Dominican Republic – A Treasure Trove Of Golf
Mark & Stuart enjoy 7 rounds in 7 days in the Dominican Republic
Mark’s Overview of Golf in the Dominican Republic
My overall impression of Dominican Republic having visited the country was that it completely exceeded my expectations in all ways.
The golf courses include some of the finest ones I’ve ever played and I have been lucky to have played some amazing courses around the world. The Teeth of the Dog course at Casa De Campo is a superb course which really put this island on the golfing map and deserves its ranking as the number one course in the Caribbean and 85th in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it and I would put Punta Espada right up there as equally good and possibly even better. Following closely behind in my personal rankings are Corales and the Dye Fore course at Casa De Campo.
The food and service have been of the highest order throughout, the beaches wonderful and the hotels we stayed in and visited were all superb and in particular Casa de Campo with its 3 excellent courses is definitely worth coming to. None of the courses were particularly penal and as a higher handicap golfer, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and Stuart as a better golfer was equally happy with them.
I believe that having spent time here we are well placed to really put across the experience of staying on the Casa De Campo estate and playing the course enjoying all the numerous facilities and would love to assist you with planning a holiday to the resort. We also believe that a two-centre holiday taking in the three courses at Casa de Campo and some of the other courses we played and could be easily arranged and a great option for those looking to play some of the greatest courses you will ever play.
Casa de Campo is probably one of the safest places you could have a holiday at, it is regarded as ‘the Hamptons of the Caribbean’ as they have an exceptionally high level of security due to the large number of sporting stars, politicians and celebrities who own properties or holiday here – Bill Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashians, Kobe Bryant and many more… We would love to discuss the options available for a golf holiday to this wonderful destination with you and tailor a holiday to suit your exact requirements.
Mark & Stuarts Day By Day Trip Review:
Day 1 – Arrival in Punta Cana
Having heard great things about the golf in the Dominican Republic we were very excited to leave a cold and grey Belfast and head off to the sun! After a 9 hour direct flight from Gatwick with BA, we arrived to a balmy tropical evening in Punta Cana. After a bite to eat and a couple of beers, we got a good night’s sleep in as we knew we had 7 rounds over the next 7 days on what promised to be some superb courses.
Day 2 – La Cana golf course and Tortuga Bay and Westin Hotels
La Cana golf course has 3 nines and we played the Tortuga 9 which was a wonderful layout with holes along the picturesque Tortuga Bay but it was not as good a quality as we hoped for and unsurprisingly they are completely revamping it in the near future. We then played the Hacienda 9 which was in great condition as it’s just been upgraded. The third 9 was closed as it was being upgraded.
As usual on these trips we always have a game between the two of us just to keep it interesting and Mark got a flying start with a birdie on the first hole and another on the 3rd hole and unsurprisingly was 4 up after 5 holes. The course had generous fairways and I would describe it as good but without the wow factor that was about to come in the next days but once the upgrade has been done will be superb. The best holes on the course are the signature par-3 5th across the bay and the finishing par 5 18th.
After the golf we visited the luxurious Tortuga Bay hotel and Westin Hotels. The Tortuga bay is a world-class very stylish boutique hotel set on a wonderful beach. We really liked the Westin with beautiful sea views from lovely big and bright rooms.
Day 3 – Eden Roc Hotel and Corales Golf Course
Again waking up to perfect golf weather with a beautiful blue sky and again on the 20-minute journey to the beautiful Eden Roc hotel. This hotel is simply stunning set on an amazing beach with volcanic rocks in the water and the manicured Punta Espada golf course winding around the back of the hotel. This resort is just pure luxury aimed at the top end of the market very high-tech beautiful big open rooms with balcony views overlooking the sea.
After leaving the Eden Roc after a 10-minute drive we were at Corales Golf Course which is hosting the FedEx tournament in March 2020 so we knew it was going to be something special and it didn’t disappoint. Walking through the clubhouse you see the course and beyond the waves crashing onto the rocks, it was simply stunning and we couldn’t wait to get out there.
As for the course it is truly spectacular, particularly with so many memorable holes along the seafront with the pick of the bunch being the 8th and 9th holes and the fabulous 18th which is one of the best finishing holes I have played. Finishing on this amazing hole with a 230 yard carry over the water and then the second shot is to a green with the backdrop of the ocean.
As for the game we played of the Fazio tees which made it really long and in hindsight would recommend playing off the Corales tees. I was 3 up after 9 holes but didn’t finish Mark off and the game went to the 18th, of course, I tried to go for the short route but a slightly cut drive ended up wet and even though I had a par with the second ball Mark was now 2-0 up!
Whilst enjoying a few cold ones after the game we believed that this had to be the best course we’d be playing out here…it was impossible to fault it in any way, little did we know that even better was to come!
