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Royal Cove — Golden Tee 2012

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Here is a description of this new course for Golden Tee 2012: “The warm sun and leeward island breeze greet you at Royal Cove; 18-holes of golf positioned in Half Moon Bay, Antigua, a little known paradise to most. Although the baby blue water steals the show, the sandy beaches and perfectly placed mountains create a more rugged tropical scene than we’ve seen in recent years. Ancient relics from a buccaneer past are situated throughout parts of the islands, and you might just find buried treasure if your tee shot happens to go astray.”

Here is the official preview of the Half Moon Bay, Antigua course.

This is currently being updated with tips, tricks, and information related to the 2012 Golden Tee course Royal Cove!  Check out the hole-by-hole breakdowns and example hole-outs as I partner up with the Golden Tee community to give you the edge you need to beat your friends!

Royal Cove is voted by many to be the hardest course in 2012, and the second hardest by most others.

The Hawks and Hurtles are the most common selection on this course, since you don’t really need a 7-wood or 9-wood and you prefer to stay low under many of the trees with hybrids!  Some players still use the Flares just for consistency across the board — so give them both a shot and see what works best for you!

GT Par Breakdown for Royal Cove

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The following grid breaks down the best and worst you should be able to shoot on Royal Cove relative to the possible setups you could get on each hole:

Hole Par GT Par Total
Min Max Min Max
1 4 3 3 -1 -1
2 4 2 3 -3 -2
3 3 2 2 -4 -3
4 5 3 3 -6 -5
5 4 2 2 -8 -7
6 4 3 3 -9 -8
7 3 2 2 -10 -9
8 5 3 3 -12 -11
9 4 2 2 -14 -13
10 4 3 3 -15 -14
11 4 2 3 -17 -15
12 3 2 2 -18 -16
13 4 3 3 -19 -17
14 5 3 3 -21 -19
15 4 2 2 -23 -21
16 3 2 2 -24 -22
17 5 2 2 -27 -25
18 4 2 2 -29 -27

Royal Cove — Hole #1: Par 4

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A sign of what’s to come, here’s one of the toughest opening holes in Golden Tee history.  Right off the bat, the first hole gets you thinking!

Laying back to the left is a good option once you figure out the distance.  You don’t want to be curving a shot into the first green, so make sure you get past the trees but don’t go too far out.  Here’s a 5-wood hole-out.

The next best play is to use a high tee to carry over the sand on the right into the fairway.  But you don’t want to blow a tee on the first hole, do you?

Finally, you can play a small cut shot around the right side into the fairway.  Sticking the fairway is not automatic, but if you at least miss left to the sand or rough, you should still be okay on your approach.  Here’s an example hole-out from the rough.  Don’t miss too far right or you’ll fall off the edge, and you don’t want to get caught up in that tree either!  But here’s a hole-out from the sand on the right.


Royal Cove — Hole #2: Par 4

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First, take a look at your tee box and the wind.  A high-teed driver cut around the corner in the right conditions can reach the green!  A high-teed 3-wood can even cut over the far right trees but would require an exceptional look — still, the high-teed 3W gives your best chance of cutting around to this green with a wind blowing towards it and a good tee box.  Here’s how it’s done!  It’s also possible with the high-teed driver, but you’ll have to go completely around the trees — here’s an amazing shot with that look.

Assuming this shot isn’t there, be careful off the tee.  The fairway slopes right, so you could lose a tee shot off to the right in the rough if you aren’t careful.  Often times, it’s best to play a small cut to the left to counter the slope.  Distance doesn’t matter — just keep it safely in the fairway, make your birdie, and move on.


Royal Cove — Hole #3: Par 3

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Not much to this one — just don’t go long chasing a back pin.  Here’s an example hole-out.


Royal Cove — Hole #4: Par 5

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This can be a really tough eagle.  First, you might want to take a run at the green or at least get it close!  Rotate right and play a big high-teed C3 driver around the side.  Just hope you don’t get unlucky like this!

If you don’t want to give that a try, rotate right and take a look for a shortcut layup spot down amongst the trees (the demo points it out too).  If you can land here, you’ll have a 5-wood (no more, no less, because you need this specific elevation) over the hill and under the trees for an approach shot — here’s a hole-out from there.  This tee shot missed the landing area to the left but the approach still somehow found the cup!

The best spot to be is in the fairway out past both sand traps, which can give you a pretty straight approach shot into the green. Here’s a hole-out after a long drive.  But, most times the wind and/or tee won’t allow you to get it there.  There is also a shot just short of the left trap with a 5-wood, because the farther left you safely are off the tee, the better!  It’s tough to hit the fairway between the two traps, but if you do, you can curve in your approach shot.

