Pretend for a moment you are a gladiator of the Coliseum in Rome, and you have just been 1) smeared with the 200 A.D. equivalent of Big Mama’s Honky-Tonk Down-Home Extra Spicy Slatherin’ Sauce, 2) chained to an angry, roaring, starving lion, and then 3) set loose in the Coliseum for the amusement of the masses. Both professional and amateur golfers alike are about to find out exactly how that feels as they take on Casa de Campo under the crucible of high-stakes tournament conditions…and I mean they will take on ALL of Casa de Campo.
From November 10 – 15, golfers will battle for four days over all 90 holes of Casa de Campo – every one of them designed by Pete Dye – including the 27 holes at the private La Romana Country Club, as well as the original 18 at Dye Fore, the new Lakes 9 at Dye Fore, (called “Five” by friends and family of the resort), the Links course and, finally, the venerable and celebrated Teeth of the Dog.
“That is a gauntlet,” mused golf pundit Rodney Zilla of New York City, widening his eyes at the tournament’s format, a combination of pressure filled golf and a week of unparalleled fun at what is arguably the greatest resort in the world. “Dye Hard indeed! Someone’s really going to earn that money.”
Agreed. Playing 18 holes under tournament conditions on one world-class golf course is hard enough but 27 is grueling. Then add in that you have to do it back-to-back days at La Romana and Dye Fore? And then survive the Links and Teeth? Those roaring lions might be easier!
“I think it’s awesome!” beamed golf design expert Jim Coleman energetically. “You’re playing some of the greatest golf courses in the world for more money than you thought of playing for in your life! What could be more fun than that?”
Coleman should know – he loved Casa de Campo so much he bought a house here and now splits his time between the U.S. and Casa.
It will be fun, to be sure: miles of pristine, sun-drenched beaches, great food, tennis, horseback riding, zip-lining, kayaking, yachting, even polo…Polo!
And yes, there’s 90 of Pete Dye’s greatest holes of golf anywhere.
“When playing Pete Dye courses, planning the right shot is every bit as important as the execution because all the courses at Casa put a premium on placement,” Zilla declared firmly. “Going toe-to-toe with perhaps the most intellectually demanding architect of our generation will be tough.”
“Nah!” harrumphed Coleman in response. “Difficult is going to work all day! Playing Casa de Campo under tournament conditions – especially closing on Teeth of the Dog – it’ll be amazing.”
Then Coleman got more analytical about the format and the field, and showed his acumen, the same intelligence that led the resort to informally name a set of tees in his honor – the old blues at Teeth of the Dog are colorfully referred to the “Coleman tees” in honor of the affable bon vivant.
“To me the hardest part of any tournament is avoiding the big number on a hole. If you can get around 90 holes with no more than a double in, say, every 27 holes you would stand a good chance of winning,” he explained. “It won’t be a birdie fest. Touring pros might be 10-15 under, for club pros even par would be a good score.”
That might be a little low. Early lines from both Cybergolf and A Walk in the Park have the over/under for the winning score opening at 7-under par for the 90 holes. The general consensus is that scores will be fairly high at La Romana, higher still at Dye Fore, (indeed spiking for the week), then get better over the closing two rounds at the Links and Teeth of the Dog.
“They could make Dye Fore impossible if they wanted to, because it’s so long and mountainous” noted Zilla. “They’ll have the ability to dial in those courses to whatever number they want – they can make it easy to generate spectator excitement and let the guys show their talent, or they can just make it a relentless battle for every single shot. Either way, Dye Fore will be the day to watch most closely.”
Zilla’s right. Perhaps only mighty Winged Foot West has as much of a devastating synergy of magnificence and terror as Dye Fore’s Marina and Chavon nines, stretching to an unconquerable 7,770 yards from the tips and running their course over mountainous rolls and valleys before winding along the cliff-tops overlooking the Chavon River. And then they have to take on the Lakes nine and its deep water!
By the time they get done, they’ll feel like they went ten rounds with Mighty Thor.
“The 27 holes at Dye Fore is the hardest,” agreed Coleman. “That’s 11,000 yards of golf – eight miles in one day – and it’s windy and hot still in November – that will be the tough day.”
We’ll have more coverage Of this event as it approaches.
HOW DID WE GET THAT 7-UNDER FIGURE?
Assuming they stretch each course to the tips and assuming a field of 50 golfers:
1. The golfers will not be playing the same course for a week, but the equivalent of five different 18 hole courses, so;
2. Let’s assume everyone gets in between 18 and 36 practice holes, that still means that unless they have played Casa before, they will see 54 holes for the first time when playing them during the tournament;
3. Moreover, chances are none of the competitors will have seen either La Romana New, (because it’s private and fairly new), or the Lakes nine because it is completely new, (opened last year);
4. It’s always tougher to play a course the first time, especially a Pete Dye course;
5. Because the guys will only see a hole once or twice before playing it, (if at all), they will make mistakes, and some of them will result in huge numbers. You can’t gain ground quickly at the Casa courses, but you can lose a boatload of strokes in a heartbeat. Even if you go on a birdie run, you can give it all back with one bad swing and one bad decision; and
6. The difference between the PGA Tour pros and every other golfer, pro or otherwise, is the propensity to make that one extra, costly mistake under pressure. So…assuming the courses will play close to maximum distances…
La Romana Old is a par 72 which is only 7,200 yards long, but plays to a rating of 74.5. We can’t see anyone scoring lower than a 4-under 68. We also don’t see anyone scoring better than 2-under on the extremely long New nine, which can stretch to a Herculean 3,900 yards, but we also don’t see the same people staying that consistent throughout 27 holes. We project the lead after Day 1 to be 3-under.
Dye Fore should see the widest scoring swings, especially if the wind blows. After surviving the gargantuan 7,770 Marina and Chavon nines – and they will be all but completely drained mentally and physically – they’ll have to go back out for the Lakes 9. A lot depends on how much wind there is, but assuming a typical stiff November breeze, the leaders after Day 2 should not be higher than 4-under cumulatively by the end of the day. (But if the wind blows severely, 1-over may lead the tournament instead!)
The golfers will need soothing after the excitement of Dye Fore and they will get it at the Links. A par 71 playing to just 7,000 yards, this is the course that will feel the most comfortable for golfers and best allow them to get into a rhythm, (to the extent Dye allows you to do that…). The front nine will surrender low scores, though the back should take back one or two strokes. We project the lead after Day 3 at 5-under.
Finally, although Teeth of the Dog can surrender the occasional 68, from the tips, with 90,000 USD on the line, and with flags set dangerously close to the ocean, we don’t see anyone running away on Sunday. Projected winning score: 7-under.
Entry fee: 5000 all inclusive (except air fare)
Format: Individual medal play. No handicaps.
More info: www.casadecampo.com.do/dyehardcup2013
This article also appeared at Cybergolf.