The ocean's the star at picturesque Punta Espada Golf Club in the Dominican Republic

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- With eight holes playing directly along -- or over -- the Atlantic Ocean, Punta Espada Golf Club stimulates any golfer who tees it up at this island paradise.

Bernie Morgan, club manager at Punta Espada, said it took him at least three rounds before he could focus on playing golf. "How do you describe that incredible turquoise (water)?" he said. "You need to use all of your senses. You stand on a tee box or a green, and you use your nose to smell the ocean, your eyes to see the colors, your ears to hear the waves.

"It awakens the senses. ... There are times out there when the golf is almost secondary."

Golfweek ranked this 7,396-yard Jack Nicklaus design the No. 1 course in the Caribbean and Mexico for 2012. The host of the Champions Tour's Cap Cana Championship from 2008-10 is tucked inside Cap Cana, a sprawling resort/residential development that could eventually include three Nicklaus courses.

The most scenic spots are the elevated tee at the par-5 second, the jaw-dropping tee shot on the oceanfront, par-3 13th and the harrowing tee shot required to clear the ocean on the par-4 17th. Of the 350 courses credited to Nicklaus Design, this might be his best public offering.

Nov 04, 2011

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.