Teeth of the Dog still has plenty of bite
"I created eleven holes and God created seven!"
Certainly not in the realm and importance of Martin Luther King's "I have a
dream" speech or John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you"
address or even the catchphrase from the Terminator movie, "I'll be back," but
Pete Dye's proclamation when he built Teeth of the Dog is quite memorable, not
to mention accurate.
The crown jewel of the Casa de Campo Resort, the Teeth of the Dog has been
consistently ranked in the top-50 world golf rankings for the past four decades
and continues to outshine every course in the Caribbean and most around the
Completed in 1971, Teeth of the Dog has grown from just under 6,900 yards to
well over 7,400 yards in length and boasts a very difficult rating of 75.9.
Over the years, Dye and his wife Alice have renovated, lengthened and refined
the course to fit the design challenges of the 21st century.
"When I first went down to Casa de Campo, there wasn't any roads to it and I
talked to the owners about letting me build along the edge of the ocean," Dye
said. "There was plenty of land and they actually wanted to build an industrial
park, but I got that stopped and was able to build Teeth of the Dog with seven
holes along the water. It's a difficult golf course, but it's not as difficult
as Pine Valley."
Personally, I can't say that I conquered the Teeth of the Dog, but I can boast
about making birdie on the par-3 fifth, the first ocean hole on the course.
No, it wasn't from the back tees, but a deuce on the scorecard, no matter where
you played from, is pretty good to me.
Is the course as difficult, as say, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, another
Pete Dye masterpiece? I don't think so, but having said that, it certainly was
everything I had heard about and more and it certainly kicked my butt!
The Teeth of the Dog, however, is just a small part and parcel to what Casa de
Campo is all about.
Upon your arrival to the resort, you're given a golf cart to maneuver around
the property. Trust me, you'll need it, as the facilities are spread out over
thousands of acres.
Accommodations at Casa de Campo are not your run-of-the-mill rooms. They range
from luxurious villa homes, hotel rooms, suites and classic villas with, of
course, all of the usual amenities. Hence the meaning, world-class resort.
The only downside, if it counts as one, you'll spend little time in your room,
as the resort has so much to offer.
We briefly talked about golf and will finish with that later, so we'll move to
tennis, as the award-winning La Terraza Tennis Center is nicknamed the
"Wimbledon of the Caribbean," with its 13 courts, 10 of which feature lights.
Let's move on to the shooting center, a facility which features over 300
stations and a 110-foot tower for trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting. Lock
"I haven't shot trap or skeet for years, but was really excited to give it a
try," said David Magagna, world traveler and Casa de Campo resort guest. "We
arrived at the shooting center where we received our vests and shotguns, of
course, and the all important boxes of shells. After a short drive over to the
shooting stations, we got started. What a blast! (no pun intended). The Clay
Sporting Clays were popping up quickly, and you had to simply anticipate the
spot and let it rip. I had a great day hitting approximately 16 out of 20 Clays
that afternoon ... now if I can carry that skill back to Teeth of the Dog, that
would be excellent."
If horseback riding is your game, Casa de Campo has both English and Western
riding on several trails that overlook the golf courses, the breathtaking
Chavon River and, of course, the miles upon miles of sugarcane fields.
Many in the know, however, feel that golf is secondary when it comes to Polo in
the Dominican Republic.
Led by Cali Garcia-Velez, the director of polo & equestrian operations, Casa de
Campo has hosted many world-class polo tournaments and exhibitions over the
years. "We at Casa de Campo feel that we offer a comparative blend," said
Garcia-Velez. "With everything from The Beach Club and our golf courses, sport
shooting, world-class polo, a spa, restaurants, boutiques and a 16th century
replica of a Mediterranean village and amphitheater."
Hard to argue with that logic.
A day at Casa de Campo is as good as anywhere on the planet.
Start out with a round of golf on Teeth of the Dog and try to survive the
seven holes along the Caribbean Sea. Follow that up with lunch overlooking the
golf course and then take your golf cart and drive down to Minitas Beach, the
resort's secluded spot where the drinks are flowing and the water is as still
and as mesmerizing as the sunset. If you thought that was relaxing, hop back
into your cart and head on back to the spa for a steam, sauna, hot tub and a
dunk in the cold plunge pool. Now it's off to dinner at The Marina and one of
the many choices to sample. How's that for a day in the life! The hardest thing
to do is trying to figure out what tomorrow will bring.
The spa is quite intense, as it's more than just a steam and sauna. Pick your
poison, as the treatments are extraordinary.
I'm a hot stone massage guy, so I was right at home with this stimulating
therapy. The rocks, however, might not be your cup of tea, but don't worry,
there are so many massages, wraps, body and sun relief treatments,
aromatherapies and facial, feet and hand care, that you'll have a difficult
time choosing the right specialty to cure what ails you.
Since we began with smashing the little white ball around, it's only fitting we
finish with the 90 holes of golf at the resort.
Dye has designed and crafted each and every hole at Casa de Campo, spreading
out over 7,000 acres. From the Teeth of the Dog to The Links Golf Course, the
Dye Fore layout with its 27 holes and the wonderfully private 27 holes at La
Romana Golf Club.
Each course is quite distinct and challenging.
The Links course, at just over 7,000 yards, has a bit of a Scottish flair and
boasts five consecutive holes on the back nine, where water comes into play.
The layout was recently renovated and is quite pristine.
If you think the Teeth has bite, then you'll be quite bloody after wrestling
with the Dye Fore track. The three nines -- Marina, Chavon and Lagos -- offer
intense views of the Chavon River, the Caribbean Sea and the Dominican
mountains. "Visually, the course is intimidating and the par-3s are in a
word ... incredible," said Gilles Gagnon, director of golf at Casa de Campo.
From the black markers, you top off at 7,740 yards, have seven cliff-side holes
with over 300 feet of elevation and winds that gust sometimes up to 40 miles
per hour. Yes, the fairways are generous and quite reminiscent of Kapalua in
Hawaii, but, all I can say is ... good luck!
Finally, if it's serenity that you seek, then La Romana should be your choice.
Although private, a round on this serene, but difficult course can be arranged.
You just have to know people!
And thank goodness I do, because I have a score to settle with the Teeth of the
Dog on my next visit!