By S. Adam Cardais,
Boasting more than 800 miles of turquoise coastline, the Dominican Republic has two golf courses in the top 55 of Golf Digest's ranking of the 100 Best Courses Outside the U.S. Barbados is the only other Caribbean destination with a course in the top 55.
World-renowned golf course architects have during the past 30 years built some of the most memorable golf courses in the world here. Their names include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Pete Dye, who in 1971 designed the Teeth of the Dog at Casa De Campo, which over the last three decades has gained reputation as one of the finest golf courses in the world.
Other great plays have been popping up ever since, most recently the Jack Nicklaus Signature Punta Espada Golf Course in Cap Cana, a luxury real estate development. More are on the way, with Nicklaus alone under contract for two more designs at Cap Cana.
Not convinced yet? Here's a quick guide to the best of the best in golf in the Dominican Republic.
Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo: This course made No. 17 in Golf Digest.com's ranking of The 100 Best Courses Outside the U.S, and it is widely considered the best round of golf in the Caribbean. Designed by Pete Dye, Teeth of the Dog is the Dominican Republic's most famous golf course - and for good reason. It's a great play, a favorite with pros and amateurs alike.
Measuring just under 7,000 yards with a 140 slope rating, Teeth of the Dog isn't a particularly long track. There are also few trees and little rough, but the wind coming off the ocean - seven holes are on the Caribbean Sea - give Teeth of the Dog its punch. There are also several elevated greens.
No. 16 is the signature hole. It's a 194-yard par-3 on a rock-toothed cove shaped like snapping jaws. Ocean foam spraying over the rocks provides the "Teeth of the Dog."
Playa Dorada Golf Course: This is the second best course in the Dominican Republic, according to Golf Digest, which put it at number on 53 its list. Opened in 1976, Playa Dorada is a Robert Trent Jones design. The course features a top-rate pro shop with a wide range of golf gear and golf academy, where a two-session swing performance lesson runs a little over $325. Fairways Bar & Grill is a great place to relax after your round with a cold drink and quick bite.
Dye Fore at Casa de Campo: Pete Dye's most recent addition to Casa de Campo resort is said to rival Teeth of the Dog. Measuring 7,700 yards from the back tees, Dye Fore is significantly longer than its snarling friend, but nevertheless carries a lower slope rating, 134.
The Links at Casa de Campo: Water is the major feature of this course, also a Pete Dye design. There are several lagoons and lakes, so watch out if you don't want to spend the entire day in the drink. If that weren't enough, tall bahia and guinea grass rough will have you wishing for a weed wacker, and its many sand traps will keep you on your toes. With a slope rating of 124, The Links measures 6,461 yards from the back tees.
Puntacana Resort & Club Designed by P.B. Dye, Pete Dye's youngest son, Puntacana is one of the longest courses on the island at 7,152 yards from the tips. But you'll be rewarded with four holes playing right along the Caribbean Sea.
Pot bunkers are a major feature: No. 7 alone has 21. Two holes later, you'll come across arguably the toughest test of your round. The No. 9 is a 454-yard par-4 dogleg left, with the tee shot playing over a huge waste area that runs the length of the hole on the left. Even with a lengthy draw, the approach won't be easy, as the green is elevated, requiring some serious precision golf.
Guavaberry Golf & Country Club: Located on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, this 7,156-yard Gary Player-design features wide fairways, subtly undulating greens and several sets of tees. Even the most seasoned of golfers will be challenged, while Guavaberry's five tee sets offer a respite to novices. Regardless of your skill level, you'll love No. 13,which features a waterfall cascading into a pond.
Punta Espada Golf Course in Cap Cana: The Golden Bear inaugurated this Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in November. It is the first of three signature courses Nicklaus will design for Cap Cana, a luxury tourist and real estate development. The signature hole is the 250-yard No. 13, which forces golfers to hit the tee shot over the ocean onto a green surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.
May 25, 2007
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.