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Dominican Republic


F


ew people have the time or inclination to island-hop around the Caribbean to play golf, but head to the Dominican Republic and you could tee off at many of the region’s top spots in one week. “Most golfers don’t


want to waste time trekking between clubs and the Dominican Republic has a concentration of good courses which can be reached by one direct flight from the UK,” says Andrew Smith, director of product at Your Golf Travel. While the majority of clubs can be found in the southeast of


the country, it's worth heading to the north to play the brilliant new course at Amanera, Aman’s second Caribbean property. Playa Grande was originally designed by the doyen of golf architects, Robert Trent Jones Snr. Over the years it fell into disrepair, but has now been refurbished and in some places re-routed by his son, Rees Jones, to wonderful effect. Snaking along the ocean cliffs, no fewer than 10 of the 18 holes play next to — or over — the crashing surf below, so it’s a charming walk even without the clubs. With them, the 7,085-yard course is a modern classic. Playing from the back tees, scratch golfers face several


daunting risk/reward drives over the water, but high handicappers can choose to play around such hazards with generous fairways and relatively flat USGA-spec greens. If game improvement is your bag, there’s a spacious driving range with Julio Santos, an international pro tournament player, on hand to help iron out those annoying kinks in the backswing. Most keen golfers will base themselves in the south east


where there are over 20 courses. Three of the best — all designed by Pete Dye — are at Casa de Campo. First, chiselled out of coral, Teeth of the Dog is regularly ranked highly in the region. While the back tees are strictly for professionals, even the front ones are challenging and not for the faint-hearted. Still tough, but a litle easier for mid-handicappers, is the


7,740-yard Dye Fore — the newest and most scenic set-up, with seven cliff-side holes and others running along the Chavon River. Finally, the inland Links course is the friendliest of the three, but its five lakes still make play that litle bit awkward. Also located in the south east, the Punta Espada Jack


Nicklaus course at Cap Cana has hosted the PGA Champions Tour multiple times. Overlooking the ocean, with Jack’s signature elevated tees and beautifully manicured greens, it’s not cheap — but good service and a beautiful clubhouse make for a great package. Also nearby are La Cana and Corales: the two courses at


Punta Cana. Designed by Dye and Tom Fazio respectively, both are picturesque, featuring palm trees, the ocean and plunging canyons. La Cana is now 27 holes — three loops of nine — while Corales has a memorable final closing stretch known as the Devil’s Elbow, culminating in the 18th which has a dramatic forced carry over the cliff-lined Bay of Corales.


PUNTA ESPADA An 18-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus, with several hotels and many villas nearby. Green fee: £150-£221. Nearest airport: Punta Cana (PUJ). puntaespadagolf.com


PLAYA GRANDE Eighteen holes, designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr, and refurbished by Rees Jones, with an Aman hotel on site. Green fee: £244. Nearest airports: Puerto Plata (POP); Samaná El Catey (AZS). aman.com


CASA DE CAMPO Three 18-hole courses, designed by Pete Dye, with a large resort and villas on site. Green fee: £82-£120. Nearest airports: La Romana (LRM); Punta Cana (PUJ). casadecampo.com.do


PUNTACANA The 18-hole Corales course was designed by Tom Fazio, while the 27-hole La Cana was created by Pete Dye. The Puntacana Resort is on site, but there are other resorts and smaller hotels nearby. Green fee: £63-£105. Nearest airport: Punta Cana (PUJ). puntacana.com


ESSENTIALS


WHEN TO GO: High season, coolest weather, is late November to April. FLYING TIME: 9h. CONTACT: godominicanrepublic.com


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