What a wonderful opportunity to be able to head to the Caribbean during the coldest months of the European winter. The trip to the Dominican Republic is not exactly a short one but arriving to 28 degrees Celsius from -2 deg in Amsterdam makes for an amazing start.
I’m guessing most visitors to the DR wisely arrange their transfers with the hotel or resort they are staying in. I would like to reiterate that I highly recommend this BUT I did not do that myself. I rented a car with Avis being a President’s Club member thinking; ok naturally I will receive decent service. Well, I survived to tell the tale but to give an idea of what you are dealing with this is very much a franchise operation. Upon arrival at the airport after a 12-hour trip with layover there was not a soul to be found at the Avis booth and it took a solid 30 minutes before anyone was located. I was picked up by an unmarked vehicle and taken down a dark road to a totally closed and dark industrial area and low and behold there was actually a small office there, though sketchy would be an understatement. Having signed my life away I was taken to my vehicle, which was quite dirty and run down for a full sized car and set loose. The GPS I ordered ended up being only useable with the mobile wifi they rented to me on top of the price of the GPS. My advice, if you are going to Casa de Campo which you absolutely should be, then arrange the transfer with them.
Arriving at the resort is a fantastic and refreshing experience compared to my experience after landing. Everyone there is absolutely wonderful and make you really feel like you are part of the family, golf being a central theme. I was fortunate to be taken under the wing of their Director of Golf, Mr. Robert Birtel. He reserved some time to take me out and show me how the locals master the fearsome Teeth of the Dog course from Pete Dye. The course will always have a special place in my heart, as it just happened to be my 99thcourse that I have played out of the World Top 100.
If Dye is great at one thing it’s instilling terror in the hearts of amateur golfers and Teeth of the Dog is well known to be a tough but fair test. While not easy the start would still be considered a challenging beginning. Dye often takes one side completely out of play and basically challenges the player not to go left or right. This theme couldn’t be more prevalent starting with the 2nd hole. The anticipation builds to the 4th hole which is a strong par 4 dogleg right that runs out to the ocean and provides the players first meeting with water – the 4th green being a stone’s throw away.
The 5thhole is a diabolical short par 3 that could be anything from a 9 iron down depending on the strength of the wind. Our conditions were quite mild but even so this par 3 plays to a raised green that sits on a small outcropping of land running into the ocean and it’s surrounded with bunkering, steep runoffs and water. Did I mention that it’s all carry from the tee? Basically you take a deep breath, commit to your shot and swing away. Truly exhilarating!
With blood pumping through your veins you head to the next tee to meet the following test. The 6th tee sits right against the ocean and requires a gutsy committed tee shot along the shore to set up a chance to reach this long par 4 in two. Dye has created a short dogleg back towards the sea on this hole.
The 7th is another jaw-dropper in this run of great shoreline holes. From the back tees it plays 229 yards and is mostly carry. Definitely another hole fitting into the theme of making the player commit to an exhilarating shot. In the wind this hole is just plain tough, but oh so beautiful with waves crashing all around. There is no doubt in my mind that many golfers have fed many a ProV1 to the sharks along this stretch and still came out loving the experience.
The 8th hole follows up with another cracker right along the shore. A very tight drive with a 3 wood or rescue will leave a short approach to tricky, well-guarded green.
The 9th hole is a long par 5 that takes you back to the clubhouse – a tough finisher to a solid front 9.
The back 9 runs counter clockwise in the opposite direct of this figure 8 or infinity shaped routing. 10 is a semi tight dogleg left requiring a very well positioned drive.
11 is a long par 5 again requiring well placed shots. In the right conditions this might be a hole that can be reached in two. We didn’t have those conditions for my game.
The 12thhole is a long tough par 4 that plays like a par 4 1/2 with a slight dogleg left. The 13th is our first really tough test on the back as well as our first 1 shotter. A mid to long iron is required to reach this raised green that sharply falls off on all sides. The tee shot feels like it’s all or nothing and from the tee there doesn’t seem to be an easy recovery shot in sight – typical Dye, getting into the head of the golfer.
14 is a tough par 4 requires a solid tee shot and leaves an approach over water to a green that is very shallow when played from the shortest route on the right side of the fairway.
Holes 15 through 17 bring us back to the ocean and again test our nerve while stimulating our viewing pleasure. On the front 9 a left miss was likely shark bate while on the back due to the direction of the routing missing right will find you a watery grave.
The 15th is a short par 4 with the tee box placed right up against the crashing waves. The shot requires a very well placed drive hitting its target. Anything on the fairway will be a huge relief. While a left miss is the dry option, too far left is also trouble and is protected by a large bunker and also trees that would likely require either a tough shot or perhaps a chip out. The approach is played back to a green that sits right up against the cliffs and water. It’s a great hole.
16 is the final par 3, 189 yards of carry over crashing waves from the back tees. A front bunker, cliffs and water protect the green. It’s a real test regardless of the wind conditions.
17 is a 417-yard par 4 playing right along the ocean. Imagine the iconic 18th at Pebble Beach, make it a par 4 running in the opposite direction and that’s kind of what you face, only its Dominican brother – an excellent and challenging hole.
The closing hole is another monster of a par 4. A long drive to the right side will avoid bunkers and rough and leave a long approach that is played uphill slightly to the final green. Arguably this hole, which plays over what once was a runway for the airport, provides a slightly anticlimactic finish after the spectacular stretch from 15 to 17 but it cannot be argued that this is an easy finish or a hole lacking in architectural merit.
Teeth of the Dog has been famous ever since it was built and has always enjoyed a solid position in the World Top 100 Golf Courses to my knowledge. It’s Pete Dye’s favorite of his designs and having played all of his best-ranked courses I would have to agree with that. It really ticks all the boxes and what’s not to love about sun, ocean and golf as a combination? Just add one of the world’s best golf resorts to the mix and really it’s impossible to go wrong with a trip to Casa de Campo. Enjoy your stay and report back.
Date: June 22, 2018