Golf course designer Pete Dye stands
on the beautiful elevated tee of the 229 yard par three 7th hole
at Teeth of the Dog, at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.
of the Dog at Casa de Campo
Pete Dyes First-Ever Island Creation, Literally Made By
Written by Golf Course Designer,
Pete Dye for Florida Golf Magazine, casadecampo.com.do
Pictured at right - Pete Dye's 2nd-in-command
at Teeth of the Dog was Project Manager Bruce Mashburn who had
formerly worked first with Donald Ross and then George Cobb after
Mr. Rosss death.
1969 I was hired by a man named Alvaro Carta, who ran the South
Puerto Rico Sugar company to build a golf course on the southeastern
coastline of the Dominican Republic. With the financial backing
of the huge Gulf and Western empire, Mr. Carta had formed a new
division known as Gulf and Western Americas. More than 300,000
tons of raw sugar was produced annually at their mill in the
sleepy little town of La Romana, making it the largest single
producer in the world and the luxurious golf resort that is now
Casa de Campo evolved because of their vast resources.
of the Dog opened 18 months later, and little did I know at the
time, we would not only succeed in building a world-class golf
course, but also improve the economic conditions for the mostly
idyllic ambiance at Teeth of the Dog gives no hint of its arduous
origins. Since importing the heavy equipment normally used in
golf course construction was cost prohibited, I had to make do
with ill-suited machinery whose true purpose was sugarcane cultivation,
and substituted man and oxen power instead. Armed only with sledgehammers,
pickaxes and chisels, 300 Dominican laborers literally pulverized
the coral and limestone-strewn property one harsh blow at a time.
matters even more difficult, potential grass-growing top soil
wasnt readily available either. So my right-hand-man, project
manager, Bruce Mashburn had the crew dig by hand some dirt that
was discovered a mile from the site. It was put into sugarcane
carts pulled by oxen and transported to the course property.
as it may seem, and remember this was in 1970-71, those oxen-drawn
carts brought the soil one cubic yard at a time. In my mind,
I can still see the long line of cane carts stretched across
the countryside as load after load after load was transported
down by the tireless workers.
by-product of sugarcane called cachaza was mixed with sand and
the imported dirt to form the topsoil for the golf course. Bruce
and I knew this mixture would work since Bruce had pounded green
wood survey stakes into the ground and ten days later they sprouted.
Despite that success, we still had soil samples analyzed in the
United States to make certain our formula would work.
good friend Bruce Mashburn was an interesting fellow. Born in
Pine Bluff, North Carolina, Bruce worked first with Donald Ross
and then George Cobb after Mr. Rosss death. Not only had
Bruce been a good player in his early days, but working with
Mr. Ross had provided him with a perspective on golf course design
very similar to mine. I truly believe Bruce was the only man
alive who could have built the golf course in the Dominican the
way I wanted it. He read my thoughts, and his ability to work
with the laborers was incredible.
had built golf courses atop high mountains and in deep swampland
and his ability to lead the willing but inexperienced Dominican
workers was the key to our success. They took to him right away,
and he gained the respect of all those who worked for him. Unfortunately
for us all, Bruce passed away in September 1971, only months
before the course was completed. I know my wife Alice and I will
certainly never forget him.
was early August 1971, when we planted the fairways with 419
Bermuda, the roughs with Bahia grass and guinea grass, and the
tees and greens with Tifdwarf. This provided the contrast of
green colors I had experimented with at Harbour Town on Hilton
Head, SC. On many holes the fairways were painstakingly planted
sprig by sprig, blade by blade, by workers using nothing but
a little pointed stick.
the late fall of 1971, the course, which featured seven holes
on the sea, was ready for play.
Pete Dyes Design Notes:
Hole #1, Par 4, Hndcp 11, Black 412,
Gold 393, Blue 366, White 327, Red 277
The opening hole
at Teeth of the Dog, which runs southeast, is a short par four
with a comfortably wide landing area that is all of 200 feet
wide. The higher handicap player can not lose a ball on this
hole because the fairway is so wide, but also has another 100
feet of rough on each side that is always kept cut very short.
The fairways bunkers are also modestly sloped so people can easily
play out of them.
The green opens
up left to right, and the bunkers on the right-hand side of the
green and the one on the left are also modest bunkers so the
higher handicap players can easily get out of them. The greens
contour is subtle with a one foot of fall from the back to front.
Its an easy green to putt.
