\nNick Faldo's small but impressive course-design portfolio has been earning him some plaudits for a few years, even if uncharitable types might observe that his courses are more fun to be around than Nick himself. That's certainly true of the new Faldo Legacy Course at Roco Ki, and that's no slap at Faldo this is a rollicking, drama-filled design that skips along cliffs and into canyons on the Dominican Republic's eastern shore, traversing three distinct landscape environments before closing with a stretch of holes right on the Caribbean Sea.
\nRoco Ki is infused with scenic and strategic variety. The course opens with distant views of the sea, then winds its way through sandy transition areas and acres of mangroves before climbing into the highlands for holes 7 through 12. The layout eases back into the mangroves for a trio of holes, then concludes with an unforgettable sequence: No. 16 is a 416-yard par 4 with Pinehurst-style sand swatches along the fairway; the plunge at the tiny 104-yard 17th calls to mind Pebble Beach's 7th and Doonbeg's 14th, the green backdropped by water so clear you can see the coral; and the stunning par-5 18th zigzags around inlets of the sea. Limited outside play begins this month. The grand opening is in January, with a Westin resort to follow next year.