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Review: La Cana Golf Club, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the golf capitol of the Caribbean with roughly 30 courses, fantastic weather all year (barring a few hurricanes), and great resorts.  The Dominican Republic is a perfect recipe for a golf buddy trip or golf stay and play vacation.

La Cana Golf Club

Location

La Cana Golf Club is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, a short drive from the Punta Cana International Airport.  La Cana is a P.B Dye design, the son of famed architect Pete Dye.  There is a heavy Pete Dye influence of course, with some unique architectural twists.  With several other Pete Dye courses on the Dominican, the island could be called “Dye Island.”

Overview

La Cana Golf Club is a 27-hole facility. The three 9-hole courses are named “Tortuga,” “Hacienda,” and “Arrecife.”  I was able to play 18 when I was there, the Hacienda being my front nine and Tortuga the back nine.  There are five sets of tees at La Cana, with the longest tee (black) tipping out at 3483 yards for Tortuga, 3768 yards for Hacienda, and 3676 yards for Arricife.  This is not a short course from the tips, especially at sea level.   Course ratings and slopes will vary depending on which nines are combined for the 18.

Tee

There’s quite a variance in tee shots at La Cana.  Some are quite basic, what you see is what you get.  Some have some deceiving hills and mounds which can hide the fairway or landing areas, making things seem different or tighter than they really are when you arrive to the landing area.  Below is one of the more basic tee looks.

And below one of the more deceiving views, a short par-4 with huge dunes/mounds which hide a sharp dogleg left and wide open approach look at the green, from the right.  That approach is much easier than if the golfer were to take a line at the green off the tee, as it takes the water out of play.  Also notice the small bunker at the bottom of one of the mounds.  It has the look of a Pete Dye “volcano bunker,” as I’ve found on the Pete Dye course at French Lick Resort.

Overall, driving on the Tortuga/Hacienda 18 is not overly difficult unless the shot is so errant that it finds waste or native areas.

Fairway

The fairways at La Cana are fairly forgiving. There are many of the typical Dye waste bunkers that run the length of a few holes as seen below.

In some cases the sand is so hard in the waste areas one could use that to a strategic advantage.  One time I intentionally drove my ball down the waste bunker on a short par-4 and nearly ended up pin high after a long amount of roll.

As mentioned in the tee commentary, most fairways are straight forward with a little movement, but there are a couple of very “quirky” or experimental ones as well.  This is very “Dye-like,” on the Dye courses I’ve played, whether they be P.B Dye or Pete Dye.

Below is another “experimental” section, a large area of mini-dunes.  Somehow I ended up in here.  The lies and stances are quite funky.

If the area above was shaved more like a putting green and not the rough, it would be a carbon copy of the Himalayas putting course in St Andrews.

Green

The green complexes at La Cana present a wide variance of design styles, from the Donald Ross upside down soup bowl type to islands in the sand/water.  The bunkering around the greens flows nicely and provides for some challenging mid-range bunker shots if the green is missed.  Below is a combination of both the wrap-around and soup bowl.

I do like how there are areas around the greens which provide the golfer different and creative ways of getting up and down.  While the shot above may call for a lob wedge, there are run-up areas and collection areas which give the golfer other options, like the Texas wedge (putting off the green) or hitting lower, bump and run type shots.

Above, the obligatory “beautiful green with palm trees and the Caribbean in the background” shot. There are plenty of great views like this.

The most notable and photo-worthy hole of my round was definitely the par-3 5th hole on the Tortuga nine. The entire hole runs along the blue Caribbean waters and the green juts out a bit. I found this hole design very similar to the 17th at Edgewood Tahoe and the 15th at Scotland’s Kingsbarns Golf Links. Those are two of the best par-3’s one might ever play.

Final Thoughts

There are some very strong holes at the P.B. Dye designed La Cana Golf Club in the Dominican Republic. The course flows well and has a very nice feel to it. The ocean views are great and the inland holes are all interesting, with a wee bit of that quirky “Dye” experimental flavor.

