Teeth of the Dog, Casa de Campo
(con’t) Hole 10: Par 4, 396 yards
The back nine begins with an innocuous looking par 4. The green is visible over a vast waste area on the left side, creating a dogleg left. There are acres of room to drive the ball right to avoid the waste area. As usual the best line for the drive is the left side, flirting with the waste area and a slope of rough down to it.
A second shot from the left side will be a short iron to a wedge depending on the wind. From this angle two mounds at the back of the green in the middle and right provide a useful backstop for the wide and shallow green. There is a significant slope from back to front and from right to left. Any ball drawn to the left side of the green is likely to run off the back left of the green, assisted by a helping wind.
Approaching from the right side is a trickier affair. From that side the green is more narrow and long and runs away. With a helping wind it is very hard to keep the approach shot on the green or get near any pin positions on the right. Any balls in the back traps are going to be a difficult up and down as the green runs away in all directions. The front bunkers are a better miss.
The green has a pretty severe slope to it, which makes all putts except those directly below the hole an adventure. Any putts from the right side to the middle and left side are extremely quick as they are downhill, down wind and down grain. All in all, the toughest green on the course.
Hole 11: Par 5, 554 yards
The drive off the eleventh tee is best struck down the middle between the two traps, although a ball hit to the right will probably carry the fairway bunker. A ball left will likely catch the left trap and, worse, the second, will be partially blocked by the large tree behind the trap. A tail wind usually helps on this hole.
The second shot is best laid up left (where the workers are in the picture) leaving a full wedge shot to the long narrow green. The long hitters will be tempted to go at the green, but the target is very narrow with carry over a large waste area required. There is no possibility to run the ball up; it’s all carry.
The green is pushed up, with a bunker down the entire left side, bunkers front right, and grass swales back right. From either side the green is raised and very shallow. So, accuracy of the third shot is required. The green has some undulation in it making for no easy putts.
Hole 12: Par 4, 446 yards
The twelfth may be the hardest hole on the course, and used to be one of the quirkiest. The rough area in front of the white tee used to be the runway for the airport, the runway running from right to left across the picture. The runway was crossed at right angles and required a carry of 180 yards or so, pausing, of course, to allow planes as big as a 737 to pass by.
The hole is low profile and the green is not readily visible from the tee. The best line is left centre of the fairway. There is room to the right but it again leaves a longer second shot. The pushup bunkers on the right are a jarring feature, but are no doubt placed there to provide some visual reference of the line not to take.
The second shot is a very difficult shot with a medium to long iron. The wind is generally helping a bit, but the green is very low profile, and if played in the afternoon into the sun, is very difficult to discern. Selecting the right club is difficult as there are no visual clues, other the bank of the trap on the front right and around the right side. A generally safe target line is the rest room roof, if you can get the distance dialled in.
The large tree at the left front of the green will knock down any shots pulled left. The green extends back and right further than is evident from the fairway. This is a very difficult green to find with your second shot.
The green has the bunker around the right side, a small grass pit on the left side and runoffs to the back. Depending on pin position there are tough up and downs from all sides. The green itself is narrow in front and swoops down and back to the right presenting many interesting putts.
Hole 13: Par 3, 180 yards
The thirteenth is an island green par 3 in a sea of sand. The green is pushed up so your tee shot must find the green and hold. The wind is generally helping. The middle of the green is its highest point; it runs down to front and down to the back. Tee shots to the front will therefore hold better than those that reach the back half of the green. Putting can be difficult given the slope of the green.
Hole 14: Par 5, 539 yards
On the fourteenth hole you turn around and head back inland, and into the wind, off the tee. This par 5 provides a risk/reward opportunity of going for the green in two (well, at least Fred Couples did on one of the old Shell WWOG episodes) across a pond on this right turning dogleg. The best gambling line is down the right side of the fairway, but the waste area penalizes anyone who leaks the ball a little right. A line down the middle or toward the left bunkers provides a safer line, but means a lay up for the second shot.
Lay-ups are most safely played to the corner of the dogleg. Trying to bite off part of the pond provides some risk and not much reward – a partial shot from some uneven lies. The green itself is one the less inspiring ones on the course.
It is now time to return to the ocean for holes 15, 16, and 17.
Hole 15: Par 4, 375 yards
The fifteenth hole is a relatively short right swinging cape hole that is generally played into the wind off the tee. The green in the distance appears to perch on a cliff over the ocean.
