Above: Ariel view of the 12th running down the left and the par 3, 16th green in the middle
I have just finished my lunch after this morningís epic 27 holes on Dye Fore, and now itís back in the buggy to play The Links, which opens with a very gentle 397-yard par 4 from the back tees. Again, you have four teeing options on the course.
My caddie Rafael instructs me to play to the left side of the fairway, and I duly smack one into the left-hand rough. However, I manage to extricate myself and make the green. You can see that the course has been around for a while Ė a beautiful setting where itís nice to feel a gentle breeze as it bustles through the trees.
As I play the subsequent holes, Rafael is being more specific about which areas of the fairways I need to be in, setting me up in some great attack positions. Weíre proving to be a good combination.
As we reach the par 3 5th hole I realise I havenít played a straight hole with two dogleg rights and one left. The nearest thing to a straight hole was the 3rd, and that still had to be played like a dogleg left because of the tall trees on the right-hand side of the fairway.
Both par 3s on the opening nine holes are great holes. The 189-yard 5th is flanked by a few trees, with the tee surrounded by them, to the extent that itís hard to feel the wind and which direction itís coming from. You then play to a raised green protected by bunkers at the front. The 214-yard 8th has a long, thin green and is a beautiful hole played from a slightly raised tee. Itís protected by a couple of pot bunkers and bunkers right, left and back Ė oh yes, it can be a mean hole if you donít hit the green.
The front nine closes with a tough par 4 of 491 yards, and as I play my second shot to the green over what is a very deep bunker protecting the front left of the green, I begin to wonder if Mr Dye doesnít in fact like golfers. Donít get me wrong, all the courses at Casa de Campo are great Ė and rightly voted some of the best in the world Ė but playing them from the tips, you can tell that this guy really wants you to work for your score.
The back nine opens up with a gentle 433-yard par 4 that has a generous fairway which moves slightly right to left. However, the green is protected by bunkers and swales, so if you miss it you really will have your work cut out getting up and down.
The 12th starts a run of great holes that last all the way to the 18th. At this point water comes into play for the next five holes, starting with the tee shot on the 12th. Itís all risk and reward and you can bite off as much as you dare to chew. Oh, and did I forget to say there was a bunker running along the other side of the water, and three additional bunkers on the other side of the fairway in the landing zone? Remember what I said about Mr Dye not being a nice manÖ?
The 13th is yet another great par-3 and, like the other par-3 16th on the back nine, both are played over water. At 178 yards and 167 yards respectively, they really are set up for you to hit great iron shots into, they look so inviting.
So too do the 14th and 15th holes, especially the 402-yard 15th because again its all risk and reward teeing off over the water. The more you take on, the easier the second shot becomes, and you need it to be as easy as possible to this raised green with its bunkers right and back. Itís a truly great golf hole.
The Links closes with two holes that are all about being on the right part of the fairway Ė both have fairway bunkering and, like all the greens, have some beautiful complexes in them. The Links is almost like the little brother of Teeth of the Dog and Dye Fore, but please donít make the mistake of missing out on this great little track. If time is limited, at least make sure you play the back nine Ė trust me, youíll be glad you did.
The par 3, 8th hole and its long thin green with plenty of bunkers to capture a wayward shot
Don't be short at the par 4 4th Playing over water at the 13thLooking back down the 15th