This is the first in a series of guest posts by an expat from the United States. He and his wife recently retired to the east coast of the DR and he is kindly allowing me to share his insight and experiences on the Expat FAQs DR blog.
The first post focuses on golf, a popular sport for expats and one of the main reasons many choose to retire to the Dominican Republic.
The golf courses here are seldom crowded. My wife and I always play alone, or with our friends, and are never forced into a threesome or foursome with strangers. We play casually. Often there’s nobody ahead of us or behind us when we play, so we can mulligan all we want. We don’t spend more than 10 or 15 seconds looking for a golf ball. If we cannot immediately find it, we drop another ball where we THINK the original SHOULD have been.
We can play 9 holes on our home course (we live inside Cocotal Golf & Country Club, a 27-hole resort golf course) after 3 PM for US$21.00 each (including a power cart). That fits my fixed pension retirement budget. We start at 3 PM and finish at 5:15 PM. Darkness falls around 6 PM in mid-winter. Cocotal 18 holes is US$40.00 including power cart, but no freebies on the service food cart (and the food cart is pricey, so we bring our own drinks & snacks). Oh, and those are Cocotal resident rates; the tourists pay US$120.00 for 18 holes in high season (Nov-Apr), US$90 in low season (May-Oct) according to the information on their website. http://www.cocotalgolf.com/rates_polices.html
Sometimes when our friends want to play 18 holes with us, we spring for US$50.00 each (greens fee at Iberostar Resort, a nicer golf course, only 10 minutes north of our home), and the US$50 includes FREE unlimited service cart drinks & snacks, and it also includes a hamburger lunch at the clubhouse (we are required to purchase a beverage for US$5.00 each to receive the free lunch). So an outing there costs us US$110.00 for the two of us, but dollar-for-dollar it’s a good value.
But that’s why we prefer more frequent 9-hole, late afternoon rounds of US$21 + US$21 = US$42. Besides, we can get a lot of pleasure out of 9 holes, four or five times a month, and it doesn’t break our budget of US$300.00 per month, including US$6.00 buckets of range balls, plus $$ tips for the golf club attendants = 50 pesos (@ US$1.25).
Oh, and we can also play Barcelo Resort’s (only 10 minutes south of our home) “The Lakes” golf course — the “local residents” rate for 18 holes is US$39.00 in the off-season months. (Again, the tourists are paying US$160.00 or something like that). We’ve played it several times, but there is a lot of water on that course, and I always lose 5 or 6 balls in the lakes. It’s a nice course, but more difficult, and so we prefer to play Cocotal or Iberostar.
Some background information on Golf in the Punta Cana – Bávaro area from Expat FAQs – Moving to and Living in the Dominican Republic
The DR has more golf courses than any other country in the Caribbean and new ones open every year. Golf can be played throughout the year and because most rain showers are of brief duration, even these do not interrupt the games of the majority of players. Some of the DR’s courses have been designed by golf legends such as Pete Dye, PB Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Gary Player, Tom Fazio and Nick Faldo. Many of the courses incorporate spectacular views to distract from the game.
On the east coast perhaps the best known and highest rated course is Punta Espada Golf Club, Cap Cana, which has hosted the PGA’s Champions Tour every March since 2008. Click on the View Punta Espada Hole By Hole button here: www.capcana.com/site/index.php/en/punta-espada-golf-course
La Cana Golf Club, Punta Cana Resort has a similarly high reputation but fees are less expensive. A Course Diagram can be downloaded in PDF format from this site: www.puntacana.com/assets/File/Map-LaCana-Golf.pdf
Also in Punta Cana, the Tom Fazio designed Corales course opened in 2010 and PB Dye’s Hacienda opened in 2011.
Punta Blanca Golf Course was designed by Nick Price who won the British Open in 1994. Further information is available at www.punta-blanca.com
A downloadable list in PDF format of all east coast golf courses with contact details is available at: www.godominicanrepublic.com/system/activities/attachments/17/original/GolfDigestDRInsertGuide.pdf.
Prices quoted are correct at the time of posting, November 2012.