Hole #2, Par 4, Hndcp 7, Black 390,
Gold 384, Blue 358, White 340, Red 255
This is a par
four measuring about 390 yards from the back tees, its
a slight dogleg left. The 2nd fairway is plenty wide, but has
a rocky dry creek bed that runs all along the left-hand side.
Whenever there is a big rain that is where the water drains down,
eventually ending up in the Caribbean. The landing area to the
right of the rocks is about 150 to 180 feet wide and has more
shortly cut rough on both sides so this fairway also has plenty
of room to play golf. Also, the far right side of the 2nd hole
is further defined by native trees that line the fairway.
There is a long
narrow bunker on the right side of the green and a small bunker
on the left side but the green itself is wide open in front.
The wind comes from the left to right making this hole a little
more severe than the first hole but the contours on the green
are pretty tame and most people can play it. I like the way this
hole looks from the tee because you can see all the rock down
the left side of the fairway.
Hole #3, Par 5, Hndcp 5, Black 551,
Gold 498, Blue 457, White 345, Red 353
This hole is
rated as the 5th hardest hole and is a pretty strong par five
playing 551 from the back tees. You can see the ocean from the
3rd hole and the view tee is beautiful. A bunker on the left
side of the fairway steers players to right off the tee.
The green is
open in the front, but even the good players usually still have
a wedge to the green on their third shot. There are bunkers left
and right of the large green and it slopes about a foot from
back to front. The green is also elevated about eight feet above
the second landing area so the wedge to the green is a fairly
delicate pitch shot.
Hole #4, Par 4, Hndcp 17, Black
489, Gold 443, Blue 364, White 328, Red 292
The back tees
for the long par four measure 489 yards but Id say most
of the higher handicap resort golfers probably play the tees
at 364 or 328 yards, and the tee is elevated so you get a really
nice view of the ocean. Now, the landing area of the 4th fairway
is not as wide as the first three holes. Its about 140
feet wide and there are a couple of long bunkers on the right
hand side of the fairway. So, anyone that stays left should have
an open shot to the green and a chance to birdie the hole.
The green receives
balls nicely because it is sloped from back to front with a foot
of fall. But be warned, the green also runs a little left-to-right
and the diabolical bunker right of the green is eight feet deep,
but I digress.
Hole #5, Par 3, Hndcp 15, Black
176, Gold 157, Blue 137, White 122, Red 70
The tees of the
5th hole run along the ocean and are elevated eight feet above
sea-level and are made up of native rock walls. It has a pretty
good size green and seaside bunker left of it that are only four
feet above sea-level. The waves come right up next to the left
side of the seaside bunker and green, but never splash up on
the Paspalum green. The hole runs west so the prevailing wind
often blows right to left. There is a small bunker right of the
green that is shallow and easy to get out of. There is also a
mound right of the green so any shot right of the green will
kick left toward the green. The 5th green is also contoured very
modestly and has birdie opportunity written all over
With a swing as smooth as
silk, 89 year old golf course designer Pete Dye hits to the huge
7,000 square foot green of the 204 yard, par three 16th hole
at Teeth of the Dog.
Hole #6, Par 4, Hndcp 1, Black 501,
Gold 474, Blue 400, White 377, Red 345
Rated as the
hardest hole on the course, this long par four runs west along
the ocean and measures 501 yards from the back tees. Bunkers
along the left side of the fairway and guarding the left front
of the green make it necessary to stay on the right side of this
dogleg left. The green opens on the right and runs right-to-left
and all the contouring on the right side of the fairway also
kicks in toward the green. The 6,000 square foot green has a
foot of slope from back to front making it receptive, but it
also slopes away from the ocean an inch per every 10 feet.
Hole #7, Par 3, Hndcp 13, Black
229, Gold 224, Blue 188, White 168, Red 91
Seven is a par
three that measures 229 yards, mostly over water, from the back
tee and 91 yards over land from the forward tee. The green is
7,000 square feet and has a foot of fall from back to front.
It also has a modest amount of undulating contour, but since
it is so big it still has plenty of places to put the pin. The
bunkers around the green are shallow and easy to get out of and
they really make the green look good. If you dont land
in one of the bunkers on the right, the bank on the right side
will kick your ball into the green. The bunker in front and left
of the green also really looks good coming right out of the ocean
like it does. I dont know why the sand in it doesnt
wash away, but it doesnt.
