If Christopher Columbus were to land today on the island of Hispaniola, first stop on his historic initial voyage to the new world, he would find it still has lovely white sand beaches, lush green rain forests, and in some places, jagged coral coastlines. What he would also discover is that the Dominican Republic portion of the island, which it shares with Haiti, is a golfer’s paradise with panoramic ocean views and swaying coconut palms on its 21 beautiful and challenging courses.
If Columbus happened to have taken up golf sometime in the past 500 years, he would be excited to find and play courses designed by noted golfers, and golf architects, including Pete Dye, P. B. Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Gary Player, Tom Fazio and Nick Faldo.
This past January, during a quick visit to the Dominican Republic, I had the opportunity to play Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog. The course, whose name comes from the rocky and snarling coral coastline bordering it, is located at the Casa de Campo Resort on the outskirts of La Romana. Even with wide fairway landing areas, from the 5914-yard white tees it is a very demanding track as Pete Dye’s signature challenges are everywhere. Dye’s trademark railroad ties, vast waste areas, peninsula greens and tees, and small-elevated greens, combine with gorgeous views of the waters of the Caribbean Sea to make playing the Teeth of the Dog a memorable day on the links.
The day I played was as calm a day as one could wish for. Well-hit shots went straight with no interference from winds that are normally present. Playing in the wind from the back tees at just under 7000 yards, the Teeth of The Dog would be a very difficult challenge for even the best of golfers.
When he was asked about his course, which opened to great acclaim in 1971, Pete Dye said, “I created 11 holes, and God created seven.” The seven he was referring are strategically placed scenic holes on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. All are picture postcard perfect, architecturally demanding, and wonderful to play. Three are par 3’s ranging from 155 to 225 yards from the tips. Four are Par 4’s, the shortest being the 384-yard 15 th hole, which my caddy told me normally plays into a cross wind which directs even a well-hit drive toward the ocean. Because of this, the 15 th hole is known affectionately as the “longest 384 yard hole in the world”.
In addition to the seven ocean holes, one of my other favorites was the 505-yard par 5 ninth hole. It became my favorite when I reached the green in three after slicing my erratic left handed drive far to the left into the dirt and weedy rough, belted a long fairway metal over, around and through the trees that protect the fairway on the left, hit a solid wedge shot 20 feet from the pin, and two putted for par. What made it so special was the grin on my caddy’s face as he collected a 100-peso note from a fellow caddy. Unbeknownst to me, after my horrible drive, my caddy, in a real show of bravado, had bet I would par the hole…a bet I wouldn’t have made.
As “West Coasters”, we rarely think of the Dominican Republic when we think of island golf. Hawaii, yes…but the Dominican Republic…not very often, if at all. My suggestion is that the next time you want to enjoy an island golfing vacation, head east to to Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic. There you can add your name to the list of celebrities, PGA Pros, and U.S. Presidents who have played and enjoyed the challenge of Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog.
When you play the “The Dog”, you will understand why year after year itis rated the No. 1 golf course in the Caribbean. You will also come to realize why Casa de Campo, with its ideal climate, gorgeous ocean views, and luxurious accommodations, has been voted one of the 100 World’s Best Places to Stay by the readers of Conde Nast magazine, and the No.1 Golf Resort in the Caribbean by Travel and Leisure magazine.
For more information on the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo, The Teeth of the Dog, and the resort’s two other outstanding Pete Dye courses, The Links and Dye Fore, visit www.casadcampo.com.