Pack the clubs for the Caribbean, where a new course at the Casa de Campo resort is turning heads and making headlines.
Haven’t yet pulled the ribbon off the Big Bertha Hawk Eye VFT titanium driver and fairway woods you found under the Christmas tree last month? You might just want to, so you can get in some practice for a future golf getaway once you hear about a new course opening up down in the Dominican Republic later this year.

The latest addition to the exclusive Casa de Campo resort, located on the country’s idyllic southeastern coast, the yet-to-be-named course will be the first full course from famed golf architect Pete Dye in more than 20 years. But that’s not its only claim to fame. It will also be the first course in the world to be irrigated with saltwater. Planted in part with two new strains of paspalum grass, it can be watered directly from the ocean.

“When play begins on this new grass and people see its beauty and durability, the face of golf will change not only in the Caribbean but anywhere fresh water is in short supply,” says Gilles Gagnon, Casa de Campo’s golf director.

Worried how this new grass will affect your game? Actually, you might just hit a little harder and longer from the fairways and tees, as the paspalum blades tend to grow more upright than bent grasses and so the ball really sits up. The greens are a little greener and firmer, but are still a premium putting surface. The one thing that could be a distraction here is the landscape. The course’s elevated layout affords staggering views of the surrounding cliffs, the Caribbean, and the Chavón River.

Complementing Casa de Campo’s new course are two other world-class courses, the Links and the Teeth of the Dog (routinely ranked the best in the Carib-bean), so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to break in those new clubs. Once you’ve done that — or if golf just isn’t your game — there are myriad other activities to entertain you, from snorkeling to skeet shooting to shopping. Then there’s the resort itself, a sprawling 7,000-acre property often called the Carib- bean’s most complete resort. In addition to luxurious accommodations and a staff that caters to your every whim, there’s a new 250-slip marina and yacht club, 15 swimming pools, and 13 tennis courts — complete with ball boys. Hmm, too bad they didn’t have ball boys over on the back nine, when you hooked that tee shot off into the trees.

For more information, call (800) 877-3643 or log on to www.casadecampo.cc.
NOTABLES
Hotel rooms range from $155 to $700, rooms in the villa from $403 to $1,396; golf/lodging packages available. For more information, call (800) 877-3643 or log on to www.casadecampo.cc.