Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Highlights of Dominican Trip

This past February I ventured down to the Dominican Republic and spent several days relaxing in the +82 deg sunshine and golfing. I flew JetBlue through San Juan into Punta Cana and was surprised by the large size of its international airport. The first night we stayed at the Sheraton Four Points which is conveniently located near the airport. Across the street there is a quiet village atmosphere with several restaurants and a grocery store that carried a nice variety of food at prices similar to the USA. One dollar equals about 39 Dominican pesos.

The next morning my group headed 15 minutes South to the 30,000 acre gated Cap Cana region and spent the next 5 nights at the all inclusive Sanctuary Resort. Located on the ocean it includes 5 restaurants with all different cuisines, 5 swimming pools and a spa. The service and food/drink were excellent and well worth the $200 per person a night charge.

The first course we played was Punta Espada located another 5 minutes south in Cap Cana and had the most impressive assortment of ocean holes of all the courses we played. It certainly provided the sternest test of golf of the four courses. Not a big fan of Jack Nicklaus designed courses, I really enjoyed this one. You are so close to the water on several holes that you can feel the mist from the spectacular aqua colored ocean. The par 5 second hole is one the best I have ever played. At $325 plus a tip for your fore caddy it was the most expensive but provided me with a nice golf experience and the best conditioned course of the trip.

The second day we ventured back up to Punta Cana and played the P.B. Dye designed La Cana Golf Club. This course was the weakest of the group but still enjoyable with it's green complex designs. The short par 4 eighth hole located on the ocean was my favorite. At $150 plus caddy tip it was worth the money. Golf is not cheap in this part of the world.

Day 3 was our biggest adventure as we traveled NW about 70 miles in a rental car to La Romona and played The Teeth of the Dog. The highway over there was just like the four lane turnpikes in the US with the exception of the numerous armed personal positioned along the way. Initially, I thought they were traffic cops but once I was passed by a bunch of motorcycles going about 120 mph I realized these guys weren't interested in speeders. The numerous toll booth costs depended on how much the attendant felt they could give back to you in change, if any. I like to bargain, so on the way back I got the best of them after they had fleeced me a couple of times on the way there. It cost us about $125 to rent the car, gas, and tolls for the day. Teeth of the Dog was one of Pete Dye's original (1971) Top 100 designs and I think he came back and tweaked it in 2005. One of the best par 3 collections of ocean holes you will ever play. All together there are seven holes next to the Caribbean. Conditioning of the course was below that of Corales and Punta Espada. Shot a 75 with a couple of birdies. $245 plus caddie fee.

Our last day of golf was back in Punta Cana at the Corales course. The course was designed in 2010 by Tom Fazio. As usual with most of the Fazio courses I have played, he does a marvelous job integrating different types of vegetation to produce a very aesthetic result. At Corales he has two dual green holes scattered among an assortment of very playable holes. I wasn't overly impressed with what he did with the ocean holes. Maybe it was because I hit a ball in the water on both the ninth and last hole that cost me a sub par round. I started the day off by dropping a 40 footer, the first of four birdies, and was 3 under par going into #9 where I misjudged the wind and hit it long into the Caribbean. We had a couple of fun caddies, one who could not count past Par for our two opponents he was keeping score for, which produced some added banter. $300 plus caddie fee.

The enormous homes surrounding these four golf courses really surprised me. I thought I was going into a country of poverty and I came upon a region of the rich and famous at these resorts. I enjoyed the native people I met on the trip and would return again in the future.

For those who didn't see the individual slideshows of each course, below are some highlights.


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