An hour outside of Punta Cana on the Southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, is a secret 7,000-acre community called Casa de Campo. It’s easy to get to — from Miami, it’s about a two-hour flight. Direct flights are available from several cities in North America and Europe. From the La Ramona International Airport and through the fields of cattle and horses, you will eventually find yourself near the coast at the gates of Casa de Campo. Among many offerings, it is home to three world-class championship Pete Dye courses; the legendary Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore and the Links, a whopping 63 holes in total. As you walk under the canopies of paradise, you enter into complete serenity and are greeted with sunshine, smiling staff, and, to top it off, champagne.
Casa de Campo is not your typical resort, celebrities and athletes alike flock to the hideaway year around. They come for the exclusivity and stay for the luxury. “At one point, within six weeks, I played with President Carter, President Bush, and the prime minister of Canada Jean Chrétien,” Gilles Gagnon, Director of Golf at Casa De Campo tells World’s Best Golf Destinations. Other notables include Beyoncé, Cameron Diaz, Lebron James, Vin Diesel, Alex Rodriquez, Bill Clinton, and several other a-listers. And of course, World’s Best Golf Destinations.
Guests are provided a four-passenger eclectic golf cart with a parking space and charger to trot around the property, and thankfully so as some destinations may take up to 30 minutes via golf cart on the opulent property, but guests will not be disappointed by the scenic drives. In fact, getting lost on the beautiful streets is encouraged and welcomed by guests. Don’t worry, if you are not feeling adventurous, you can always utilize the resort’s concierge service. As I made it to my room, I entered the luxurious suite to find a beautiful, modern and clean sanctuary including a huge, walk-in closet, private dressing area with a black marble double vanity, spacious living room with chic décor, and a glass-enclosed shower which resembled a shower in the Mexican jungle. I spent most of my mornings on the tranquil, private terrace overlooking the infamous Teeth of the Dog track and I pondered, “how would I do out there?”
Teeth of the Dog is Dominican Republic’s oldest golf course. Seven holes sit perfectly on the ocean’s edge, no more than 20 feet from the surf, also known as the “seven holes created by God,” according to Dye.
“I don’t think you can find a course more exciting and that you can play every day better than Teeth of the Tog,” says Gagnon. “It’s very special. It’s got these beautiful ocean views and the golf course is playing where it’s very playable for the average golfer, very playable for the better golfer, and very difficult for the top golfer.” While experiencing the legendary Dye courses, players can also improve their game at the Casa de Campo Learning Center. The learning center offers players of all levels the opportunity to learn under the world’s best golf professionals with the help of state-of-the-art technology including the TrackMan golf launch monitor which analyzes everything from carry, club, and ball speed, attack angle, and smash factor, our favorite sound.
The center opened in May, and golfers have traveled from all over the world to visit. Everyone from seasoned PGA professionals to beginning members at the resort come take a shot at what the learning center has to offer. Eric Lillibridge, Casa De Campo’s own PGA professional says, “Our mission is to get the youth involved and to get better.”
Many come for the golf, and rightfully so, but also partake in the numerous other sports on the island like polo, tennis, horseback riding, deep sea fishing, shooting, and, of course, the award-winning cuisine is a sport within itself. The resort has seven restaurants, seven bars and lounges, live entertainment daily, and a nightclub.
One of my personal favorites was a true Italian family-style bistro called La Piazzetta located in the famous Altos de Chavón district, a 16th century-esque village perched high about the Chavón River with restaurants, boutique shops, art museums, artisan workshops, and an amphitheater straight out of Troy which opened for legendary Frank Sinatra, among many other internationally renowned musicians such as Elton John, Jason Mraz, and Jennifer Lopez.
Entering through cobblestone side-streets, terracotta lined walls, and garnished with an authentic anti-pasta buffet, it transports diners directly to the Italian countryside. La Piazetta is known for their homemade pastas, therefore, it was a must to try the decadent cheese tortellini served with a rich tomato and eggplant sauce, paired with a bold house Italian red wine. Across the dim lighted restaurant played a mariachi band to a recognizable face, 1976 U.S. Open winner Jerry Pate. You never know who you’ll spot at Casa De Campo.
Four days is simply not enough at this awe-inspiring resort. With a marina, grocery store, movie theater, pharmacy, doctor, hair salon, this tiny self-sustaining country within itself makes for no reason to ever leave. Add to it all the wonderful people within the community, from the staff to the residents, it is no wondering why countless golfers choose to call Casa De Campo home. I look forward to getting lost in the cobblestone streets and palm tree-lined neighborhoods of this majestic hideaway again very soon.