Appeared in Winter 2012 LINKS.
HAVING DESIGNED MORE THAN 200 COURSES, Tom Fazio has created many memorable holes, so it’s hard to pick just one to dissect for our first installment of “My Design,” but it would be hard to top the 409-yard 18th at Corales Golf Course at Puntacana Resort & Club. It boomerangs around rocky cliffs and coral reefs, making it one of the best finishing holes anywhere with countless playing options depending on tee selection and wind direction.
“The land was fairly flat so that took one common denominator out of the equation,” says Fazio, referring to elevation changes found on most sites. “In this case, the consideration—what we call the design element—was the property line along the easterly side, which happened to be the rocky ocean cliff—what a great thing to have.”
The Cape-style par four typically plays into a northeast wind so the back tee will rarely be used, but there are eight other tees. “The big challenge becomes the forced carry or how to play around the cliffs,” says Fazio. “By providing multiple tees, we allowed plenty of options, depending on the wind conditions and the player’s skill.”
The ideal drive will challenge the three-bunker complex on the right edge of the fairway. The farther left one plays, the more difficult the approach will become because of both the distance and the wind. “The green is elevated above the cliff, but it’s open in front so there’s plenty of room to bounce the ball in. You can bring your Irish game to this hole.”
During the summer months, the wind direction reverses and the hole completely changes in character. The back tees get some use, and from the regular markers everyone becomes a bit more aggressive. Says Fazio: “It’s bizarre, but it actually becomes a reachable par four that’s over 400 yards.”