The 12 Most Thrilling Golf Courses in the Dominican Republic
When you think of the Dominican Republic, your first thought probably isn’t golf.
But, it should be.
The fact of the matter is that the Domincan Republic houses some of the best Golf courses in the world. At the moment, it has 25 considered to be “State of the Art” with more currently under construction. And, if that wasn’t enough proof for you…
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators named it the “Golf Destination of the Year for the Caribbean and Latin America.”
Even in a place as exotic and idyllic as the Dominican Republic, you shouldn’t let your golf swing get rusty. And, seeing as the Dominican Republic is unrivaled in oceanside golfing, you’ll still be experiencing something you wouldn’t get anywhere else. The picture above is from the beautiful La Estancia Golf course from this list. One of 12 amazing spots to see.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the country’s best golf courses.
Casa de Campo—Teeth of the Dog
A photo of this place belongs on the wall of anyone who has an eye for beauty.
Casa de Campo is a popular golf destination, due in part to a course designed by famous Golf Course designer Pete Dye and his wife, Alice. Oh, did we say “a” course? Sorry…
We meant three.
Casa de Campo has three golf courses designed by Pete and Alice. And the crown jewel of these courses is the “Teeth of the Dog.” It was designed over the course of two years. The Dye family’s crew transformed a rocky wasteland into the most exciting golf course in the world.
But, what makes Teeth of the Dog special is the fact that it’s the greatest example of the Dominican Republic’s potential for seaside golf. Seven of its eighteen holes hug the shoreline and provide some of the most spectacular views imaginable. While some other courses on our list beat that number, none are quite as beautiful.
This isn’t just a “best-in-the-DR” course. It’s one of the best in the world.
If Teeth of the Dog is one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses, Corales is one of the most exciting.
Designed by Tom Fazio and located at the famous Punta Cana resort, Corales’ six oceanside holes puts it just behind Teeth of the Dog. But, that’s not what makes it stand out.
What really makes Corales stand out are the last three holes, nicknamed “El Codo del Diablo,” or “The Devil’s Elbow,” known for their difficulty.
Which says a lot, considering that the whole course is highly varied and rife with hazards, designed to keep even the most skilled golfer focused and on their toes. It even skirts around some cliffs for added excitement.
Cap Cana—Punta Espada
Let’s chalk Cap Cana up for having as much potential as it does extant attraction.
Punta Espada is the first of three planned Jack Nicklaus courses in Cap Cana, and people are already saying it’s going to be difficult to top.
It edges out “Teeth of the Dog” with eight oceanside holes, noted for being so close to the coast that you can feel the ocean spray. On top of that, the 2nd hole is played at the course’s highest point. It’s the toughest hole in the course, passing a beach bunker and stretching 611 yards.
Definitely hard to top.
Punta Cana—La Cana
La Cana is a masterpiece crafted by Pete Dye’s son, Paul Burke Dye. It combines the excitement of the Corales with the Dye family’s sense of flow. It twists and turns through bits of real-estate, and winds between shorelines and ponds. It has two holes that protrude out into the ocean, as well as several that are surrounded by sand or water hazards.
The last two holes stand out: You’re forced to aim your shot perfectly—too far left and you’ll hit ocean, too far right and you’ll be mired in sand.
Rio San Juan—Playa Grande
Playa Grande was one of Robert Trent Jones’ last courses before his death, and was recently renovated by Jones’ son, Reese.
It’s been compared to the famous “Pebble Beach” golf course in California, due to the preponderance of cliff-tops and oceanfront holes. Truth be told, Playa Grande outdoes Pebble Beach, with ten oceanside holes—more than any on this list.
That said, it is considered a very challenging course, with the front nine measuring more than 3,600 yards in total, and the back nine housing two holes that stretch over 450 yards.
Casa De Campo—Dye Fore and Dye Fore Lakes
The Dye family’s reputation is well-earned. While the massive Dye Fore and Dye Fore Lake courses may be overshadowed by the finesse of the Teeth of the Dog, they’re spectacular in their own right.
