When you think “bucket list golf destinations” what comes to mind? Pebble Beach? Saint Andrews? Bandon? All great choices to be sure, but not on the top of my personal list. Let me explain why.
I have been playing golf for more than 50 years and during that time I have had the chance to visit several of the world’s best courses, the one’s that keep turning up on annual Top 100 Lists. I remember playing Winged Foot with my buddy the week after Phil Mickelson self imploded at the US Open. I had the great pleasure of playing Fishers Island Club off the coast of CT on a picture perfect summer day and could not believe the beauty of the course. No less of an authority than George Peper, Editor of LINKS magazine referred to Fishers Island Club as one of his personal favorites and dubbed it “Pebble Beach East” in an article. Two great choices but not the top of my list.
What was missing for me while playing these great tracks was the ability to share the joy with my family. You see, I’m the only golfer in the family. My kids are grown and moved on to their own lives. My wife tolerates my passion for the game but does not play herself. I’m left to hook up with my golf buddies at Plymouth CC or play in our annual sojourn to S. FL to kick off our season each March.
Almost exactly 20 years ago the family took a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean and I had the chance to play the Teeth of the Dog course at Casa de Campo, La Romana, Dominican Republic. I promised myself that someday I would return and enjoy a bit more of an extended stay. Fast forward to 2014 and I have long since left corporate America to run my own company, LeaderBoard of Boston. We work with non-profits and some corporate accounts to help produce more successful golf tournament fundraisers and client appreciation days. For the past two years we have been offering trips to Casa de Campo through a partnership with The Jet Blue Challenge. Prize winners at our events were treated to a 5 day/ 4 night stay at the Pete Dye Golf Lodge with access and preferred rates to play all the courses on the property. My wife and I along with her brother and girlfriend just returned from one of the best vacations we have ever taken. You see, Casa de Campo is an all inclusive club that caters to vacationers who are seeking a world class experience. The accommodations at the Lodge are top shelf. The 3 golf courses on the property are impeccable and each stands out for unique reasons. Pete Dye’s original masterpiece, Teeth of the Dog is the #1 course in the Caribbean and a Top 50 Course in the World! With seven holes on the ocean and fairways that look like green carpets this is golf at its best.
Benjamin, our caddy was an expert green’s reader and instructed us exactly where we should putt. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first since some of the reads appeared to defy gravity, but that soon changed. By the second hole I trusted him implicitly. On our second day we took on the Dye Fore course, inland from the ocean but no less spectacular. Here, elevation changes were the challenge with several holes rising or dropping over a hundred feet. Hit the right spot and you were rewarded with a relatively flat lie. Miss the target by a few yards and the ball could easily kick 30 yards offline. Under the heading better to be lucky than good I almost holed out a hundred yard wedge shot to an elevated green. The only reason I could tell…I heard the ball hit the pin.
So, why do I rank Casa de Campo at the top of the list? Pretty simple actually. The golf is superb. The weather is fantastic with mild breezes and temps in the 80’s. The food at the resort is top shelf with restaurants such as Le Cirque available every night of the week. Or choose from a half dozen other restaurants with great selections, a friendly staff and a clear emphasis to provide a great dining experience. Add in the water sports (for non-golfers like my wife), a white sand beach with warm waters and Pina Coladas at your beckon call, and there isn’t much you can say is lacking. We even tried skeet shooting and a seven section zip line to round out our stay. Casa de Campo is a huge resort comprising several thousand acres. A nice touch is the 24/7 use of a golf cart assigned to each room. While many golf resorts feature golf as the prime attraction, Casa de Campo is a treat for all.
If you are interested in visiting Casa de Campo you should plan well in advance. By November they are entering their peak season and occupancy close to 100% is the norm. Opt for the all inclusive package that covers all food and drink, water sports and the use of the golf carts for the duration of your stay. Casa is a 4 Diamond rated resort and from my perspective this lofty rating is well deserved. I would go back in a minute.