Source: New England Golf
With three Pete Dye-design courses, Casa de Campo has gotten its share of ink, air time and foot traffic over the last three decades, and deservedly so, but there is much more to the Dominican Republic and the nearby cities of Punta Cana and Cap Cana to attract the golfing tourist.
Most everyone knows about the Dominican Republic’s cigars, brilliant white beaches and the country’s passion for baseball, but with 26 golf courses dotting the countryside, the Dominican Republic (DR) is now the premier golf destination of the Caribbean.
Tourism is the country’s No. 1 industry, and with over 80,000 hotel rooms, the country lays-out the red carpet to visitors from all over the world, to the tune of over 2.6 million last year. First-time visitors on a golf vacation are treated like royalty with the hope they’ll become frequent guests and spread the word.
On a recent visit here, my third in the last six years, the experience was magnificent, particularly the accommodations at the all-inclusive Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, located about 25 minutes from Punta Cana Airport. The variety of golf courses was impressive, replete with picture-postcard scenes and lush, manicured fairways and greens.
“Make no mistake that booking a golf vacation to the Dominican Republic will be a first-rate experience,” said Teddy De Lara, President of Target Consultores, a public relations firm based in the capital city of Santo Domingo. “To each golf guest we deliver an amazing body and soul experience. From the moment a golfer arrives on the island, they can feel the vibe, enjoy the moment and appreciate the journey to whatever golf course they select.”
The DR is the second largest and most diverse Caribbean country, situated two hours south of Miami, and less than four hours from New York. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, the tropical island boasts 1,000 miles of coastline, 250 miles of the world’s top beaches, over 200 magnificent resorts and hotels, and a variety of sports, recreation and entertainment opportunities.
“A golf trip to the Dominican Republic is affordable and fun,” said Ty De Lavalle, President of DR Golf Vacations. “We have many types of stay-and-play packages that include playing on world-class designer golf courses by some of the best course architects like Pete Dye, jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Greg Norman.”
The DR claims to be the undisputed leader of golf in the tropics. Seven of the DR’s courses have been ranked in Golfweek Magazine’s Top 50 courses in the Caribbean and Mexico. Punta Espada is on every top 10 list, Los Corales – where the PGA Tour holds an annual tournament, and “Teeth of the Dog” at Casa de Campo has held the No. 1 spot since 2009.
In the Punta Cana region, here is my pick-six list by rank and reason.
The first word out of my mouth after walking out of the Punta Espada golf shop was “WOW.” After about two dozen “WOWS” throughout the day I lost track because there are so many gorgeous, invigorating and breathtaking opportunities.
Punta Espada Golf Club, designed by Nicklaus Golf in 2006, features eight holes playing alongside or over the Caribbean Sea, including the stunning par-4 17th, which requires a tee shot carry over an ocean inlet.
May I humbly suggest that you put this course on your bucket list. It’s astonishing and you’ll hear yourself mumbling “Wow” all day for all the right reasons.