In 1975, Janice was a young programmer with Warner Lambert and decided to take a golf vacation. She stopped at Liberty Travel on Route 4 in Paramus, New Jersey, where they suggested Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, home of the famous Pete Dye golf course, Teeth Of The Dog. Casa de Campo later became famous having been featured on Robin Leach’s “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” Here we are 40 years later visiting Casa de Campo for their annual Senior Golf Week. There are now four golf courses at the resort with The Teeth of The Dog being the most famous with many beautiful holes along the ocean.
Janice laughed about the 18th hole where the runway for the local airstrip ran across the fairway. They use to have a small “guardhouse” with a man that told you if it was safe to drive the ball to the fairway. Sometimes you just waited while planes either landed or took off. The airstrip has been replaced by a full functioning airport five miles away, although there is still a small segment of the runway by the forward tee, for old memories.
The golf courses are all designed by the legendary Pete Dye. All of us gofers are most familiar with his stadium course in Jacksonville with the famous 17th island green.
Teeth of the Dog has ranked in the top 100 of golf courses world wide (currently 67th) and has long been the top in the Caribbean. There have been many changes over the years with the development of the marina, the beach club and opening the “Dye Fore” golf course that runs and overlooks the Chavón River and The Altos de Chavón village. It also has beautiful vistas overlooking the new marina. There has been a continued buildout of new homes with prices running as high as $24 million. The number of homes exceeds 1,700. One of our caddies told us one house on “Dye Fore” had 25 bedrooms. We laughed, because we couldn’t think how we would be able to invite that many people, then we figured, if we had that much money, the friends would find us!
The Altos de Chavón is a re-creation of a mediterranean style European village located atop the River and overlooks Dye Four’s back nine. The village is a must see with the The Church of St Stanislaus named for the patron saint of Poland. It is a very popular wedding site. The village was built in the late 70’s and you would think it was truly from the middle ages!
Senior Golf Week at Casa de Campo
“Senior Week has been designed with the individual in mind,” said Gilles Gagnon, Director of Golf Emeritus, Casa de Campo. “For our daily tournaments, which all have different formats, the golfers can sign up the day before. They’ll have the option of pairing up with their friends or joining new friends. There are individual tournaments, team events and mixed events – something for everyone!”
It’s a Small World, isn’t it!!
We arrived on Saturday, checked in and later met the other players at a cocktail reception party, followed by dinner. As we sat down for dinner to our surprise we were asked what we were doing here? It was Gino and Cathy Angella, old friends from Fort Lauderdale Country Club. They were joined by Dave and Patty Zell also from FLCC and another few couples that were playing in the Senior Week Tournament. What a small world!
There was golf everyday. The games were set up so that you constantly were playing with different people. The formats were a lot of fun and it gave us a chance to get to know many of the other participants. Each day there were net and gross winners posted after the rounds.
Sunday morning Eric Lillibridge who has taken over the Jim McLean Golf School at Casa de Campo held a short game golf for those in attendance for Senior Week. After the clinic we played Teeth of the Dog in a Individual Best Ball format. It had been 7 years since our last trip to Casa de Campo and the course was in fantastic condition. The fairways, tees and greens handle the salt air and surf that crashes up in heavy winds Our memories did not fail us, the course was as beautiful as we remembered and worth the return trip.
Monday was a Stableford gross/net tournament on the Links Course The Links is a wonderful course, but pails in comparison to The Teeth of the Dog and Dye Fore.
Tuesday we played a Threesome Scramble in the morning at Dye Fore. We have always enjoyed Dye Fore so we went back out and played a second 18 by ourselves. Needless to say, we were rather spent by the time we got back to the room.
Wednesday morning we attended another clinic with Eric Lillibridge, working on the driver and putting. It was fun and we are sure everyone picked up a few pointers. After a fine lunch, we headed back out to The Teeth of the Dog for a Partner Best Ball Format. The weather was perfect, a little overcast and a nice breeze. When you got to the 16th tee, there is a small rock island about 200 yards from the tee that someone planted some grass and put a golf flag on. Needless to say, a few people teed up and tried to hit the island. Fun diversion from the serous golf being played.
At the end of a round of golf it is impossible to resist the bar in the pool. Before the pool area became civilized, we would empty our pockets, remove our golf shoes and retire to the pool bar stools for a wonderful tropical drink or beer. We now change to our bathing suits and go to the bar. We met some fun gentlemen that were in the construction business in New York, having rebuilt the tunnels under the World Trade Center. We had a few drinks and one of them challenged Janice to a match, comparing cards. Unfortunately she lost by one stroke, playing the men’s tees! It was a fun bet.
Thursday we were back at the Links course and played Best Ball of the Foursome. We had a great time playing with Gino and Cathy..Friday was the last game for the tournament and was a Stableford format against quota points based on handicaps. It was a fun format and the groups were mixed up again. We had a wonderful time on the golf course throughout thew week and played with many different people.
Friday nights the final dinner and awards for the week. The scoring was interesting as it was the total of pro shop credits from each tournament to determine the overall women’s and men’s champion for the week. The dinner was at La Piassetta in Altos de Chavón with wonderful Italian food. Dinner was a pleasure and was followed by the final results. Both of us had played well with Janice winning the women’s division and John winning the men;’s division by $1.45!! They gave us golf flags from the Teeth of the Dog that had our names stitched on them.
All of the participants had a great appreciation for Kathie and Bill Johnstone of Husband and Wife Golf Championships, who organized the program at Casa de Campo. Their efforts made for a wonderful week where we met so many wonderful people and just had a great time.
Some of the folks we met and played golf with, what fun!
We enjoyed another great vacation week at Casa de Campo and we look forward to returning someday! That’s it until our next adventure.