Hole #8, Par 4, Hndcp 3, Black 414,
Gold 414, Blue 397, White 329, Red 285
This is the
fourth hole in a row that runs westward along the ocean and this
beautiful midsize par 4 is rated as the 3rd hardest hole from
the back tee. It measures 414 yards from the back tee, but most
of the higher handicap resort patrons dont play it from
back there. There are six tees to choose from with the most forward
tee measuring a more manageable distance of 285 yards. It is
a slight dogleg left with a large green on the ocean. There is
a big bunker on the front left guarding the green and the green
opens toward a bank on the right, so anything that goes right
kicks left toward the green. There is also a collection area
behind the green on the right that drops down about six feet
so anything that goes back there lands in a grass swale. But
its short grass and easy to hit out of from there. I love this
hole, its got the Caribbean on the left and the next thing
out of bounds is Venezuela.
Hole #9, Par 5, Hndcp 3, Black 602,
Gold 545, Blue 529, White 516, Red 408
Nine is a nice
long par 5 that runs northwest back toward the clubhouse. It
plays 602 from the back tee, but most of the golfers dont
play from back there. They play mostly from the 529 or 516 yard
tees. From the tee of the 9th hole you can see a big long bunker
up on the left side of the fairway and the landing area is pretty
wide there, so off the tee it feels like youre playing
right to left. During the winter months the prevailing wind blows
right to left, helping you to draw your tee shot. Further up
the fairway there are some bunkers on the right to avoid and
the approach to the green breaks off to the right so you might
want to play your second shot a bit left to right. The approach
to the green is very much uphill so a good player, playing from
the correct tee might be able to get home in two, but from the
back tees, they cant.
Hole #10, Par 4, Hndcp 16, Black
405, Gold 396, Blue 387, White 351, Red 300
This is a pretty
hole with native trees defining both sides of the fairway. Its
a midsize dogleg left with a huge bunker that dominates the entire
left side of the hole and thanks to the wind it usually plays
a little shorter than it measures. The green is open in front
so if you stay right of the big fairway bunker you should par
Hole #11, Par 5, Hndcp 8, Black
604, Gold 575, Blue 555, White 540, Red 458
Hole #11 is a
long par 5 that runs west and also favors the prevailing wind.
Giant bunkers on both sides of the fairway make the drive feel
like a right to left shot off the tee. Then another big bunker
on the right makes the second shot feel like a left to right
into an approach area of the green. The green is elevated a few
feet above the natural grade of the ground and the putting surface
is sloped from back to front and a little bit left to right but
the green is wide open in front. This hole is a lot easier than
Hole #12, Par 4, Hndcp 12, Black
483, Gold 451, Blue 402, White 362, Red 332
The 12th is long
for a par 4 measuring 483 yards but it plays a little shorter
than that because it runs southwest, which is directly downwind.
Its a dogleg left with a large fairway bunker on the left
that steers golfers right to left off the tee. Then, bunkers
on the right front of the green offset it left to right making
it feel like your second shot needs to be cut a little left to
right into the green. There again, the green is pretty good size
with a foot of fall back to front and the contour of the green
is set up to receive a left to right approach shot.
Hole #13, Par 3, Hndcp 18, Black
201, Gold 180, Blue 170, White 143, Red 97
Just like the
17th at Sawgrass, we call this par 3 an island green, but instead
of water, this island green is completely surrounded by sand.
The 13th hole is a long par 3 from the back tee, but it is rated
as the easiest hole on the course. Most of the golfers, who get
on this green in one, do it by playing from one of the shorter
tees according to their handicap. This hole is another excellent
birdie opportunity. This island green is over 6,000 square feet
and slopes a little from back to front. But, the contour all
around the edge of the green leads up out of the bunker with
a gentle 5-to-1 slope making it possible to often putt out of
the firm well-packed sand. They rake this bunker two or three
times per day; there must be at least an acre of sand around
Hole #14, Par 5, Hndcp 10, Black
497, Gold 497, Blue 487, White 452, Red 363
#14 is a short
par 5 that plays dead into the prevailing wind. A long bunker
down the entire right side of the fairway makes this hole open
left to right off the tee. Then, when you get down the fairway
a bit it doglegs right around a lake making for a second left-to-right
shot toward the green. Bunkers guard the right-hand side of the
green which runs left-to-right but the left hand side is open
so if stay far enough to the left you can bounce it into the
green if you want to. But if you dont stay far enough left
your approach shot to the pin will have to go air-mail over the
the lake on 14 is lined with a type of clay called caliche that
we dug out of that very spot. In fact that clay pit which is
now a five acre lake is where we got the clay to build all the
roads around the resort at Casa de Campo.
