The Tryall Club
Tryall, Jamaica

Ninth hole, 405 yards; The property that Tryall occupies was originally an English coastal fort, built to defend the Crown’s interests from pirates, the French and the Spanish. It later became a sugar plantation and throughout its history, The Great House has presided over the property from atop a dominant hill. The Great House is just that and Plummer’s routing took full advantage of this one-of-a-kind historic structure with holes playing around the hill’s base.

Try9a

Plummer beautifully routed the ninth down in its own secluded valley with The Great House high above.

The low profile features around the ninth green do little to aid the golfer in determining how best to get his approach shot close

As seen from behind, the low profile features around the ninth green do little to aid the golfer in determining how best to get his approach shot close.

Tenth hole, 170 yards; Several of the steepest pitched greens are located just the other side of hazards. Form follows function as rain water is quickly shed off the green and toward the hazard. From a playing perspective, the challenge is both simple and enduring: the closer one flirts with the hazard, the easier (i.e. uphill) the putt. Take the tenth for example. To fly the ball deep into the green and well away from the creek bed is to court a three putt. For decades now, golfers have come to Tryall for a one week stay. At the start of the week, they hit the ball long, avoiding the obvious trouble fronting the green. The ensuing three putt prompts them to get more and more aggressive with their tee ball as the week wears on until they finally land in the creek bed. They are back the next day hitting the ball deep into the green and the cycle repeats.

After the uphill approach to the ninth, the golfer faces the steeply downhill tenth ...

After the uphill approach to the ninth, the golfer faces the downhill tenth …

After the uphill approach to the ninth, the golfer faces the downhill tenth.

… where the creek bed and back to front pitch of the green provide the hole’s enduring strategy.

Eleventh hole, 500 yards; This three shotter sweeps left up the hill to the highest green on the course. Plummer’s routing of the hole incorporates a ditch in a similar fashion to the thirteenth at MacKenzie’s Augusta National: the golfer eager to get home in two must draw the ball and flirt with the left hand portion of the fairway. Anything in the ditch or left guarantees a high score.

The bold line on the dogleg left eleventh requires an uphill carry of 240 yards over this creek bed to bring the green within reach on one’s second.

Twelfth hole, 215 yards; IMG and Peter McElvoy added blue tees to the course in 1991 in preparation for the Club hosting its first Johnnie Walker World Championship that December. The task was relatively straightforward and they stretched the course 300 yards to its present length of 6,775 yards. However, the new tee at the twelfth required quite a bit of imagination. Plummer’s original hole was 180 yards and played downhill a good 50 feet. Forgoing the glamour of the hole’s drop shot qualities (the white tees remain on the elevated tee), McElvoy built a lower tee 35 yards back. The resulting long iron shot across the left to right slope of the hillside is a genuine thriller. According to Head Golf Professional Nelson Long, the play is to miss the green long so as to guarantee a chip back up the green, the back half of which slopes away from the golfer on the tee.

The twelfth plays sharply downhill from the white markers. The sea is in view despite this tee being the most inland point on the course.

The twelfth plays sharply downhill from the white markers. The sea is in view despite this tee being the most inland point on the course.

The Club’s bunker project successfully restored both depth and character to Tryall’s bunkers, as seen here at the twelfth.

As seen from behind, the back half of the twelfth green falls away from the tee.

Fourteenth hole, 450 yards; One of the game’s most noble two shotters, Plummer left well enough alone and didn’t create a single bunker from tee to green as his routing over the twisting topography didn’t require such clutter to give the hole excellent golfing qualities. Plummer benched the green into a hill and any approach hit left will bound onto the green from the high side. Complicating matters is that more times than not the wind comes from the golfer’s right.

Many architects in the 1950's and 1960's would have mistakenly bunkered this green front left and right, thus limiting the type of approach shot that the green would accept. Not so for Plummer - he created the high left bank, left the green open from that angle and ever since, many a member has delighted in bouncing the ball onto the green.

Many architects in the 1950’s and 1960’s would have mistakenly bunkered this green front left and right, thus limiting the type of approach shot that the green would accept. Not Plummer – he created a high left bank, kept the green open from that angle and ever since, many a member has delighted in bouncing the ball onto the green.

Fifteenth hole, 445 yards; Along with the eleventh and twelfth holes, the fifteenth is the other hole where IMG’s 1991 blue tee additions paid off most handsomely. Originally a straight hole, McElvoy benched the new blue tee into the hillside and a dogleg left was created (this helped to offset the loss of Plummer’s slight dogleg left fourth hole).

The addition of the back markers in 1991 made the fifteenth a dogleg left and a very powerful two shotter as it generally plays into the wind.

The addition of the back markers in 1991 made the fifteenth a dogleg left and a very powerful two shotter as it generally plays into the wind.

Seventeenth hole, 390 yards; A dangerous hole in all respects with out of bounds hard down the right and the green literally walled off. Head Golf Professional Nelson Long likes to hit a low chasing fade off the tee and let the ball run out down the fairway. The wind wants to push the ball right toward the out of bounds, so the golfer who has a low tee ball at his ready command has the advantage. Due to the influence of The Old Course at St. Andrews and England’s first great club Royal Liverpool, out of bounds was once viewed by many architects as a key feature for any great course to possess. And so it is at Tryall where the defining feature of the last three holes is that out of bounds is most prominent just when the pressure within one’s match is at its peak.

To say the seventeenth green is well fortified is not an exaggeration!

Another attribute of a round at Tryall is the wide variety of indigenous tropical vegetation that the golfer gets to appreciate as he walks the course. Though the Club has always been careful to preserve wide playing corridors, the holes are most handsomely adorned with vegetation. Along with the pine tree, the palm tree is one of the few trees well suited for a golf course as its branches are well off the ground and the golfer is generally given some opportunity of a recovery shot. Looking for lost balls amongst palm trees is unheard of and of course, the palm tree does little to shield the wind – a very good thing.

A one of a kind tree. The Club is to be congratulated for how it has preserved the distinctive tropical trees and vegetation without letting them crowd the golf.

A one of a kind tree. The Club is to be congratulated for having preserved the distinctive tropical trees and vegetation without allowing them to crowd the golf.

New courses open all the time, accompanied by big media pushes. Such courses stream into the public’s conscience but seemingly fade away just a few years later. With Tryall being a private club open to limited resort play, it doesn’t promote itself to any degree. Yet as its history shows, this course is the real deal and has been so for over forty-five years.

Rather than chase the latest and greatest course openings, more golfers should come to Tryall. Montego Bay is a two or three hour direct flight from many points within the United States, not much farther than Florida. What true golfer ever tires of flighting his shots in the wind or of managing his game properly to stay below the hole? Such challenges were at the heart of the game when ittook hold in the United Kingdom over 150 years ago. Throw in the tropical climate and beautiful spirit of the Jamaican people, and the golfer is guaranteed to return home more invigorated than when he left.

After the round, the Beach Club directly across from the golf professional shop provides soothing native rum drinks that sometimes provide clarity as to where the strokes went.

Private residences at Tryall like the one at Randolins (www.randolinsvilla.com) can be rented on a weekly basis.

The End