Also, if you’re in the left trap but you hit it far enough, you will have a shot at the green — sometimes pretty straight.  The rough behind or to the left of this trap can also work well.  And this 5-wood caught a nice deflection off the hill to find the cup!

Another way to get at this landing spot is to play a big A1 driver with roll and ram it into the side of the castle.  It will bounce off but continue forward, and you should end up in the area by the sand where you need to be to have a clear shot at the green!


Royal Cove — Hole #5: Par 4

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You’ll be cutting your tee shot around the right side to give yourself an eagle putt here.  Here’s a dunk with a 5-wood with a pretty straight look, and here’s a 3-wood with a small cut around the corner.  It’s usually not too bad unless the wind is blowing right.  If you miss anywhere, miss left — water off the tee must be avoided at all costs.  Also be sure not to cut your tee shot TOO much — if you do, you’ll slam into the hill and get wet.  Unless your shot is SO BAD, and the wind is SO GOOD, that you get this crazy result.  So, make sure you cut it enough, but make sure you take it out far enough right as well — practice will serve you well on this one.  Use a tee to move right if you think it will help your angle!

Here’s another way to do it, ha.


Royal Cove — Hole #6: Par 4

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A high tee can potentially save you a stroke here — you’ll want to blast a drive to the second fairway and stay as far right as you can without getting in those trees.  This gives you the best angle on your approach.  There’s just a narrow gap between the trees on this approach, and the more you have to curve a shot into this green, the greater chance you have of clipping a leaf and having a bad hole.

If you do lay back, try to give yourself a 5-wood, as it can get over the top of the trees and save some hassle.  The hill behind the green can serve as a backstop too.  Don’t always shoot for the pin here — make sure you’re safely through the gap in the trees with a reasonable putt on the green.


Royal Cove — Hole #7: Par 3

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This is a big, fairly flat green, so don’t necessarily chase the pin here — favor the middle of the green to be safe!  Here’s a 9-wood hole-out.


Royal Cove — Hole #8: Par 5

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This hole is actually drivable in certain setups with a high-teed A1 driver, but almost never worth the risk.  There’s a very small margin of error in terms of the curve path and the distance, and it requires you to land in the sand strip short of the green to kill the ball and stop before cruising over to the water.  It can be fun to try if you’re messing around, but you WILL be put back on the tee when you miss, and then you’ve just lost 2 strokes.

As in the video demo, the best option here is to take a high-teed 3-wood towards the sand, over the trees, hoping to just carry the sand and land in the rough beyond.  Anywhere in this area gives you a great look to the green for an eagle putt.  Here’s a hole-out from the sand over there.

There are also a couple islands to the left that give you a shot.  The closest, bigger island to you is easier to hit, but you must land towards the back part of it to have the angle in.  If you are short here, you won’t have a straight shot, and you can’t cut a shot from the rough into the green from this far away.  Also, it all slopes towards the water, so you may have to play a small cut into the island to avoid dribbling off.


Royal Cove — Hole #9: Par 4

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Here you’ll need to curve a long wood, often high-teed, around the mountain and stick a fairly small area that includes the green.  Remember that if you choose a straight line and play a small cut around the mountain, it’s easier to control, but you’ll also lose distance vs. a bigger cut shot that will go longer but be tougher to control.  Here’s a perfect 3-wood hole-out.  Here’s a high-teed 3-wood dunk with a small cut around.  And this high-teed 3-wood used a headwind to hold the line as it cut around.

If you are way back in the box, a low-teed driver can skip the water curved around to the green, so keep that in mind too!  This one is about the longest skip you’ve ever seen, ha.

This hole is always drivable off the tee, but only for the pros, so don’t feel bad if you choose to lay up in the fairway with a really tough look.  Being put back on the tee after a missed tee shot is a good incentive to lay up — here’s a hole-out from the fairway.


Royal Cove — Hole #10: Par 4

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This hole will likely require a couple of small cut shots to hit the green.  Don’t get too crazy off the tee — again, distance doesn’t much matter, just get it somewhere right of the sand, preferably short so you don’t bring it into play.  Here’s a nice hole-out from behind the sand.  There’s a slope to the right, so focus on your accuracy so the shot doesn’t carry off into trouble.  If you do miss left in the sand, you may still have an angle into the green.

Also check out this incredible save from the woods!

