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Efrén Garcia-Estrada

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Tourism

Tee Time

Director, Punta Espada Golf Club

Bio

Efren Garcia-Estrada was born and raised in the Canary Islands, Spain, before going abroad to finish his education. He holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island where he was also part of the golf team. Upon returning to Spain he founded a golf event and services company that ultimately brought him to the Dominican Republic as Tournament Director of the first ever PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour event, The Cap Cana Championship, held in the country from 2008 — 2010. Since 2009 he has overseen the golf operation as the Director of the highly regarded Punta Espada Golf Club in Cap Cana, which is internationally recognized as one of the finest golf courses in the world.

What are the main features and facilities of Punta Espada Golf Club? We have 18 holes and a clubhouse. It is an operation that is oriented at servicing the golfer […]

What are the main features and facilities of Punta Espada Golf Club?

We have 18 holes and a clubhouse. It is an operation that is oriented at servicing the golfer and the main feature is the golf course. We have a wonderful design, and a wonderful location. It is difficult to find a more beautiful destination. We have eight holes on the oceanfront, where you can almost feel the waves. We also have the advantage of having a small bluff running through the property so that there are some holes on top of that bluff that have wonderful ocean views as well. Its location, design, and maintenance keep the course at the best possible level. It is really a factor that separates us from the rest. It is expensive, but we want to have the course as close to what the pros would play on as possible. We have already hosted three Champion’s Tour events, so we know what their demands are and we are very close to that on a day-to-day basis.

What is the average profile of Punta Espada’s guests?

The main client is a North American, usually from the US. Quite a few Canadians come as well, but the main clients are from the US East Coast, where they have the most direct flights to and from the Dominican Republic. That is where we see the biggest impact. The average age is usually between 35 and 60. We are also starting to see some Latin American activity and we always see some European activity too.

How popular is golf among Dominicans?

Due to our environment and business model our operation caters to a high-end residential and tourist resort customer. We are less geared toward servicing the local Dominican golfer. We are seeing an increased interest and more players coming up the ranks.

FEDOGOLF is doing a good job of developing golf locally, but that is really not our target client. We depend on the international golfer, but we still do some local tournaments in the summer. We try to take advantage of the low season to host some local tournaments that attract the local golfers to come out and play.

How does Punta Espada contribute to the local economy?

We will do approximately 15,000 rounds this year. In the high season, a client of ours that is not a member, or a guest of a member, will pay $375 to play on this course, plus they will tip the caddies, buy beverages and lunch, and so on. The client is spending around $450 on a day of golf, money that stays here in the local economy.

I also think there is huge potential for growth. The Dominican Republic currently attracts approximately 100,000 golfers and this number is not close to the potential for what we have on offer already on the island. Promotion to position the Dominican Republic as a golf destination is still required in order to potentially triple that number in a five-year span, if the marketing dollars are put behind that campaign. That would impact the economy because 100,000, (and Punta Cana will have 1.6 million tourists in 2015), does not represent a big piece of the pie. But, if you take what they spend locally, then this represents a much bigger piece than just in terms of volume.

What is your assessment of the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure?

It is constantly improving. The roads are fantastic. Last year we saw part of the impact of the new road that connected the Punta Cana area to La Romana and Casa de Campo, and now that word is spreading and we are seeing more and more golf groups coming over to play at Punta Espada. Some of our clients also attend Casa de Campo so it works both ways. Not only is the Punta Cana airport growing, but it is now ready for 5 million passengers. There are three international airports within an hour and a half car drive.

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