Above: Ariel view of the 4th, 5th and 6th holes with the marina as a backdrop.
As I hit the hacienda-type bar that overlooks the 18th on Dye Fore and the Chavón River, I know I’m in for yet another treat. Dye Fore may not have the ocean-side holes of it’s cousin The Teeth of the Dog, but if the vistas from this little watering hole are anything to go by, Pete Dye has created another gem of a course.
I jump in my buggy and head to the first. Without doubt, you will love the stunning views of the Caribbean from this elevated position, but what I also liked was the gentle breeze – it helped when the sun was high in the sky and smiling down on me.
The opening hole is a ‘gentle’ 610-yard par-5 from the back tees. The course measures a gigantic 7,770 yards from the tips, but the good news is that there are five teeing options, so you pick a length to suit your skill level. Rumour has it that Pete was working in yards and the locals were working in metres…
The second may be shorter at 385 yards, but you really need to make sure you are on the dance floor ¬– the drop-off from this raised green and its two bunkers on the left will leave you a very difficult up and down if you miss the green.
The third brings you to the first of the two great par 3s on the front nine, but, more importantly, this is a run of stunning holes that looks down on the marine and the shimmering azure of the Caribbean. My favourite is the 4th, where you can watch the Chavón River meander down to the sea.
The back nine comes to a close with a beast of a par 4, which measures 490 yards off the tips and plays all uphill, with a waste bunker running all along the right hand side from about 240 yards out to a green that is nearly 50 yards deep. Walking away with par from that tee felt more like a birdie, but the gold and blues play 420 yards and 360 yards respectively, so as I say, you have a choice.
You are going to enjoy the opening hole to the back nine – it’s one of those heart-stopping moments of shear beauty as you look down from the tee and watch the Chavón River serenely flowing past. I had to pause for a moment to take it all in. The green on the 10th just seems to sit out on its own, looking down upon the majesty of the river – it truly is a great hole.
The 12th brings you to the first of the two par 3s on the back nine. This is the one place where I thought Pete missed a trick, because the 220-yard par 3 15th green sits just beyond the 235-yard 12th green, whereas I thought a St Andrews-type double green would have been fun. But on both holes (the right on the 12th and left on the 15th) it's a long way down to play your second shot if you slice or hook one down there!
The closing hole is another toughie at 600 yards, but the good news is you have a very wide fairway to aim at from an elevated tee. It's the perfect hole to finish on, unless, like me, you are heading straight through and playing all 27 holes!
You can choose to go the valley route or aim up on the hill, but no matter where you land, making the green in two is going to take another great shot to a very small green that sits in its own amphitheatre. And if you have friends watching from the hacienda bar, that simply adds to the fun and pressure of a truly great closing hole.
I continue out to the new 9 holes on the Dye Fore course, and as I drive my buggy across, I can see these are fairly new and will take a bit of time to bed down in their surroundings. But that doesn’t take away from the great design as you stand on the tee of this 405-yard dogleg right opening hole; you will have to steer clear of the slim bunker running down the right hand side, and to the right of that is water. The green then sits nicely perched by the water’s edge – it really is another great opening hole.
The first of the two par 3s sits just behind the green, is played over water and measures 195 yards from the back tee. The other par 3 comes at the 7th and again is played over water to an island-type green that measures 214 yards from the back tees. In between those two great par 3s are two par 4s and two par 5s, all great holes, and some very mean bunkers, Mr Dye – one small and shallow pot bunker is perched in the middle of the fairway at the 4th.
The new holes come to a close with the beautiful 384-yard 8th, which is played through a series of bunkers that protect both the right and left hand sides of the fairway, making you thread your ball though them. And the 492-yard dogleg left par 4 9th has yet another one of those little shallow pot bunkers, this time on the left of the fairway, just before the water that runs down the left hand side.
The 27 holes that make up Dye Fore may not get the praise that the Teeth of the Dog garners, but don’t let that put you off – it's a great course that will test every part of your golf game. It has an appealing, rugged beauty, so before you depart this beautiful island, I heartily recommend that you experience this course.
The par 3, 7th hole on the new Lagos nine holes.
Stunning views on the 6th Ariel view of the 10th, 11th Looking down on the 14th, 15th