Your approach could be straight depending on the pin.  Keep an eye out for a couple trees in your way, and above all else, make sure you don’t hit them!  Curve your shot if you need to so that you stay in the center of that gap and end up with a putt.

Hoffa’s grave is on this hole!  It’s tough to end up on the other side to have a good look at it, but here it is from behind when putting on the green!  Beside is another look from the front, and here’s a video of me blasting the grave — if you turn the volume way up you can hear some funeral music!


Royal Cove — Hole #11: Par 4

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Don’t pay TOO much attention to the demo here, because the hill is now higher than the demo and you have a slim chance of being able to climb up and over the hill towards the green.  HOWEVER, study this shot.  It’s a medium-teed 3-wood with roll from the right-center of the box.  There’s a group of three trees, and this shot goes around the right side of them.  A wind blowing left helps push the ball on track with the green, and a generous bounce off the bottom of the hill shoots it into the cup!  Here’s another one from the right side of the box that took the same angle.  Notice another tree behind and just to the right of the group of three — you’ll need to stay just right of that one too (and get a little lucky with the rest) to get over the hill!

Anyway, at this point, I don’t recommend this shot unless you’re having a bad round or just really want to give it a try.  Instead, rotate left and look straight ahead across the water with a driver.  There’s a big grassy patch out here that’s not too hard to stick.  From here, you’ll have a decent approach into the green.  Here’s a 3-wood hole-out from there. If the wind is blowing left, try to stay to the right of this patch, since your approach may be a long driver!

It is possible to cut the corner in the main fairway if that shot is there — here’s a hole-out from in front of the sand there.


Royal Cove — Hole #12: Par 3

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This is a tough par 3 that will test your skills, especially if you have to hit a 7-wood or 9-wood.  Missing left or right means trees and water.  Missing short is water.  Long in the sand is your only bail out spot.

Using a tee is often helpful here to give yourself the best angle through the gap in the trees.  Once you figure out the angle of cut you need, then you’ll have to figure your distance too.  This one can be tough!  Here’s a 2-hybrid right at a favorable pin, and here’s a nicely-played 9-wood.


Royal Cove — Hole #13: Par 4

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Don’t put too much stock in the demo here either, because the trees are higher and you won’t really be able to cut the corner anymore.  This becomes a par 4 where you need a simple but accurate tee shot straight down the fairway to set up a longer, difficult approach shot.  Here’s a hole-out after cutting the corner pretty tight.


Royal Cove — Hole #14: Par 5

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Three options here!  First, to the right, there’s a narrow green patch along the wall through the trees.  If you can stick it here, this gives you probably your best approach shot for eagle — here’s a hole-out from there.  It can be very tough, especially with a left-blowing wind or if you get an awkward angle on the tee box — a Golden Tee might help just to move around here!  Even if you end up short of the fairway patch, you may still be able to get there from the rough!

Next, there’s a patch of green down by the sand before the water and a path for an A1-type shot off the tee to get there.  This is a very tough shot, but if you do have that left-blowing wind or a headwind, it will help the ball settle as it comes down.  It does go downhill, so don’t hit it too hard and fly right in the water!  This 5-wood off the tee found the gap and stopped just short of the water.  Another option is straight over the top — a high-teed 5-wood can clear the trees.  If you have the line but are short, you can still chip down to the patch and potentially save birdie with a good approach shot, since a left-blowing wind helps you curve it around the trees guarding the green.

If the wind is blowing to the right, I don’t think you should be aiming for this patch.  Not only is the drive tougher, but the approach shot will also be very hard since you have to curve it against the wind to the left.

Finally, you could possibly take a long drive down the fairway.  If you get far enough, you can curve your next shot around the trees into the green — check out this great driver hole-out from there!  Here’s another one that was clean to a right pin.


Royal Cove — Hole #15: Par 4

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Most times you can curve a wood around the left side and plop it down on the green, sometimes using the back wall for a light deflection.  A high tee can help too.  Here’s a great 3-wood from the back center box.  And check out this 5-wood played off the top of the wall, around the golf cart, and back down and in!  With a tailwind, you can also see some crazy bounces off the back wall!

Check out this driver around the left side — and pay close attention to what happens at the end!  He’s found treasure!  However, the sand surrounding those chests is OB, so don’t miss right!  And check out the bounces this driver gets off the hill — nice.  Finally, this driver looked like it rammed into a sponge rather than rock — amazing!

Finally, a 3-hybrid can get the job done with a tailwind, and if you’ve got crazy skills.