For starters, the pair offers a break from oceanside holes. Not by omitting them completely, but by offering you a differing landscape. The course stretches from the Dominican Mountains down to the shore, giving views of mountaintops, the Marina, and the Caribbean Sea over the course of your day.
And now, with the 2011 addition of the Dye Fore Lakes, the complex consists of a whopping 27 holes.
Casa De Campo—The Links
Straying even further from the Ocean, Pete Dye’s “Links” course avoids the waterfront views of Dye Fore and the Teeth of the Dog.
Instead, The Links is built to challenge your skill as a golfer. Even the wide, forgiving fairways will test your abilities, and each hole is harder than the last. Water hazards aren’t introduced until the 12th hole, and given how challenging the following holes are, that should be seen as an act of mercy.
It, too, was renovated recently, and if you’re looking for a pure test of golfing talent outside of the trappings seen in the rest of the courses on this list, it’s a good pick.
Hard Rock Hotel—Cana Bay Palace
This is a massive 18-hole course by Nicklaus that stretches over 7,253 yards. The story of its development is equally as long and interesting; it was slowed by financial crises, contractor issues, and natural disasters before finally reaching completion.
You can read the details of its construction and methodology elsewhere, but for now, know that it was designed to be a tricky, surreal course, with false bunkers and holes that stretch both high and low. The ninth hole seems completely surrounded by water, making for a beautiful round.
It’s a unique course, and well worth your time.
IBEROSTAR Punta Cana—Iberostate Bavaro
Iberostate manages to be friendly to both pro and amateur golfers. Despite this, it’s every bit as varied as Cana Bay Palace and La Cana, with elevated terrain, swales, mounding, and extensive rock work. No surprise; It’s yet another work by P.B. Dye.
It’s beautiful, too: The color contrast between the silica sand bunkers, lakes, streams, and desert features make an impression on everyone who visits.
Oddly enough, Iberostate does seem to fly under the radar to some, potentially because of how amateur-friendly it is. But, it still enjoys high ratings among golf enthusiasts.
Guavaberry Golf and Country Club
Located close to the Santo Domingo airport and designed by Gary Player, Guavaberry boasts a unique terrain.
It’s considered one of the best inland courses in the Dominican Republic and, rather than giving you an oceanside or mountain view, it’s located in the heart of the jungles of Juan Dolio. The two greens are separated by a massive waterfall on the 13th hole, and you’ll be treated to views of indigenous coral rock formations and native vegetation.
Outside of the view and the waterfall, Guavaberry is a straightforward course that’ll provide an exotic flair to a comfortable day of golf.
Punta Blanca is another course that’s flown under the radar. It bears some similarities to Guavaberry, with an abundance of native vegetation and rocky outcroppings. But, it throws in wetlands on the outer edges of several holes, as well as sandy waste areas. On top of that, it has plenty of natural hazards scattered about.
Luckily, most of the fairways are wide, allowing Punta Blanca to be welcoming to both golf aficionados and newbies interested in a relaxing afternoon.
Appropriately, we’ll be ending this list with another of the Dye family’s work. La Estancia was designed by P.B. Dye and set on a rolling landscape near the Chavon river and Tanama ravine. It routes around canyons and gullies, and contains some extremely challenging terrain.
Oddly enough, La Estancia wound up bankrupt only a few years ago, but is making its way back into the limelight as people catch on to the Dominican potential for Golf.
The Dominican Republic really does have too many attractions to count, and golf is near the top. The country is dotted with courses that cater to pros and amateurs alike, and offer views and challenges like nothing else you’ll find in the world.
We’ve only listed what we find to be the 12 best golf courses in the country, but there are more to explore and more appearing with each passing month. So, if you’re a golf enthusiast, a stay in the Dominican Republic should be at the top of your to-do list.
Written by Connor Johnson
Connor Johnson is a flexible content and copy writer located in the Boston area. He supplements his writing with in-depth research and general marketing skills. He can be contacted here.