Next time you are planning a golf stay and play or a golf buddy trip, consider the Dominican Republic and be sure to put La Cana on the docket. When you are looking for a place to stay nearby, consider the all-inclusive Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa.


Bermuda Sands Woodland Golf Polo Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, October 13th, 2017
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearReviews
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It wasn’t quite Bermuda, but I last wore this fantastic Bermuda Sands Woodland Polo while playing golf in the Dominican Republic. I thought it was fitting, pun intended.

Bermuda Sands Woodland Polo

Bermuda Sands Woodland Polo

Woodland Polo Overview

The Woodland Polo is part of the Bermuda Sands fall collection. The materials in this polo are 92% polyester and 8% spandex. No cotton, which is good! These fabrics are so much better than cotton because they breathe, flex, resist wrinkling, don’t shrink, and are easy to care for.

The Woodland’s fabric has a striated heather look (I had to google it to see what it was).  It’s a pattern in the fabric, like grainy or lined look.  It’s very popular these days in golf apparel.

Colors/Sizes

The Woodland is available in five colors: purple (shown here), green, red, gray, blue.

Sizes range from small to triple-extra-large.

On The Course

I’ve worn the Woodland in some very different conditions with great performance and comfort.  Here in northern Utah I’ve worn it in 50 degree fall temperatures.  In the Dominican I wore it in 90 degrees with super-high humidity.  In both situations I was very comfortable.  The Woodland’s moisture wicking fabric really helped.

The fit of the Woodland is great.  There is no binding, pulling, stretching, or limiting of my rotation in the golf swing.

Final Thoughts

The $75 retail Woodland is a classy, stylish, comfortable, and high performance golf polo which competes against polos costing much more.  I highly recommend trying out the Bermuda Sands Woodland.  Upgrade your apparel scripting.


Review: The Inn at Bay Harbor, Northern Michigan

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, October 9th, 2017
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleReviewsTravel
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Northern Michigan is one of my favorite places in this great country of ours. It’s a special recipe featuring the waters of Lake Michigan, dense Michigan forest, fresh air, interesting topography, and friendly people. It is always a fantastic time when I can take the HOG World Tour to Northern Michigan, an opportunity I’ll always take advantage of.  On the last World Tour leg to the area I had the pleasure of staying at The Inn at Bay Harbor, an elegant resort right on the shore of Lake Michigan, minutes from the town of Petoskey.

Inn at Bay Harbor Map

Inn at Bay Harbor Overview

The Inn offers nine different types of accommodations, from a standard guest room to a penthouse suite.  The property offers access to some great recreation in the area, like golf in the summer and skiing in the winter.

The Inn at Bay Harbor

Located directly on the shore of Lake Michigan, guests can enjoy the pool or take a dip in the Lake. Other activities on property include kids activities, spa, dining, biking, shopping, and wine tasting from local vineyards.

Accommodations

I’ve been in the Penthouse Suite and the Master Suite, so I can speak to what they offer and show a few photos.  Let’s go big first, with the Penthouse Suite.

The Inn at Bay Harbor

Penthouse view

Suitable for large groups, the 3,000 square foot Penthouse offers five individual bedrooms and common living and dining areas.  There are two full kitchen areas for food prep (below).

Penthouse Suite Kitchen and Living Areas

Penthouse Suite Kitchen and Living Areas

There is also a laundry room with washer and dryer.  The best feature of the Penthouse is the huge deck area overlooking the grounds and Lake Michigan.  The view is stunning, especially at sunset.

The 720 square foot Master Suite offers a single isolated bedroom and large bathroom. The living area is spacious, including a kitchenette, fireplace, large screen TV, and a Murphy bed.

Master Suite

A comfy deck is also enjoyable for enjoying some fresh air.  Unlike the Penthouse there is no washer/dryer in the room, but down the hall is a shared washer/dryer setup. This was great for me as I had been traveling for many days, and ran out of clean threads.