Day 4 – Punta Espada and Hard Rock Hotel
We had an early start as we were moving hotel and had an 8 am tee off but we were excited to get to Punta Espada – having not only read rave reviews and seen stunning photos in advance of our trip we had also had a glimpse of the course the day before when visiting the Eden Roc hotel. As such, we knew it was going to be something special and it didn’t disappoint. Every hole from the first to the last are superbly designed by Jack Nicklaus and immaculately maintained with flawless tee boxes, fairways and greens.
Everything about the course is amazing and once you add in the views as you play hole after hole along the sea you know you are in golfing heaven. The course is well set out with different tee boxes to suit your handicap and keeping it fair at the spectacular holes over the water. My favourite hole was the 17th, a par 4 over water from the tee shot to the green at the back with the backdrop of the ocean just an amazing not hard but very good.
The 2nd hole from an elevated tee taking you down to the sea with a lake protecting the green was another truly memorable hole. As for the game I wasn’t at my best and the course with its generous fairways brought out the best of Mark’s game and after 15 holes I was 3-0 down – there’s always tomorrow I keep saying to myself!
It was a 30 mins drive to the Hard Rock where we would stay for the night, a huge lively, resort, ideal for those who want that bit of buzz around a resort.
Day 5 – Hard Rock Punta Cana course
Fortunately, it wasn’t an early morning start, thank goodness after the night before! Feeling slightly worse for wear we headed off to play the Hard Rock Punta Cana course and you could tell straight away it was a different concept to the past 3 days with it being inland surrounded by thick jungle and obviously lots of trees in play.
Again the course didn’t disappoint with not one bad hole on it and it was challenging in its own way. The first few holes had reasonably tight fairways but after that, the course opened up and was a lot of fun to play. My favourite hole was the 7th, whilst not a ‘wow’ hole but a driveable par-4 risk and reward hole with a tricky green- so it’s not a certain birdie hole whatsoever.
As for the match it was getting embarrassing as I put two in the water on the 18th to lose the match…
Afternoon – Casa De Campo resort
We got picked up for the 1 hour transfer to Casa De Campo so I had plenty of time to reflect on where I was going wrong with my golf…
It didn’t feel like an hour before we arrived at the gates of the 7,000 acre estate. I really didn’t know what to expect other than comments from clients who had already been but when you drive in past some of the 2,000 villas you get the sense of what the place is all about.
We checked in and got the keys to the buggy which you get with every room and made a plan to meet at the beach within 15 mins. I have to say the buggies are great and something different to anything I have stayed in before. As I left the room I checked the map to get to beach club which was very well marked and extremely easy to find and only 6 mins away from my room!
When you arrive you park in the buggy car park (which you will get used to after one day) and after getting a towel from the hut you head to the beautiful white sandy beach. At the beach, you have two food trucks, a juice bar and alcohol bar to use as part of the all-inclusive deal which is great so you could spend the whole day there.
That night we decided to take the buggy to the marina which was 15 mins away (you can shuttle as well) to try the seafood restaurant. It was lovely driving through all the villas so didn’t seem like 15 mins to arrive and when we did it was like someone had lifted a smaller version of Vilamoura to the Caribbean where there are numerous bars and restaurants and not to forget the multi-million-pound boats! The meal itself was first class and in a wonderful setting and again this was part of the all-inclusive deal.
Day 6 – Teeth of the Dog
After a superb breakfast which is taken in a restaurant handily located at the entrance to the clubhouse that serves both the Teeth of the Dog and the Links courses we headed over to the practice area. After a good warm-up, we then headed to the 10th hole of the Teeth Of The Dog for a round with Adam and Kim who have booked a number of holidays with us. They were fantastic company and we had a really enjoyable round. Mark and I were 1 down after 9 but he had an amazing second 9, so much so Adam and Kim probably won’t be booking with us again – the term bandit may have been used once or twice.
The course was spectacular, in addition to the iconic beach holes the rest of the course was also great, with lots of beautiful mature trees. Obviously, water came into play on the holes along the sea but the fairways were generous enough that you could generally stay out of trouble. The Teeth of the Dog is an old mature course compared to the others we had played it has the perfect mix of tricky inland holes and stunning oceanside holes.
The inland holes are set up to make you think with some raised greens and a lot of clever bunkering so if you miss the green on any hole you are looking at a challenge to get up and down. As for the ocean holes, it really was a hard choice on this one to pick favourite hole but the par-3 175 yard 7th gets it with the tee box sticking out into the ocean with the beach and green straight ahead, there is a small bailout area on the right but essentially you have to hit green. It’s was just a fabulous golf hole and to be honest the stretch from 5 to 8 on the front nine are as good as it gets.
