A little place like Kokomo
Now if you wanna go
And get away from it all
Go down to Kokomo
In the Beach Boy’s 1988 song “Kokomo,” Aruba and Jamaica received most of the attention as the exotic destinations to “get away from it all.”
At that time, Turks and Caicos Islands were the Caribbean’s best-kept secret. Today, this scattering of 40 islands and cays, nestled approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of the Bahamas is fast becoming the retreat of choice for those seeking relaxation. Amid a tranquil setting of ultra-blue water are miles of beach and easy access to top-flight golf.
The islands of Turks and Caicos, eight of which are inhabited, are the polar opposite of the hectic lifestyle many vacationers seek to escape. They are also home to Grace Bay Beach, one of the world’s most spectacular stretches of powdery white sand surrounded by turquoise water.
About one mile (1.6 km) inland from Grace Bay is Provo Golf Course. Built in 1992, Provo is the perfect trifecta for vacationers who like fairway green with their white and blue.
Provo, named after Providenciales, Turks and Caicos’ most inhabited island, is the area’s only golf course. This unique oasis is a 6700-yard (6126 m) tract of Bermuda grass, trademark pearl white sand, and home to an occasional pink flamingo. Provo is a delicious dessert after sampling Turks and Caicos’ main entrée of unending beach and picture-postcard water.
For those who find the links to be a quiet refuge from the pressure and problems of the real world, playing 18 holes at Provo is the golf equivalent to floating on a water mattress while sipping rum punch.
On the back nine tension can literally be felt flowing from the body. The score becomes secondary to absorbing the quiet golf environment and taking in the sway of the palm trees serving as a backdrop to most greens.
Newcomers do a double take the first time they launch a drive next to the conch shell tee markers that adorn each hole. Next, golfers are challenged by the 100-plus yards (91 m) of white sand that stretches in front of most tee shots on par fours and fives.
The plentiful white stuff is an effort to maximize the grassy areas on an island that features terrain comprised primarily of limestone and sandstone.
The severity, or generosity, of Provo is often determined by whether the trade winds decide to blow on any given day.
The signature Par 5, 529-yard, 12th hole is a challenge if facing the wind. Another example of Provo transforming from a beauty to a beast is the Par 3, 110-yard, 15th hole. A relatively simple wedge shot can have real teeth if it comes up short and lands on the crown-shaped limestone barrier at the base of the elevated green.
Just as vacationers from around the world are catching on to Turks and Caicos, Provo is beginning to develop a following of its own and is rated as one of the Caribbean’s Top 10 courses. The good news is that at least for today, getting a tee time on this Caribbean jewel is as easy as counting on a gorgeous sunset after your round.
Finish 18 holes at Provo and go home with memories that stretch from here to Kokomo. Provo warms to golfers like a first kiss and makes one yearn for more. As locals say to vacationers visiting Turks and Caicos for the first time, “It’s your first day here? Welcome home.”
Want more? Don’t forget to check out the Provo Clubhouse’s outdoor deck. The deck, perched high above the 18th green, is a great vantage point to observe incoming golfers and hoist a locally brewed Turks Head beer.
At Provo, play a round, then buy a round, and understand why Turks and Caicos is a great place to “get away from it all.”
If You Go
Turks and Caicos Tourism Board
Provo Golf & Country Club
Tim Cotroneo is a freelance writer based in Lino Lakes, Minn. He writes for the Twin Cities’ based Press Publications. By day, he assists clients in finding jobs in the fields of architecture and engineering. He has yet to travel to a Caribbean destination that has failed to warm his Minnesota heart.