Master Suite

Dining

There’s some excellent dining on property at The Inn:  Vintage Chop House & Wine Bar, Sagamore Room, Inn Cafe, Cabana Bar.

The Vintage Chop House served up amazing cuts of beef which I really enjoyed, and the atmosphere overlooking Lake Michigan was terrific.  The breakfast buffet at the Sagamore Room had a large selection of very well prepared breakfast items.

Final Thoughts

There are many great reasons to visit northern Michigan: golf, water sports, skiing, biking, or just relaxing on a hammock on the shore of Lake Michigan. I strongly recommend staying at The Inn for your northern Michigan trip.

Sunset on Lake Michigan as seen from The Inn at Bay Harbor

Sunset on Lake Michigan as seen from The Inn at Bay Harbor

Think golf buddy trip here. Your group of buddies could all chip in and book the Penthouse Suite. Golf in the day and poker, or whatever your fancy is at night in the shared living space.


Review: Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa, Dominican Republic

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, October 6th, 2017
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourLifeReviewsTravel
Tags:

If you were considering a Caribbean vacation but thought otherwise due to recent hurricane damage, think again.  The Dominican Republic was not directly hit by Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey, and their tourism industry is 100% open for business. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive Caribbean resort suggestion or Caribbean stay and play golf ideas, read on.

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa

Overview

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa is a sparkling brand new all-inclusive, adults only Dominican Republic resort which opened in November of 2016.  The resort features 457 suites in several different buildings.  Some rooms feature lovely swim-outs as seen below.  In addition there is a spa, fitness area, beach, and massive pool area with bars all over so one isn’t far from a tasty and refreshing island beverage of choice, all included of course.

The resort features a spectacular open-air lobby area which contains resort registration, a bar, shops, coffee shop, and live entertainment most evenings.

Suites

My suite at Secrets Cap Cana was comfortable and spacious.  The bed was so fantastic I wish I could have taken it home with me. I slept so well on it.  Inside the room is a desk, sitting furniture, linen closet, large screen TV, safe, dressers, and secret box. The secret box is where you can request staff to put items you request, like room service.

The shower in the room was huge with three water spouts, two in the ceiling. The bathroom featured two very cool sinks, great lighting, and an isolated toilet.

The deck area in my room had a great view (night shot above).  On the deck was a nice sitting area as well as a bathtub.  I quite enjoyed my evening outdoor bath. It was, liberating.  Yes I washed behind my ears.

Next time I get back, and I hope it is soon, I hope to get a “swim out” room.  They’re rooms on the ground level with their own semi-private swimming area. See picture below:

Dining

Secrets features eight gourmet restaurants, all included with the all-inclusive resort fee. If you want to eat sushi every day of your vacation, there’s no extra cost.  There are also restaurants featuring French, Italian, Japanese, buffet, snacks, and more. I really enjoyed the spectacular buffet for breakfast and lunch (below).  There are numerous themed areas for meats, fruit, beverages, breads, entrees and custom prepared items.  The meats and cheeses were fantastic.  My go-to places were the buffet and the coffee shop. I enjoyed numerous lattes, shakes, and snacks in the coffee shop.

The resort occupies a massive acreage on the southeastern shore of the Dominican Republic, just 30 minutes or so from the Punta Cana airport. The Punta Cana airport is home to flights from most major airlines.

Activities

Naturally the fantastic weather and warm shallow waters of the Caribbean provide many possible activities.  On property of course is the beach, with soft, fine sand.  The water is very shallow and warm, and the shallow area extends hundreds of feet out. My guess is 500 feet. I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the beach as the service folks came by with my beverages of choice. One must stay hydrated of course.  Other water activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, fishing, yachting, water sports and even working out in resort provided classes on the beach.