The tee shot is a lay-up to whatever distance provides a comfortable second shot. A driver off the tee can easily go through the fairway on the left, or has to threaded between the bunkers and the ocean to a very narrow strip of fairway. A line just to the right of the trap visible by the trees is preferred and a fairway wood should be more than enough club. Try to ignore the wind pushing to the right and the large water hazard to the right.
The second shot can be anywhere from a mid iron to a wedge shot depending on the wind. The green sweeps from the traps at the front left, well around to the right out on the peninsula. A shot from the left of the fairway to a front pin is a lot less intimidating than a shot from the right side of the fairway to a right pin position. Despite the skyline green, there is some room over the green and right. Slightly long is not bad; slightly short is dead.
The green is quite contoured and tiered. Balls hit short left will not run up the green as there is a significant rise. The back and right of the green run away – for all appearances right into the ocean. Any shots past the middle of the green are likely to run to the back edge or off the green (but likely not into the ocean). This is some of Dye’s visual intimidation.
Most putts will be entertaining, especially if you’re on the wrong section of the green. The fifteenth is a great short par 4, and very challenging if the wind is up.
Hole 16: Par 3, 194 yards
The final par 3 on the ocean is probably the most penal of the three. It generally plays into the wind and is relatively long. The trees around the green also cause the wind to swirl, making club selection even more difficult.
The front left pin position is the easiest, and plays to the small bail out area. A pin on the right side of the green over the coral rock wall looks reasonably impossible when you’re standing on the tee with a long iron or fairway wood in your hands. For that pin position, a shot to the middle of the green, like the 12th at Augusta, is recommended.
The green provides generally long sweeping putts and adds some fairness after the difficulty of the tee shot.
Hole 17: Par 4, 429 yards
The last ocean hole is a sweeping dogleg right. Played partially into the wind it is Dye’s second long par 4 of the back nine. The line off the tee is just inside the fairway bunker on the left. Any shot pulled or hooked can make it into the trees or bunkers and make for a very difficult and long second shot. A more risky drive down the right side of the fairway leads to a shorter second shot and opens up the length of the green.
From the right side of the fairway there is a backdrop of trees to provide some depth to the shot. The wind generally is left to right, and care must be taken not to let the approach shot drift off the right side of the green. There is no margin for error to the right of this green.
A shot from the left side will be longer, the wind will be helping the ball more to the right, and the ocean appears to be (and is) lurking just over and to the right. Not a nice shot with a long iron from the left side of the fairway, or worse from the waste areas in the trees or from the bunkers.
There is a significant false front to the green, and the right side runs away slightly towards the ocean. The left green-side bunker provides an intimidating shot that’s down wind to a green running away, with nothing but ocean behind. If you can get on the right part of the green the putts are generally not too difficult – some relief at the end of a difficult hole.
Hole 18: Par 4, 436 yards
Sadly, the eighteenth hole turns inland and away from the ocean and is easily dismissed for that reason. However, the hole provides some subtle, and some obvious challenges, and is actually a fine and difficult closing hole. It plays long since it is usually against the wind, and always uphill on the second. The green is tucked away on top of the hill to the left across a pond and next to the trees.
As you stand on the tee you will notice a concrete road across in front of the tee. This is actually a small piece of the runway for the old La Romana airport that has been preserved for posterity. The old runway presented another visual distraction on the drive on this hole when it was in use.
The fairway is generously wide, but, as usual, there are better and worse places to put your drive. The right side results in a long iron uphill second. Too far right will find the fairway traps and will make reaching the green even more problematic. The left side appears wide open and receptive, but the second shot must carry the pond, uphill, against the wind, and most pin positions are blocked out by the trees around the green encroaching from the left. The centre of the fairway presents the best angle for your second shot.
Good distance control is required for the second shot. The front of the green is quite sloped with balls hit there drawing back off the green. The rear left portion of the green slopes away, resulting in longer shots running through the green. There is a little bit of room back there before you run into one of the resort roads, but not much. Short right looks like a bail out area for the second, but there are a number of traps there that present very difficult long bunker shots because of the slopes in the green.
There are no easy putts on this green as it has some significant slopes in it. Front pin positions can be very testy to putt, often being both severely downhill and sidehill.
After the round is over, there is always a strong urge to have another go at the course – it always feels like there was a better score to be had out there. The joy of the course is to try again and again to find that elusive way to play and score better on the course.