Bermuda, move over. The Dominican Republic has claimed the title as the finest golfing destination in the region. In the last decade world-class golf courses have opened up across the island, following the 7,000-acre trailblazing resort Casa de Campo, famous for its three 18-hole, Pete Dye – designed courses. The best known is Teeth of The Dog, a windy masterpiece that skirts the sea, whereas the inland Links Course and Dye Fore are more forgiving. Home to the prestigious Golf Academy run by David Leadbetter, Casa de Campo also, boasts a polo and equestrian center, a spa with invigorating plunge pools, and Altos de Chavon, a painstaking re-creation of a 16th-century hill town that houses a colony of artists and artisans.
Casa de Campo helped spark the massive development of golf resort on the easternmost tip of the island, in Punta Cana, renowned for its 20-mile strip of oyster-white sands and turquoise sea along the “Coconut Coast.” The area’s pioneer is the long-established Puntacana Resort & Club, where Pete Dye designed the gorgeous Oceanside La Cana Course. The resort is also home to Tom Fazio’s thrilling new Corales Course, which works its way down to the water and an 18 dubbed “the Mother of All Golf Holes.” It also features horseback riding, the especially beautiful Sic Senses spa, and access to 3 miles o white beaches. Its Tortuga Bay, an exclusive resort within a resort, has 15 elegant Colonial-Caribbean villas designed by native son Oscar de la Renta. Golfers also gravitate to the nearby major resort of Cap Cana, one of the most ambitious developments in the works, centered around a challenging Jack Nicklaus course, the Punta Espada.
On the developed North Coast, treat yourself to Playa Grande, one of Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s last executed designs and considered by many to be the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean. With 12-ocean-side holes on a high plateau at the edge of a rain forest, Playa Grande remains surprisingly less known, though it is easily accessible from Puerto Plata, the major resort area an hour to the west. In a region known for large, all-inclusive resorts, the exception is the Casa Colonial Beach & Sap, an impeccable, privately owned all suites boutique hotel that effortlessly fuses old-world elegance with sophisticated modern style and gracious service.