The Hard Rock Golf Club at Cana Bay is a golfer’s fantasy, crafted by Jack Nicklaus, the Gold Bear himself. The 18-hole, par-72 golf course in the Dominican Republic (DR) is legendary, despite its youth, with fantastic views and unique challenges. OTG spoke with Cesc Targa Ballesta, Golf Course Manager for Hard Rock Golf Club.
What makes your golf course one of the best in the DR?
There are now so many choices here in the DR that it has really become a golfer’s dream destination. You can come back every year and experience something new and revisit something wonderful that you played on your last visit. What makes our course one of the most memorable and the one that most people want to revisit is the mixture of the old game that we all know and love at its highest quality with the new fun soul of Hard Rock that infuses our culture here at the original Hard Rock Golf Club.
One of our most exciting features is that every time people come back, they get to experience something new. Last year’s visitors saw our new signage and branding, and this year’s visitors see the next level where we redesigned the Rock carts and put Rock & Roll memorabilia in the clubhouse. Alice Cooper’s signed guitar is just one of the cool things we have, and not everyone knows that he is a two handicap golfer. What do we have in store for next year? You’ll just have to wait and see, but it will be a game changer.
What type of golfers does this club cater to?
Our mission is to create a new way to experience the great game of golf while maintaining the utmost respect for its integrity, and we think this experience is for everyone who loves the game. I have seen the classic country club generation come back year after year to paradise to enjoy this course, and on the other end of the spectrum, we regularly host bachelor golf party events for the wedding groups that come to the Hard Rock Hotel. We do our best to cater and provide something for everyone, and no one goes away without something to remember.
Have you hosted any tournaments?
We have had the privilege of hosting the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica twice, the DR Open twice, the final of the Audi Canal+ Tour, and the final of the Claro Tour twice. Besides these important championships, we host approximately 50 corporate and group events each year, and we do a few unique things that keep our clients coming back year after year. One of the most popular is we have an artist who paints their logo or slogan on the driving range, which makes for an incredible group photo opportunity and an unforgettable marketing image and souvenir.
What other facilities to do you have at the club other than the course?
The Hard Rock Golf Club is fortunate to have one of the most complete practice areas in the country. The driving range, chipping green, and putting green, as well as the covered practice area, provide ample space for our guests to practice in one area while our pros give lessons in another.
Speaking of lessons, one of our very popular features are our free lessons every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Many people come here during the winter after not swinging a club for months, and they appreciate a quick swing analysis before hitting the course. It also makes a great introduction for people who are not yet sure that golf is for them. They can try it out and receive encouragement before making this important investment in their future.
Another important feature is that at this time our pro shop is the only place in the world where one can buy Hard Rock Golf branded merchandise.
Also to mention our unique Rock Star Minigolf only five minutes away from our club house.
Why was it important for the golf club to become a participant of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses?
Protecting our environment and creating a sustainable future is one of the founding principles in all Hard Rock operations throughout the world, and the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program is the best way that we can find to make it part of the essence of Hard Rock Golf Club.
We have three lakes surrounded by forest and jungle, so it is important to make sure that the flora and fauna thrive alongside our golf operations, and we are happy with the results. From the woodpecker to the egrets, and the ducks to the flamingoes, our lakes and forests are the stomping ground for many of nature’s beautiful species.
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