Golfing in the Dominican Republic

Golf in the Dominican Republic | BCBusiness
Pete Dye’s revered Teeth of the Dog course.

Golf served up with wind, waves and warmth in the Caribbean

Golf and the sea have always had a special relationship. The wind and the waves, the sand and the surf–they all just add to the allure of the game. It’s always been that way. No wonder then that the world’s great seaside golf destinations are revered, from the “old world” favourites like Scotland and Ireland, to warmer “new world” locales like the Dominican Republic, considered by many the crème de la crème of tropical golf destinations.

Of course, there are a lot of great seaside golf courses in the tropics. The Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii, even Puerto Rico and Costa Rica are home to some stunning layouts that linger on the ledges above the azure blue. In fact, some of the best courses built in the past 10 years are in the tropics–and, more specifically, in the Caribbean.

But few countries boast as many awesome courses hugging the ocean as the Dominican Republic. Of the 30 championship golf courses in the country, more than half generously serve up beautiful ocean views. And many of those feature holes directly on the beach. Indeed, if the tropical seaside golf genre melts your butter, then a golf getaway to the DR should be on your radar.

The place to start is Casa de Campo in La Romana, located in the far southeast corner of the country. Thanks to a recently opened freeway–it is now just 45 minutes from the Punta Cana International Airport–much of the challenge in getting to Casa de Campo has been alleviated. Prior to 2014, it took over two hours on a slow, bumpy, two-lane road–a significant deterrent for some.

Casa de Campo is home to three Pete Dye-designed courses as well as the private La Romana Country Club, which is also a Pete Dye design. While a more fitting name for the place might be “Dyeville,” the resort, which is essentially a gated town of a few thousand people, is consistently recognized as one of the greatest golf resorts in the world. Its star attraction is the revered Teeth of the Dog course. Opened in 1971, “Teeth” is Pete Dye’s seaside masterpiece. It’s been ranked the number one course in the Caribbean for over 40 years. There are a total of seven holes that play directly along the wave-smashed shore. The drama is unforgettable.

The stretch of holes from the fifth to the eighth, which includes two gorgeous par-3s, is one of the world’s great seaside runs. The fifth hole, a short par-3 with a postage stamp green kissing the water, is masterful Dye at his best. There is little margin for error. It’s a sublime golf hole that is in the same league as the seventh at Pebble Beach. Thankfully, after playing the eighth, you can look forward to three more spectacular seaside holes from the fifteenth to the seventeenth–another trifecta, of sorts, that seals the deal for Teeth’s rightful recognition as one of the world’s great courses.

Although Teeth is the clear standout at Casa de Campo, the Links Course and Dye Fore both afford rock-solid golf with that special Pete Dye flare. Dye Fore, which soars along the Chavon River, is particularly spectacular and would easily be Casa de Campo’s top draw if Teeth of the Dog didn’t overshadow it.

After a round of golf–or, heaven forbid, on a day off from the game–visitors can always take pleasure in the area’s out-of-this-world beaches, including the idyllic, white, sugar-sand stretches of the Punta Cana area. For adventurous types who want to try surfing, there are exceptional waves to be had up and down the coast. Next door to the Roco Ki resort, which is home to an awesome Nick Faldo course, is one of the best beginner surfing beaches in the world. The baby-blue bay (the beach is called Macao) is home to a surf shop with local instructors who will give you the lowdown in broken English. The best part? The rental boards are big, the water is warm and the ocean bottom is all sand. It’s absolutely perfect for beginners who tend to spend more time trying to figure out which way is up.