Teeing off in the tropics

Lush turf meets the sparkling sea at the Dominican Republic’s Corales Golf Club.

Golf is always fascinating when played on land that touches the sea. And out on the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic, along the Caribbean Sea, the game is additionally blessed by tropical warmth, steady winds and the stark crystalline blue that’s tossed back and forth between the sky and open water.
Corales, a 2010 design by Tom Fazio, ranks No. 16 on Golfweek’s Best Caribbean & Mexico Courses list. It includes six stunning waterfront holes and tees that allow the par-72 layout to play anywhere from 5,123 yards up to 7,650. Its par-4 18th hole, a pirate’s hook of a dogleg around a cove of blow holes and crashing waves, is among the the most dramatic in the entire Caribbean.
Think of Corales as “blue fairways.” Or better yet, as a sensuous walk along the boundaries of two ecologies. On one side, the cerulean sea, the wind and the ancient coral shoreline. On the other side, a plush green pas pallum carpet that overlays what had been barren, dead flat caliche. The design works by harnessing tones and enabling them to play off one another in a sophisticated ensemble that is peaceful, luminous and memorable. The effect is highlighted by a vast natural horizon line that extends out to include the sky and the sea and makes you feel as if you’re playing golf along the top of open water.
The result is a fanciful collaboration of color, texture and natural landforms, in a light-saturated Impressionist idiom that is the ideal golf complement to the sumptuous, 15,000-acre Punta Cana Resort. The aesthetic and recreational sensibility of the property gained much from the input of a diverse development team that included fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, singer Julio Iglesias, pioneering Dominican land planner Frank Rainieri and former labor attorney Theodore Kheel. With Punta Cana International Airport next door, access to Corales Golf Course via commercial or private airplane is seamless.

Corales Golf Club, Punta Cana Resort and Club, Punta Cana, Higuey, Dominican Republic. For information, call (809) 959-4653 or (888) 442-2262 or visit the course website. Membership is by invitation only but limited play is available to non-members staying at the resort.
Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) has a 10,168-foot runway and neighbors the course. Door-to-door, terminal to clubhouse, is 1.5 miles.

Brad Klein ([email protected]) is the architecture editor of Golfweek. His latest book is Wide Open Fairways.