Hole #15, Par 4, Hndcp 4, Black
374, Gold 374, Blue 334, White 311, Red 257
Just a short
walk from the 14th green, the elevated tees of the 15th hole
are set along the rocky shore next to the ocean. Its a
beautiful hole that runs southeast and you can see the ocean
from the tee, fairway and the green. Measuring 374 yards from
the back tee, #15 is a short par 4, but its rated as the
4th hardest hole on the course. A long bunker guarding the ocean
along the right makes it necessary to keep your tee shot left
which is difficult with the prevailing wind blowing left to the
right. The 15th green which is guarded on the right front by
a bunker is open on the left and is offset left to right requiring
a left to right approach shot to the green. If you manage to
keep your tee shot far enough to the left you can roll your ball
into the 15th green.
Hole #16, Par 3, Hndcp 14, Black
204, Gold 194, Blue 181, White 151, Red 125
Right off the
back of the 15th green is the ocean and the nearby back-tee of
#16. The par three 16th hole measures 204 yards from the back
tee and 125 yards from the forward tees, but most of the high
handicap players play it from either the 181 or 151 yard tee
The 16th green
is huge. Its all of 7,000 square feet and its right
at the edge of the ocean. The ocean makes a big bend to the right
there and the green goes right around and bends with the ocean.
So the left side of the green is easy to get to and the back
right is a little more severe. And of course, the prevailing
wind is coming from left to right on that hole, blowing toward
To the right,
off the edge of the green is a natural rock wall straight down
to the ocean. So it is possible to hit your ball off the green
into the ocean. Its not going to roll of by itself though;
you would have to hit it off the green there, because the green
slopes mostly back to front. The contour does also run a little
north-to-south or left-to-right but its only falling about
an inch and a half every ten feet.
the 16th hole. Its a beautiful hole; youll never
see another one like it. The man upstairs built that hole; I
didnt have to do anything except build the green.
Hole #17, Par 4, Hndcp 2, Black
463, Gold 433, Blue 377, White 360, Red 288
#17 is a long
par four measuring 463 yards from the back tee and is rated the
second hardest hole at Teeth of the Dog. With the Caribbean on
the right, it runs southeast so the prevailing wind out of the
northeast usually blows left to right off the tee. This hole
is a slight dogleg right that follows a natural rock wall along
the concaved edge of the sea. There is also multiple fairway
bunkers way off to the left side, but nobody ever gets over there.
A large bunker guards the right side of the green which is offset
right to left, but its open in front. You can put the pin
just about anyplace on that green.
Hole #18, Par 4, Hndcp 6, Black
484, Gold 445, Blue 396, White 370, Red 310
On Hole #18 youre
going northwest back toward the clubhouse and the green is about
20 feet higher than the landing area so its uphill and
into the wind. Its a long par four; measuring 484 yards
from the back tee and 310 yards from the forward tee. But most
of the higher handicap golfers play it from either the 396 or
370 yard tee markers.
Left of the landing
area theres an irrigation pond and part of it also guards
the left side of the green. The approach to the green doglegs
left around the pond and the green is offset right-to-left but
open in front. Its a good finishing hole with plenty of
room off the tee for the resort players and a landing area thats
200 feet wide. I usually play #18 right-to-left off the members
tee, then I hit a right-to-left approach shot to the green and
hopefully two-putt for a par.
Cartas name for the course was Cajuiles, which refers to
the beautiful cashew trees that grow in the mountains. I suggested
changing the name when I heard the natives refer to the sharp
coral rock as diente del perro (teeth of the dog
in Spanish), after the canine-teeth appearance of the jagged
coral rocks buttressing its seaside tees.
the day it opened, Teeth of the Dog was a hit and its spectacular
beauty caused amateur and professional golfers alike to compare
it favorably with another great seaside course, Pebble Beach.
But as spectacular as it may be, Pebble Beach doesnt have
as many seaside holes as Teeth of the Dog. And, as one golfer
remarked, Pebble Beach may have several holes along the
sea, but only Teeth of the Dog has seven holes in the sea.
youre walking down the fairway of any one of the seven
seaside holes or standing on one of the tees or greens right
beside the ocean, theyve got a feel to them that is hard
to believe. In the winter months the wind comes out of the northeast
so the waves coming into the south edge, off the Caribbean are
soft. In the summer months the waves can get a little more exciting,
and louder. But even then when you hear them break right at the
edge of the landing area and at the green, its a gentle
sound and doesnt interrupt play or the ambiance that is
Teeth of the Dog.
- Pete Dye