The course at Playa Grande was one of the last that Robert Trent Jones designed before he died in 2000 and it’s laid out beside a residential complex on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with some referring to the layout as “the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean.”
It actually has more oceanfront holes than Pebble Beach – ten in total – and they are strung out along cliff tops to the west of the Playa Grande and Playa Precioso beaches. The front nine measures a massive 3,666 yards in total and the pick of these holes is the 193-yard 7th, played to a green that sits beyond a rocky inlet.
Two par fives stand out on the back nine; the 488-yard 12th offers golfers a thrilling drive across a wide expanse of ocean and the 589-yard 18th is a fine double doglegged home hole.Rees Jones (son of the original architect) and Bryce Swanson completed an extensive renovation of Playa Grande in 2015. Greens and bunkers were extensively remodelled and part of the back nine was re-routed to provide a thrilling finish alongside the ocean.
Describing Playa Grande as a wonderful layout does not do it justice. The course sits atop 60 foot cliffs offering a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. Ten of the 18 holes are on the water. It was surprisingly inexpensive and sparsely played. When I arrived to play, I was warmly greeted, introduced to my caddy and asked if I minded playing as a single. I responded no and they escorted me directly to the first tee. A foursome was about to tee off and the pro introduced me as a single and indicated that I would be going off before them. They were quite cordial about this and one gentleman asked me what kind of cigar I was smoking. I said an Alcazar. He said that he had never heard of it. I said, “It is Nicaraguan.” He laughed and said, “They do not know how to make cigars. Fuente, now those are fine cigars.” Everyone laughed and I replied, “Yeah, those are pretty good.” He responded, “That is good to hear, my name is Arturo Fuente.” The only thing that would have made that vignette a little better is if he had given me a cigar or two. Regardless, Playa Grande is a wonderful course and it is one of the rare courses where a par three is the number one handicap hole. Just over 200 yards, an elevated green with an ocean carry. Yes, I hit my driver. While the course is not as pristinely manicured as other resort courses it is a great layout and a great value.
My understanding is that the routing has changed from when I played it fifteen years ago. I also understand that you may have to stay at the resort to gain access. Playa Grande is not easy to get to, but well worth it.
Spectacular setting with 10 holes right on the ocean, make this a must IF you can get on. Course has now been taken in by new ownership which requires one to stay at the resort and prices are astronomical. Course has a Pebble Beach feel, with no real weak holes. Course renovation changed the former routing, which saw the holes go beyond the south edge of the resort and come north, with a terrific par 3, with great ocean views. New routing comes in front of resort, and curls back, with 3 holes along the ocean, also great holes, but lacks some of the rich feel of the original layout. Call first to find out if you can get on. eventually, due to it being 1.5 hours at least from Puerto Plata, they will HAVE to open play to more access, but that will likely take a while. Having played Caso de Campo's, Teeth of the Dog, I preferred this course. More interesting with each hole having value and the views of the ocean and adjoining cliffs, unbeatable.
Several carry shots of interest make it a shotmakers course, if one plays the back tees.