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Fantasy Islands

Architect Karl Litten helped by designing a desertlike target course, with smallish islands of greenery tucked within a Xeriscape of crushed coral and limestone. There are twelve acres of water hazards as well, providing a home to grateful flocks of pink flamingos, white herons and several species of ducks. The course is just 6,641 yards from the tips, but with all those tiny little targets awash in a sea of crushed rock—not to mention the water that lurks on almost every hole, the frequent doglegs and the fact that the flat, largely treeless island is open to the wind blasting off the sea—scoring is always a heady challenge.

The par-five sixteenth is typical of the trouble at Provo. A snippet of fairway is bordered by rough and waste bunkers, which meet in the middle for another hundred yards. Depending on the wind and your tee shot, you can go for the green or settle for a layup to a napkin-size fairway and try to avoid dumping a wedge into the bunkers surrounding the green. It's no wonder most golfers stagger into the Fairways Bar & Grill after a round and tote up their score in disbelief. At least the wind is cool on the second-floor porch. And the water is free.

ACCOMMODATIONS

GRACE BAY CLUB, Providenciales; 800-946-5757. One-Bedroom Suites: $395-$1,195. Two-Bedroom Suites: $755-$1,495.
Just twenty-one Spanish hacienda-style suites perch on Grace Bay's beach. The colors in the ultraclear water are mesmerizing, the half-moon arc of sand is perfect, and the sun seems never-ending. With exquisite service, fine dining and lavish rooms located just across the road from the course, the Grace Bay Club is much like we picture heaven.

DINING

COYABA (Caribbean/Asian), Grace Bay (at the Coral Gardens Resort); 649-946-5186. $$$
Chef Paul Newman (no, not that one) alters the menu daily at this well-known eatery, according to the season, the daily catch and his own whims. His Asian, European and West Indian influences meld into unique dishes. But his version of the local conch chowder—with local seafood, aged rum, nuclear Scotch bonnet peppers, curry, coconut milk, cream and sweet potato—will have you licking the bowl.

NEW KIDS ON THE ROCKS

The golf course building boom in the Caribbean has been going on for some years now—because building anything in the Caribbean takes a while. But the result is an array of interesting new courses in a few unlikely but scenic spots.

As new as it gets—scheduled to open this month—the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay ($175; 242-336-6800) is perhaps the Caribbean's most anticipated new resort course. This 6,880-yard Greg Norman signature sensation meanders its way around sand dunes and mangrove preserves, closing with a 603-yard par-five test of will that calls for two gutsy water carries to a green perched upon a rocky outcrop.

While not truly new (it opened in 2000), the course at the 15,000-acre Punta Cana Resort & Club ($69-$88; 809-959-2262) features a fun layout by P. B. Dye. He even stole from his father's book of visual creativity, with nests of pot bunkers (twenty-one alone in front of the seventh green), lurking waste areas and other trickery.

Debuting in 2001 on the Dutch island of Curaçao, the sporty Blue Bay Curaçao Golf & Beach Resort course ($60-$95; 011-59-99-868-1755), designed by Rocky Rocquemore, is a traditional Caribbean course, with some elevation, some tropical vegetation and a few holes built along the coral cliffs above the sea.

The tiny island of Tobago has always been known more for its bird watching than for its golf. Or at least it was until last year, when the new Tobago Plantations Beach & Golf Resort ($78; 868-631-0875) opened the first eighteen of a planned twenty-seven-hole complex designed by Bob Hunt and Marcus Blackburn. This strong Florida-like layout is mostly flat, but boasts plenty of water, sand and, yes, palm trees.

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