Dominican Republic—Golf’s Caribbean Queen

Dominican Republic is the leading destination for golf in the Caribbean and Latin America. The tropical island paradise boasts 25 designer golf courses amid breathtaking coastlines, mountain backdrops and lush green fairways.

The Dominican Republic is the country most recognised in the Latin American & Caribbean Golf Destination of the Year IAGTO Awards category. It has won the coveted award three times including 2016.

With a wide array of inland and coastal courses, the tropical nation features more golf holes with a sea view than any other Caribbean destination. What’s more, 37 golf holes are directly on either the Caribbean Sea or Atlantic Ocean, meaning golfers enjoy an unrivaled experience playing alongside azure-blue waters or crashing waves.

The country’s courses carry the world-class designer labels of Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Sr, Tom Fazio and Gary Player.

The iconic, cliff-top Playa Grande Golf Course is dubbed the ‘Pebble Beach of the Caribbean’ for its dramatic layout. Every one of Playa Grande’s 18 holes offers stirring views of the Atlantic Ocean. More than half of them play right along the edge of 30-metre sea cliffs. Its reopening, following a Rees Jones redesign of six of the course’s back nine holes to accommodate the new Amanera Resort hotel on the cliff edge, has resulted in the final five holes being routed along the cliffs parallel to the ocean. This takes the country’s total of ocean view holes from 68 to 86, while the number of holes alongside the sea has gone up from the previous 27.

Keep your eyes peeled while playing Playa Grande, too. When you are not sizing up your putts looking for birdies, cast your gaze seawards and you might spot a passing humpback whale—thousands of them migrate to Samaná Bay to mate and calve from mid-January to mid-March each year. You can also see them from other courses including Corales and Punta Espada, by the country’s easternmost tip.

Corales and Punta Espada are among five other golf courses around the Dominican Republic’s coastline with ocean side holes. Eight holes of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Punta Espada course play next to the sea, while 13 of its 18 holes have ocean views. Punta Espada was recently ranked the No.1 golf course in GolfWeek’s Best of the Caribbean & Mexico list for the eighth consecutive year.

A Tom Fazio design, Corales enjoys one of golf’s most magnificent finishes. The last three holes being called the Devil’s Elbow culminate in a striking, U-shaped 18th that plays around a narrow, bluff-edged bay. Its 18 holes include 12 with sea views and four on the ocean. Of neighboring La Cana’s 27 holes, golfers can see the ocean from 14 holes, with four also playing right by the water, including the closing two holes of its Arrecife course.

Opened in 1971 and renovated in 2005, Teeth of the Dog is one of four Pete Dye’s designs at the Casa de Campo resort at La Romana on the southeast coast. It was the first Dominican Republic course to use the sea to dramatic effect, putting it on the global golfing map. Its name derives from the jagged rock formations jutting into the Caribbean on which Dye placed tees and greens. Three of its four par-3 holes play over waves to the greens. In total, it has seven holes next to the sea and 11 with ocean views. Sister course Dye Fore, partly set on cliffs skirting the Chavón River valley, has 13 holes with Caribbean views.

In the far north, Playa Dorada Golf Club in Puerto Plata is another Trent Jones design that has four holes set right by the Atlantic and five in all with ocean views.

If you prefer a change of scenery, try one of the 12 inland courses. They include, The Lakes Barceló Golf Course, with 25 lakes set within a mangrove forest. The Nicklaus Design layout at the Hard Rock Golf Club at Cana Bay, where pink flamingos reside on a lake by the 18th green add a splash of colour. The Gary Player-designed Guavaberry Golf & Country Club course is 30 minutes from capital Santo Domingo’s airport. It borders a tropical forest and nature preserve and is lined by stately Corozo palm trees. Several have island greens for those who really don’t want to get away from water!

The Dominican Republic’s glorious seascapes offer some great 19th hole locations to help you relax after a long and hard-fought round with your golfing buddies. La Cana’s grand Golf & Beach Club, magnificently positioned overlooking a white-sand beach and the blue Caribbean, is one of the best spots to chill out while sipping local specialties. The clubhouse bars of Punta Espada and Corales also offer great beach and sea views.

One of the most ecologically diverse nations in the world, the Dominican Republic also features magnificent waterfalls, wondrous caves, beautiful forested mountains, superb beaches and stately coconut palm groves.