My group enjoyed a catamaran excursion which was very fun.  The excursion included a scenic cruise along the shoreline, snorkeling, and even chilling out sipping beverages served up in a floating bar.

Secrets Cap Cana features a huge pool area.  Sections and slivers of the pool wind in many directions.  Numerous areas have a small connected pool area which is surrounded by a small number of lounge chairs.  The pool could easily accommodate hundreds of people, yet each person would feel like it isn’t crowded because of the layout. 

There are several bars in the pool area and plenty of service people to make sure the fun is flowing.  There’s also a hot tub, but it didn’t make sense to use it when I was there.

The Dominican Republic is undoubtedly the golf capital of the Caribbean.  It’s home to the 39th ranked golf course in the world, Teeth of the Dog, the masterpiece of famed architect Pete Dye. Teeth of the Dog is located at Casa de Campo, roughly a 60 minute drive from the resort.  A mere 30 minutes away is Punta Cana, a Jack Nicklaus signature design which is ranked the #1 course in the Caribbean and Latin America.  These two courses produce some of the most scenic and dramatic oceanside golf you’ll ever experience.  There are nearly 30 other courses to choose from in the Dominican as well, including another famous Pete Dye called Dye Fore.

On most nights one can enjoy live entertainment at Secrets, ranging from small combos to full bands, and DJ’s.

Meetings/Banquets

If you have a group or business need, there is a business area with computers.  There are some great meeting areas and banquet rooms which can handle very large groups.

Staff

Service is very important in the travel industry. The staff at Secrets works hard to provide their part of a fantastic experience. Despite only being open for about a year, the management at Secrets has their system down and have trained their staff to be courteous, knowledgeable, and ready for anything. 

Photo courtesy of Greg Corbo

I was warmly greeted by every staff member and all were extremely polite and helpful throughout my entire 5-day stay.

Weather

The weather in the Dominican Republic doesn’t fluctuate much, except in rainy season.  I was there in rainy season and it rained for 10 minutes on the way to the resort from the airport. That was it. Year-round the temperatures are always going to be somewhere between 75-90.  The humidity is quite high and I did have to adjust, coming from a desert. Be ready to sweat when not in the pool or the ocean. Stay hydrated and bring plenty of sunscreen.

Final Comments

Secrets Cap Cana Resort and Spa is a fantastic choice for a romantic, all-inclusive trip with your loved one. The crisp new facilities are warm and welcoming with great dining and activities and of course, great weather.

Secrets and the fantastic golf courses nearby would also make for a great golf buddy trip.  Forget Florida, South Carolina or other golf destinations.  Make the Dominican Republic the location of your next golf buddy trip.


Review: Nicklaus Apparel Men’s Staydri Polo and Shorts

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, September 24th, 2017
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearReviews
Tags:

From Utah to Michigan I’ve had this pair of men’s golf shorts and golf polo in play, both on and off the course, and in the air.

Retail price on these two is extremely affordable. The polo is at $24.99 and the shorts $29.99.

Polo

I’ve quite enjoyed sporting the Staydri Polo.  I’ve worn it in temps above 100F and down to as low as the 50’s.  Still comfortable all the way.  During the golf swing there is no binding, pulling or any restriction.  Plus it’s long enough that it won’t untuck after being pulled in a full rotation.

In the high temps the Staydri fabric helped keep me cool and dry with its moisture wicking properties.  If only it provided natural bug repellant too. That would have come in handy in northern Michigan a few weeks ago.

Golf Shorts

The shorts are very comfortable and fit true to size with a nice loose fit. They too flex during the swing.  Nothing worse than tightness at the belt line, causing restriction in the body’s rotation.

The fabric in these shorts is very light and smooth to the touch, but still durable and wrinkle resistant.  The pockets and buttons do their job nicely.

Finishing Holes

In a wide variety of conditions on and off the course, the Nicklaus Staydri polo and golf shorts are very comfortable, stylish, and high performance.  Nothing beats them for the very reasonable pricing.


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