There are dozens of destinations in the Caribbean and Central America with fabulous beaches, but not many with standout golf courses. While trade winds, ocean views, swaying palm treesand rocky inlets all make for fantastic golf, many places have no courses, while others have just one or two. We picked beautiful golf courses that have world class designs in Costa Rica, Punta Cana and Barbados enough for an entire golf vacation, or more than enough for a fun round or two during a relaxing getaway.
Please find below the top golf courses:
The signature coastal par-3s (holes 5, 7 and 16) are the best such trio in the world. But despite all this, many visitors believe that Casa de Campo’s newest Dye layout is even better. The 27-hole Dye Fore has three nines playing along dramatic cliffs set thirty stories above the breathtaking Chavon River, where Apocalypse Now was filmed.
The 800-pound gorilla of Caribbean golf, the DR has the most high quality golf and the region’s Number One rated course, the fabled Teeth of the Dog at the Casa de Campo resort The area’s “must play” and legendary designer Pete Dye’s most famous work (he lives along the course part-time), it has a staggering seven holes playing on the very edge of the sea, so close that waves spray up onto tee boxes.
At the Punta Cana Resort & Club. If you’re a serious golfer you look “Bucket List Courses” and for names like Tom Fazio – Corales Golf Club, PB Dye – La Cana Golf Club and Jack Nicklaus – Punta Espada. Golf Punta Cana has all three available for you and has partnered with EZ-Links and the Oceanside courses to insure prompt booking with no restrictions on advance tee times, confirmed guaranteed tee times, packaging and prearranged transportation. That service sets Golf Punta Cana apart from all others. However, one of the finest courses in the Caribbean is on the less well-known North Shore, between Playa Grande and Cabrera. Among the oldest layouts on the island, the Playa Grande course was the work of legend Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and thanks to its unique clifftop setting, with ten holes overlooking the ocean, it is known as the “Pebble Beach of the Caribbean.” This region is currently enjoying a tourism resurgence, with more non-stop international flights, and the course was just thoroughly renovated by the designer’s award-winning son, Rees Jones. Where to stay in the Dominican Republic
Steeped in the English tradition of the finest country club communities, Barbadosis home to several noteworthy golf courses, including two standouts at the Sandy Lane resort (pictured left), the classic parkland Country Club and the jaw dropping Green Monkey. This Tom Fazio design is one of the world’s most radical, playing into and out of a former quarry, with a design like an upside down wedding cake, holes laid out on flat shelves tiered into the sides of the crater, with several holes on the quarry floor before climbing back out. Royal Westmoreland is the most venerable country club community on the island, and its course is widely considered one of the very best designs by the prolific Robert Trent Jones II. Famed for its front nine, which combines breathtaking tropical scenery with strategic elements, it includes a four hole signature stretch through a rugged canyon-like setting of exposed limestone ledges.
The island’s newest high end offering is the private course at Apes Hill, mostly limited to owners and home renters, though some outside play is allowed. The seven year old design is set in the island’s interior, a thousand feet above sea level, a much different environment of lush green fairways and trees incorporating coral stone quarries, wooded ravines and pristine lakes. Designed to fit its natural surroundings, with a strong emphasis on environmental and wildlife preservation, Apes Hill is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, an honor bestowed on less than 2% of all golf courses in the world. Where to stay in Barbados
Golfing is probably Costa Rica’s best-kept secret. Most of the country’s courses are less than 10 years old, but make no mistake – these resorts will test your skills. Many of Costa Rica’s top golf resorts were designed by experts, combining challenging play with breathtaking surroundings.
Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course, Guanacaste
This 7,300-yard, 72-par course was designed by Mike Young, who is responsible for some of the most renowned and challenging courses in the U.S. Located in Santa Cruz in Guanacaste, each hole at Hacienda Pinilla was created to take full advantage of the land’s natural contours and the features of the landscape. Boasting a number of deceptively challenging holes and tricky sandtraps, a round of golf at Hacienda Pinilla is a must for serious golfers.
La Iguana Golf Course, Puntarenas
Located in the heart of the rainforest in Puntarenas, La Iguana offers some of the most breathtaking scenery of any course in Costa Rica. This 18-hole, 72-par championship course was designed by Ted Robinson, providing golfers with a spectacular blend of rugged rainforest and ocean views. More than 150 species of bird inhabit the forest that surrounds the course, and some players have even reported having balls stolen by the playful monkeys that make their home in the trees that line the fairway!
The Four Seasons Resort, Guanacaste
For the very best in Costa Rica golfing, head to the Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo in Guanacaste. Designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, this 18-hole, 72-par course attracts golfers from all over the world. Located on one of the peninsula’s highest plateaus, you’ll tee off while overlooking the spectacular azure waters of the Bahía de Culebra. As you progress through the course, you can learn more about the many species of plant that grow here as the cart path is a botanical garden, complete with signage describing the flora and fauna of the region.
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