In our match whilst I went well Mark played as well as I’ve seen him play and as such I didn’t stand a chance…
Afternoon – Tour of Casa de Campo Estate
After a superb lunch at the Minitas beach club with the charming Maria who looks after the golf at the resort we did a tour of all the facilities at Casa de Campo. This is a huge estate with 2,000 holiday homes and 200 of these are available to rent so we had a look at some of them and feel that be ideal for those who want their own place with access to the beach club, the three golf courses and a large number of dining options.
The resort has an amphitheatre that can hold 8,000 people so they have concerts and shows throughout the year and this is right next to Chavón village, a Mediterranean style village which is very charming and has a number of bars and restaurants. The village is stunningly perched high up overlooking the river and is a great place to go up to either by buggy or shuttle for dinner.
There is a marina which is a short golf buggy ride away from the hotel which again has a number of wonderful restaurants with views around the marina of luxurious motor cruisers and yachts. A number of the restaurants in the village and the marina that are included in the all-inclusive package that we provide.
Before we came we were unsure of the logistics of staying in such a vast estate that everyone gets a buggy to get them around the resort and there are also shuttles from hotel to the village, down to the marina and to the beach club. Stuart and I opted to get around primarily in the golf buggies and enjoyed the experience going along the roads with the beautiful houses and lovely old mature trees in this very pretty estate.
As we had a late lunch at the beach club and just wanted something light and informal so we had dinner outside at the bar area of the hotel, the food was great and the beers cold. As always the staff were very professional but also very relaxed and great fun.
Day 7 Dye Fore course
We took a 15 minutes buggy ride through the estate and up the hill up to play the Dye Fore course, they also have a shuttle if you don’t want to drive yourself. There are 3 nines and we played the Chavon 9 first, it’s impressively set high above the river it’s named after with some dramatic holes along the edge looking down to the river. The course offers a lot of risk and reward opportunities but being sensible seemed to bring better rewards. With reasonably wide fairways the course wasn’t overly difficult but there are a lot of raised greens making scoring hard if you didn’t nail your approach shots.
We then played the marina nine which again had generous fairways and some lovely views down along the river to the sea. The course is overlooked by some (ridiculously) large mansions. There were no weak holes on either of the nines we played and the greens were all in wonderful condition and the courses, in general, were superbly maintained. If you put me on the spot I would have to say Marina 9 was the better as you had a stretch of four very tough but good holes with views to the ocean and marina. My favourite hole on this course would have been the par-4, 4th set up high and everything heading down to the sea, a great hole.
Yes, surprisingly I actually won a game against Mark. We retired to the bar that night to celebrate me breaking my duck and had a few drinks and a lovely meal in La Cana a la carte restaurant in the heart of the hotel which had many great options on the menu.
Day 8 – Links course at Casa De Campo
On our final day we played our seventh game of golf in seven days on the Links course which doesn’t really get the praise it deserves as it’s overshadowed by the Teeth of the Dog and Dye Fore courses. As with the other two courses, this is a resort course with generous fairways and was in great condition. There are several good par 3 holes and whilst there were not any spectacular holes like on so many of the other courses we played this week it’s a course I would happily return to play again and again.
As with all the other courses it was in great condition and without a bad hole. As for my favourite hole this time has to be the 3rd it’s not the hardest par 4 you will ever play but with the out of bounds on both side of the fairway to a raised green it makes it a great hole where it’s either an easy par or a triple bogey.
Again it’s another defeat in a match on the 18th hole giving Mark a 6-1 win but if I’d had a few stronger finishes the loss could have been overturned but regardless I’m insisting a handicap meeting before our the next trip!
All in all what an enjoyable trip it has been, it has exceeded my expectations of what to expect regarding hotels and golf courses. The hotels are lovely and the staff always smiling and nothing is an issue to them, the food was outstanding and the golf was outstanding. We didn’t find one bad hole in all 126 holes we played and that’s the first time I can say that about any country I have ever visited.
- BA offer some exceptionally good fares including some great value Premium Economy and Club Class fares.
- Casa De Campo is a large estate which isn’t like a standard golf resort and we’d love to discuss the ‘experience’ of staying here with you.
- Having travelled many times to Mauritius including a couple of weeks prior to going to the Dominican Republic I have put together a checklist comparing the two destinations.
Top Courses in the Caribbean from ‘Top100golfcourses.com’
- No 1: Casa De Campo – Teeth of the Dog Course (85th in the world)
- No.3: Punta Espada
- No 4: Corales
- No 18: Casa De Campo – Dye Fore Course
- No 26: La Cana
We were blown away by what we found on our trip to the Dominican Republic. Try it for yourself with our All-Inclusive Casa De Campo Golf Holiday Offer.