Imagine what Golf Architect Tom Fazio could design with 350 acres of prime Dominican oceanfront property. When experiencing Corales Golf Course in dreamy Punta Cana, the question is answered before you place your first tee in the grass.
Within seconds of stepping inside the clubhouse, you spy giant white letters outside just beyond the expansive deck. From this profound vantage point, even the most near-sighted golfer becomes aware that he or she is on the verge of something special.
Fifty yards beyond the clubhouse, the word “Corales” is spelled out in four-foot high pearl white letters. Framing the letters is an image that yanks the cell phone from your pocket like a ripcord.
Under the Spell of C-O-R-A-L-E-S.
Just past the letters is a live, high-def view featuring an all-natural convergence of emerald green Paspalum fairway, treacherous rocky coastline, and miles of crashing ocean that seems to go on forever. Your cell phone camera fires off a hat trick of click, click, clicks.
Catch your breath because you’ve yet to play Corales’ Par 4, 433-yard first hole. This is where the fun starts and the views pop out of nowhere. If you’re lucky enough to tap Eddie or Santiago as a caddie, you’ll learn insider tips on the nuances of undulating greens, which palm trees to avoid at all cost from the tee, and when to whirl around at an exhilarating ocean view that was missed while fixating on the scene straight ahead.
The golf course you’re about to play is big. We’re talking three times the size big. Most world-class golf layouts check in at around 175 acres with 90 acres of grass. To put Corales gigantic 350 acres in perspective, realize that the Par 5, 623-yard, 12th hole is 17 wall-to-wall acres all by itself. You can almost visualize Fazio on horseback and waving a cowboy hat while surveying the raw property of Corales. Giddyup partner, we’re just getting started.
Whale of a Caribbean Experience
Just in case you forgot that you’re smack dab in the heart of the Caribbean, a Corales staffer named Jose is waiting with a surprise on the Par 5, 545-yard 4th hole tee box. Jose asks if you’d like him to cut open a fresh coconut so you can drink the juice. If there is any hesitation about taking advantage of this authentic island moment, Eddie and Santiago remind that coconut juice is full of electrolytes and is known as nature’s sports drink.
Depending on the time of year, the Corales ocean holes may also provide a glimpse of jumbo seaside entertainment. During this year’s Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship which was won by Graeme McDowell, television viewers of this PGA event were treated to the sight of a humpback whale breaching on the back nine.
About the time you’re fully engaged into the Corales visuals and Caribbean ambiance, that’s when this Fazio design turns up the front nine to back nine momentum. The 7th, 8th, and 9th are a trio of husky fairways followed by putting greens that are bearhugged by a rip-roaring ocean. The ninth is a grip it and rip it 204-yard Par 3 with the Caribbean Sea hanging on to the green’s backside like a novice skydiver who won’t let go.
King of the World
The back nine generates an encore crescendo with a trio of finishing holes boasting the sinister handle of The Devil’s Elbow. The Par 4, 501-yard 18th hole tests your will with a dramatic forced carry over the cliff-lined Bay of Corales. This is more than a dogleg right, it’s an “I dare you” leap over a gaping left to right cove. Prepare for a second shot that demands steely nerves on to yet another green that’s engulfed by the ocean.
This one-of-a-kind finisher provides a golf exclamation point to an already exhilarating round. To truly appreciate what has taken place over the past four hours, glance back and reflect on what you’ve just completed. With ocean waves crashing around you, it’s time to let go, reach your arms to the sky, and do your best Leonardo DiCaprio “I’m King of the World” rendition.
After shaking hands with your playing companions, it’s hard not to check out the letters spelling Corales one more time as your group marches back to the clubhouse. You feel the cell phone in your pocket again stir into lift-off mode. You smile and acknowledge that there’s no harm in sharing Corales with the folks back home. With the click of a button you convey to friends, “Corales. Wish you were here.”
Ride ‘em Cowboy
Whether you’re a social media maven or someone who prefers experiencing a special golf moment in silent bliss, there’s no denying that Fazio’s 7,600-yard work of art by the ocean has stolen your heart. Somewhere there’s a golf architect turned cowboy riding off in the distance. Adios partner.
Story by Tim Cotroneo