Golfing visitors who venture to the popular tourist destination of Dorado on the northern coast of Puerto Rico are spoiled for choice when it comes to playing above average courses as there are a handful of top tracks attached to large beach resorts. In 2015 the facility became part of the TPC network.
One of the main resorts, the Dorado Beach Hotel and Golf Club, was a major development created by Laurance Rockefeller in the 1950s and Robert Trent Jones was the architect tasked with routing two courses – the East and West – over land once used as a coconut and grapefruit plantation.
Major modifications to the layout were made in 2005 by Raymond Floyd and the two nines on the course were reversed to end the round on a hole that sweeps to the left, playing to a green set below the oceanside clubhouse.
Another fine hole on the course, the par five 4th, is a double dogleg that weaves around a couple of ponds en route to a seaside green that’s rated one of the best sites in the Caribbean.
The East course has twice hosted the prestigious World Cup tournament, contested by teams of two representing their country. The first time was in 1961 when the 9th Canada Cup (as it was named then) was won by Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret. The second time around, in 1994, the event was won by Fred Couples and Davis Love III (the third of four straight victories for them in the competition).
My disclaimer is that I played here over ten years ago. What I do remember, it was hands down the best course I played in Puerto Rico. An interesting history, where the founders daughter, Clara, was the 11th women in the world to have a pilots license and was friends with Amelia Earhart. The golf courses were funded by Laurence Rockefeller, the grandson of John. A young assistant pro caught Laurence's attention. His name was Chi Chi Rodriguez.
The first hole is a reachable par five, although not by me. The 2nd is a 241 yard par three. I hit driver. The fourth is a short par five and one of the most famous holes in the Caribbean. No less than Jack Nicklaus dubbed it one of the best par fives in the world. Shaped like a Z the successful golfer must navigate around two water hazards, fairway bunkers and trees. It is only 481 yards and is the number one handicap hole. It is tempting to cut the corner and then go for it. We all went for it and collectively made one par and lost 5 golf balls. The next hole is another long par three. The front closes with three par fours over 400 yards.
The back starts with a long par four that leans right. The fairway is hourglassed with fairway bunkers right and left and a water hazard greenside left. The 11th is a good birdie oppty. The shortest par five on the back. Three average shots and you have a shot at birdie. The 12th is the shortest par three at 175 yards. The 13th is another par four where the landing area is squeezed by fairway bunkers. The 14th is the last and the longest par five. Pretty tight, favor the right side. The 15th is a short par four, birdie hole. However, there is water right. The 16th and 18th are similar holes, long par fours with fairway bunkers pinching the landing area.
If you can only play one course in Puerto Rico, this is my recommendation.