Only a very small percentage of the time should you try coming around the right side.  You may get a setup where that’s your only path to the green, so make sure you play as much loft as you can to navigate around/over the ship to the green!  This high-teed driver came in hot but almost holed out!  With a left flag, this can be a decent setup.  This medium-teed 3-wood had plenty of height to get over the ship, and in!  Or, if you have a back-right tee box, a high-teed 5-wood may be the way to go — here’s a great shot up and over!

If the wind is blowing hard left, however, you might just want to lay up in the fairway and go for birdie due to the penalty for an errant drive — here’s a hole-out from the fairway.


Royal Cove — Hole #16: Par 3

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This is one of the toughest par 3s in the past several years, especially with a pin on the right.  Short = water.  Long = bank off the back = water.  There’s only a sliver of green to work with.  Here’s a dunk to a right pin, and here’s another great hole-out.  Pray for a side wind here (here’s a hole-out with a straight left wind), or a left pin so you have more length to work with!  Bail out to the left so you can two-putt for par at worst.  Even trying to hit left, you’ll still clip the trees, but this one caught the hole on its way back down!  You may also be able to come in from left to right like this great shot.

Here are some more ideas for approach shots — get creative!

  • Club up and hit a low-teed iron (like a 7-iron).
  • With a strong right-to-left wind, turn one right (yes, right) and hit a 9-iron, B-1 schwerve to the fat part of the green.  If the 9-iron lines up too long, you can use a low tee with bite for this shot.  Make sure you hit far enough out left to stay left of the tree above the green.
  • With a left-to-right wind, move one left and lob a low-teed 9-iron out left with bite, where it should settle on the fat part of the green.
  • With a tailwind, it should be okay to catch that tree over the green, since your ball will still carry up the green on its way down and then settle.  So use whatever club gets you to the middle of the green in that case.
And if you’re in this tough spot — give this bank chip a try!


Royal Cove — Hole #17: Par 5

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Oh, what a hole!  A chance to drive the green, but the penalty of being teed right back on the box if you miss.  The ideal setup for this seems to be a spot on the middle or right of the tee box, with a tailwind or even blowing left.  One option is a high-teed 5-wood up around to the hill that will trickle down to the green.  With a strong left to right wind, here’s another great high-teed 3-wood around the side.  And this 3-wood found a clean gap through the trees on the hill on the other side and settled down in the hole!

Here’s another option — a 3-wood through the small gap in the trees!  This is a medium tee with backspin that missed the leaves and had just a small curve on its way through — this is a good option too, as it usually seems to be there.

Another very risky play is a low-teed driver curved around the corner — check out this amazing shot that skips off the water and barely gets a high enough skip to land the green and roll in!

If the wind is in your face or blowing right, you can try blasting a long drive down the fairway.  From here, you can curve a 9-wood, for example, around the trees (there’s also a gap through the trees over the hill if you are short), using the wind to help bring it back.  Here’s a nice curving hole-out with a 7-wood.  If you don’t have a shot at the green and have a wind like this, you can still have a shot at eagle this way!  Here’s an iron hole-out from the fairway.

Notice that sand just around the corner before you cross the water?  Don’t try it — it’s out of bounds!  However, the sand on the other side is okay if you somehow end up there.  You can also end up on top of that hill on the other side and have a chip down to the green for an eagle putt.


Royal Cove — Hole #18: Par 4

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This shot is usually doable by curving around the left side and using backspin to hold the green.  Here is a perfect 5-wood backspin around the corner.  This sick low-teed 5-wood cut all the way around to a back right pin.  Here’s a 2-hybrid that played a huge A2-type cut.

Sometimes you may not be able to get there with a strong left wind if you are using the Flares.  That scenario can make this hole a nightmare.  You’re forced to lay up, but then the wind and slope will push your ball towards OB on your approach.  You’ll have to cut a shot into the slope on your approach with a higher-lofted club, and it’s just really tough.  In these cases, lay back to favor a 5-iron or lower-lofted club on your approach instead.

Another option is to use the 5-wood or 3-wood but take off some distance.  Check out this example with a low-teed 3-wood lined up with the hole.  A gentle B1 shot with backspin was perfect.  This 5-wood also took aim at the hole and played a perfect B1 shot to the cup.

Here’s an example driver with a medium tee, as this shot is becoming slightly more common among some guys.

Perhaps even more dangerous, this driver took aim directly at the hill, missed all the trees, trickled over the top, and found the cup — amazing!  And this 5-wood also seemed to actually miss all the trees taking aim right at the green!

AND THEN, here’s a 7-wood around the right side that was just perfect — incredible!  This 5-wood was another amazing play.