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During the DR Open golf tournament played on the Teeth of the Dog, 144 of the world’s top golfers descended upon the Casa de Campo resort. Being no strangers to excellent golf courses, we were thrilled (yet not surprised) to hear that their overwhelming reaction to the Teeth of the Dog was to agree that yes, the Teeth of the Dog is indeed one of the best in the world!
So what exactly is it that makes the Teeth of the Dog so exceptional? With no less than 7 holes curving dramatically along the Caribbean sea, it is easy to assume that the view and natural beauty of the course is all it has to offer… but not so!
Following the exciting ending to the DR Open on Sunday afternoon, we were lucky enough to get together with Chris Gilman, one of the professional golfers taking part in the NEC Series – PGA Tour Latinoamérica. Chris, in addition to being very friendly, a huge fan of the Teeth of the Dog and Casa de Campo, also happens to be one of the top golfers on the tour. In the DR Open Chris Gilman finished in 10th place and is currently ranked #20 out of 167 players on the tour.
So let’s here from Chris Gilman what it is that makes Casa de Campo and the Teeth of the Dog so special.
@cdcliving:How do you rank the Teeth of the Dog?
It is absolutely one of the best in the world. With the whole stretch is along the ocean, I really have to rank it up there. I’ve played a couple, I’ve played the Cabo Beach in California and then two really good seaside ones are Royal County Down and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. I’d put it right up against that, so it’s pretty amazing.
@cdcliving:What would you say is special about the Teeth of the Dog?
I think if you’re going to talk about the holes on the ocean, it’s the closeness to the water. It’s either you’re going to hit the green or you’re going to be in the ocean, there’s no in between, there’s nothing to save your ball from going in there. It’s hit or miss, which I think adds to the difficulty of it. It’s also always windy here, so there’s that aspect as well. I just really love this place because it’s a tropical paradise. I cannot stop looking at the ocean, I cannot stop looking at the sunset and everything, it’s fantastic.
@cdcliving:Everybody says they love the Teeth of the Dog because it is on the ocean, but for a professional golfer, what else does she offer?
It’s very challenging. The fairways are really wide, there’s places to miss if you have too, which makes it playable. If it was like some other courses in the States, where it’s not as wide, people would struggle out here, it’d be much tougher. I think the course designer did a good job putting everything, adding some difficulty in some places and then adding some areas where it is OK to miss.
@cdcliving:Do you think Teeth of the Dog presents any unique challenges?
Don’t hit in the ocean that is for sure. The course showed its “teeth” to me today. I was frightened of the ocean and everybody thinks about it at some point whether they’re a professional golfer or not. As far as we hit it there are some holes where we have to aim in the ocean and just hope that the wind takes it back basically, so there’s definitely an element of not knowing what is going to happen on some shots.
@cdcliving:Which hole was the most challenging?
Seven was pretty difficult. 16 and 17 are amazingly hard. 16 wasn’t so bad today, 17 was hard every single day. It’s extremely difficult, the way that the wind comes in, you have to aim your second shot in the ocean to really get the ball close, so you end up aiming farther left, and then the wind takes it farther left, which then makes it really hard to make par from there.
There’s also out of bounds just behind the green and to the left, there’s a car path there so if you hit the right club to hit it all the way back to the hole and you miss the green left, it will hit off the car path into a house somewhere. For example today, the pin was all the way in the back, so if I wanted to hit the correct club to hit all the way back there, I had to take the ocean on or hit it out of bounds, it was one or the other. I took it at the ocean, and still made bogey, but it’s just really hard. Some people hit it to the front of the green and try to make par from there, which is another option.
@cdcliving:What is your favorite hole?
Probably number 5. It’s so picturesque. The green is tiny. It just forces you to hit a really good shot. I like Par 3s like that. 7 was alright to me, but I found it to be really long. 5 is really exciting. I also really enjoyed 15.
@cdcliving:So you prefer Par 3s?
I think it just depends on the look of the hole to me. Hole 5 is simply that as small as the green is, you couldn’t make it any longer, it is just as difficult as it could be already. I just appreciated how good that was.
@cdcliving:Overall what was one of your favorite experiences about Casa de Campo?
Obviously the golf course, going to check out this whole property a little bit, going to Playa Minitas, which is absolutely fantastic. I would tell anybody out there that they need to come to Casa de Campo just for Playa Minitas. It’s unbelievable. I’m a beach person, so I could stare at mountains all day and it really won’t do anything for me, but you can show me the beach and I’ll be the happiest person in the world. I think that is what sets it apart. Casa de Campo might legitimately be the best place I have been to in the world and I have seen some great places, but this place has everything.
So there you have it! Even professional golfers admit that the Teeth of the Dog is a really challenging course, so next time the wind whips your ball into the ocean, maybe just take a moment to admire the view and accept that the challenge is all part of the fun!
Thank you to Chris Gilman for a great interview and insight into the Teeth of the Dog in Casa de Campo.
Photo credit: Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR