Castle Stuart Golf Links

The rate of new golf course openings may have slowed since the ’90s, but a spate of new top-notch courses opening around the world will have golf aficionados grabbing their bags and booking tee times. Here’s a look at five new courses that are sure to quickly become classics.

Castle Stuart Golf Links, Inverness, Scotland (www.castlestuartgolf.com): The accolades are stacking up like revetted bunkers for this Highlands course, which opened in July 2009 and overlooks the Moray Firth. On a Golf Tourism Scotland short list with The Old Course at St Andrews and Kingsbarns Golf Links, Castle Stuart was selected 2010 Golf Course of the Year and may host the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open.

The trick with a 21st-century links course is to make it seem like it’s been around since the 19th century or earlier. Architect Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen, managing partner and co-designer, have nailed it. They’ve blended the landforms in harmony with the stunning visual surroundings while creating thoughtful strategic patterns that suggest The Old Course or Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The 425-acre site will ultimately include a boutique hotel and spa, 148 lodges and apartments, and another 18 holes, but the current course is a brilliant first step. Thoughtful visitors will also book rounds at the nearby classic links of The Nairn, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, and Brora Golf Club.

Corales Golf Course
Corales Golf Course, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
(puntacana.com): P.B. Dye’s La Cana Golf Course, a regular visitor to CL’s Platinum List, has had some serious sibling rivalry since the April 2010 opening of Tom Fazio’s Corales Golf Course. The pair may well have helped Puntacana Resort & Club take the 2011 Golf Resort of the Year award from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (in the “Rest of the World” category — outside Europe and North America).

The course is pretty much out of this world. On land that was once bush, cactus, and sea grapes, Fazio has fashioned a fecund beauty with six holes skirting the Carib-bean Sea, the home hole requiring a carry over the rocky limestone coral of the Bay of Corales.

Oscar de la Renta is an investor in Corales, as is singer Julio Iglesias, and both live in the developing Corales neighborhood that gives access to the course. But guests at the de la Renta-designed Tortuga Bay villas and the Puntacana Resort & Club can also corral some tee times.