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|There are six seaside holes on the Corales Course at Puntacana but plenty of turf to land safely on. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)|
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- The Puntacana Resort and Club, with the new Corales Course, is Dominican Republic star power in full effect.
Latin Americans will recognize two of the partners in the resort: singer Julio Iglesias and fashionista Oscar De La Renta. Golfers, meanwhile, are sure to recognize the architect of the Corales: Tom Fazio.
The stars are shining at Puntacana, and prepare to be dazzled on Dominican Republic's newest golf course.
Opened in 2010, Corales is the shiny new addition to the 15,000-acre development right next to Punta Cana's airport. Arrive at the bag drop, and the setting is surreal: sparkling waters with waves crashing against rocks at such force that ocean spray rises high into the air.
But it's Fazio's wide, smooth playing corridors on natural landscape that help make for an enjoyable walk.
"The golf course at Corales is an adventure taking you through many environments," wrote Fazio. "From inland holes bordered by lush trees and vegetation to holes playing beside crystal-blue lakes and ultimately along oceanfront cliffs and crashing waves."
While the sea comes and goes, the course's most constant appeal is just how much turf each hole bears. Hole upon hole is complete with massive fairways and many yards of rough on either side. The seemingly untouched paspalum turf makes you wonder if anyone has played this course before you. The only divots you'll see out here are the ones you take, and the large, firm greens have nary a blemish.
They're just showing off how much turf they have when they present two holes with alternate right and left greens, first on the par-4 third -- which features a long water carry to the left green, or a slightly more benign right-side green location. A double-green appears again on the par-4 15th, the last of the inland holes before the back nine culminates by the sea.
While the downwind eighth hole, lining the sea the whole way, will most likely require an iron layup followed by a short iron over white rocks into the green, the 18th is as exciting of a tee shot as the Caribbean Sea can present.
It's a long, par-4, dogleg right that asks golfers how much of the sea they'd like to bite off to make an easy approach. With an elevated green set atop the cliffs with some severe tiers to it, it makes an aggressive line off the tee that much more paramount.
When the round is over, enjoy a lunch at the small, temporary clubhouse that overlooks the ninth and 18th greens and sea in the background. Enjoy a few Presidente's, as this is a spot fit for stars, and you won't want to leave anytime soon.
Corales is the new must-play golf course for the Dominican Republic high-roller. Just minutes from the airport (including a private entrance from the Puntacana development), you can feasibly be on the golf course in minutes upon arrival.
For scratch players, there is plenty of golf to take in. The back set of tees plays more than 7,500 yards, and the middle backs still top 7,000. But as you might expect from a Fazio resort course, driver is the play on most holes. And with so much turf out there, you can swing for the fences.
With a peak season rate of $280, this isn't for every Dominican Republic vacationer's budget. But hotel partners promote golf packages here and there, and off-season rates push the experience below $200.
The obvious place to stay is at the Puntacana Resort and Club, the country's only AAA five-diamond award recipient, capped with stylish decor from Oscar de la Renta.
Also located about 30 minutes away by van is the newly revealed Hard Rock Punta Cana Hotel and Casino. This is Hard Rock's only all-inclusive hotel property and features 1,800 rooms sprawled across grounds with many pools and water features, leading out towards the ocean and beach.
The Hard Rock has its own partnering golf course across the street, the Palace Cana Bay, which opened in 2009 and was built by Nicklaus Design.
May 31, 2011
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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