I’ve long wanted to see Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic. I’ve read Dye’s autobiography — Bury Me in a Pot Bunker — and played a fair number of his designs. Though he isn’t my favourite designer of the modern era, you’ve got to respect his influence and the number of architects who have worked for him, including Canada’s Rod Whitman, Tom Doak, Bill Coore, Jim Urbina, and even Jack Nicklaus. He’s also a designer who worked against what was popular — setting his own trend through the use of rail ties, angles and building courses from the ground, as opposed to through a plan.
Anyway, there are four Dye courses at Casa De Campo, where I’m headed today, including a course open only to those with homes at the resort. I’m intrigued to see Teeth of the Dog, which some herald as Dye’s masterwork and rests in the Top 100 courses in the world. Like everyone, I find ocean courses to be fascinating, with the discussion often centred on whether the course would be as exceptional if you removed the water. I don’t tend to buy into that argument — I don’t think you can separate the course from its location, or at least it isn’t fair to do so since design concepts are based on the site. The design can’t simply be lifted and placed somewhere else — the context is the land it is built on. Would Pebble Beach we as good without the Pacific? No, but to my way of thinking you can’t consider it that way either. Regardless, I’m excited to see Teeth, which Dye has tweaked in recent years.
I’m told the resort is also exceptional, and my friend Ben, the co-founder of Cabot Links, actually thought the resort exceeded the courses, which is saying something. There are four rounds of golf scheduled, including two at Teeth, as well as one of the first rounds at the revamped “Links” course, which has been closed for renovation since late last year.
I’ve had the good fortune to interview Pete Dye a number of times — including this piece I wrote for Score in 2006.