Luxury Golf, grandeur at Puntacana Resort & Club By Jeri Clausing / June 22, 2017 Share 1 The eighth hole of the Corales Golf Course that was designed by Tom Fazio. -- "Keep your head down." Felipe, my private caddy, had to repeat that phrase more times than I care to admit or remember. But Felipe's expert guidance combined with the sheer beauty of the Corales Golf Course at the Puntacana Resort & Club made one of the most challenging rounds of my on-again, off-again golf game also one of the most enjoyable.Even without his help, though, I'm sure the views alone would have more than overridden any frustrations of an inconsistent duffer like me trying to play a course that hosts the only Caribbean stop on the PGA Web.com Tour. (Next year it joins the regular PGA tour.)And that was just one of the many highlights of my recent trip to the Dominican Republic, sponsored by the resort.It was only my second trip to Punta Cana, which to me has always been largely synonymous with all-inclusives. Not that I have anything against a nice all-inclusive; I just had no idea that this quiet, 15,000-acre luxury retreat of multimillion-dollar homes, hotels, golf courses, a marina, an ecological reserve, a Six Senses Spa and more even existed, let alone that it was the development that essentially gave birth to Punta Cana. The resort was founded in 1979 with construction of the original, 40-room Puntacana Club. A series of nice surprises began the minute I stepped off the plane at Punta Cana Airport, when I was greeted at the end of the jet bridge for a personal escort through customs and immigration to my private driver. Because the Puntacana Resort & Club owns the airport, it's one of the many perks they can offer homeowners and guests. I also had a private escort through security on my departure, with access to the airport's private lounge while I waited to board.An Ocean View guestroom at the Westin Puntacana. The next surprise: the Westin Puntacana, where I stayed for three days, was only five minutes away, not the hour to two-hour drive to the Bavaro beach area that is home to most of the area's resorts. The Westin was developed just a few years ago on the quiet, white sand beach that was the site of the resort's original hotel. The rooms are spacious, with all the modern amenities one would expect as well as large balconies overlooking the pool and beach.A number of private homes, some almost as large as resorts themselves, are also available for rent through the club. Visitors looking for more intimacy and luxury without the price tag of the multimillion-dollar homes can book the Tortuga Bay Hotel, a member of Leading Hotels of the World and the only AAA Five Diamond hotel in the Dominican Republic. Designed by Oscar de la Renta, that property has 13 villas on a private beach as well as access to all of the club's amenities and facilities.One of the resort's finest restaurants, the AAA Four Diamond Bamboo, is at the Tortuga Bay, featuring indoor and outdoor tables around the resort's pool. The restaurant offers a mix of fresh fish with local and Mediterranean influences.An oceanfront, two-bedroom suite at the Tortuga Bay Hotel. While we had ample time to explore the resort, take in a massage at Six Senses and get a tour of the resort's ecological reserve, we spent most of our time golfing, including a round at the Tom Fazio-designed Corales course, which has six oceanfront holes, the final three of which make up the famed "Devil's Elbow" that require shots over the cliff-lined Bay of Corales.The La Cana course, designed by Pete Dye, has 27 holes, including 14 with ocean views. Unlike Corales, which has just a small clubhouse and grill, La Cana has a little something for everyone, with a large clubhouse, a pool and beach club, the spa and one of the resort's other great restaurants, the Grill.Both courses are open to all homeowners and renters as well as registered guests of Tortuga Bay, the Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, Home Rentals and the Four Points by Sheraton.Nightly rates range from about $115 at the Four Points to $800 and up at Tortuga Bay. See www.puntacana.com.