The Punta Espada 18-hole layout at Cap Cana is the first of three intended Jack Nicklaus courses at this resort. It can be played at the moment for a hefty green fee but, once the Golden Bear’s $26 million Las Iguanas course opens next door, it may become a private facility.
Punta Espada debuted in 2007 and Nicklaus incorporated the natural coastal topography of cliffs, beach and lagoons into the design, routing almost half the holes on the layout along the shoreline.
The par five 2nd is regarded as the toughest hole on the course and this 611-yard monster is played from one of the highest points on the property, doglegging right past a tidal lake and beach bunker.
A strong set of holes around the turn starts with the shortest par four on the card at the 8th and ends with the longest par four at the 11th. A birdie might be possible at the former if the long sandy waste area adjacent to the fairway can be avoided but the chances of posting a three at the difficult 497-yard latter are very slim, even if there's a helping wind.The 250-yard 13th is considered to be the signature hole on this Signature course and it calls for a heroic, all-carry tee shot out over the Caribbean Sea to a green that clings to the edge of the island.
Simply one of the best courses in the world. Everything about it is first class. The setting cannot be described with words or pictures. The course is simply breathtaking in every way. This is one of Jack's masterpieces. I'm baffled at how this is not a Top 100 Course and easily the #1 course in the Caribbean. This is a must play for any golfer.
Punta Espada is a fantastic course and potentially overwhelming sensory experience. It is also one of most perpetually windy courses I have ever played. The first hole is a short welcoming par four. Favor right of center off the tee to take the left bunkers out of play. The par five 2nd is one of the best holes I have ever played in the Caribbean. A long par five off an elevated tee with fairway bunkers right. Favor left of center of tee and then stay left on your second shot to take the tidal water hazard right out of play. The green is a peninsula spit that appears to be floating in the ocean. Awesome hole. The 3rd, when we played it was right into the teeth of the wind. Ocean right as well as a fairway bunker and two more on the left. Also, the ocean sneaks into the fairway about 75 yards out on the right side, just waiting to devour balls that are mishit or misclubbed. The first par three is mid-length with an ocean carry. If you block it right you may still be alive. I ended up on some seaweed. It only took me three whacks to figure out how to play that shot. The fifth is the longest par four on the front. It is rated the number one handicap hole, but I disagree with that rating. Fairway bunker right and another in the middle of the fairway at about 185 yards out. Left off the tee is a bit shorter, but then you will have a long carry over a waste bunker and a front right greenside bunker. Long, but manageable. The 6th is the longest par five and leans slightly left. There is a fairway bunker right and two bunkers in the middle of the fairway. Ideal line off the tee is between them and if you are playing the correct tee you probably cannot reach them. There is a large waste bunker and sinkhole left so right is better off the tee and for your second shot. The green is well-protected with right front and left bunkers. The 7th is the shortest par three and the green is protected by five bunkers. The 8th is a good birdie oppty a short par four with an infinity green. For those of you driving carts be careful to avoid the palm trees in the fairway. There is waste area down the left side, fairway bunker right and two front greenside bunkers. The 9th is a long par four from an elevated tee. Stay right off the tee to avoid the large blind fairway bunker left.
The back starts with a dogleg right around a water hazard. You can drive thru the fairway so either lay up or cut some of the corner. The 11th is the longest par four on the course and trouble abounds. Fairway bunkers left and right as well as a small greenside bunker left and a BAB right. The 12th is the shortest and probably the most benign par five. Three average shots and you should be outing for birdie. The 13th is the longest par three and is just about all carry over the ocean. An exhilarating hole regardless of the outcome. The 14th is a slightly uphill long par four with fairway bunkers right. There is also a deep left greenside bunker. The last par five is the number two handicap hole. It does not look too intimidating on the card, but in real life…… Fairway bunkers left, waste area right and a water hazard comes into play about 250 yards out. This really compresses the fairway as the hole bends right, thus if you are going for the hero shot it is all carry. I think the safe play is straight and left to set up an attack iron to the green. The last par three heads right out towards the ocean to another green surrounded by bunkers. The 17th is a short par four with a sphincter puckering tee shot over the ocean. Favor the left side of the fairway to take the right palm trees out of play. The finishing hole is a beast of a par four and when we played right into the teeth of the wind. Fairway bunkers left and right and of course the ocean is right as well. Getting home in two is an accomplishment.
As much as I enjoyed Punta Espada I liked Playa Grande better. Heck, play them both.
It seems awfully fitting that the first course to truly challenge Pete Dye’s masterpiece, Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog, for supremacy in the Dominican Republic is the Jack Nicklaus designed Punta Espada Golf Club.
That’s because a young Nicklaus mentored under Dye back in the mid-1960’s, consulting on his Ohio gem The Golf Club before earning co-design credit on famed Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Nicklaus Design has built approximately 425 golf courses in the last 50+ years and I can tell you that Punta Espada is in the top handful of Nicklaus designs that I’ve played.
The land that the course sits on in Cap Cana is one of the most beautiful pieces of golf real estate that I’ve seen, with excellent, rolling topography, stunning white coral outcroppings and panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, featuring the most unbelievably clear blue water you could possibly imagine.
While the gorgeous scenery is hard to top, the architecture here more than holds its own.
The course has many standout holes, with the spectacular par three 13th chief among them. It's rare to find a course with as many holes as close to the sea at Punta Espada and it makes for a pretty thrilling experience.
Everything about the day was first-class. The resort provided complimentary shuttle transportation to and from my hotel in Punta Cana, which was about a half hour away. Caddie fees are also included in the green fee at Punta Espada, with only a gratuity required on top of that.
Frankly, this is not a cheap place to play golf. The $300.00 US$ green fee is among the most expensive I’ve ever experienced but when you incorporate the complimentary transportation and the caddie fees into the equation, I strongly feel the value is there.
The course was in splendid condition even after heavy rains from the previous day. I played alone for the first ten holes but would hook up with a couple of great guys from Indiana on the 11th hole when things started to back up a bit, further enhancing the experience.
I had a tremendous day at Punta Espada and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone visiting the east or south coasts of the Dominican.
excellent golf course, several holes along the sea, interesting, there is a strong wind
This is the best course I have ever played. Might have something to do with growing up on west coast. Being so close to crystal blue water and good golf. I have played countless golf courses from travel and during college golf but this is my screen saver at work and the course I talk about most frequently. If you have the chance it is a MUST. Should be higher ranked in the world rankings that is for sure
While the sea-ward holes are of course outstanding, the inland holes are also suberb; often elevated tee-shot, movement right or left with strategic water or waste areas to tackle if you want the best approach to the green sites. Fully agree on both six balls and higher in the rankings.
Not sure how this is not in the worlds top 100. Just an unbelievable place. Certainly needs to be reviewed again and is now regarded the best course in the Caribbean! It really is a special place! Play it and you won't be disappointed