Posted On: Sunday, January 6, 2019
Former Grey-Bruce resident Keith Stein at the beautiful 5th hole at Cinnamon Hill Golf Club near Montego Bay.
By Steve Harron
It’s easy to see why Keith Stein is still in love with Jamaica.
The beautiful beaches and terrific year-round weather are certainly part of it.
But take a drive to his workplace and you’ll really start to understand another significant factor in his decision to stay on the Caribbean Island for 27 years.
As the director of golf course operations at White Witch and Cinnamon Hill near Montego Bay, the former Grey-Bruce resident gets to spend all of his working hours in a spectacular setting.
His office is in the White Witch clubhouse, which sits high above the Caribbean Sea with breathtaking views of the coastline and surrounding area.
The course offers water views on 16 of 18 holes and has one of the most spectacular opening holes you’ll find anywhere - a par 5 with a dramatic elevation change and panoramic views of the turquoise waters below.
The course was designed by Robert von Hagge and Rick Baril, who carved it out of rolling countryside at the historic Rose Hall Estate.
The course is named after the former sugar estate’s beautiful but wicked mistress, Annee Palmer, who was known as the White Witch of Rose Hall.
According to legend, Palmer murdered all three of her husbands before being killed by one of the plantation slaves. She is said to be buried near the estate home, which is now a popular tourist attraction.
Some people believe Rose Hall is haunted and the former TV show Scariest Places on Earth filmed an episode there.
Apparently the night-time tours of the estate are not for the faint of heart.
Legendary singer Johnny Cash, who lived in a home near the 14th hole at the nearby Cinnamon Hill course for several years, even wrote a song about the White Witch - The Ballad of Annee Palmer.
Click Here to Watch Music Video
The Cinnamon Hill estate, built in 1747, was also the home of famous English poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning.
Here’s a little more history/trivia: the seasonal waterfall at the 15th hole at Cinnamon Hill was featured in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die.”
White Witch, which was named Jamaica’s Best Golf Course in 2015, is spread over 600 acres and features lush greenery, dramatic elevation changes and those breathtaking views previously mentioned.
The par 71 is 6,758 yards from the tips.
The Cinnamon Hill course, voted one of the Caribbean’s 10 Best Golf Courses, offers not only the mountainside terrain similar to White Witch, but also a few seaside holes.
The par 4 5th is stunning. It slopes down toward the ocean where the green is perched near the breaking waves. The hole is annually rated as one of the best in the Caribbean.
The 6th hole is another beauty - a par 3 that runs right along the sea. A new and special feature of the hole is a hammock hung from two palm trees adjacent to the sea (a great place to relax before hitting your tee shot along the edge of the water).
While a back injury prevented me from playing the courses, my fellow travellers told me one of best parts of the golf experience was having a caddy to guide them through the course.
The caddies were friendly, funny and provided valuable advice (you just have to learn to trust them).
Best line from a caddy I heard was after his player hit the ball deep into dense bush and asked if it was playable he replied: “Ya mon, it will be when they build a golf course over there.”
Together, the White Witch and Cinnamon Hill courses offer a terrific one-two punch (in hockey terms like a Tavares-Matthews combination) and should be on your must-play list if you’re headed to Jamaica.
And you will surely discover why Keith Stein, who headed to the island in 1992 seeking “an adventure,” has decided to make it his home.
For more on White Witch and Cinnamon Hill CLICK HERE