Most people's idea of a dream getaway involves a secluded tropical island, where money is no object. In real life, of course, money is an object. Visitors to the Dominican Republic can enjoy the best of both worlds. Balmy temps, soothing breezes and pristine beaches are part of the package, and so is outstanding golf, improved immensely in recent years by the proliferation of salt-tolerant paspalum grass, which help the D.R.'s courses stay in top condition. A new highway has dramatically reduced travel time from the international airports to the major resorts, and the variety of lodging options and packages have made the entire experience more affordable. (Casa de Campo Resort's Spring, Sports and Savings package features a fourth night free, on a four-night stay, plus a $100 sport credit.) Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo Resort remains the top draw, but more recent designs also have earned oohs and aahs, from Jack Nicklaus’s Punta Espada at Cap Cana Resort, a past Champions Tour venue, to seaside layouts from Tom Fazio and P.B. Dye at Puntacana Resort & Club.
Inside the Top 5: Our neighbor to the north has given us Wayne Gretzky, Jim Carrey, Joni Mitchell ... and an abundance of superb, affordable golf courses, from the Canadian Rockies to Nova Scotia and especially in British Columbia (No. 4 in this category). From Whistler’s strong offerings, complete with bears roaming the grounds, to the courses that edge the vineyards of Kelowna/Okanagan Valley, to the scenic but modestly priced designs in and around the seaside cities of Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. is sweet relief for wallet-watchers.