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.
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