The Casa de Campo resort is spread out over an enormous property to the east of La Romana and much of the site was where the American conglomerate Gulf & Western once plied its trade as a major producer of sugar. When the company decided to expand its operations in the late 1960s, an upmarket residential estate and resort resulted.
Casa de Campo unveiled the first of its world-class courses when Pete Dye’s eponymous Teeth of the Dog layout opened in 1971 and this fantastic track was followed three years later by the 18-hole Links layout. After something of a lull in golf development at the resort, La Romana was the next course to appear, debuting as a private facility in 1990. Finally, the Dye Fore course opened for play in 2005.
The Links may lack the stunning seaside holes of the Teeth of the Dog and it doesn’t have quite the same wonderful river views of the Dye Fore layout but it’s still a top drawer course that plays a fine supporting role to its tougher siblings. Fairways, many of them doglegged, may be wide and forgiving but they do provide an engaging test of golf.
Some enormous waste bunkers await errant shots on the front nine (at holes 5, 6, 7 and 9) but mercifully, there are no water hazards to contend with. That all changes on the 12th hole, however, where a pond runs the length of the fairway then more water comes into play on each of the next four holes.The Links course was closed for major renovation between May 2011 and March 2012 when all the greens were re-laid, bunkers refurbished and a new irrigation system installed.
This course has deteriorated in condition even after some extensive work about 8 years ago and as it has no visual appeal it attracts few players. There has been no attempt to make the course more attractive .
The third course in the Dye trilogy, the Links is reminiscent of the British-style, but it is not a true links course as it winds inland through the interior of the property, instead of along the ocean. Completely renovated in 2012, the Links may be more forgiving than its siblings, but do not be fooled, it is not without its set of challenges. The strategically placed bunkers of varying shapes and sizes seemed to effortlessly attract my ball, and the elevated greens will cause you to rethink your approach shots.
We caught a couple of glimpses of the Caribbean Sea as we made our way around the course, but it was not until the 12th that the real water came into play. For the next five holes, we found ourselves navigating a series of lagoons and an inland lake that offered up more than enough trouble. While this par-71 course stretches out to almost 7,013 yards from the tips, you will need to draw on your short game skills to come out a winner.
This was definitely a good warm up course for Teeth of The Dog and Dye Fore. Generally, The Links is relatively more wide open than the other two but is an excellent and fair test of golf. The greens rolled true and were a good speed, the fairways were firm, and the course overall was very well manicured. The greens crew take great pride and very good care of this 39 year old creation of Pete Dye. There are four sets of tees ranging from the red tees at about 4,500 yards to the gold tees and just over 7,000 yards. Golfers of all abilities can enjoy this course. For this review will use the distances from the gold tees.
I like playing courses that all my clubs can be used and this course certainly achieved that. The first 3 holes consisted of strategic bunkers around the greens and in true links fashion allowed run up shots to the front of the green. On the fourth tee the Caribbean can be seen behind the tee and this is a nice short par 4 of only 331 yards from the gold tees. The fifth and six are both downhill and nice challenges. The seventh is a good three shot par 5 for most as it measures 565 yards and is has excellent bunkering. The eighth is a nice downhill 214 yard par 3 with a green that looks pretty small from the tee relative to the other holes. The ninth is a long 491 yard par 4 that actually plays shorter as my ball rolled more on this hole than any of the others.
The tenth and eleventh holes are pretty straightforward with solid shots required as they measure 433 and 447 yards. The twelfth, measuring 391 yards, is the first of the water holes with a lake to avoid on the right but the fairway is very generous. The thirteenth is a strong 191 yard par 3 over the lake. The lake is on the left side of the 427 yard par 4 fourteenth with the green placed strategically close to the lake for the second shot. The 402 yard par 5 fifteenth requires a drive over the lake but there is plenty of room on the right side. No lake problem on the second shot and the green has a nice two-tier design. The 167 yard par 3 sixteenth requires a shot over the lake and is just a nice looking solid par 3. The seventeenth is a 554 yard par 5 with the fairway bunkers more visually noticeable than on the other holes and are very well placed. The eighteenth is a nice finishing 417 yard par 4 with fairway bunkers on the right side and the best position is just left of the bunkers. Overall the course is very good and is a nice complement to the other two courses at Casa de Campo. Here is a link to a video slideshow I created for The Links. Jim Brady