My trip to Casa de Campo was one of my last travel assignments for LINKS Magazine. I took the trip with a handful of LINKS staffers and dozens of subscribers for a company event to play golf, talk golf, and enjoy time in the Dominican Republic! We stayed in the resort, ate all of our meals there, and played as much golf as daylight would allow.
I played the Teeth of the Dog course a handful of times, but also made a point to play Dye Fore and The Links, which are a 10-15 minute shuttle ride from the main resort. Both courses offer something different (and great views), but the main reason golfers visit Casa de Campo is the oceanside Teeth of the Dog course, which Pete Dye designed and opened in 1971.
Teeth of the Dog is famous for its seven holes on the coastline. I find myself mentally categorizing oceanfront courses based on two factors. Are they high above the water on the cliffs (Quivira, Pacific Dunes, etc.) or are they right on the water level (Kingsbarns, Kiawah Island Ocean Course, etc.)? Some courses have both (Pebble Beach, Castle Stuart). I think of it as the splash factor.
Teeth of the Dog falls into the second category with water literally lapping up onto the edge of tee boxes and greens. The waterfront holes are beautiful, but a few of them are butted up against the coast by houses, which makes them feel squeezed in places. That factor, combined with the the relatively flat terrain, means Teeth of the Dog doesn’t have huge/dramatic scale, but it does have seven of 18 holes along that the gorgeous Caribbean-blue water.
The inland holes get less attention, but after quite a while since my visit, I remember many of the inland holes just as well as the waterfront holes. That’s especially true on the front nine.
Hole No. 1 – 371 yards – The opener at Teeth of the Dog has a wide fairway and sloping raised green. The hole eases you into the round.
Hole No. 2 – 357 yards – The 2nd hole features a waste bunker full of rocks along the left side of the hole. I’ve never seen anything like it… the rocks seem to be placed there as a penalty and if your ball ends up in them, it’s an immediate unplayable lie. I didn’t notice this style of rock-filled waste bunker anywhere else on the course.
Hole No. 4 – 371 yards – The dogleg-right 4th hole offers little glimpses of the waterfront holes to come along the right. The green is elevated with steep runoff areas left, right, and rear.
Hole No. 5 – 137 yards – The 5th is the first of the famous waterfront holes at Casa de Campo. The green is surprisingly small and the tree on the right weighs on your mind more than you’d think. This is a charming little par 3.
Hole No. 6 – 402 yards – The 6th runs along the water, but the water shouldn’t really come into play. There is loads of room right and the green is located well back from the coastline.
Hole No. 7 – 186 yards – The 7th was one of my favorite holes on the course. Unlike the 5th, the water really shouldn’t come into play here except for the worst of shots. That being said, the water is very much on your mind. Because of that, the tendency is to play long and right here leaving an intimidating chip back to the hole.
Hole No. 8 – 399 yards – This is the fourth consecutive hole along the water. The left side of the hole borders lapping waves and you get the best angle into the green by playing down that challenging side. Just right of the green there is a very deep depression which helps shape the green and act as a hazard for those who bail out right.
Hole No. 10 – 378 yards – A stone walls runs through the 10th fairway – very reminiscent of Scotland! The green is the highlight of this hole a number of pin placements that completely change the difficulty of the approach shot.
Hole No. 13 – 168 yards – The 13th has a raised green that is surrounded by flat sandy waste area. The green is just raised enough that you can’t see the putting surface from the tee. It’s a fun and surprisingly tricky par 3.
Hole No. 14 – 490 yards – Hole 14 is a sweeping dogleg right with water and a waste bunker along the right. The par 5 is most easily reachable in two by aiming right and challenging the water off the tee.
Hole No. 15 – 322 yards – We’re back on the water. This short par four tempts golfers to get closer to the green by challenging water on the right. The more players err on the safer left side of the fairway the more difficult the angle is into the green. The approach shot to the green ranges from docile with a front left pin to very challenging with a back right location.
Hole No. 16 – 154 yards – Do you see any similarities between this sixteenth hole and the fifteenth hole at Cypress Point Club? Maybe I’m crazy…
This relatively short par 3 has the coastline along the right which makes golfers want to bail out left. Watch out though, because bunkers and hard-packed waste area guard that left side.
Hole No. 17 – 369 yards – The penultimate hole directly challenges players to take on the water. Imagine standing on this hole in a tournament with waves crashing to your right… The more you bail out left, the tougher your approach shot to the green. The right side of the putting surface, as you’ll see in the second photo below, is just as intimidating as the tee shot.
Hole No. 18 – 389 yards – The last hole isn’t along the coast, but it definitely has the size and scale of an epic final hole. A lake borders the left side of the fairway guarding the shortest route to the green. It’s an uphill approach to the green.
I understood relatively little about Casa de Campo before my visit. I spent almost a week at resort and left impressed by the offerings, the food, and the golf. For my taste, it’s not the sort of place I’d go with a group of golf buddies, but it’s certainly the sort of place I’d go with my family or on a couples trip. There’s swimming, beaches, golf, and much more for those who don’t want to spend all day on the course.
Teeth of the Dog is the highlight of Casa de Campo. The course doesn’t blow you away with long range views across cliffs or miles-long beaches, but it wins you over with intimate charm and gorgeous Caribbean water bordering seven of 18 holes.
I really enjoyed Dye Fore! Teeth of the Dog is just a breathtaking course. While I was there, I was on the 10th tee of Teeth of the Dog and an elderly gentleman drove up on a golf cart and asked if he could drive past us before we hit. We had a brief conversation and he asked me where I was from? I told him, Paducah, KY. He said, isn’t there a Robert Trent Jones golf course there? I said yes, The Country Club of Paducah, I am a member. I asked him how he knew about this course and he said he had spent some time there when they were building the course in the mid 1970’s. He was in a little bit of a hurry and off he drove. I asked my caddie what that was about? He said “that was Pete Dye”. I didn’t recognize him at the time but I thought that was a pretty cool interaction.