Best Golf Courses in the
Casa de Campo (La Romana)
Casa de Campo is a luxurious residential estate and resort located on the eastern coast of La Romana. The property, which was formerly a major sugar producer of the American conglomerate Gulf & Western, now sprawls over an area of nearly seven thousand acres. In the late 1960s, the company decided to diversify its business, and it has since become known for its world-renowned golf courses.
In 1971, the first course, Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog, was unveiled, followed by the addition of the Links layout three years later. La Romana Country Club was the next to join the property, opening as a private facility in 1990, and the public Dye Fore course debuted in 2005. However, La Romana is the only course at Casa de Campo that requires visitors and even resort residents to be accompanied by a member in order to play.
Nine new holes have since been added to extend La Romana to 27 holes. The first 18 holes were constructed with Bermuda grass, while the Paspalum-grassed tees and greens of the new holes at 19 to 27 blend in seamlessly. La Romana’s wide fairways are ideal for members, as none of the par four holes exceed 400 yards, and all six of the par fives are under 500 yards from tee to green.
Cap Cana resort boasts three Jack Nicklaus courses, with the Punta Espada 18-hole layout being the first to open in 2007. This golf course takes advantage of the natural coastal topography, featuring holes along the shoreline, cliffs, beach, and lagoons. Currently, golf enthusiasts can play the course for a steep green fee. This may change when the Golden Bear’s $26 million Las Iguanas course opens nearby, potentially turning Punta Espada into a private facility.
One of the course’s standout holes is the par five 2nd. It is widely considered the most challenging hole. Players must navigate a 611-yard course, starting from one of the highest points on the property, and doglegging right past a tidal lake and beach bunker.
The course features a compelling set of holes around the turn. Beginning with the shortest par four on the card at the 8th and culminating with the longest par four at the 11th. Golfers may have a chance at a birdie on the 8th, provided they steer clear of the lengthy sandy waste area alongside the fairway. However, even with the aid of a favorable wind, the prospect of posting a three on the 497-yard 11th hole is highly improbable.
In Punta Cana’s Bávaro region, P.B. Dye has left his mark on the golfing landscape. In 2001, he designed La Cana, the first course in the area, and went on to revamp Lakes Barceló, Bávaro’s oldest layout, in 2010. The year before, he also created an original design for the Iberostar Bávaro hotel, located a little further up the coast. PB’s contribution to golf in the east of Punta Cana is as significant as his late father’s impact on the sport in the south at La Romana.
Punta Cana’s coastline boasts a plethora of golf courses, from the top-ranked Punta Espada, a Jack Nicklaus course at Cap Cana in the southeast, to Hard Rock Cana Bay, another Nicklaus design, in the northwest. The Iberostar Bávaro, another of PB’s designs, is situated next to Punta Blanca, a Nick Price-designed course.
The course is cleverly crafted from a flat, rocky landscape into an intriguing Caribbean golfing challenge, featuring lakes, streams, and sandy waste areas that keep visitors and hotel guests on their toes. The longest of the four tee boxes measures almost 6,800 yards, providing a challenge for golfers seeking a test.
At the par-three 8th, an unusual starfish-shaped island green complex surrounded by sand instead of water greets golfers. The green’s shape is a nod to the Iberostar resort’s logo, ensuring players remember where they are. This unforgettable hole is one that players are likely to reminisce about long after their game has ended.
Hard Rock at Cana Bay
The Hard Rock Golf Club at Cana Bay is a Nicklaus Design course that went unnoticed when it was first introduced in 2010. It took a few years for golfers to recognize its true value. It is possible that the course was underestimated because of its association with the modern music scene and a younger, more relaxed style of dress and play. Despite this, the author tried to make up for lost time by speaking with Mark Meijer, the Design Associate at Nicklaus Design who laid out the course. Mark discussed his experience working on the project, including the challenges they faced during construction, such as the earthquake that affected the lead bunker shaper, Domingo, and caused him to lose eight family members.
The course used Sea Isle Supreme Paspalum grass throughout and the Superintendent, Ronnie Guzman, has been able to maintain it without any major issues. The design of the course involved creatively carving out the coral stone to create visual drama and to elevate the tees. The soil was primarily coral stone, so they had to sand cap the entire course to add fertile alluvial material. They also dug sump wells in low areas for drainage and recycled the drainage on hole 9 for reuse.
When designing the course, the routing was already fixed, but Mark asked the developer to change the location of hole 10 to make it closer to the clubhouse. The longest par four on the course, hole 14, was designed with a challenging approach shot and three distinct areas on the putting surface for pin placements. This green complex is Mark’s favorite on the course.
Punta Blanca Golf Club is situated near several upscale resorts on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, and it was Nick Price’s inaugural Caribbean golf course design, debuting in 2007. The course navigates through indigenous vegetation and rocky formations, with several holes bordering wetlands and expansive sandy areas. The course features many natural hazards, but it’s accommodating enough to allow players of all skill levels to relish their game.
Notably, three of the five par threes are situated on the back nine, and the signature 15th boasts an island green surrounded by sand. The challenge of these short holes is offset by a trio of demanding par fives at holes 12, 14, and 17.
The course at Playa Grande was designed by Trent Jones, and it was one of his last projects before his death in 2000. It is located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Next to a residential complex, the course has been nicknamed “the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean.” This is because of its 10 oceanfront holes, which surpass even the famous Californian course. These holes are situated along cliff tops to the west of Playa Grande and Playa Precioso beaches.
The front nine of the course measures 3,666 yards, and the 193-yard 7th hole is the standout hole. It leads to a green beyond a rocky inlet. On the back nine, golfers can enjoy two notable par fives. The first is the 488-yard 12th, which offers an exciting drive across the ocean. The second is the 589-yard 18th, a challenging double dogleg.
In 2015, the course underwent an extensive renovation by Rees Jones (son of the original architect) and Bryce Swanson. The greens and bunkers were remodeled. Part of the back nine was re-routed to provide a thrilling finish beside the ocean.