The Takeaway: Those in the know, know that Punta Espada is THE course you have to play when going to the DR. One of Nicklaus' best designs, Jack takes players to the ocean a trio of times and features some world class holes that you'll never forget. Grade A+
Designer: Jack Nicklaus in 2006
Cost: $235 - $395 Click for current rates
Phone Number: 809-469-7767 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Punta Espada Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Cap Cana, Punta Cana 23000, Dominican Republic – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
What to Expect: Wow. Those three letters don't sufficiently describe Punta Espada but it is the most efficient word that comes to mind. Located on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic’s stunning coastline in Cap Cana, Punta Espada certainly qualifies as the most impressive piece of property Jack Nicklaus has ever been commissioned to design a course on. As such, Jack wastes no time taking players to Mother Nature’s largest water hazard on the par five 2nd hole with a dramatic elevated tee shot capitalized by a green that capes around a salt water bay. Players enjoy a trio of holes on the water before ascending inland in preparation for two more visits to the ocean (12-13 and 16-18) with some of the most jaw dropping holes you’ll ever encounter. The routing features an excellent mix of hole lengths, shapes, and directions which helps deliver variety to the shots required on this location where the wind can often pick up and be a significant factor to contend with. The paspalum grass handles the climate perfectly and is maintained at an extraordinary level to ensure optimal playing conditions which only adds to what is already an unforgettable experience. A large natural rock formation runs through the property and Nicklaus made sure to utilize it as an asset in the routing. Tee boxes sit on it to provide elevation, greens sit at the base of it for a natural amphitheater setting, and fairways run along it to set a natural boundary to follow. The bottom line about Punta Espada is that it stands as my all time favorite Jack Nicklaus course; its captivating location helping it edge out Muirfield Village. A trip to the Dominican Republic without going to Cap Cana to play Punta Espada is nearly an unforgivable offense.
By the Numbers
|Rojo (Red - Women)||72||5052||71.4||128|
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 13th Hole – 250 Yard Par 3 – Without question, this is one of the most stunning par 3s on the planet. The coastal setting with aqua blue waters crashing on the rocks that form the left boundary of this hole seems like something out of a fantasy calendar or video game; because you just can’t believe it is real. At 250 yards from the back tees it is all the hole you’d ever want, plus it plays uphill. When the Champions Tour came to Punta Espada the USGA never had them play the tips, which is generous from a scoring aspect, but for us mere mortals you can’t pass up the experience of teeing one up from one of the most majestic locations you’ll ever have the opportunity to hit a golf ball from. The green tilts from front to back which makes it even more challenging since flying a ball onto the putting surface from that distance has a tendency to feed the ball to the back, or off, of the green. In the vein of Cypress Point’s 17th hole, Turnberry’s 9th, Mauna Kea’s 3rd, and Manele’s 12th, the 13th at Punta Espada stands tall among its peers as one of the most beautiful and memorable one-shotters in the world.
Best Par 3: 4th Hole – 190 Yards – Boasting one of the most unique settings I’ve seen for a par three, the 4th at Punta Espada features a peninsula tee box flanked by the ocean and plays to a green tucked behind a sea water cove. The picturesque setting is nothing but pure pleasure . . . until you have to hit your tee shot. It is carry the whole way to the putting surface with the only true bail out being long since hitting to the strip of land on the left side that leads up to the green can be just as challenging for some players to lay up to. For players who succeed with the heroic carry can’t help but walk back to their cart with a smile on their face for executing such a rewarding shot. The 4th and 13th are one of the most impressive combinations of one-shotters a course could possibly hope for.
Best Par 4: 3rd Hole – 403 Yards – The middle hole in one of golf’s most scenic three hole stretches, the 3rd plays straight along the coastline with nature’s largest water hazard flanking the right side. Bailing out to the left away from the ocean doesn’t ensure an easy path to the green as a pair of bunkers sit in the landing zone on that side and the only greenside bunker flanks the left as well. It is a classic scenario where Jack rewards players that are willing to flirt with the ocean off the tee in order to yield an easier approach shot into the green. The terrain is flat here so you can trust your traditional yardages and the wind will generally be coming in off the water which can help steer you away from a watery grave should you balloon a shot that direction. Par here is always a good score.
