were treated to a Thursday evening show at the plantation's Great House, with a Sean Connery-esque commentator orating the house's history against the backdrop of special effects and a moonlit sky. He did such a good job telling the story that more than a few people refused to take part in the house-tour provided afterwards...

- Anything-but-scary was the greeting that players received prior to teeing off at White Witch. An a capella chorus of 50 Jamaican caddies sang Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" in perfect harmony ("Don't worry, about a thing, 'cause ev'ry little thing, gonna be alright") much to the players' delight.

- The Jamaica Tourism Board was actively involved in the tournament. The country's tourism slogan, "Once you go, you know," was the theme for the week. My wife (who normally is less-than-excited about accompanying me to a golf tournament) and I were believers even before our first sip of rum. Yeah mon!

* * *

Final results from the Inaugural Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am follow:

- Rounds 1 and 2: One best-ball net
- Round 3: One best-ball gross plus one best-ball net

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
Club 36-hole Rd3 Tot +/-
Palm Beach Polo 115 127 242 -43
Shady Valley 124 120 244 -41
Hartefeld 121 125 246 -39
Deer Island 116 132 248 -37
Ibis 2 113 135 248 -37
Thomson 120 130 250 -35
Thanksgiving Point 120 131 251 -34
Suncadia 119 133 252 -33
Mill River 2 121 132 253 -32
Wild Dunes 124 129 253 -32
Olympic Club 119 135 254 -31
Port Jefferson 1 124 130 254 -31
Crestview 120 135 255 -30
N. Palm Beach 118 137 255 -30
Pecan Grove 124 133 257 -28
Polo Fields 124 135 259 -26
Brampton 122 138 260 -25
Rye 124 136 260 -25
Pelham 2 121 142 263 -22
Woodholme 124 141 265 -20
Pelham 1 123 143 266 -19
Nissequogue 122 145 267 -18
Bethpage 123 145 268 -17
CHALLENGE ROUND
Club Score
Royal Hawk 133
Islands End 135
Mill River 1 135
Ledges 1 136
Carlisle 137
Southward Ho 137
Ledges 2 138
Fenway 140
Oyster Bay 2 140
Reflection Bay 140
Woodcrest 2 140
Commonwealth National 142
Ibis 1 142
Port Jefferson 2 142
Eagle Watch 143
Oyster Bay 1 144
Woodcrest 1 146
Bloomington 148

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