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Golf: Dye Another Day

Bruce Wallin

P.B. Dye’s english labradors are trained to remain in the golf cart while their owner tees off. But on the third hole at Teeth of the Dog, the landmark Dominican Republic course designed by Dye’s father, Pete, the canines bolt from their positions toward an irresistible sight: Lewis, the Dye family’s house manager, has emerged from behind a wall of trees carrying a silver platter of ham-salad sandwiches for Dye, his three golfing partners, and the two dogs. “My father likes to say that life in the Dominican is as it should be,” says Dye, “not as it really is.”

Dye, 49, first visited the Dominican Republic as a teenager in 1971, when he helped his father build Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo. The elder’s creation—and the three courses he has added to the property since—helped make Casa the top golfing destination in the Caribbean, and the Dyes, whose family compound fronts Teeth’s seventh hole, are treated like royalty at the resort. To make his own mark in the Dominican, however, P.B. had to leave his father’s realm.

Two hours east of Casa de Campo, at the Punta Cana Resort and Club, Pete’s youngest son has created his own Caribbean-front track: La Cana. The course, which opened in 2001, represents P.B.’s first solo effort in the land his father pioneered for golfers. “Building a course down here is a different experience,” says P.B., who has designed more than 50 layouts and whose older brother, Perry, is also a course architect. “You have two bulldozers, and one of them doesn’t work, so you wind up with 200 guys cutting the grass by hand.

P.B. claims that 80 percent of La Cana was built without the help of machinery, as was, he recalls, Teeth of the Dog. The parallels between father’s and son’s creations extend to everything from the hazards (ever-present pot bunkers) to the family homes (P.B. plans to build one on his course’s seventh hole), but La Cana is a distinct layout that, like its designer, does not take itself too seriously—and is a whole lot of fun because of it. Miniature bunkers, vast waste areas, grass-mound minefields, and a rusted boat washed ashore by Hurricane Georges all come into play on the 7,150-yard course. Sprouting coconuts serve as tee markers, while palm-tree trunks substitute for railroad ties around the greens. The course’s four oceanfront holes include the delightful if devilish par-4 seventh, which descends seamlessly—after a mound-, swale-, and bunker-infested approach—to the beach from the sandy moat protecting its green.
 
While La Cana signifies a major success for P.B., it remains to be seen whether the designer will have the staying power in the Dominican that his father has enjoyed. Punta Cana has plans for two more P.B.-built courses, but the resort enlisted Tom Fazio to design its upcoming oceanfront layout. Regardless, P.B. plans to break ground on his new Punta Cana projects simultaneously in 2005, by which time he will have completed a course in Playa Paraiso, Mexico, and initiated another for resort chain Iberostar in Salvador, Brazil. He is also working with Iberostar to develop a course at its property in Playa Bávaro, a Dominican beach town just north of Punta Cana.

When discussing his prospects, P.B. likes to invoke another favorite phrase of his father’s: “A good place to live is a tough place to work.” Pete, however, has been prolific in these tropical climes, and his son has now carved out his own course—and life—in the Dominican Republic, which, for a Dye, is just as it should be.

Punta Cana Resort and Club
888.442.2262
www.puntacana.com

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