Best Par 5: 2nd Hole – 611 Yards – The most photogenic and recognizable of Punta Espada’s impressive collection of golf holes, the 2nd has player’s jaws dropping early in the round. The tee shot plays from the top of a rock ledge that carves through the golf course which generates an elevated view of the hole and surroundings. The downhill tee shot boasts the kind of hang time NFL kickers would kill for as it sails forward to the fairway against a background developed by the Caribbean’s sparkling aqua waters. At 611 yards from the tips, only the boldest and longest of players will risk going for this green in two which capes behind an ocean cove in a daring effort to entice players to test their skills back into the sea’s breeze. Those unwilling to challenge the cove to reach the green are afforded an alternate route up the left side of the hole where the fairway bends into the putting surface and delivers a favorable angle to attack some of the common pin positions. At a course loaded with memorable holes, this will rank as the most favorite among many of Punta Espada’s patrons.
Birdie Time: 17th Hole – 358 Yard Par 4 – Punta Espada’s scenic and dramatic finishing three holes is highlighted by this risk/reward par four. The tee box and fairway sit on opposite sides of a natural rock inlet where ocean waves roll in and act as the hazard players must carry with their tee shot. The fairway runs away from players further out into the ocean so deciding how much of the cove to cut off enroute to the short grass is paramount to success. Players who successfully hit their intended line will be rewarded with a short wedge into the green where they can go pin seeking. With the approach shot playing back towards the ocean, the inward breeze should help approach shots land soft and encourage players to be aggressive with their number. In a match play scenario, this is a great hole to play boldly if behind while still testing a player holding a lead.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 457 Yard Par 4 – Being the championship golfer that he was, Jack Nicklaus wasn’t going to let players off easy and requires them to face their stiffest test on the final hole. Running up the coastline in the same vein as the 3rd, the 18th tips out at 457 yards with the prevailing wind attacking players at an angle off the right and in their face; a tough combo to contend with. Like the 3rd hole, the strategy is the same. Two bunkers sit in the driving zone on the left and a lone greenside bunker flanks the left of the putting surface. As such, there is nowhere to bail out and players must “man up” in their effort to walk away from the final hole with a par or better. If you are protecting a lead in a tournament or in match play, bogey is almost certain as tee balls should be aimed miles away from the water and take your chances playing it as a three-shot hole if necessary. It is a quality finishing hole and certainly one of the best in the Dominican Republic.
Recommended AccommodationsThe Sanctuary at Los Corales - Located within the gated Los Corales Beach Village development in Punta Cana, The Sanctuary features a high-end condo experience you aren't soon to forget. With six condos to pick from ranging from the convenient ground floor units to the luxurious penthouse offering on the top floor, patrons are spoiled with kitchens that feature stainless steel appliances, elegant flooring, granite countertops, and contemporary cabinetry. From the balcony of the penthouse suites you can soak in the views of the surrounding palm trees that pair with the lovely weather to create a wonderful setting to relax and enjoy. Inside your condo, ceiling fans pair with the high efficiency air conditioning system to keep you at perfect comfort while flat screen TVs with an array of channels deliver endless entertainment options. Speaking of entertainment, The Sanctuary is located within walking distance of white sand beaches, shopping, and a wide variety of restaurants. Most importantly, The Sanctuary is centrally located for accessing Punta Cana's world class golf courses. A quick drive to the south takes you to the famed Corales Golf Course at Puntacana Resort where the PGA Tour visits every March and pairs with its sister course, La Cana, with coastal holes and an island green. Further south gets you to the jaw dropping Punta Espada course; one of the most scenic in the world. 20 minutes to the north will get you to Iberostar Bavaro, Hard Rock at Cana Bay, and Punta Blanca Golf Courses where your all-inclusive experience delivers all the golf, sandwiches, and drinks your heart desires.
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