Dominican Days

Thank god I have a cigar to smoke. Because if I had to focus on my golf game right now, the first three rounds of the season after a four-month layoff, I’d be going crazy. Yes, a group of my friends and I are at Casa de Campo this week. We got smart this year, and decided to take Friday afternoon off from a 36-hole-a-day routine, and I’m sitting on the pool terrace, checking email, enjoying a Presidente beer and smoking a Vega Fina cigar made by Jose Seijas at the Tabacalera de Garcia factory in La Romana.

We had dinner with Jose and his wife, Carmen, and some of their friends. It was a traditional Dominican dinner: roast pork, stewed goat, rice and black beans, yucca and a great avocado and tomato salad. We all ate too much, and, of course, had enough rum and red wine to wash it all down. We actually had a pre-dinner cigar last night, as we sat out on the veranda with the warm evening breezes keeping everyone comfortable. It was a great night.

If you’ve never played Teeth of the Dog, one of the world’s top golf courses, now is the time to do it. They have done some outstanding work on the course, and the greens are as hard and fast as I have ever seen them in the 15 years that I’ve come to golf here. There are a number of just simply great golf holes, and since the wind never dies down here, there are always additional challenges with figuring out distance and club selection.

If you play early enough, you may get through the first three ocean holes that are among the seven holes that give the course it’s name before the wind comes up. Each of the seven holes—four on the front nine and three on the back—either play over water or the fairways run alongside sharp cliffs that drop down to the water. And each of the three par 3s basically have greens that seem to hang out over the ocean. We didn’t exhibit complete wisdom today, choosing to play from the tips, which put one par-3 over water at 230 yards, all carry, and another on the back nine playing dead into a two-club wind at 190 on the ground…playing about 210 to 220. It was a long day. Let’s just say I’ve done some good work to get my handicap back up a couple strokes. But we’ve still got three more rounds to go, two on Teeth and one more on Dye Fore, which is another great test of golf.

But back to the Vega Fina. The cigar is not currently marketed in the United States, but according to Seijas, is doing very well in Spain, a traditional Cuban cigar market. It’s a full-bodied smoke with great balance and a wonderful earthy note on the palate. I may have to give Jose a call and tell him to be sure to bring a few more when he comes to play golf with us on Sunday.

I won’t give you the schedule for the rest of the afternoon. I’ll just say that the rest of the day is filled with sybaritic pleasures. And, I’m not feeling guilty about it. Better than losing another sleeve of balls in the Caribbean Sea.

"This sounds like the ultimate trip! Good company, delicious food, great wine, beautiful cigars and as much golf as you could possibly want. What more could you ask for?" —March 31, 2011 11:08 AM
"That seems you have a great dinner there. Reminiscing those moments bring a homely feeling. It is always nice to have a cigar session with friends and just do exchanging stories. Now, I wonder how fun it is to drive my VW in the middle of the Cuban streets." —March 14, 2011 05:39 AM