Let's tee it up on Guam!

by Stripes Guam
Stripes Guam

Grab your golf bag and head to the nearest course!

Here's a breakdown of what the island offers.

"Golf is a good walk spoiled,” American humorist Mark Twain famously said. But that is probably because he never played golf on Guam.

The island’s courses are known for their breathtaking beauty, comprising lush tropical vegetation, dramatic cliff-top locations, and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. That is in addition to providing the manicured fairways and greens that are standard at clubs in the U.S.

One thing which adds to the challenges of playing on Guam, however, is the weather. That may determine when you want to visit the island. Guam has a dry season running from November to May, when daytime temperatures average around 86 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is low, making play a delight.

There is also a rainy season from June to November when the humidity is high and it is very hot, making morning tee times a valuable commodity. (The frequent rains are mostly passing showers that may get you wet but will not halt play for long, if at all.) But no matter the season, it is important to stash some water in your golf bag and remain hydrated. Some clubs’ greens fees even cover a bottle or two as part the package.

Guam’s seven civilian golf courses and one par 3 are open to the public, with greens fees for the full courses starting as low as $80, including a cart, which is required at most courses. Military discounts are also available, making a round on Guam not much more expensive than playing in the U.S. Free shuttle bus service to and from major hotels is also featured at most courses. Club and shoe rentals generally run about $35 and $10, respectively.

In alphabetical order, the following is a list and brief descriptions of the golf courses on Guam, based on information provided by the Guam Golf Federation and the local clubs and resorts themselves:

Country Club of the Pacific is an 18-hole, par-72 course designed by renowned Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. The club’s location along Guam’s southern coastline provides expansive views of the Pacific Ocean from almost every hole. The course was built 40 years ago, making it one of the oldest on Guam. CCP’s original location on a former coconut plantation is apparent due to the many coconut trees throughout the course. Hole 12 is said to offer one of the most beautiful views on Guam.

It offers a panorama of the lush green course against the blues of the ocean and sky. The 14th hole is the longest par 5 on Guam, measuring 624 yards. With winds that blow in from the ocean, the fast greens and the length of its holes, Country Club of the Pacific will certainly test the talents of any golfer who plays there.

Green fees change with the seasons, and the club recommends you call to get the current rates. However, the fees for military personnel are the same as for local residents. Tel: +1 (671) 789-1361

Guam International Country Club was partially designed by Hall of Fame golfer Ayako Okamoto. It is a championship course with a USGA course rating of 74.0. Each hole has five different tee positions, enabling all levels of golfers to play.

Green fees range from $125 to $155 depending on the time of the year. Tel: +1 (671) 632-4422

Leopalace Resort Country Club has four nine-hole courses, two of which were designed by Arnold Palmer and one by Jack Nicklaus. The course wends its way through Guam’s rugged inland area, over hills, through valleys and across the wetlands of an area called Manenggon Hills. Due to the dense jungle lining the fairways, the course places a premium on ball control. The course is so challenging, it was selected to host the Asia Professional Golfers Association Guam Open in 1996. It also offers a practice range and putting greens 250 yards long. There is a 100-unit, condominium-style hotel at the resort and a clubhouse that includes a restaurant and health spa.

Green fees (with lunch included) run from $120 to $180 for guests at Leopalace or the nearby Westin and $150 to $220 for visitors, all depending on the season. A military discount is available. Tel: +1 (671) 417-0001

Onward Mangilao Golf Club has been called Guam’s “Jewel of the Pacific.” Located on the central east coast of Guam, its Out-course rests on the upper level of a two-tier coastal plateau. The In-course flows along the lower level of the plateau beside, and sometimes over, the Pacific Ocean. Also called the “Pebble Beach of the Pacific,” players will appreciate the spectacular beauty and challenging nature of the In-course. Mangilao is a membership club, but it is open to foreign visitors. Green fees vary from $200 to $240 according to the season, and $160 to $200 to guests at the Onward Beach Resort. Tel: +1 (671) 734-1111

Starts Guam Golf Resort offers a 27-hole, USGA-recognized tournament course that features coconut palm trees, ponds and a variety of bunkers, making the course challenging as well as beautiful. The undulating greens use a soft-touch Hybrid Bermuda grass, testing your putting skills. Each of the three nine-hole courses has its own personality, with the east and west courses offering long and wide fairways enabling you to play boldly, while the north requires more strategic play, requiring strong accuracy and course-management skills. Hitting the ball out of bounds is not a problem, allowing mistakes by less experienced golfers. The resort also operates a five-star hotel to make your golfing package complete.

Green fees run from $70 to $120 for guests at the hotel and from $120 to $180 for visitors, depending on the day of the week and season. For families, couples and beginners, the resort offers nine holes of “empty-handed golf” in which rental clubs, shoes, tees, practice balls and 3 regular balls are included. Players 15 and under can also play at a 50 percent discount. Guests who stay at the resort can play free of charge after 4 p.m. if they carry their own clubs. Tel: +1 (671) 637-5151

Onward Talofofo Golf Club, on the southern part of the island, offers a great day out for all levels of golfers. It was designed by nine U.S. Senior Professional Golfers, including Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen. The course’s relatively flat front nine is followed by a more challenging back nine. Its signature sixth hole is a replica of Talofofo Falls, and is deemed a “photo-op” hole. The 11th hole runs through a jungle area while the 15th and 17th holes go through coconut tree groves. The 18th hole literally goes uphill.

In tribute to Gene Sarazen, whose double eaglecomeback victory in the Masters is still remembered today, the course built a Sarazen Bridge between the 2nd and 3rd holes similar to the one built in his honor at Augusta International, home of the Masters. On the 4th hole, there is a large Banyan tree complete with a Chamorro legend that claims a ghost resides in the tree. So, if you hit the tree or drive a ball near it, local lore suggests you should perhaps bow and apologize. Its green is made of Tifton Eagle Bermuda grass, making it among the best high-speed green on Guam.

Greens fees range from $160 to $200 for visitors and $120 to $160 for guests at the Onward Beach Resort. Tel: +1 (671) 789-5555

Windward Hills Country Club was founded in 1951, and is the oldest golf courses on Guam. Interestingly, it was designed by a U.S. Navy pilot. Among its notable holes are Nos. 4, 5 and 6, which are modeled after Ben Hogan’s home course, the Colonial National Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The 15th hole is a long Par 5, resting on top of a high hill.

Green fees run from $90 to $120 per 18 holes, depending on the season, and include complimentary hotel shuttle and cart. Tel: +1 (671) 789-1612

Target Golf near Tumon Airport is for players who are a little less enthusiastic about their game or who have come with their families. It offers a par-3 course, and there is even a special section for novices and children. Tel: +1 (671) 646-9000

With all the golfing options available on Guam, combined with the island’s magnificent scenery and welcoming weather, the only question is where to tee off first. Whichever course one chooses, however, one thing is certain: It may just be the start of one of the most enjoyed “spoiled walks” imaginable.

Base Course

Palm Tree Golf Course, located on Andersen Air Force Base, offers a great experience for the average golfer with its flat features and long and wide fairways. Ocean vistas can be enjoyed from the course, adding to your pleasure. Green fees depend on rank, and range from $9 to $29 for 18 holes, with a cart costing an additional $12. The course recognizes membership at Air Force base courses elsewhere, waiving green fees for visiting members and charging only for the cart. Tel: DSN 366-4653

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