BAVARO BEACH, Dominican Republic – The green fees are complimentary at The Lakes for guests of the Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort. Such a deal is an almost priceless incentive to enjoy one of the best championship courses in the Punta Cana area and one of the best resorts in the Dominican Republic.
It is almost priceless because everyone must take a cart, and that fee is $60 per person, which is still such a deal as the three other most popular local venues — Corales, Hard Rock, and Punta Espada — demand $175 to $300.
Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort has just undergone a $250 million transformation and—with its almost 2,000 luxury accommodations, many specialty restaurants and bars, casino, spa, and innumerable other amenities—has earned an enviable reputation for its all-inclusive facilities. The site is an ocean-front setting along almost two miles of well-manicured beach and is only six miles from the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ).
The Lakes opened in 1991, making it the oldest course in the Punta Cana vicinity. The clubhouse and pro shop are within walking distance of the main hotel lobby, but a staff member will be happy to ferry you and your clubs from and then back to your room. Caddies are unnecessary but are obtainable with advance notice. A driving range, putting green, and chipping tract are close to the pro shop. Callaway club rentals are available.
P.B. Dye, son of Pete Dye, totally redesigned the course in 2010, maintaining its original character and par 72 but modernizing and upgrading its playability, especially with his universal planting of Sea Isle Paspalum grass. Appropriately named, The Lakes utilizes 25 inland lakes, a number of which require forced carries to keep the ball dry, as the holes meander through the mangrove forest and the habitats of many indigenous wildlife. Dye has also incorporated 122 well-placed bunkers into his reconstruction; thus, the agua and the sand present numerous shot strategies both from off the tees and onto the greens.
The legendary architect’s scion has designed more than 50 courses on his own as well as assisting his dad with several others. In the DR, P.B. has three others to his credit: La Cana, La Estancia, and Iberostar. As you might expect, P.B. has incorporated the Dye family trademarks by bringing into play railroad ties, pot bunkers, volcanic mounds, and both elevated and island greens. The course is well maintained from tee to green, and the greens hold well and putt true but are a little slow as dictated by the nature of Paspalum.
Dye has arranged the five tees to allow all golfers to find their comfort zones. The tees with yardage, slope, and course rating have the following statistics: Black: 6,655, 72.1, 135; Gold: 6,200, 70.3, 136; Blue: 5737, 68.0, 119; White: 5381, 66.0, 115; and (for women) Red: 4,688, 63.0, 107. As low as the yardage, CR’s, and slopes may appear to be, don’t be misled by the stats. If you keep in mind that the continuous, and often zealous, zephyrs are sometimes your partner but most often your opponent, the course is much more entertaining without straining for distance. My suggestion, therefore, is to play either the yardage you play at home or the yardage one rung lower than normal.
Once you play The Lakes, you will remember the diversity of the holes and the pleasure you had in playing them. On the front side, for example, four holes will stick in your mind. The fourth (535-413 yards) is a par-5 that graphically presents severe mounds, pot bunkers, and an elevated green. The fifth (364-296 yards) is a short par-4 with a huge, grassy volcano that spews pot bunkers in front of the hidden green. The next par-5 (504-385yards), the 6th, is a severe dogleg left that can be reachable in two but offers a well-protected green that adds, not subtracts, the final strokes. The par-3 ninth (160-100 yards) is the quintessential island green and dominated by railroad ties and sand from side to side.
The back nine leads you into the hinterland of the mangrove forest and foists you into a final five holes that are, basically, an unforgettable pentathlon, where each tee presages a different event. The 14th is a provocative, short (170-81 yards) par-3 island green that is long and narrow. A family of six peacocks that lives in the woods to the left will watch your tee shots and scream at you, regardless of your accuracy. An iconic risk-reward 15th is a drivable par-4 (300-191 yards), but a narrow fairway, multiple bunkers, and water left and right might make the tee shot more risky than rewarding, But you’ve got to try anyway, right?
The par-5 16th (519-387 yards) is home to a gregarious pink flamingo, who is pleased to pose for portraits. The hole is a sharp dogleg left with the tiny, dual-level green set as far left as the attending lake will allow, but there is no bailout on the right because of the bunkers. The 17th is the toughest par-4 (457-312 yards) on The Lakes. Usually into the prevailing wind, the tee shot must travel far enough and avoid the bunkers on the left to allow the second shot to miss the water left and right and carry the creek that fronts the green. The short, 90-degree dogleg left 18th (360-228 yards) requires a drive over the expansive lake and then an accurate second shot to a bunkered, railroad-tied, and undulating green.
Once the round is completed, you can visit Hoyo 19— The 19th Hole — for a lunch buffet or an entrée from the menu. Of course, a draft Presidente or two is de rigueur.
ENJOY the entire experience!
Barceló® Hotel Group – Hotels and Resorts | Barcelo.com
Barceló Bávaro Golf – Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort (barcelobavarogolf.net)
(Photo Credit: Vicky Mackay)