Above: Ariel view of the 15th hole on the Teeth of the Dog
Standing on the tee wearing your waterproofs, umbrella in hand trying to keep your glove and grip dry so you can get decent contact with the ball all whilst trying to keep warm from a cold biting wind. A feeling we are all used to when playing the winter medals and competitions or just wanting to get out and hit some balls and have a game with friends.
Back in the club house over a well deserved beer or hot toddy the talk turns to getting away for a long weekend or week to remember what it feels like to play in shorts and a polo shirt with the sun on your back, not that we have had many of those days this summer.
A new up and coming destination is the Dominican Republic, a bit far for a long weekend but for a week itís a great place to choose. With top golf course architects making a beeline for the Punta Cana coastline. Courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, P.B. Dye, and also new courses by Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Tom Fazio, with rumours circulating that Tom Weiskopf and Greg Norman could soon be approached.
And of course Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog, which appears regularly in the best courses in the world listings.
The one thing you are guaranteed, apart from the warm friendly welcome from the locals is the sun. Yes it rains, but mainly in the evening and if it does rain while your playing 90% of the time it blows over in 5/10minutes but it is still warm. Average winter temperatures from October Ė May are around 30 degrees. High season here as in the Algarve and Spain runs from January to May and if your negotiating skills are good you could bag yourself a few bargain rounds on some great courses.
The other attraction are the prices, with the pound still being fairly strong against the dollar at the time of writing, $1.72 to the pound itís still a very affordable place to stay and play compared with Europe.
On top of that you also have the 5 star services you receive with American courses. When you turn up at the course in your taxi your clubs are taken and the next time you see them will be on your buggy cleaned and ready for you to go and practice or play, including an icebox attached to the buggy, full of whatever drinks you ordered, my clubs have never been so clean.
First lets back track a little to the point of booking your golfing holiday, I would recommend you stay at one of the big resorts, you can book these through a travel agent or online, but remember after all the upheaval in the travel industry lately always book with an ABTA and ATOL accredited agent and always book with a credit card not a debit card or cash as this gives you extra insurance if something was to happen.
The reason I say stay in a resort, is where your first major savings start compared to going to one of the European destinations. Most of the resorts are all inclusive, all your food and drinks are taken care of. From beers at the bar, to having the fridge in your room restocked everyday with water, beer and fizzy drinks, to wine with your meals.
Depending on your budget you can get deals for a week from as little as £550 upwards. If you want to spend more, you can rent anything from an apartment to a Villa on the beach at one of the many golf resorts like Cap Cana, Punta Cana and soon Roco Kia, where Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Nick Faldoís magnificent courses are located. Or you can go to one of the many tourist type of resorts and go on a pay and play basis. By no means do you miss out, you still get all the 5 star service all the courses offer and some great deals to pay and play.
Above: Ariel view of the 18th hole at Roco Ki
6th hole at Dye Fore
16th at The Links 8th at Corales
The 3rd hole at The Lakes 7th hole at La Cana 13th at Punta Blanca
Above: Ariel view of the 12th hole at Punta Espada