At Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, a statue of golf architect Pete Dye stands tall and proud, with a golf club in his right hand and a map of a course rolled up under his left arm. The plaque reads “Teeth of the Dog is the only course in the world with seven Caribbean-edged holes, also known as the ‘seven holes created by God’.”
In 1971, with the labor provided by some 300 local workers, Dye produced a golf course considered the best of the nearly 200 courses that bear his stamp. It was christened “Teeth of the Dog” after Dominican workers were overheard referring to the sharp coral rock that lines the beaches as “diente de perro.”
Five decades later, Teeth of the Dog sharpens its fangs once again to receive the best amateur golfers of the region in January 2022. It will be the third time in its seven editions that Casa de Campo hosts the Latin American Amateur Championship (LAAC), conducted annually by the Masters Tournament, the R&A and the USGA.
Like a premonition of his golden child in the Dominican Republic, Dye launched his legendary career in 1961 with a course in Indiana named El Dorado, where the golf architect started applying his design principles: challenge those with great skills and make their experience unmatchable.
Mexican Álvaro Ortiz, winner of the Latin American Amateur Championship at Casa de Campo in 2019, bears witness to such an unforgettable experience. “My special memories of Teeth of the Dog are not just for being a champion but also because that course is a Pete Dye work of art. The holes by the Caribbean are magnificent and the whole course is impressive,” he said.
“Every amateur in Latin America should play it at least once in their lives,” added Ortiz, whose 10-under-par total at Casa de Campo earned him a spot at the 2019 Masters where he became the first LAAC champion to make the cut at Augusta National.
Three years prior, Costa Rican Paul Chaplet overcame a great challenge to his skills in a windswept Teeth of the Dog and conquered the 2016 Latin American Amateur Championship. “The course is spectacular, one of the best in Latin America. You have to maintain your concentration on each shot and when the wind blows, things get complicated,” said Chaplet, who finished the tournament at three under.
According to Chaplet, the key to success at Dye’s Caribbean creation is “great focus and making sure the misses are in the right place,” particularly on the breathtaking final stretch along the sea where Teeth of the Dog lives up to its name.