There are beautiful courses, there are attractive courses, there are spectacular courses... and there are many dazzling ones, like Teeth of the Dog. It is practically impossible to escape the spell caused by playing this sensational layout located in Casa de Campo, the famous Dominican resort in La Romana municipality on the south-east coast of the country.
Its seven holes bathed by the Caribbean Sea - especially its three par-threes - constitute an experience that is difficult to compare with others, and the remaining 11 holes do not detract from the whole in any way. In fact, the course has deservedly become known as the most coveted destination in the Caribbean for golfers from around the world.
There are fewer than three years lo go before Dog Teeth celebrates its golden wedding, the result in 1971 of magnificent work by one of the world’s most famous golf designers, North American Pete Dye, creator of the other two 18-hole courses at Casa del Campo.
Dye was hired to design a course on very dry land near a sugar cane plantation in La Romana, but once there, and exploring the coastline, he thought he could create something really extraordinary. With the help of 300 Dominican workers, the course was prepared by bringing soil in carts from inland areas, and they even had to break down rocky areas with hammers, picks and chisels. It was an artisanal effort, a course literally constructed by hand.
The golf course was originally called Cajuiles, in reference to the trees of that name which grew in the mountains, but it was changed to Dientes de Perro when Dye heard locals refer to the coral rock given that name because they appeared to be like the sharp teeth of a dog.
"Almost by accident, I saw before me the most beautiful place by the sea for a golf course. I didn’t realise that my wonderful discovery would be the beginning of a life-long devotion to this Caribbean country and its warm and friendly people.” That is how Pete Dye talked about his work, noting that the design was relatively simple because "God made seven holes", in reference to those that border the sea, and he only had to create the remaining 11.
The fifth hole. a par-three of 160 metres, is the first in the coastal area, with its small green extending deep into the sea and exposed to the winds that blow towards the coast and force the ball to fly over the crystalline waters of the Caribbean. It is Teeth of the Dog’s iconic hole, due to its degree of difficulty and unbeatable views.
The next par-three is the seventh, which also requires hitting over the waves in the same direction as the fifth, but this time to a green surrounded by impressive sand traps.
The green of the eighth, a par-four of 373 metres, is extremely complicated, with several flag positions only accessible for the most expert players.
The course then turns inland on the ninth, and you have to play five more holes to return to the water’s edge and face three holes bathed by the Caribbean, beginning with the magnificent 15th. Like the 17th, this stylish hole extends along the edge of the cliff, with the sea lurking to the right ready to catch every ball that deviates from the left-hand side. Sandwiched between these great par-fours is the last par-three, an exciting hole that extends from a rocky inlet to an enormously proportioned green that rests on a ledge.
The immediate success of Teeth of Dog helped Pete Dye cement his fame as one of the best designers in the world.
A par-72, the course has hosted countless national and international tournaments, including the PGA Tour Dominican Republic Open, and the Latin American Amateur Championship (LAAC) twice.
Dye has designed three other layouts at Casa de Campo: The Links and Dye Fore, both 18 holes, and Dye Fore Lakes, nine holes.
The Links, featuring Scottish and English inspiration, presents a more traditional style than Teeth of the Dog. It is surrounded by mango and flamboyant trees, and water comes into play on five holes. Dye Fore includes holes over spectacular cliffs that drop 100 metres into the Chavón River. It offers spectacular views of the sea, the mountains, the river, the Casa de Campo Marina and the artists’ village of Altos de Chavón.
Peter Dye: One of the Greatest Designers
American Pete Dye, considered the best golf course designer of the last 60 years, is a true legend. Casa de Campo has no fewer than three 18-hole courses designed by him, different from each other but equally challenging.
With an uncontrived, structured and practical style that was consolidated after visiting the birthplace of golf, Scotland, his signature Dye elements (such as uneven sleepers and small bunkers) have been influenced by the sport’s history.
In addition to creating the best course in the Caribbean, Teeth of the Dog, Dye has also designed famous courses worldwide such as the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, the PGA West course, the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island and the Whistling Straits, as well as working with Jack Nicklaus at the Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
On the verge of turning 93 (29 December 1925), Pete Dye is hardly aware of its existence. He can play golf but is not capable of having a conversation, or expressing in words his now devastated inner world: he suffers from Alzheimer's.
Among the many awards and recognitions received throughout his long career, highlights include his inclusion in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
The premise of Dye's designs is that a golf experience has to be memorable, that the golfer should be able to remember the 18 holes at the end of the round, and that you have to avoid tasteless or duplicated holes.
Pete's children, Perry and Paul Burke, have followed the professional footsteps of their father and also design golf courses.
Casa de Campo Resort: Paradise in La Romana
Casa de Campo Resort is a tropical gem located on the south-east coast of the Dominican Republic, and bordered by the impressive Chavón River and lush vegetation. It is a hotel, resort and residential community with impressive features extending throughout almost 3,000 hectares of land - like no other destination in the Caribbean.
This tropical garden, with its world-class sports options, is home to numerous unsurpassable amenities, and accommodation options in the hotel or one of the villas, featuring a tropical décor, offering the utmost in luxury and services. These include private pool, large terraces, private butler, waitress, gardener and, for an additional cost, the service of a personal chef if desired. A perfect place for a family holiday, for golfers, couples, friends, group meetings and weddings.
Casa de Campo has a wide variety of sports options, both water and on land, each with teams of experts and the most modern facilities that can be found in the Caribbean. It also has a gym, exclusive spa, marina, yacht club and private beach, where you can enjoy a large number of water sports.
3 THINGS ABOUT TEETH OF THE DOG
SHINING IN THE RANKINGS
Teeth of the Dog rates highly in the main international rankings, always in the world top-100: number one for the Caribbean in The Top 100 Golf Courses, 48th in the world according to Golf Magazine, 52nd by Golf Digest, 55th by Planet Golf, 65th by Architects 'Choice...
THE PRICE OF QUALITY
Playing a course like Teeth of the Dog is not within the reach of all budgets, but it is well worth making an effort to enjoy it. The green fee costs $395 (€94 for those under 18).
DON’T SKIMP ON BALLS
It’s not a question of scaring anyone, but if you are going to play at Teeth of the Dog it is advisable to carry a good number of balls - just in case luck does not smile on you with the par-threes that border the sea and have been known to engulf quite a few.