FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Challenge Yourself at the Punta Espada Golf Club in Cap Cana

by Dale Leatherman

Feb 6, 2020

PHOTO:
© DONNELLE OXLEY

February 2020

IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC — actually, in all of the Caribbean — not many golf courses can challenge the legendary Teeth of the Dog course for “top dog” status. Most golfers agree only one comes close: Punta Espada. This oceanfront Nicklaus gem is located at Cap Cana, a 30,000-acre luxury resort/residential community about 10 minutes from Punta Cana International Airport.

Cap Cana proves a stunner from the moment you enter the gates. Two decades ago, when I saw the plans, I thought it was an impossible dream, but the self-contained resort community evolved into a beautifully landscaped enclave with hotel choices ranging from family-oriented to adults-only. A variety of good restaurants scattered throughout the resort serve a feast of culinary creations. Diversions include riding and polo at the equestrian center and water sports at the full-service marina.

We stayed in Eden Roc, a collection of 34 free-standing suites and villas, each with its own pool. Eden Roc is the island’s only Relais & Châteaux hotel, and everything about our 1,000-square-foot villa was flawless, right down to the outdoor shower and small pool secreted in a private garden. Each accommodation includes a golf cart for exploring the resort.

This was our first visit to Cap Cana since the opening of the Punta Espada Golf Club in 2006, and we found it matured into a tropical gem, with flowering plants accenting broad stretches of white sand and emerald fairways and greens. Measuring 7,396 yards from the tips, Punta Espada (“Tip of the Sword”) features eight holes on the ocean and views of the sea from many vantage points. The coral cliffs, abundant foliage, water challenges and constant ocean breezes are a given, but the elevation changes come as a surprise for a seaside layout. Even if you’re using the Dorado (6,883 yards), Azul (6,314 yards) or Rojo (5,052 yards) tees, you must climb up to the back tees of the second hole. As you enjoy the view to the ocean and green 611 yards away, consider it fair warning: This course proves daunting from any tee. You can count on Nicklaus for lots of risk-reward, and this is the Bear at his best.

HOLE 1 | 416 yards, par 4
The opening hole, with its tee complex set atop a ridge, vividly sets the scene for the round. From the brilliant blue bowl of the sky, the Caribbean sun bounces off the white coral cliffs and waste bunker along the left, contrasting with the deep green of the fairway and the putting surface, tucked against another wall of bleached coral. At one time this area was under water and the coral teemed with sea life, as evidenced by the skeletons and shells we could see in the rock faces. Ranked ninth in difficulty, the par 4 makes a good warm-up hole.

HOLE 2 | 611 yards, par 5
After the first hole’s scenic welcome comes the course’s toughest test, a 611-yard bully teeing off from a rocky bluff — the course’s highest point. The dogleg right, liberally bunkered, includes sand wrapping around a lake in front of the green. Unless you’ve kept to the left side of the fairway, you’ll make your approach shot over sand and/ or water to a green backed by more sand in the form of a narrow beach.

HOLE 10 | 432 yards, par 4
A large waste area runs along the entire right side of the hole, circles a lake and surrounds the tabletop green set off to the right. A deep bunker in the landing area discourages aiming right, the shortest route. This sets up a second-shot quandary, especially for women who teed off from 283 yards and may choose to hold up rather than hit a longer iron to the small, forward-sloping target. For good measure, Nicklaus placed a pot bunker in the front face of the green.

HOLE 13 | 250 yards, par 3
If the pounding waves on the left and in front of the tee boxes fail to intimidate, gusting winds can confound your club choice here. Even the 114-yard carry from the forward tees can turn into a wood shot in a head-on wind. Being bold and reaching the green doesn’t get you home free because the putting surface rises to a spine, then runs off to the ocean or two grass bunkers in back.

PHOTO: © DONNELLE OXLEY

HOLE 17 | 358 yards, par 4
The pressure rachets up near the finish, with the sea a threat all along the right side. On the penultimate hole, a wide bay lies between the tees and the fairway, and the green perches on a spit of land at the water’s edge. The farther down the fairway your drive over water lands, the better your approach angle will be. Beware the final trap: the deep bunker set into the left front of the small, elevated green.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
LGBTQ+
Jun 18, 2021

Show Your Pride with Essentia Cocktails

Pride Month is in full swing and to celebrate the community, make a colorful cocktail everyone will enjoy. These colorful ingredients will get the party started during Pride or any time of the year. Start this recipe the night before to create the rainbow ice cubes.

Norway
Jun 17, 2021

Up Norway Sustainable Tour: The Discovery Route

Up Norway, Norway’s travel curator, partners with sustainability experts to offer travelers a new tour. The Discovery Route, called the “world’s most sustainable journey,” combines personal wellness with the wellness of the environment.

eFlyer Reviews
Jun 16, 2021

Marriott Dallas Uptown Review

Driving into Dallas during a rainstorm, we were eager to arrive at our destination. The valet parking at Marriott Dallas Uptown is underground and ideal for inclement weather. We took the elevator to the lobby and made our way to the registration desk. The staff wore masks, but still managed to convey a warm greeting. On the wall behind them hung a colorful piece of art made partially from reclaimed wood that depicts neighborhood scenes. The new hotel covers an entire block in a residential area and opened earlier this year.

Sports Industry Awards returns to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah for 8th Edition

The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.

eFlyer News
Jun 16, 2021

Brussels Airlines Resumes Service to New York, Washington, D.C.

Brussels Airlines resumed trans-Atlantic service to and from New York (JFK) and Washington, D.C. (IAD), to Brussels (BRU) this week.

Daily
Jun 16, 2021

Best Cities for a Staycation

Although travel restrictions are beginning to lift, many Americans aren’t ready to travel yet, but still want to get out and explore something new. WalletHub, a personal-finance website, recently conducted a study to find out the best cities for a staycation this summer.

SPIA 2021 Winners Crowned at Gala Ceremony at W Hotel, Palm Jumeirah

The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.

Daily
Jun 15, 2021

6 Reasons to Put Oslo, Norway, on Your Travel List

As the vaccine rolls out and travel begins to pick up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Oslo with us.